From Endurance to Dressage
You might remember that I decided to slim down a little at the end of the summer. I am happy to report that I've lost 15 pounds (and counting). I am happy with where I am right now, but my ultimate pie in the sky goal would be to drop 7 more. With my current level of muscle, I am not sure I can get that low, but I am going to keep trying.
This is very dressage related, although probably not the most timely of topics. I am writing this today, the day after our national stuff yourself 'til you're in a coma day to keep myself motivated and on track.
How again is this dressage related? Simply put, I haven't felt this good in a long time. When I ride, I feel secure not only throughout my core, but my legs feel steady, and my arms feel strong. My seat feels lighter and more balanced, and I have tons of energy.
I like how I feel so much that I thought I'd share with you how I got here. Not everything I do will work for everyone, but if you get an idea that you can apply to your own routine, yah! If you're at your ideal weight, feel free to skip the rest of this and have a great day.
First, while I was at a slightly chunky weight, I had an established diet that already included nutritious foods without very many of the "bad foods." If you already eat fast food, drink coffee or sodas, and eat frozen meals, my plan will probably feel too drastic for you. The premise can still work, but it might take longer.
I started out with a kind of bootcamp mentality the first few weeks, but that's because I have no self-control. I can't eat one potato chip or a simple nibble of something sweet; I am the whole bag or box. So that meant I ate only what I had planned for the day with no deviations. Since we already don't do fast food, coffee, or junk food, it was more about portion control and not allowing the occasional empty calorie food, like french fries, to be on my plate.
So what did my food choices consist of? Mostly what I had already been eating, but just less of this and more of that, with a focus on adding as many fibrous options as possible. Bagged baby spinach is my new best friend.
Monday through Friday I eat one hard boiled egg and a sliced apple (which I added about a month ago; before that it was just the egg). On the weekends, I eat breakfast later in the day which means I allow myself two poached eggs served with either a vegetable like wilted spinach or butternut squash, or a Sandwich Thins bun.
Monday through Friday I eat a Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt which has only 80 calories, but 12 grams of protein (that's a lot!). On the weekends, I usually don't get a snack because I am too busy riding at the barn, hence the second egg.
Whether at home or work, I usually make a sandwich made from Oroweat's Sandwich Thins (100 calories/5 grams of fiber). I add a slice of cheese (provolone or swiss), thin sliced turkey, and as much avocado, spinach leaves, and tomatoes that the bun can hold. I add a half cup of low fat cottage cheese (90 calories/11 grams of protein) on the side and two Cuties (mini clementines).
For the first two months, the afternoons almost killed me because I didn't have a snack. I finally added a quarter cup of raw, unsalted almonds in the afternoons, which actually helped me lose weight. I pre-package a week's worth of almond snacks in individual baggies which I toss into a larger baggie which all goes into my barn bag. As I drive out to the barn, I snack on the almonds which keep me feeling full and energized until dinner. A serving of almonds (¼ cup) has 160 calories with 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber making the calories worth their weight.
I cook almost seven nights a week, and we go out for a sit down dinner once a week or once every other week. Dinners are where I get most of my calories, but that's because I really like to cook. I have been trying to cook slightly less savory meals (which include tons of wine and butter sauces), but when we do eat those kinds of meals, I try to throw in the greenest, most fibrous veggies I can. While not green, butternut squash is a favorite with only 63 calories, 2.8 grams of fiber, and a whopping 297% of your daily vitamin A in a single one cup serving.
I drink a caffeine free tea in the morning without added sweetener. I drink water throughout the day, although not enough. At night, I indulge in hard ciders, margaritas (on the rocks), and red wine although not usually all on the same night. Friday nights I might make an exception. I don't drink juices, coffee, or sodas. If we go out to lunch, which is extremely rare, I might have a diet soda.
Reducing my calorie intake wasn't enough. While I ride 5 - 7 days a week, clean stalls, drag sprinklers, and so on, I reached a point where the weight just hung on stubbornly. Knowing I needed to do something else, I consulted my pal, Lori (of photography fame - check out her 365 Day Photography Challenge here). Not only does Lori shoot amazing photos, but she is a fitness and nutrition expert as well. Lori had me actually increase my calorie consumption a bit (the apple and almonds were her idea) and add some different exercises to my day.
I now start my morning with a 1 minute (and growing) plank, and then throughout the day, I add a variety of one minute exercises. In my classroom, when the kids are at recess, I jump rope for a minute. When students peek at me through the windows, they always smile and wave; they dig watching me! While at the barn, I'll throw two saddle pads on the tack room floor and do 15 push ups. I also try and stop sometime during the day, usually when I get home from the barn, and do 100 jumping jacks.
Basically, Lori suggested that I change up my routine by throwing in random bursts of exercise. I look at it this way; everyone has one minute to do some form of exercise. I may not have 30 minutes to go to the gym, but I certainly have one minute! And once I found that one minute, I started finding lots of other minutes.
The more weight I lose, the more motivated I am to lose even more. Have I been frustrated at times, YES! Fortunately, my husband has been really supportive and complimentary. When I feel discouraged, he reminds me that what I do today won't be reflected on the scale today, but it will show up eventually.
So, if you have a few pounds to lose, reduce a lunch portion, choose something else to eat, or find a single minute to exercise. Speaking of which, a hundred jumping jacks are calling my name!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: