Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Life Regional Championships, Class 2

Continuing on with my current round of life challenges, a.k.a. “opportunities for growth”…

My sister had surgery last week. I have one sister (by DNA, anyway; I am blessed to have several much-loved “life sistas” – holla to y’all, guuuuurlz!). My big sister, Frankie, is the sun in my universe. I adore her. We are as opposite as two humans can possibly be. Sis walks into a room and radiates ebullient life energy to every stranger, while I prefer to hang back and assess the situation before saying hi to anyone.

When my sis is not feeling well, my world is rocked. So for her to be in hospital, with someone carving on her, I feel stress. If you’ve got a cribber or weaver in your barn, welp – that’s me when my sis is unwell. I drove her to the hospital and stayed with her day and night until she was released. That means grueling hours of little sleep, constant interruptions, and, typically for me in the past, “hospital food.”

Someone irreplaceable in my life is in crisis, so I’m justified in consuming thousands of worthless calories in pizza and ice cream and candy and snacks, right? Right?

Wrong-o, Esther, and, thanks to my excellent coach, Katrina, and some hard work invested in self-growth over the past few years, this time, Essa was prepared.

I packed some fruit to take with me, including one fruit-and-chocolate candy snack that, while technically “candy,” was not as horrible as the endless array of vending machine sugar just down the hall. I invested in a hearty breakfast each day from the hospital cafeteria – oatmeal and eggs and bacon – so I would not feel hungry and go down the path of “endless/mindless munching” all day long. I called on one of my life sistas to bring me a healthy salad for supper so I could avoid the hospital cafeteria’s supper choices of pizza bar, burger bar, steamed-to-death veggie bar, or tired-and-wilted salad bar.

And I walked.  Every hour or so, when I could steal away for a few minutes, I briskly walked those hospital halls, to get some physical exercise and release some pent-up stress.

If I had Kiwi at a show, and he had to stand stalled most of the time, I would definitely get him out of that stall and hand-walk him, exercise him, hand-graze him if possible – just anything to give him some relief from being pent up all the time.

Kaliwohi and I enjoying a stress-free moment on a soggy afternoon. Photo by Sarah Frances Smith

At a regional championship, I would not feed Kiwi only horse cookies (despite how much he loves them).  Nor would I – these days – feed myself junk food at a show and expect to ride my best.

I have finally, at long last, realized the benefits from the past two years of re-wiring my physiology with feeding myself better fuel. Woo hoo! These days, I can walk past the deep dish pepperoni pizza bar, warm with gooey cheese melting off the edges of each easy-to-grab slice, because I can accurately predict how I will feel, thirty minutes after eating junk food.

Yes, my taste buds would be joyful, as the buttery crust, delicious mozzarella, and spicy pepperoni all blended together with each chew. But the rest of my body, after swallowing, would feel like I’d ingested a brick: heavy, burdened, and still hungry.

The body craves food for two reasons:  fuel, or feelings. Feed your body for fuel, and most everything else balances, biochemically, so you can handle the stresses of life – from friends who betray (see last week’s “Class One” article), to bionic sisters (she got a new knee, and she’s doing great!).

Indulging in emotional eating is just like hitting a morphine pump – yes, you’ll feel better in the short-term, but the underlying negative emos remain to be dealt with at some point in time. With each challenge I face successfully, I am strengthening my ability to deal with negative emotions and stress. Like exercising a physical muscle makes the muscle grow stronger and work more efficiently and effectively, exercising my mental “muscle” to choose wisely is making me more healthy, thinner, and able to eliminate stress more efficiently and effectively.

I didn’t win any ribbons for my recent “life regional championships,” but I did climb two major pegs up the ladder of self-esteem and self-care in my “warrior woman” battle to be happier, healthier, and horsier.

Join me at the Happy, Healthy & Horsey Facebook group.


Go Riding

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