Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Progress!

“This is the one body I have for this life. And I want it to be fit and firm and strong and supple, not for cosmetic reasons, but so I can enjoy life to the fullest, each and every day, for as long as possible. Just like riding, some days I win big. Some days I fail big.”

Edward Vilga is a smart guy who loves yoga, his dog, and helping people live better lives. (Perhaps not necessarily in that order, though; I think his doggo comes first, and rightfully so.)

I recently read something Mr. Vilga had written, and it resonated oh-so-much with where I am on this journey towards health and fitness.

“Your choices are incremental, adding up significantly over time.”

Speaking of time, sometimes it seems like I’ve been working on getting thinner and fitter forever. Yet Vilga’s words are true in both directions.

Incremental bad choices got me overweight; incremental good choices are gonna get me back to a healthy weight and fitness level.

And the time is gonna pass, one way or the other: I can make bad choices and go back to gaining weight, or I can make good choices and continue on this sometimes-frustrating journey. It is totally my choice how I invest the time (or fritter it away, if I opt to be lazy).

As any regular reader of this column knows, the scale has been refusing to budge for nearly a year now, and I have been starting to get discouraged.

Yet I despise all the naysayers and advertisements and negative notions of, “once you reach a certain age, you can’t lose weight/get fit. Just accept it and eat the cookies and enjoy the flab.” Bleah. Not if I can possibly help it, folks. There are people far older than I am riding horses and running marathons and climbing mountains, and if they can stay fit and athletic, then by heavens, so can I.

Soooooo… This week I had my galpal, Tess McHone of Everyday Beauty Photography come over and take some updated photographs, to check my progress. I’ve been told time and again, “the scale is only one way to measure health, and not a great one, at that” but we all know this one undeniable fact:

Pictures do not lie.

To start us off, here’s one that Tess worked her “before” outline magic on (the red areas) and superimposed the current me over top.

All photos by Everyday Beauty Photography.

While I’d sure like to have the whole belly gone by now, I was shocked, frankly, to see my improved posture. Kudos to yoga, friends, because that is the one activity (besides cleaning the barn daily) I have been doing consistently in 2019.

The tape measure said I’d dropped a couple of inches off my waist and my bum, and the above photo confirms that. Woo hoo!

My improved posture has changed the placement of my outstretched arms, as you can see in this photo. Holy moly, I never expected that. And, other than the change in posture, I am in the same position as I was when I began this journey. So, while some of the red in the above photo is due to a higher arm placement (woo hoo for stronger shoulders!), the fact remains that some of the upper arm flab is gone. Hallelujah and pass the push-ups.

What made me tear up with joy, however, was this photo:

Tess used her photography wizardskilz and took my backside “before” photo and placed it alongside my current backside photo.  Yes, my arms are raised, but that does not affect the obvious changes in my conformation and composition you see in this photograph.

The best part is I feel stronger and more flexible than I have in years. I wonder, in hindsight, if I might have stayed on Kaliwohi last summer if only I had been more fit.

Speaking of Kaliwohi, he’s having a great spring! I don’t let him have much early-spring grass; it has too much sugar and he is most definitely an “easy keeper.” #LikeRiderLikeHorse #StayinAtAFive

But we’re having fun just easing into the rhythm of warmer temps and longer days and spending quality time together.

My fat-to-fit journey is slow. I understand, now, that I’m no longer a teenager who’s decided to drop a few pounds in time for prom, nor a college co-ed who’s shedding pounds to perfect her beach-body.

I am a grown woman. I neglected my own health for decades. Too much junk food, not enough quality fuel. Too much stress, too little relaxation. Too many sedentary moments working at my “desk job” and not enough active moments to maintain optimal health and fitness and quality of life.

This is the one body I have for this life. And I want it to be fit and firm and strong and supple, not for cosmetic reasons, but so I can enjoy life to the fullest, each and every day, for as long as possible.

So, like a damaged mare in some long-term rehab, I work at it, slowly and deliberately. Just like riding, some days I win big. Some days I fail big.

But, like Edward Vilga noted, my incremental choices are, overall, obviously very positive, because they are “adding up significantly over time.”

Just. Like. Riding.

Now that I’m all healed up from last year’s crash, and starting to feel a bit more like a toned, coordinated human again instead of a ramshackle mess of flab and flesh, I’m going to push myself a little harder throughout 2019.

I’m setting a public goal, right here, right now, to have Tess back out in twelve weeks to take some new photos. Let’s see where I am in three months. And three months after that. And three months after that. I do not set these goals to put ginormous pressure on myself. But, if the first quarter of 2019 has brought me the results I see in these photographs, I am eager to see what I can accomplish if I set some regular accountability goals for myself.

Just like training a young horse (or – ahem – re-training an older one, in this case), now that she’s working well on the basics, it’s time to up my expectations of myself.


Go Riding!

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