While working on my extensive list of 2016 goals, I decided that number six took some consideration.
#6: Lose weight
That's been on my list of goals since college, I swear. It's probably about time I actually, you know, thought about it instead of just adding it on, especially as it relates to my riding. It's like a default setting at this point and I'm sure I'm not the only one that throws it on my goal list every year.
A bit of background: I'm 5'2" and currently weigh about 155lbs. My weight peaked in college at about 185 (freshman 15 my a$$). I entered college at 127lbs, my lowest weight as an adult. Medically speaking, 127 is also my goal weight. The doctors and professionals in my life think 140 is my current ideal based on my bone structure, age, and habit of packing on muscle.
The only time in my life that I was at my medical ideal, outside of being a teenager, was when I worked full time at a barn. When I started that job, I weighed between 140 and 150. I don't remember, I'd been on a long term diet to deal with my massive college weight gain. What I do remember was eating everything in sight and still dropping weight until I hit the upper 120's. There's a reason so many of the pros look fit and trim: it's hard to get enough calories into your body to combat a 12 hour day that's mostly physical labor.
Me at about 130 lbs and probably thinking about steaks mid-course
Hauling hay, moving saddles, schooling lesson ponies, turning horses out, even teaching lessons burn calories. A lot of them. In winter it's worse since you're burning calories just to stay warm. In cold weather, I was eating a philly cheese steak with large fries and a big sugary soda without batting an eyelash at lunch. Dinner was whatever got too close by the end of the day, preferably a lot of red meat and potatoes. My coworkers were the same way. We were all in our twenties, broke, and working long hours. Offerings of food from clients were usually devoured in about five seconds flat and anyone too close might lose a finger. I see that behavior with working students all the time and they have my sympathy. I've been there.
When I quit working at the barn, my weight sky rocketed. A desk job does not burn calories the same way manual labor does. The days of philly cheese steaks and sugary soda were done. Even when doing martial arts five nights a week, I had to watch my weight. My coach wanted me walking around at about 140, a good weight for me and I could easily make a 138 lb cut off for a tournament division. I ate a lot of grilled chicken and salads to keep that weight. It wasn't really a diet, but I did have to keep an eye on things. When I moved back to horses, my athlete diet fell by the wayside. Fiona kept me in work enough that it wasn't a big issue, but I wasn't keeping my fighting trim.
These days, I don't have a physically demanding job or a hobby that requires me to weigh in for competition. When I got back in the saddle in April, I weighed about 165 and I felt it. Things were more jiggly and just sitting in the saddle with my legs in the right position was harder. Riding five days a week with no dietary changes got ten pounds off of me. My clothes fit better, I can keep up with mi papi, and I have an easier time getting my legs around him. Now I'm staring at the scale and debating what to do with it. Am I a middle aged woman with a desk job or am I an athlete?
Before and after my return to riding
Everyone has to make this decision for themselves. I've done the athlete thing. It's not that bad, you get to eat a lot, but not much of it's fried and you really have to like salads. I hate salads. I'm a good cook so I can keep myself contentedly munching on chicken with black bean salsa and other goodies indefinitely. It's just been awhile since I thought of myself as an athlete. It's hard to break the habit of fast food and bagels with full fat cream cheese. Even when I was eventing, I wasn't watching my weight. Whatever it landed at was fine with me. Fi didn't care when we were galloping madly about.
Now I'm thinking about the fact that Theo has to carry my fluffy butt while trying to build loft and suspension and everything else. If I feel so much better with ten pounds off, how much better does that feel for him? While I'm trying to force my body to be balanced and still, it's easier when there's less of me. Is it easier for him when I don't have extra bits wobbling about? And if I'm asking Theo to do so much, the least I could do is stopping swinging through the Wendy's drive through for a Baconator.
Seriously, who invents these things?
I've been considered a 'plus size' rider for a long time, pretty much any time I wasn't also working at the barn full time. It doesn't really bother me, it certainly doesn't keep me from showing or doing clinics, but I do notice when I'm the only serious business rider at a clinic with some extra junk in the trunk. And under the hood. It's less about me now and more about mi papi. I feel bad asking him to do so much and then grabbing a large order of fries on the way home.
I don't think I'll be returning to my svelte self, I still have that office job, but another 10 lbs sounds like a good deal. Theo learns to lengthen, I break my addiction to fast food.