Fat to Fit to First Level: Asking for Help

“As questions fill my mind and self-doubt begins to interfere with my inner peace (and, thus, my riding) I realize it is time to do what so many of us are loathe to do: ask for help.”

Photo: Tess McHone/Everyday Beauty Photography

Most folks in the horse world are wonderful, generous people. They will help you in any way they can, from lending you a show jacket (because yours is still hanging in the closet at home – oops!) to helping change a flat tire on your trailer. I’ve heard of folks lending all sorts of equipment, from a girth to their own pickup, to help out a fellow equestrian in need.

While most of us are happy to come to another’s aid, many horsepeople are extremely hesitant to ask for help when we ourselves need it. Equestrians, as a rule, are independent people – I mean, c’mon, we ride a thousand pound prey animal for fun – so when we’re in the middle of a problem, we tend to stay quiet about it and not reach out.

There are humorous memes, mugs, and t-shirts that abound with advice to stand alone. “Suck it up, buttercup.” “Put your big girl panties on and deal with it.” You’ve seen them all.

But is this wise?

And the ubiquitous phrase, “it is what it is” is just as uninspiring; it seems to be saying, “you can’t change so don’t even try.”

But is this true?

I’ve been stuck on a weight plateau for many weeks now. Sometimes it is frustrating. Sometimes it is frightening. And with the holidays fast approaching, I wonder if I can be disciplined enough to maintain the progress I’ve made this year, let alone try to break through this plateau and continue losing pounds while surrounded by sweets and treats galore.

Will I fail? Will I gain pounds back between now and the end of December? Is my overall quest to lose sixty pounds an impossible dream?

As these and other questions fill my mind and self-doubt begins to interfere with my inner peace (and, thus, my riding) I realize it is time to do what so many of us are loathe to do:

Ask for help.

As I’ve mentioned here in past columns, Katrina Love Senn is my “life coach.” Katrina helps me stay honest with myself at the deepest level. I am a master at hiding pain from myself, but the only way I am ever going to get fit and healthy is to dig as deep as necessary to figure out WHY I overeat and/or eat unhealthy foods when I am under stress. So, a Skype session with Katrina is in order. Like any excellent riding instructor, Katrina will give me tips and insights to help me successfully “ride” through the upcoming holiday eating “course.”

Because stress causes negative feelings inside, there are days when I don’t “feel like” riding. Sometimes that is wise – if I’m really worried about something and cannot get my stress under control, it would be unfair to my very sensitive mustang for me to get in the saddle. Other times, I tell myself to “ride anyway.” Riding, like most forms of exercise, tends to make one feel better and happier. So it makes sense we should ride as often as possible, right? Horse Nation’s signature sign off says it all: Go riding.

And yet, when I’m under stress and just feel like eating a bunch of junk food and worrying instead of being active, my “inner voice” starts harping on me. “You can’t go riding – you need to focus!” “You can’t go riding, you should be working more!” “You can’t go riding – you should finish your [never-ending, bazillion-item] to-do list!”

But sometimes, as counterintuitive as it sounds, in order to regain our focus on what we most desire, we need to kick all those “shoulds” right out of our head. And sometimes, the best way to accomplish this is to play. And sometimes, we need to ask for help in playing.

Yes, you read that right: like those talented-but-anxious mares that try almost too hard and get all spun up in the process, some of us actually have to make an effort to play and ask for help with relaxation on occasion.

Photo: Esther Roberts

So! The week after Thanksgiving, Kaliwohi and I are going to go play for a few days. I’m hauling Kiwi to North Carolina to spend a week at adult rider’s horse camp with Eliza Sydnor Romm and some as-yet-unmet new riding friends.

I anticipate I’ll be the heaviest rider there. I anticipate Kaliwohi will be the least advanced horse there. And I’m giving myself permission to say, “I don’t care. We are going to this camp to spend quality time together, to learn, and to play.”

I’ve been so focused on trying to break through my present plateau on the scales that I’ve put too much pressure on myself to “lose weight.” Under that enormous pressure, I started to lose sight of why I started this journey in the first place, which was – and is – to be a better rider and have fun with my young mustang.

So, with the help of two great coaches, Katrina and Eliza, I hope to lose any sense of “pressure” to get the weight off as quickly as possible, and, in place of that pressure, to reestablish a sense of joy as I give myself permission to play – just in time for the holidays.

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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