Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Health and Fitness

This post is inspired by me sitting in my bed, force feeding myself oatmeal and a protein shake at 10:14 PM. This may seem like insanity, and it is, but I think we have deduced that we are all mad here anyways.

Another thing we have all established is that horse health and fitness is pretty important. But do you ever think about rider health and fitness?

I know I sure didn't give a heck in college and I ballooned to 200lbs (45lbs over my normal) because I was a slob, ate whatever was handed to me, usually pizza and literally never set foot in our million dollar fitness gym.

Tipping the scales at over 200lbs
Then I moved home, got dumped and felt bad about myself and started working out.

I won't go into it much, as you can read more thoroughly above in "Crossfit Journey". Long story short, I started Crossfit and it changed my life forever.

I could ride without getting tired. Sitting the trot was easy. I felt strong. I was confident. I didn't feel like a slug in the saddle. And ultimately, I felt like a better rider overall with a stronger core, stronger seat and better cardio. Also I started to look good in breeches.

Thats what crossfit is all about, functional fitness!

The key is finding a good box (CF gym) and sinking into your niche. I tried a few boxes before I found my CF family, and they're a lot like your barn family. Supportive, encouraging and with you every step of the way!

For me, I want to maintain my fitness level to be strong enough to ride complex movements. Go from being in shape, losing it, and come back and I TELL YOU HWHHHAT, its hard. Harder than you think. After I got over Bronchitis I struggled to catch my breath for a month.

I truly believe that CF has changed my body, my mind and my riding in a positive way. CF is not for everyone, it can be intense and sometimes after a WOD (workout) I want to die. But in that sense, WODs are like shows or riding goals, you want them so badly, and sometimes it sucks, but getting there is the reward and the success is so sweet!

Generally I TRY to get to the gym 3-4 times a week for a WOD. Because of my limited time, this usually means at 6AM before work.  If I can't, I run at home and lift heavy, usually squats or deadlifts. I am also doing a Tough Mudder in May and I'm attempting to train for that. Some weeks though, I just don't have it in me to go to the gym and I'm learning thats OKAY.

Now, I've morphed into a true "kool-aid" drinker and embody a lot of CF practices. Two of these practices are Paleo dieting and counting macros. Normally two things that don't work together well, but I will try and break it down quickly.


Paleo is eating natural, fresh and whole foods. Limiting dairy and processed food as much as possible. Here, you can go as extreme as you like. I really love yogurt, so I still eat it, but this is considered "not paleo". WHATEVER YOLO. But I have cut out bread from my diet completely. Grains and nuts are OK, but processed bread I only allow myself on Saturdays (cheat days). I think its incredibly important to allow yourself cheat days or meals, otherwise you go crazy and WILL fall off the wagon. I eat a fuckload of veggies and fruits, as well as lean meats like chicken and fish. Beef is a treat. I eat so much chicken sometimes I think I might die. I "break" the paleo rule when I use protein powder and creatine, but both of my supplements are non GMO, natural all that shit. I stick to this diet 6 days a week generally.

Counting macros is quite different and most call it 'flexible dieting'. It helps to get your measurements first, as in, body fat and weight. From there, your macro formula can be made. It all depends on activity level and goals. Do you want to lose weight, gain muscle, do both? Then you get daily set goals. Protein, Carbs, Fats and Calories.

I try to not look at calories unless I'm not meeting them (harder than you think). For me, its hard to meet protein macros and not go over on fats. I consistently hit my carbs macros daily. This is all done on a smartphone app. Takes about a week to get used to, but if you're like me, I generally don't deviate from my diet and eat the same thing everyday (UNLESS ITS SATURDAY).

Usually, I have to drink a protein shake at the end of the day to get my protein without the added fat of meat. Its fun, but difficult to perfect, and I like a challenge. But anything counts. Anything. Did you eat fries and a burger for lunch? LOG IT.

Most likely you've just eaten your fats for the day and need to eat really lean the rest of the day. Its helped me shed the remaining 5lbs and accentuate my abs a bit more. Or look more "shredded". LOL. Anyways people swear by it and I am people, so.

I also have a fitbit HR and might legit be obsessed with that thing. OBSESSED.

Okay, I nerded out for a minute...but this is what I do to stay healthy for my sport. It means a lot to me to be able to workout and finesse my diet, and I could be considered a wee bit of a freak about it. I know that route is not for everyone, its just made a difference for ME. This is what works for ME because I am a lazy sack of shit that needs an app to stay on track and CF coaches that force me to complete workouts I otherwise would give up on, everyday to be healthy. WAH.

