Fat to Fit to First Level: Lighten Up!

What does it mean to “play”?

Losing weight and getting fit can, at times, seem like work. Making wise choices about food and fitness is a challenging, difficult, never-ending task. And, if you’re like me – a “type A” overachiever (and, well, we’re horsefolks, so, overeachiever? Duh!) you know exactly what “work” feels like. Long-term goals. Incremental improvement. “Three steps forward and two steps back.” That sort of thing.

But what does it feel like to play? For me, I’ve come to realize my weight, or, rather, my shame and embarrassment because of my weight, has made me feel like I am not worthy of relaxation or play. I’ve driven myself pretty much nonstop for years! And all because I just could not look myself in the mirror, double-chin and all, and say, “you’re a good girl and you deserve a break. Go rest. Go PLAY!”

Kiwi on the longe balancing work and play. Photo by Paige Kirkland

So! Along with our regular work (including regular tune-ups on the longe line), Kaliwohi and I are playing a bit. Kiwi is going to be in a wedding soon (long story) and this has given us an opportunity to play with some friends regarding how to doll Kiwi up for the upcoming nuptials.

As a tri-color paint, Kaliwohi is already fairly flashy but that didn’t stop us from taking some purple and teal feathers (and even a white silk rose!) and enjoying an afternoon of bad braids and good giggles! Kaliwohi was rather unimpressed with all the froo, but he goodnaturedly tolerated all our primping and fuss.

Training bonus: we didn’t hesitate to let those feathers flop and fall and “fly” as we decorated Kaliwohi. Desensitization? SCORE!

Kiwi looking dapper. Photo by Paige Kirkland

And, along with horses, there are other critters on my farm, including bees. I’m a member of a couple of local beekeeping clubs, and it’s county fair season, which means honey shows and beekeeping info-booths at the fair. I’m happy to volunteer at the booth and share information about beekeeping with the public. But typically I would wear dark, loose, “frumpy” clothes and be a bit of a wallflower. Who wants to talk to the “fat chick,” right? (I get a little melancholy when I think of all the time I’ve wasted and opportunities for fun I’ve let slip past, simply because I felt unworthy, unlovable, and ugly.)

This year, even though I’ve still got many pounds to lose, I’ve regained enough confidence that, not only did I happily babble about bees to anyone who asked, but I also got my face painted just for fun! #DontWorryBeeHappy

#DontWorryBeeHappy. Photo courtesy of Esther Roberts

So! How’s the 21-day challenge going, now that I’ve finished two of the three weeks? Well, it’s like schooling a horse, truth be told. If “success” is defined as “staying exactly on program” then I’ve failed miserably. I have not completely avoided sugar. A couple of days were actually super-high in carbs. And I have bouts of insomnia, so “8 hours of sleep every night” is a lovely goal, but I’m not there yet.

But if success is defined as, “learning from your failures,” then this past week has been brilliantly successful. I am trying new ways of eating and learning what does and does not work for me. Maybe someday I will be able to avoid sugar like I avoid brussels sprouts. For now, however, I’ve learned that several days of total deprivation can result in a binge. And, not only do I destroy any progress made from the sugar-less days, but, perhaps worse, I mentally beat myself up with condemnation over the binge. Not. good.

One interesting detail – on said binge I actually ate a stroopwafel cookie. These cookies have been a favorite of mine for some time now, and I’ve enjoyed one every day for months up until I started the 21-day challenge. And you know what? After not having one for ten days in a row, the one I then ate tasted different. Not-as-good-as-I-remembered different. Maybe not-good-enough-to-have-one-a-day-anymore different. So even in the “failure” of a binge, I learned that my tastes are gradually changing.

Plain ol’ water tastes sweeter to me now. Grapes and apples taste sweeter than before. Many processed foods taste like cardboard these days, especially corn chips and potato chips. And I don’t miss having them at all. Slowly, one meal at a time, one decision at a time, I am reprogramming my body and my brain to eat like an athlete. I am Kaliwohi’s rider. My duty is to him, and to me.

But, along with all that effort, and all that work, sometimes the absolute best thing I can do for Kiwi and for me is PLAY.


Join me on this journey on Facebook: Fat to Fit at Horse Nation (page and group), and my blog www.appalachianchic.com.

Go riding!

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