Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Changing Perspective

“I swore the one thing I would never do is write down what I ate.”

Without getting into the myriad debates about whether this song is “appropriate for children” I myself enjoy the song, “I like to move it! move it!” from the animated film Madagascar. I ignore all the rampant sexual overtones, undertones, etc., and just enjoy the fact that it’s an upbeat song that is fun to dance to. And I am discovering, as I get more fit and toned, I enjoy “moving” more and more.

I’ve read countless testimonials from others about how they “used to be so sedentary; now I’m active and I love it and want more!”

Horsefolk, by definition, are not “sedentary” thankyouverymuch, and yet, because I have a desk job, I am not at all as active as I was in my non-lawyerin’ days of yore. So, in my ongoing efforts to become fitter and healthier, Esther is channeling her inner King Julian. Since I already spend so many hours indoors, the idea of working out in a gym makes me cringe (literally) so I head outdoors to work various muscle groups.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains. Photo by Hillary Brown.

I have challenged myself in a couple of ways during “Q2” of 2019. One is that I will no longer wear baggy clothing to try and hide whatever rolls and bulges remain. No, I don’t want to wear skin-tight clothing, but for years I “upsized” my wardrobe in a sad and self-defeating effort to hide the body I was so very ashamed of. These days, knowing it is the only body I’ve got, I’m working to reframe my self-loathing into self-awareness and self-care. So, in the above photo, I’m wearing size large pants (not XLs like when I began this journey at 207 pounds), and a size large shirt.

Since sizing amongst brands can vary widely, in case anyone’s interested, the pants are by Royal Robbins and the shirt is by Ariat. Yes, I wish every lump and bump and roll were gone, and yes, at some level this photo is embarrassing because I was one of the largest people in this particular hiking group, and yet – I’m so much thinner than I was when I started this journey and I’m winning my decades-long battle with low self-esteem.

Another way I have challenged myself this quarter is to start writing down what I eat. Ohhhhh, how I have fought this discipline. When I first began this journey, I swore the one thing I would never do is write down what I ate, every meal, every day, ad infinitum. Bleah.

But not long ago, when chatting with a friend about our respective challenges with maintaining fitness and appropriate weight, my friend mentioned a couple of food-recording apps and how much the one they used was helping them stay on track with their fitness goals.

So, at long last, two years into this journey, I decided to check it out. I took a look at the “My Fitness Pal” and “Lose It” apps. I installed the app “Lose it” on my phone and told myself I’d give it at least two weeks and see how I felt at the end of that time about recording my food intake. Here’s a photo of Kaliwohi that pretty much sums up my initial “enthusiasm” for this endeavor.

Kaliwohi, dozing in the morning sun. Photo by Esther Roberts.

Ho hum, this is gonna be dreadful! I told myself, as I set the app’s many options to a bright yellow background with sunflowers and happy honeybees. I thought cheery colors might at least improve the whole laborious process and inspire me to log my meals on a regular basis.

I also decided that I would simply log everything I ate for the first two weeks without trying to modify my food intake at all. Sort of like how the farrier evaluates a lame horse before he starts digging out an abscess…

But after a few days of dutifully logging my meals, I discovered something about that app, and about me.

The app, like my financial budget, did not constrict my choices at all! The app, like my budget, simply helped me gain knowledge, insight, and perspective on my own choices – both with respect to types of food and amounts of food. This change in perspective felt like a light-bulb going off in my head! Let me explain.

Going back to my lovely mustang for a moment: as Kiwi dozed in the sun during this impromptu photo shoot, his head dropped down so low that, for the first time since I’ve owned this horse, I realized he has two whorls where his forelock meets his mane, and they go in opposite directions, which is what allows his forelock fall neatly between his ears and down his forehead!  Maybe every horse’s forelock starts with two opposing whorls – I truly have no idea. But have never noticed this fascinating detail about Kiwi until I had this unique perspective/view. I usually trim his bridle path from the side and his bridle adjusts on the side, not the top, so I had never seen the literal top of his head before, despite owning him since 2014.

Kiwi’s forelock and whorls. Photo by Esther Roberts.

What using the “Lose it!” app has done for me is to give me a clear view of what my daily nutritional/caloric intake should be, and what it actually is. #Perspective

I discuss Kiwi’s nutritional needs on a regular basis with my vet, the feed store folks, and the reps for the feeds and hay I use. I want my horses to have the best. possible. nutrition. available. And, because Kiwi’s a super-easy-keeper, I’m always adjusting his intake and nutrition to make sure he doesn’t plump back up to a “7” on the body score scale.

So why wouldn’t I do the same sort of monitoring and regulating for me???????

I’m guessing some of y’all are smackin’ your head ’bout now going, “seriously, Esther? It took you two years to have this realization?” Raw honesty: yes, it did. But now that I’m here, the past few days I have been making smarter food choices, even under stress – woo hoo!!!! – and also exhibiting much better discipline regarding portions.

During the first few days of using this app, I typically went well over my caloric limit (a “caloric budget” based upon data I entered in the app regarding my current weight and weight-loss goals, timeframe, etc.). These days, I’m often under that budget by just a smidge at the end of each day. #Progress

As y’all know, the scale and my weight are not the sole metric by which I am measuring my success on this journey. I’m stronger than I have been in years, thanks to DDPY yoga. I’m feeling far more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to become, thanks to Katrina Love Senn and the amazing support of some great friends and family.

A food tracking app is just one more tool I am learning to use to help me achieve the level of health and fitness I desire.

From this perspective, tracking my daily food intake becomes a useful aid in my journey, not a burden. If you’re on this journey with me, or thinking of starting down your own path to health and wellness, why not try logging your food intake? Perhaps it could help you “lose it! lose it!”

Another great “perspective” shot of Kiwi, with his eye closed and his super-long lashes! Photo by Esther Roberts.


Go Riding!

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