Fat to Fit to First Level: A New Vision

Are you moving away? Or moving towards?

May means graduation for many people in high school or college – even eighth grade graduation is a Big. Deal. if you’re the one graduating. As life propels you forward, the “glory days” of past chapters in life mellow into cherished memories.

I was chatting with my friend and life coach, Katrina Love Senn, recently and our topic of discussion was “motivation.” And Katrina said something that I think bears repeating, as well as discussing, relative to horses and weight and life in general.

She said, “There are two ways to achieve change. Moving away from something, or moving towards something. Moving away causes a loss of motivation; moving towards creates additional motivation.”

Raw honesty, as promised: I began this weight loss journey in a “moving away” mindset. I saw 207 on the scales and knew 210 was on the very near horizon, and, man oh man did I ever want to move away from 210 pounds!

So I cranked up my motivation and moved away, moved away, moved away, until I was (and still am) in the mid-180s. Whew! Take a breath, Esther, 200 is waaaaaay back there. You’re doing great. You’re well away from 207! Woo hoo!


While I’ve said from day one of this journey I want to “lose 60 pounds” what does that actually mean? That I want to see 147 on the scale? That would be lovely, but friends, let me tell you, it’s been so many, many years since I have weighed less than 150 pounds, I have no clue what 147 looks or feels like anymore.

If this journey were one of miles instead of pounds, I have “moved away” from Siberia but my “moving towards” the Greek Islands seems so distant as to be outside the realm of possible.

The issue, of course, is that my mindset has been focused on relief that I’m no longer in the Siberia of the scale. In sum, I’ve been looking backward. I have been telling myself, deep down inside, “whew – you’re no longer so obese, but you have to be careful or you’ll regain all those pounds . . .” And that, friends, is an indicator that I have been, mentally, still “moving away” from the 200 mark. On the metaphorical trip from Siberia to the Greek Islands, I’ve been sorta standing still, just grateful to be away from the cold. But there is a warm, sunny, elegant destination ahead, if I can just turn my focus forward and start “moving toward.”

A quick comparison of Kaliwohi may help illustrate my point. This time last year, I put a saddle on Kiwi’s back for the very first time. I bridled him for the very first time. And I rode him for the very first time.

Photo by Paige Kirkland

As this photo illustrates, Kaliwohi quietly accepted the bit but did not immediately yield his poll and relax. After a few initial rides, he was reaching for the contact, but not yet engaged at all behind.

Photo by Paige Kirkland

This was absolutely fine: last year, he was a green bean mustang and did everything I asked of him with a quiet willingness that I cherish.

This spring, however, we are in a different place. Kaliwohi understands the basic concept of self-carriage now so I can ask him to work in a training level frame.

Photos by Frankie Holt

As these recent photos illustrate, Kaliwohi is accepting the contact, focusing on communication, and starting to track up and through with his hinds. He is learning to fill the outside rein and bend around my inside leg. Progress.

If I kept Kaliwohi working in last year’s introductory frame, he would become bored and, more to the point, he would not progress. Kaliwohi has graduated. I know this, and so I ask him for the additional qualities requested at training level, and he is progressing. Yay, Kiwi.

How I stayed so blind to my stagnant vision for my own self just makes me shake my head, frankly. Yes, I’ve lost pounds and inches. Yes, I’m much stronger and more fit than I was this time last year.

But in order for me to make additional progress, to lose more weight, to continue my journey down the scale, I need to acknowledge that I, too, have “graduated.”

One-third of my weight loss journey – twenty pounds – is behind me. Instead of harboring a deep fear of regaining any of that weight, shivering in fear of returning to “Siberia,” I need to focus only on what lies ahead of me. I am not moving away from 207 pounds; rather, I am moving towards 180, 170, 160, 150!

Metaphorically, instead of wearing a heavy parka and lugging a backpack full of all one needs to survive in Siberia, I need to drop all that mental baggage and carry forward only what I’ll need in my much lighter destination. I am moving forward towards health and vitality.

What will help me get there?

Accept the contact: I need to listen to myself more, especially when I feel hungry. Is that hunger legitimate? Or is it my emotional “flee” response trying to make me bolt? Half-halt your brain, Esther, and consider the “why” of your hunger before you mindlessly choose to sate it.

Inside leg: I need to make new, more positive demands of myself with regards to food choices. Move away from even a few chips or fries, Esther. Embrace a new level of mental discipline and have carrots instead of pretzels with hummus.

Outside rein: I need to relax into new behaviors. Better time management – to create time for more exercise and more rest, for example – is a support, not a constraint. Saying “no” to mindless distractions is not a loss, it is a way to focus and gain more time to do the things that matter most to me.

Track up and through: In every physical thing I do – barn chores, yoga, riding, even work –  can I stretch just a little bit more? Can I be just a smidge stronger? Can I challenge my body to try harder?

I do not want to live my life “moving away” from being overweight. I want to move towards – indeed, scamper towards – a life of vibrant fitness!

Are you moving away? Or moving towards?

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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