Supporting Those That Struggle

With all the changes this year, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog….After getting the farm sold and doing some serious soul-searching, I’ve decided to keep it going if for no other reason than the fact that I’m passionate about horses and being healthy with them – inside and out-  and I enjoy sharing that with other people. It’s therapeutic in that it keeps me going and motivates me as well.

View from halfway up

Earlier this week, I shared some progress pics on the CWC Facebook page that I took during a swim break at the campground we’re staying in. A couple of months back, I purchased a bare piece of property and we have been staying in a fifth wheel camp trailer at a KOA Campground nearby while we slowly build. While most folks would consider that roughing it, one of the big perks is having a nice swimming pool to use!

Camper living

The post talked a bit about not only maintaining my weight loss, but more importantly it talked about my mental well-being. That although there were still some “bad” days, I’m never ever as low as I was before and that faith, changing how I ate, how I think, and having genuine honest supportive people had helped.

 

Not the same person!

I want to talk very candidly about the support part. 

This last year was rough with a lot of loss. Not only did I lose a fourteen year relationship and marriage but I also lost a family that I loved as my own. People think step parents don’t love or don’t grieve, but that’s just simply not true. I also lost friends and my own family through all of this.

In the midst of dealing with depression and a marriage that was falling apart, it was said by family to my ex that I was crazy and that I needed to get back on whatever it was that made me sane, and that I was going through a mid-life crisis. In the immediate throes of a separation argument, and a lowest point, I was told I was so crazy I didn’t know what day it was. (Gaslighting, anyone?) That same argument I was told that all those people who I thought were my friends were laughing at me and pitying me because I thought I was some twenty year old cowgirl. Narcissist and cheater were thrown out there too. Keep in mind this came from two people who said they loved me.

For someone with depression going through that with no support system, no family to turn to, and only a few good friends to confide in, that was an extremely hard time in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without my co-workers, my neighbor, and my best friend and “Superman” Austin Foust. Those were the people who wouldn’t let me forget they were there for me no matter what and I will never forget that as long as I live. God gave me those folks to get me through that dark time. I really believe it.

Any time you go through something like this you reflect on the past and try to figure out what happened, where it went wrong. Sometimes in doing so, things start to make perfect sense. For me, that’s exactly what happened. Only after I gained some distance was I able to clearly see the depth of the lies and their purpose, and the gross years of manipulation that had occurred and what I had let it do to me.

In looking back at comparison pictures, it’s clear to me that this was a downward spiral years in the making. This didn’t happen over night. These are not easy to look at, and most definitely not easy to share.

 

These pictures are close to ten years ago and they speak volumes. Yes, I was heavier but it’s not just about the weight. I was not healthy, physically or mentally either one. I couldn’t see it at the time, but now looking back I definitely can, especially when I look at comparison pictures.

I was exhausted because I wasn’t getting enough sleep (not by my own accord), and my body was riddled with inflammation to the point that I had a place on my face that didn’t heal for over a year. I was miserable and you can see it!

There’s a saying that if you’re struggling and your people are just watching then maybe they’re not you’re people. That’s true. If you’re going through depression and/or health issues and the ones that say they love you are not being proactive to help you get healthy (not supporting you to get healthy!) then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who your people are and how important your health is and do something about it.

Don’t be afraid to cut ties if that’s what it takes. Sometimes removing yourself from toxic people is the only way to get well if they’re not going to change their behavior. You can only control your behavior, you can’t control theirs.

If you love someone who is struggling with their physical health, and/or their mental health what they need most is your support.

Sometimes people don’t need to hear what you think they should do, or whether or not you think they’re making a mistake. Most often they just need support in the form of listening while they come to terms with what they’re dealing with. They don’t need judgement, they need a place to talk. They also need to know you’re true (and loyal) to them behind their back, not just to their face. They need to know you care by your genuineness.

Aside from mental support, sleep has more impact on health and mental well-being than anything else a person can do. If someone you love isn’t sleeping well, support them by encouraging them to get to bed earlier. Let them know their sleep is a priority to you too so that they don’t feel any pressure to stay up to get things done, or spend time with you. If you’re watching TV, turn the TV down so they can sleep, and make sure  you watch it in another room. Be considerate by being quiet.

