|At the Glow Run last August with a friend, her sister, and Johnny.
I’m in the orange.
Riding has been my primary source of exercise for most of my life. In elementary school, my parents enrolled me in dance, gymnastics, and soccer in addition to riding lessons. I had a brief stint of competitive swimming in middle school, which was given up when it conflicted in both time and money with riding. I was on my school’s track team in high school, but only so I could have a school-sponsored sport to put on my college applications. I ran 400M hurdles and threw shotput; I was terrible at both.
As a member of the collegiate equestrian team, I had a rigorous gym and riding schedule that kept me reasonably fit. I also did Muay Thai/MMA for the last two years of college, swam a couple times a week, and dutifully played on many of my sorority’s intramural sports teams. After college, I lost most of that fitness and gained some weight after I discovered that when you live in a city, you can get Chinese food delivered to your apartment. (This was a revelation, y’all.) My workplace in Wichita had a gym onsite that I rarely used (because I wanted to get away from work as quickly as possible), and though I played polo a couple of times a week, I was definitely feeling tubby and lethargic.
Now, I’ve never been a svelte person; as a kid, I dominated the top of the height and healthy weight charts. (True story: my dad, who I love very much, used to tell me “You ought to play basketball, you’re good and stout! Those other girls won’t knock you down!” Thanks, Dad, all teenage girls want to be called stout.) But I’ve always managed to be mostly happy with how I looked and felt. I’m also 5’9, which is a pretty forgiving height.
For the better part of the last three years, I worked as a therapeutic riding instructor, which required a lot of walking. (We’re talking 20,000+ steps per day.) It also required some low-activity level riding. I also did self-care on my horses three days a week, which meant more walking, hay bale carrying, stall mucking, etc. However, I didn’t lose much weight and I still felt out of shape.
Johnny was in a similar boat- in college, he played Ultimate Frisbee, jogged, and walked everywhere. Now working 40+ hours a week at a desk job, he’d put on about 40 pounds since 2009 and felt miserable. (We won’t mention his out-of-control sweets addiction.) At 6’6, he still looked pretty skinny, but he was definitely feeling bad.
So starting on March 1, Johnny and I completed a Whole 30.
We didn’t buy or read the book; we just read the website, thought it sounded doable, and jumped right in. Whole 30 is an eating program that strips away foods that may potentially have a detrimental effect on your health. For 30 days, we ate no added sugar (no honey, maple syrup, etc.), no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no white potatoes, and no ingredients we couldn’t pronounce/weren’t sure what they were. Basically, we ate meat and vegetables for every meal for 30 days.
We both felt way better after completing the program; I lost 8 pounds and my skin (which has been doing this weird, rosacea-like thing) has cleared up. I stopped feeling so lethargic and bloated. Both Johnny and I found reserves of willpower we didn’t know we had. As a result, we’ve loosely stuck with eating that way. (We now eat small amounts of dairy and grains sometimes; we also indulge in giant cheeseburgers every now and then.)
Doing the Whole 30 sent me off on kind of a fitness rampage. I’ve realized that just riding isn’t enough for me to stay fit and healthy. So I’ve taken up Couch to 5K for what feels like the millionth time. Running isn’t my favorite form of exercise, but it’s reasonably cheap, widely available, and thanks to RunDouble’s Couch to 5K app, I don’t even really have to think about it- I just have to listen to the little voice in my headphones tell me when to walk and when to run. Johnny and I will be running the Rainbow Run
in Tulsa in June and the Porter Peach Festival 5K
in July. I am a terribly slow runner who gets side stitches constantly, but when I think about giving up, I tell myself that I went a whole month without eating any cheese. If I can do that, I can do anything.
In addition to the (very slow) running, I’ve started doing a little bit of strength training at home. I’m mostly doing stuff like pushups, situps, squats, lunges, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. I realize strength training is important; I feel a little lost with establishing a routine, though, so any advice is welcome!
I’ve also started doing a yoga video once a week; I enjoy stretching and I love the soothing voices all yoga instructors seem to have!
I can already tell a difference in my riding- I can stay in two-point longer, I don’t lose my breath as quickly, and I feel way, way better. I’d like to think the horses appreciate the the 8 pounds I lost, too.
What kind of workout routine do y’all have? Any advice on strength training at home?