So dear readers, what do YOU do? I want to know! Do you walk? Is riding enough? Do you run marathons? Do you not care like I didn't, haha! Tell me, what do ??

**no judgement by the way, at all!


  1. I'm definitely not a fan of CF - no offense - but I know people that swear by it, and it seems to have worked wonders for you, which is great! What a transformation!

    For me, riding usually isn't enough, so I supplement riding with going to the gym. I'll usually do about 50-60 mins of cardio between the treadmill, elliptical and stairmaster, and then lift upper body. I generally don't lift lower body because I already have 17.5" calves and tall boots are hard enough to find as it is! I love the "good soreness" you feel after a great workout, and even if I'm a sweaty gross mess, I always feel really accomplished. We ask our horses to stay in shape, and we owe it to them to stay in shape as well :) Great post!

    1. Omg I feel you!! I have man calves and I believe they're even bigger than yours. I always have to get my boots tailored. I love the soreness too! No pain no gain! And no offense taken, it's not for everyone

  2. I lost 40 lbs in college. I needed to be slimmer to ride Don as well as he deserved, since he was narrow and rider balance had a great effect on him. I worked out (kickboxing being my workout of choice that helped me lose all the weight, zumba was for fun with my friends, and once I was on the equestrian team weight lifting was mandatory).

    And then he died. And that was three years ago. I got super depressed and gained back all my weight post graduating college. I'm only now starting to realize and come up with a plan to deal with it. I also logged what I ate in college and I need to go back to that. But working out every single day (sometimes twice) and riding 1-5 horses a day also meant I could cheat quite a bit on my calories.

    The most effective workout is the one you will actually do. There are many ways to imprive fitness, but it's finding one you enjoy that is difficult. Rider fitness is important, no doubt about it. Doubly important for jumping. I recognize my error in eating my feelings because it'll probably take me a lot longer to lose it than it did to gain it (jobless, depressed, and eating machine was not a good combination).

  3. I was LITERALLY drafting a post about this the other day, as I think I've finally found a workout plan that I will actually do, vs. bailing on it after 2 weeks LOL. I give you serious credit for managing your diet that way, I just can't be that strict with myself when it comes to food. For me, food is something that I look at as an art, a joy, and something that I can't regulate strictly without making myself really sad. That said, I do tend to make (mostly) healthy choices every day and cook a lot at home, so it's not like I'm eating fast food daily or anything! I love hearing about what works for different people as far as health and fitness!

  4. With working full time, moving full time and having the farm full time, I literally have no time for exercise. Before we did the whole moving bit, I was doing Tae-bo (hello 1990's!) pretty regularly. I haven't really gained or lost weight since I moved to MI but consistency at a decent weight is good right? My hope is come next week, I can settle into a new routine which will include some sort of exercise program. One can only do what they can do with the hours given.

  5. Oh man. I am guilty. Guilty of sitting on the couch and eating as much pizza and ice cream as possible until my pants get tight. I have never been an athlete and I really don't enjoy working out or pushing myself. At all. I know it would benefit my riding, but I don't do it and have never done it. I give major props to people like you who can be so motivated.

  6. idk, for me the most important factor in any diet / exercise routine is sustainability. is it a thing that i can do, and KEEP doing within the parameters of my regular life? aaaand i'm still working on that bit haha. breaking my leg really threw my entire life balance out of whack and i've been slow to recover some of it...

  7. Working out for me is especially hard, so I just do what I can. Cleaning all of the girls pens usually tires me out for the rest of the day. Bt some days I feel good and can ride too. I also eat paleo (mostly) because it is supposed to help aid in lessoning inflammation in my body. I have been eating like this for over a year now, and it is not as hard as some people think. I dreaded having to cut out pasta and bread, but I just eat it here and there and I am ok with that.

  8. I go to the gym about 3-4 days a week and lift stuff; it's definitely helped me feel stronger and generally better, though I have definitely NOT lost any weight. I'm making an effort to clean up my eating, which varies wildly between super super super clean and cheeseburgers. I'm trying to find balance!

    I made a serious effort to take up running in the fall and I HATE it. It feels like I'm punishing myself. I now stick with walking, which feels better both mentally and physically. And yoga, I like yoga, too!