If you truly love someone and want the best for them, you don’t want to be an enabler by rewarding them or showing them love with unhealthy food, especially if they have a health condition that’s impacted by food.Don’t set them up for failure by making it harder to eat healthy – They’re already struggling with that. 

Instead of showing you care by bringing home a gallon of ice cream, bring home something healthy that they enjoy. Take the time to find out what that is.

Instead of dangling temptation in front of them by eating that double burger with fries while they eat a salad, you could eat a salad as well. Sometimes when you care about someone, it means sacrificing a little bit yourself. In the end, not only will they benefit, but you will as well because they see your support and you will have had a healthier meal.

It’s true that we’re responsible for ourselves, and our own happiness and we shouldn’t let someone else dictate our happiness. However, if we’re struggling with getting healthy we have to put ourselves in a place of success and part of that success is having support.

If you care about someone who is struggling, what are the most important ways you can support them?

If you’re someone struggling with health issues, what changes can you make to make progress? 

 

 

 

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Making Changes…

It’s been a little while since my last blog post. I finally landed a second job waiting tables at an Italian restaurant three nights a week. It’s been a hectic schedule between working two jobs, keeping my horses ridden, and trying to get the farm sold. So far I’m managing, although I will say I do know I don’t want to wait tables as a second job for the rest of my life!

While I have a more extensive blog post planned for later this month, in the meantime I thought I would share an update on my physical progress, and a few quick tips on what has helped me so far. The next blog post, I’ll share some of my favorite exercises, and talk about how some of them relate directly to riding.

Dance night!

Dance night!

When I started the CWC blog a year and a half ago, it was the start of a journey for me. My weight had ballooned up to 208, and no matter what I did or how much weight I lost I was tired, achy, and miserable.

The first step I took was changing my internal dialogue. Instead of criticizing myself all the time, I started to try find positive things I liked. Being kinder to myself mentally was very hard at first, but as time went on it got better.

The next step for me was attempting to just eat real food, and limit the junk, and then also limit dairy. I didn’t count calories, carbs or anything else. I just ate natural foods most of the time.

I usually fluctuated twenty or pounds anyhow, and by eating naturally, over the course of time I managed to drop off that twenty pounds and keep it off. However, there were many days I still felt tired and achy and my mental health wasn’t the best either.

Willie Bobby & I at the barrel race

Willie Bobby & I at the barrel race

This past March, I decided to make even more changes. I started eating protein and vegetables. Again, I didn’t count calories or anything else. I kept it extremely simple – I could have anything I wanted as long as it was protein or veggies.

I also started lifting weights, and just like with my food I kept it simple. Just three or four exercises a few times a week and no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. I knew it wasn’t realistic to expect myself to keep up more than that.

This pic below was taken several weeks back, but this week my scales said 155. I haven’t been this thin since my EARLY twenties!

Two different girls, two different mindsets!

Two different girls, two different mindsets!

I’ve not strayed from the meat and veggies since I started in March. I haven’t had any bread, sweets, or pasta even once. The interesting thing is that I don’t want any! For the first time in my life I finally have control over what I eat. There’s no bingeing or medicating with food!

One thing that has helped me has been the wise words of a good friend of mine that’s a Personal Trainer and veteran from Colorado, Scot Heminger – “Think of yourself as an athlete. Athletes don’t diet and exercise. They fuel their bodies and train to get better.” That mindset has made a huge difference because I don’t look at eating and exercise as deprivation and punishment, I look at them as a way to get BETTER.

Another difference I’ve seen has been my mental health. I no longer have the mood swings or the depression that I had before. Granted, I did make a big life change in getting divorced and surrounding myself with positive people, but I do think the change in diet has had an impact on my mental health.

Not only have I gained control over my appetite, and have a healthier outlook, I’ve also experienced a big increase in energy. My joints and my body also don’t ache like they did before. Because of all that, I feel like doing a lot more  – and it’s wonderful!

