On uncovering the lies.
While it may seem like I’m taking a bit of a detour from talking about Kaliwohi this week, the truth is, when we find a “trouble spot” in our training, any wise rider will stop trying to move forward and invest as much time as is required to make sure there is no faulty foundation before going on to the next skill or level. So, this week, some raw honesty and hard truths about Esther.
As the next step – the “deeper dive” – into my own journey of self-discovery, I have come to realize that the only way I am going to truly break through the plateau that has plagued my weight loss efforts for months is to get honest with myself. Not superficially honest. Not polite honest. Raw honest. Painful honest. Life-changing, deeply honest.
Readers under thirty years old, take note: Life has a weird, wild way of sneaking past you. Seriously. You’re going to school and then graduating and getting jobs and setting up homes and the next thing you know, ten years (or more) have flown by!
In my mind, I’m about thirty-four years old. I’ve been thirty-four for some years now, and I expect I’ll stay in that mindset for many more years to come. I hope I do, anyway. Thirty-four is old enough to have some sense yet young enough to still be a little fearless, and perhaps even a little reckless.
When I was actually thirty-four, I was not fearless. I was timid. Unsure. Constantly questioning myself and my instincts. (When I was thirty-four I would never in a million years have had the courage to publish a photo of my back on the internet!) It has taken me a great deal of time and effort to fill in the holes in the foundation of my own self-esteem.
Sadly, when I was actually thirty-four, I still thought of myself as “fat” even though I weighed under 150 pounds. So many, many women have a similar, falsely negative self-image even when, in truth, they are not so terribly out of shape – perhaps merely ten or fifteen pounds overweight. Our mind plays tricks on us sometimes in a very negative way.
But what about the times when our mind plays tricks on us to delude us in a falsely positive way?
Today, I am sharing with you one photograph. One brutally honest photograph taken by me on March 1, 2018.
Back fat. Lots of it. The thing nearly every woman dreads. Why? Because we can “justify” stocky legs (“they run in my family” or “I’m big boned” or whatever) and we can discount flabby arms and pudgy tummies. But back fat is unforgiveable, because it is a clear indicator of one thing: obesity.
Raw honesty: In this photograph, I have both arms raised – one to hold my hair out of the way, and one to hold the phone/camera. So the actual folds and rolls and wretchedness are much, much worse to behold in person, friends.
After I decided to face my back, and take this picture, and deal with the reality of what it shows me, and after I allowed myself to feel the emotions that rose to the surface as I looked at this photograph of my own back fat, I realized the photo could actually serve as an excellent teaching device for me, and for anyone who cares to analyze it. So I asked myself, “what, objectively, do you see?”
“Do you see an athlete?,” I asked, as I studied the image. Yes, actually, I do. The person in this photograph is, overall, very healthy. Her limbs all work, her spine bends well and all her joints work. Her five senses work just fine. She has all her fingers and toes and teeth and her own hair, right down to its natural color. So many humans face life without the luxury of good general health.
(Side note: I recently had the opportunity to visit the Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding. Raw honesty: You wanna feel humbled by, and grateful for, your own good health? Spend a few minutes watching riders with physical or mental challenges, or both, striving to do things in the saddle that healthy riders take for granted.)
“Do you see a fit athlete?” I asked myself. And that’s when I thought of the Henneke scale, which is used for scoring the body fat on horses. When I look objectively at this photograph of my back, my mind can no longer play tricks on me and try to tell me losing 20 pounds is a great accomplishment.
Losing 20 pounds has only scratched the surface of the life changes this rider needs to make if she wants to become a FIT rider. Yes, every pound lost is one pound closer to my goal of being fit. And 20 pounds gone is a great start, indeed. But the rider in the mirror is still at least an 8 on the Henneke scale.
I would be horrified and feel like a failure as an equestrian if I let Kaliwohi get so obese and out of shape he was an 8 on the Henneke scale. True horsemanship begins on the ground, with the daily care and condition of your horse. Fail there, and all the ribbons and trophies in the world mean nothing, at least in my book.
So it is time to take an objective view of myself as an out-of-shape athlete who has a lot of potential. It is time to be courageous and begin feeding and conditioning myself as objectively as I do Kaliwohi.
Over the past several months I have been dealing with negative emotions and situations in my life that are extremely stressful. The human body goes straight into “protection” mode when under stress, so it is hardly surprising my weight loss has been virtually at a standstill during this time.
But, as the life situations resolve and the stress evaporates, it is time now to look at this 5’2” score-of-“8” version of me and consider: what additional changes do I need to make in my diet? Goodbye, processed sugar! What changes do I need to make in my conditioning program? Hello, mountain hiking!
Kaliwohi deserves a fit, trim, healthy rider. But even more importantly, I deserve to have a fit, trim, healthy body. And so do you.