Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting Fit to Ride

Last Friday I went back to the gym. I hadn’t been there in over 3 months. I had convinced myself that getting out of bed at 4:30am was for the birds. Last week when I went back, I was smart enough to time my return to the gym to coincide with my Birthday Spa Day, which was the next day. I’ve been on again off again member of a Body Pump Class for the last two years. I believe I am now ready to be consistent with my exercise program.

My pattern has been to go consistently for a few months and then drop off the planet for another few months. I can tell myself that I am too busy, too burned out, or too tired, but the truth is I get lazy. When I was in my early 20’s I didn’t need to think about being fit, I just was. I worked outside all day cleaning stalls and riding horses. I lived on Top Ramen because that was all I could afford to eat. When I got married, I got a real job, but was on my feet all day and still stayed fit, even though I could now afford more than Top Ramen.

Then in the last few years, something happened to the food I ate. It was more processed and had more additives, almost all of the processed food I put in my body had High Fructose Corn Syrup added to it. My body quickly turned the processed food into fat and I was no longer fit. I was no longer comfortable in the clothes I wore, I hated shopping for jeans!

The final straw was a month ago when I asked my husband to take some pictures of me while I was riding Grace. When I looked at the pictures on the digital camera, all I could think of was “who is that fat lady riding my horse?”

I love food! I love good food with lots of fat, cream and starches. I married a gourmet chef who loves to cook for me! I love sugar, and candy, and ice cream. I remember when I was taking a Boot Camp class when I first started going to the gym, the instructor said I would never loose weight if I didn’t change my eating habits. That I could work out all I wanted, but if I continued to feed my body with garbage, that it would not change. Well, that was the last time I took her class!

When I get consistent with my workouts I feel amazing. I attend a Body Pump class three days a week before going to the office. When I get to the office I am energized and ready to take on the world. Little things my boss does no longer drive me crazy, and I am still awake and have plenty of energy at 2:30 in the afternoon. So I have to ask myself, why is it that I continually quit. Again, I am forced to look at my diet. When I work out, I naturally start to eat better. When I feel good, I no longer want to put food additives in my body. I ask my husband for more vegetables at dinner, and he no longer has to sneak them into my spaghetti sauce (yes, he did that!) Somewhere while feeling good, I get tired, overwhelmed and I start eating junk. High Fructose Corn Syrup to be specific. The latest culprit was soda. We keep a fridge full of it at my office. What started out at one a day became two, one with lunch and another at 2:30 because I was getting tired and I had a head ache. When my husband and I would go out to dinner, it was a Cherry Coke, with a refill. Next thing I knew getting out of bed at 4:30am wasn’t a high priority. As of today I have not had a soda in 10 days. I have again cut High Fructose Corn Syrup out of my diet. Grocery shopping takes forever, but I feel so much better! I’ve been making better food choices, instead of a handful of Doritos, I eat organic carrots. Instead of chocolate or something sweet, I eat organic soy yogurt. I’ve been doing this for 10 days now and after day 2, I no longer craved soda or sweets. I feel good in my body again and I swear my clothes fit better.

So how does this relate to Grace? She is my continued inspiration for taking care of myself. I’ve always considered Grace to be an athlete. I ride her 6 days a week in the spring, summer and fall and at least 4 days a week in the winter.I feed her the best hay and
vitamins The grain I buy for her is not covered in molasses. The woman I bought Grace from had a barn full of beautiful, healthy, shiny horses. I asked her one day what she fed them to get them to look that good. She explained that it has as much to do with what she didn’t feed them. She would not feed them anything that she would not eat herself. No, she didn’t eat hay on a daily basis, but the idea behind it was she didn’t feed her horses feed that was full of additives and sugar.

I consider Grace to be more that just my horse, she is my partner. I always ask her to give me her best and she delivers. I know that she has pushed through pain for me on many occasions. The least I can do is the same for her. I know that when I am fit, I am a better rider. When my core muscles are strong, I am able to engage them and allow my back to stay soft. I can carry more of my own weight, which is less work for my horse. I think for me the most important point that I need to remember is that when I’m fit I feel better, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Wasn’t it once said that the body is a temple?


  1. Horses can be a great inspiration. I try to eat well, too - almost no processed food or food with additives or added sugars, and it makes an enormous difference to how I feel. Food and drinks around the office can be a real negative - now that I'm retired I can limit what comes in the house. Your idea of having substitutes on hand to snack on is a good one. Good going!

  2. What suprises me the most (and it shouldn't) is how much better I feel and how much clearer my mind is when I get that stuff out of my body. What is our food doing to us?

  3. Its totally true. While I havent 100% cut caffeine out of my system, I feel so much better when I dont consume it. And Im better in my riding. Which makes Milo perform better, and makes me happier.

    Ive noticed too when I thoughtfully eat better, than I no longer long for the cookie or soda. Its interesting. Unfornetly for me, eating good is expensive. Thats my issue right now.

  4. I find it frustrating that junk food costs so much less than whole food. It's kept me from changing my eating habits in the past. This time I had to look at it from a health stand point. It is going to cost more in the end if I become diabetic than if I take better care of myself now. I never compromise on Grace's feed, but have always cut corners on my own. Even when I was living on Top Ramen, the horse I had at the time ate the best hay, grain, vitamins. Why would I not do the same for myself?

  5. Its an excellent point Melissa. For me, I cant. No pennies in the bank! But for now, its more important that my horse is well provided for. I can decide what to feed myself, my horse depends on what I give him.

  6. Like you, I am addicted to sugar. My husband complains to me that I eat like a five year old. I know I feel better when I eat "real food," but the crappy stuff is so much more convenient. Good luck with the diet.

  7. I will never refer to it as a diet. I'm just being more thoughtful with my food choices. The word diet has way too many negative associations for me. On thing I've found is that when I eat real food that isn't full of chemicals I eat much less of it. I feel full and satisfied much sooner than I used to. Food additives mess with my "off switch".

    I hear you about eating like a five year old. Kraft Mac and Cheese used to be one of my favorite things to eat. I think the people at the grocery store assumed that I have childern.