While all these side effects are great, the one side effect that is probably the best is my improved confidence. I walk taller and feel better about myself, and I feel strong! That confidence has found it’s way into my riding as well. I’m running barrels more aggressively than I ever have my entire life and I’m clocking a little faster every time I run.

NBHA Barrel Race

NBHA Barrel Race

I’m still a work in progress, but if I didn’t lose another pound I would be completely satisfied with where I’m at. I’m happy, and what I’m doing is realistically maintainable. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that where I am now started by simply loving myself a little more and making a few simple changes. It’s true what they say – change the mind and the body will follow. I think I’m living proof of that — and you can be too!

 

 

 

 

 

It Seems To Be Working

When I started Cowgirls With Curves earlier this year, I wasn’t exactly sure what direction it would take. All I knew was that I was passionate about sharing horses and encouraging others to pursue their dreams. Little did I know what kind of impact that it would have, and that it would be just as much of a journey for me as it has been for those that keep up with the blog.

The journey has led me to make quite a few changes and quite frankly they seem to be working.

I’ve stopped obsessing over weight and size.

Quite frankly, this is new territory for me because I don’t think there’s ever been a time in which I’ve either been on some kind of diet, or I’ve been feeling guilty because I’m not on one and I’ve gained weight.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on how I feel, whether or not I have energy, and if my mental status is in a good place.

I’ve stopped obsessing over what I eat and listening to what my body says.

I’ve learned that I don’t feel well at all when I eat grains, soy (in certain quantities)  dairy (with the exception of butter), sodas, and sweets. Instead of focusing on not having those things, I focus on real natural foods that I love that I can have that don’t have a detrimental effect on how I feel, and getting enough protein and fat in during the day.

I’ve started focusing more on real food.  

Instead of getting caught up in “calories in -vs- calories out”, and tracking every ounce of food I put in my mouth, I’ve been focusing on just eating real food that makes me feel good. I haven’t been listening to what all the doctors and fitness experts say, instead I’ve been listening to what my body says.

I’m eating a lot more protein.

I’ve learned that the typical meals of an egg for breakfast, and a lean protein at lunch and supper is not enough protein for me. I don’t have enough energy and my cravings are still there. However, if I have at least one serving of protein powder with 20g of protein, It’s a whole different story. My energy levels are much higher, and my cravings are minimal.

I’m eating more real fats like butter and olive oil.

Fats stabilize your blood sugar and they make you feel full and satisfied. When you’re full land satisfied with real food you don’t have any desire for junk!

I’m not limiting myself.

I may have a steak and baked potato with plenty of butter and salt. I don’t worry about the portion or limiting the butter or anything else – I just eat until I have my fill. I don’t want to end my meal still wanting anything because that’s when I wind up eating the things I shouldn’t eat.

I’m not beating myself up.

Weekends usually wind up being “cheat” time when I just have to have some cheese dip or pizza. If eat something that I shouldn’t, I don’t beat myself up about it – my body already does that for me if I eat enough of it.

The last meal is 4 hours before bedtime.

I’ve learned that if I eat a full meal in the evenings, I don’t sleep as well. I also have a tendency to get heartburn if I eat late. I try to eat a hearty lunch and then eat another snack with plenty of protein a couple of hours later. If I just absolutely have to have something, I’ll have a smaller serving of protein shake with almond milk.

I’m taking a probiotic.

With all the new research on probiotics and how it effects your mental health, and weight I decided to start taking a probiotic that has a prebiotic as well. While probiotics add good bacteria to your digestive tract, prebiotics feeds the beneficial bacteria you already have so you can digest your food more efficiently.

For years, even though I got plenty of sunshine and drank a lot of dairy I have been deficient in vitamin D and calcium. Even though I’ve always eaten plenty of spinach and red meat which I cooked in an iron skillet, I’ve always been border line anemic even with taking an iron supplement.

Obviously I’m not absorbing my food, which would explain why I need more protein than the usual recommended amounts. Think about it – if you’re not absorbing your food there’s no way to tell how much you’re not absorbing, so the recommended daily amount really can’t apply!

I make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep – no exceptions!

Sleep is another thing that has a huge impact on how you feel and perform, how you deal with stress, and how well you eat. I recently read a study that said lack of sleep can be as detrimental as smoking! Since I’ve been focusing on things that make me feel better, I’ve made it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Those 7 hours are sacred and non-negotiable!

Progesterone cream is awesome!

On a side note, suspecting some hormonal issues I started using a progesterone cream that does not contain estrogen-like herbs. It definitely helps in the sleep department, not to mention it helps with my mental status!

I don’t work out – for now.

Short of stretching, pun intended, instead of focusing on getting the regular set of exercises in every day, I’ve been focusing more on just riding. I have five horses that really need to be ridden through the course of the week (after stalls are done), and I’ve taken on a client horse to bring along as a back up barrel prospect. If you think about it, with that many horses I have a gym sitting in my pasture – all I have to do is ride! Once winter comes, and the horses get a break, I’ll go back to getting in some short sessions of kettlebells but for now I’m using my horses as my gym equipment.

Client horses at a barrel race.

Client horses at a barrel race.

So where have all these changes gotten me?

 

For one, I’m happier and less stressed.

I’m not obsessing over what I can and can’t have, and because I don’t feel guilty about not meeting some standard that I think I’m supposed to meet.

I have more time – which also helps with stress!

Because I’m not having to get in a workout every morning I have more time to prep meals and write.

I feel better!

Although still not optimal, my energy levels are getting better, and I’m not struggling with depression as often. I’m starting to pay closer attention to how food impacts both of those things and that helps keep me motivated more than anything.

I’ve lost close to 20 pounds since the first of the year.

Since the first of the year, I’ve lost close to 20 pounds. To some, that might not be quick enough but it’s not the time or even the weight that matters. What matters is what I’m gaining through it all – a sense of self-control and happiness, and feeling better.

I have more self-control.

For the first time in my entire life I’m starting to have self-control when it comes to food. Even when I do eat junk, I’m not going overboard, and I’m able to say “No” to food that I  normally would have to have.

I don’t necessarily think it’s one thing that’s making the difference. For instance, I don’t think I can just eat more protein and lose the weight. I think it’s a combination of the mindset and the other changes together that’s making a difference.

Have you made changes that are working? What improvements have you seen?

Riding with my step-son.

Riding with my step-son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is Really Important?

Stop for just a moment and take a breath. Now, ask yourself one question – What is really important?

What gives you peace?

What gives you peace?

It’s so easy to get on the hamster wheel every day and wear blinders. We run along spending our time doing all kinds of things that we think at the moment are important and yet we’re spending the most precious asset we have that we can’t get back – time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Just like a barrel horse that only has so many runs, we only have so many hours in our lives, and yet we spend time as though we have an unlimited amount of it.

You have to ask yourself, what is it that causes us to spend our time in the ways that we do? What are the pressures and/or desires that guide us in how we spend our time? Of course, the next natural question is if it’s worth it?

What is it that you spend your time doing and why do you do it? Does it bring joy? Does it bring peace?

The sad thing is that the majority of what we spend our time and effort on doesn’t bring either one of those things. So, why are we investing so much time and energy doing them?

In the big scheme of things, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, let alone the very next breath. Yet, we all live and act like we do. As a result we spend an enormous of time on things that really don’t even matter. They don’t bring us joy or peace.

My challenge to you, and to myself, is to stop and figure out what is really important in your life, and what really matters. Ask yourself, “What brings me joy? What brings me peace? What makes a difference?” Find out what those things are for you and then DO them. We’re giving up our time every second we breathe – we need to invest it in something that is worth it.

Spend time riding.

Spend time riding.

Life is too short to not pursue passions that we’ve been given. Passions give us purpose and direction, and they also give us joy.

If you’re passionate about something, then it is important. It’s also worth the time and energy that you invest – so go invest it! Life is too short not to because we only get one shot.

What are you passionate about and why? How can you spend more time pursuing what it is that you love to do?

What is it that you love?

What is it that you love?