Fat to Fit to First Level: Esther, Version 3.1

What’s my vision of success? What outcome do I seek?

Photo courtesy of Esther Roberts

Happy 2018, everyone! Last year ended in the best possible way for me, thanks to you! Fat to Fit to First Level won the Horse Nation’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Contributor Column. I am delighted and honored that so many of you resonate with this journey I am traveling – the journey to better health and fitness and becoming a better rider.

As 2017 came to a close, I invested some quality time to reflect back on both my successes and lessons learned in order to maximize the potential for reaching my goals in 2018. Now, as 2018 begins, it is time to look forward.

For “historical” reference, my highest weight ever was 207 pounds. But that number is long gone. Hallelujah. And I must adjust my thinking to accept my new ‘normal’ and move on in my weight-loss journey from here.

When we train horses from the ground up, there comes that first day we actually throw a leg over and “back” the horse. He feels our full weight for the first time. For the first time, we are no longer on the ground, but astride our riding partner.

If all the steps leading up to that first ride have been done properly and patiently, the moment we settle into the saddle for the first time should be a positive one for both horse and rider. Some would wax poetic and call it “magical.” Certainly it is memorable for most of us.

I vividly recall the moment I sat on Kaliwohi for the first time, just last year. I felt like a little girl sitting on a horse for the very first time, eyes wide with delight as I looked at the world from between his ears. I was giddy and giggling when I thought back to how far we’d come as a team – from Kiwi scampering off a stock trailer, fresh from his wild Wyoming home, to willingly allowing me to sit on him.

But, what if that’s all I ever did with my mustang? What if, each time I went to “ride,” I simply tacked Kiwi up and sat on his back? Just sat there, and never asked him for more?

He would never develop his muscles or his mind. He would never lose the weight he needs to lose. We would never walk or trot or canter or trail ride. Never go from introductory dressage movements to training to first level or beyond. So many “nevers” if we do not continue to grow and learn together.

The same thing would happen to me on my weight-loss journey if I kept looking at 207 and reflecting back on “how far I’ve come.” Phase One of my journey – and Kaliwohi’s – is now relatively complete. It’s time to refocus, time to reset my vision for the next phase, and time to move forward.

So. Here, at the beginning of 2018, my current weight as of this morning is 189 pounds. That number is still far higher than I want, higher than I should weigh, and higher than I will weigh by the end of 2018, God willing. In similar fashion, “backing” (sitting on) Kaliwohi is no longer enough. We’ve achieved that goal. Time to move forward.

Fitness and riding come down to the same rule that governs most life achievements:

Every choice has a consequence.

Regarding fitness, every food I choose to eat or not eat, every exercise I choose to do or not do – it all adds up, over time, to produce a cumulative effect, be that effect positive or negative. My eating and exercise choices over the recent holidays proved this law of choice and consequence, as I was able to enjoy the holidays and greet the near year without regaining too much weight.

Regarding riding, every skill we teach and every transition we ask for all add up to a well-trained, reliable riding partner. The time I invested with Kaliwohi in 2017 has provided a great base for us to build upon in 2018.

As we start this new year, here are some questions I’m asking myself, that you, too, might find helpful.

Am I where I want to be regarding _______ (fitness, weight, riding, work, creative endeavors, etc.)?

If not, what’s my vision of success? In other words, what is my desired consequence? What outcome do I seek?

What step can I take – what choice can I make – today that will move me even the tiniest step closer to my vision of success?


Go riding.

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