From Endurance to Dressage
You know how you get all of those If you could choose one thing, what would it be lists on Facebook? The list usually includes things like choose $100,000 cash, have a dream house, or be taller. If I could really have any of those pie-in-the-sky dreams, I'd wish to be able to eat anything I wanted without ever gaining weight. Losing weight sucks. It's hard, and it's forever.
Last June, my husband and I were having a heart to heart. We were both discussing the other's health risks. There were things I wanted him to work on to ensure that he's with me for decades to come. He pointed out that he had a similar concern; my weight.
Every woman on the planet knows when she is four pounds heavier than she ought to be. She doesn't need it pointed out. So when she's 40 pounds past what she ought to weigh, it's on her mind every time she zips up her pants or reaches down to tie her shoes.
So when my husband ever so gently pointed out that my weight was likely to cause future health problems, I felt my temper rise. But then I paused, realizing that he was absolutely right. I was overweight, and I wasn't doing anything but gaining. In fact, I had tossed out all of my smaller clothes and was rapidly filling my closet with items that gave me room to grow.
Before the words were completely out of his mouth, I decided to do something about it. I got on the scale for the first time in a long while. In case you haven't noticed, I'm what you might call vertically challenged. I am only 5'3," so 5 or 10 pounds on my lighter frame look like 25 on a taller person. The scale read somewhere over 160 pounds. I was horrified.
One thing that was frustrating for me was that there wasn't anything that I could just give up and immediately start losing. I don't drink coffee or sodas, I haven't eaten fast food in nearly 20 years, and I cook from scratch. We don't microwave meals or eat food from the freezer section of the grocery store. I am also really active. I don't go to the gym, but I teach PE every day, and I ride nearly seven days a week.
And? I was still a chunky monkey. Eating healthy food and being active wasn't enough. I knew how much I wanted to weigh, but I knew there was no chance I'd ever get there. Instead I set a realistic goal. My very first goal was to get back to 159 pounds. It took about three weeks.
I got completely honest with myself. Yes, I was eating healthy, but I was eating a LOT of healthy. Instead of three eggs for breakfast, I reduced it to 1. Instead of a loaded sandwich with potato salad on the side, I bought low calorie bread and ate an apple on the side. I got used to being hungry.
On average, I lost 1 to 2 pounds per week. I increased the number and variety of vegetables I cooked. I started having vegetables for breakfast. When we ate out, I chose a lot of vegetarian options and fruit or vegies on the side instead of fries or other starches. And once I hit 149 pounds, it was on!
I ate nothing sweet, no deserts or breads (other than my 45 calorie diet bread), and my portions got a lot smaller. I didn't stop eating though. I ate (and still eat) a hard boiled egg and a yogurt for weekday breakfasts. I eat a measured out baggie of nuts during the morning recess. Lunch is typically a sandwich with an apple. In the afternoons, I scrounge for grape tomatoes, baby carrots, a hunk of last night's protein, or fruit. I eat a regular dinner, but it's a lot smaller than it used to be, and half of my plate is filled with vegetables.
Throughout the fall, 139 pounds became my goal. I never thought I'd be able to lose 20 pounds, yet I did. Losing 30 pounds suddenly seemed possible. The holidays were tough, but I slogged through and even continued to lose weight. I constantly reminded myself of how great being thin would feel. Eventually, my goal was to weigh 129 pounds by my birthday which was on January 3rd.
I met that goal, but it took making some lifestyle changes. The biggest one was that I quit drinking alcohol in late June. It's not that I ever drank to excess, but I had a few glasses of wine every single day, or margaritas, or some hard ciders, or a lemon drop. Initially, I stopped drinking to see if it would hep eliminate the migraines. It didn't, but I realized how many calories I could save each day by drinking water or herbal tea instead.
It put a bit of a damper on our social life as well. People go out for drinks and food. That's just what adults do. Suddenly, I was the one ordering water and a plate of Brussels sprouts. Actually, the Crispy Glazed Brussels Sprouts at Eureka Burger are only 190 calories, and they are to die for! We no longer went wine tasting or to the wine events at local restaurants.
The one thing I gave myself permission to eat almost as much of as I wanted were the juicy fruits. At first it was watermelon and grapes. Later it was peaches and nectarines. Through the winter it's been apples, pears, and oranges. When I am hungry, I allow myself to indulge in fruits, even if it's two apples at a time.
I have one final goal, and I am only 3 pounds away. I want to hit 123 so that I can fluctuate up to 125. I know when we go out on the weekend or go to a party, I am going to gain a pound or two. My husband constantly reminds me that it's okay to indulge every once in a while. Having a range has helped me in the past, and I know it will help me feel better about that occasional sweet or greasy snack.
I am sure that both of my horses appreciate carrying almost 40 pounds less than they were packing last summer. I know it has helped my riding as well. My stamina has returned, and my balance is better. I have way more energy, I sleep better, and I am much fitter.
Dieting and weight loss have to be a personal goal. Don't lose weight for someone else. You'll only grow resentful, and you won't be able to keep it off. While my husband might have planted the seed, I really wanted to lose the weight for myself.
I've just finished my second herbal tea of the day. As I head back to the kitchen to make another cup, wish me luck as I pass those deliciously tempting lemon/raspberry cheesecake bars my husband made. He's not on a diet. That's okay. He's still getting sautéd zoodles for dinner.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%