  9. I hate exercising. I was doing really well with just riding and then my mule broke her leg. So I gained like 20 lbs in 2 months of no riding. So I did some dieting, lost the weight, then I injured my arm and couldn't ride again and gained the weight back. I should probably take up running or something, but I really hate exercise for exercise's sake. I envy you your crossfire enjoyment. I really need to find something outside of riding that I enjoy doing.

  10. Living an active lifestyle keeps me in shape. Mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, hiking, exploring. In the winter, I'll do some supplemental workouts at home to focus on key muscle groups using HIIT body-weight based exercises - but I cannot maintain that type of thing for long. I'm too busy! Mountain biking has been amazing for my rider fitness and my overall health. I'm really grateful to have gotten into it recently. Re: diet... I eat a LOT healthier than most people I know and that's purely because a large group of my friends are total hippie health nuts and they're a really good influence! I also live in an area that has limited options for eating out, so I rarely do it.

  11. Honestly so much props to you right now. Last Spring I got into fitness mode and after my tonsil surgery in fall and not eating for a week and not being able to leave bed for three, I basically turned into "fitness who pizza in my mouth". I ate cheese its like they were going out of style. Unfortunately it took almost a month for it to catch up to me and now I'm all the sads. I've had a hard time getting back to fitness level but I've been making a lot of small baby steps. I've only done yoga twice this year and worked out for the first time on Tuesday (still sore omg) but everyone starts somewhere! I love this post and def need to get a fitbit

  12. I like exercising (it truly is addicting, once you get past the hard part... getting started lol), but I often don't feel well enough to exercise and I get easily sidetracked by problems (injuries, anxiety, time, etc.). Right now I'm not exercising because I've been adjusting to a new job that involves me being on my feet a lot and has varying hours which has my sleep schedule all screwed up. Because of my insomnia and anxiety, the most important thing I can do for my health is stick to a consistent schedule. Hard to do when you don't know what hours you're working.

    Going gluten free made the biggest difference for me. I'm not nauseous all the time anymore!! I will admit I felt a lot better when I first started it and was eating paleo. Now that I've added the gluten free replacement foods like pizza and pasta I'm having issues again. I really need to be strict about the processed foods! I guess the good thing is I hate soda, hate alcohol and can't eat out very often because there is only one gluten free option in my entire town (and I can't afford it often lol), so I don't fall off the wagon with those at all. I've done a great job sticking with the gluten free for a year and a half now, which is amazing because consistency is not my strong point. So if I just stop eating the pasta (my weakness) I know I can get back to feeling so much better.

    The other thing I'm realizing is that I'm super deficient in a lot of important vitamins and minerals (likely because of all the damage from having undiagnosed Celiac for so many years), so I'm working on that right now. Taking a high quality multivitamin and extra b vitamins (B vitamins are super important for someone with low thyroid and anxiety like I have.. I never realized how connected it all is), lots of vitamin d and extra magnesium as needed. It's all so complicated and overwhelming.

    As soon as I can get this pinched nerve in my shoulder sorted out I'm going to get back to exercising because things just go downhill (and I keep getting injured) when I'm not exercising. I've done a lot of things like running, walking, biking, hiking, sprint intervals, weight lifting, yoga, pilates, etc. but I get bored and don't stick with them consistently. I HATE running. To be honest my favorite was weight lifting, but I had to sell my weights because I was so broke and now I don't have any and can't afford a gym membership. We don't have any CF stuff in my area so I've never tried that (probably can't afford it either), so I'll probably just start with walking and biking. Then I'll probably start lifting light stuff around the house (canned veggies, sugar, etc.) until I can afford some new equipment. I do have some resistance bands I need to learn to use LOL!

    Anyway, all that loooooooong comment is to say I think rider health and fitness is very important, but I don't always do a good job sticking with it. It's been hard trying to fix all my issues by myself because doctors are either not helpful or I can't afford them. You've done a great job getting back it shape. Keep it up!!

    1. Good grief! I didn't realize how long my comment was..... sorry!

  13. I had a pretty serious eating disorder in college to stay slim enough to gallop the race ponies, so now I try to not to even look at dieting in fear of it going too far in the other direction again. We did just buy an exercise bike though (like a legit fancy one), so I'm excited to try to tone up my riding legs with that puppy!

  14. I lose weight whenever I'm stressed - neuro/blood and pneumonia over the past three months have resulted in losing 21 pounds. I've started adding really easy things like parking my car far away and walking a little at lunch to help my appetite. Making sure I eat 3x a day at least has been really good too. I am tuning my mountain bike up as I would like to start riding a couple times a week. Whatever works...

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