So maybe rider fitness is a hot topic for you. Maybe not. I’ve been overweight most of my adult life. I didn’t get that way until my first marriage failed and I self medicated with food. That was about 15 years ago. Some things become clearer with time, but I digress. Anyhow, I’ve been on the weight-loss roller coaster a few times since then. I’ve also remarried and now have two kids. Oh yeah…and I’m staring down the barrel at 40. Well, ok, 38 years old, but still…the big 4-0 isn’t too far away and it gets harder to get fit as I get older Add on to the age factor that having kids — especially as an older first time mom — does things to your body that you just never recover from. Truly. It weakens you in some ways and strengthens you in others. My abs had never been so weak as they were after having two babies in a row. And that is kind of where this fitness tracking story begins. You see, I began riding my horse again in July 2013 after pretty much a year off of work.
In February 2013, after the birth of our second child, I weighed in at 197 lbs. That was my highest non-pregnant weight ever. In July 2013 I got on a fitness kick that included getting a fitness tracking band. Based on the recommendations of my sister-in-law, I went with the Jawbone Up. I started working out at the end of July. I decided to do the BeachBody Focus T25 program. I was really motivated because I had made a point to start riding again — and even registered for a USDF show to ride 2nd Level. Ha! Again, in hindsight, that was really dumb, but I digress. Anyhow, I wanted to improve my fitness. I was fat and flabby from having two babies pretty much back-to-back. And while I didn’t like the physical me I saw in the mirror, the more important part was that my lack of muscle tone was negatively affecting my riding. Something had to change.
This past spring, I downloaded the Couch to 5K app, which is a training app that helps you start from never running to being able to run a 5K. I really didn’t think I would complete it. I really disliked running. However, the more I did the program, the more I like what I was seeing. Add to that on days that I was running, I was easily reaching my goal of 10,000 steps per day. I like completing the daily goals set by the fitness band. I completed the C25K training program in June and have noticed a couple of important things:
- I really like running. I average about 3 miles for each run. I run 3x per week.
- I have noticed some great changes in my body. In general, I’m back down to a size 10 and a couple pair of shorts are even a size 8. Wahoo!!! At my heaviest, I was in a size 18.
- Riding well is easier. I repeat: Riding well is easier. Its easier to sit. Its easier to ride the canter. Its easier to use my legs appropriately. Its easier to NOT use my hands.
That third item has been the biggest and most positive change for me. Yes, I love feeling fitter and healthier. However, I really love riding better. I can tell that my cardio is so much more improved. I used to be out of breath after just a couple of laps at the canter around the arena. Now I can canter for ages. We take breaks more for my mare than for me — and considering she’s a TB, that’s saying something.
So please know that I’m saying this from a place of no judgement towards any of you readers out there. I believe this whole-heartedly: improving your health and fitness WILL improve your riding.
Brief review of the Jawbone Up lifetracker/wristband. When it works, its fabulous. Love the app. Love wearing the wristband. The only problem is that I’m on my 4th wristband in less than a year and I’m officially past the one year warranty so I have to decide if I like the App enough to buy another wrist band — knowing that it will probably break down too.