Dedication Makes a Difference

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I started riding at the ripe old age of 13. Which means that after 13 years of nagging my parents finally caved into giving me lessons.

Riding was a dream come true. But back when I was 16 I hit my lowest low. If I could describe myself it would be exhausted, hungry, and self loathing.

As a maturing teen I had filled out some. And people’s comments went from praising me for being “skinny” to flat out calling me “fat”.

I started to deprive myself of food and was working out almost every day doing the same crunches and arm workout I knew, thinking that the key to losing weight was to eat less and workout more.

The result? After years of starving myself and then binging, and starving myself again and working out everyday as punishment resulted in me being more tired, more frustrated, my health and my riding greatly suffered.

After getting married my husband introduced me to weight lifting. That’s when my life started to change.

After years of hiding it from everyone, I told my husband about my struggles. I told him that I wanted to be strong to ride better and lose weight. He taught me the difference between fat and muscle and how they effect your “weight”. To put it simply fat takes up more room than muscle. So 50 pounds is 50 pounds but it may look different depending on how much is fat or how much is muscle.

I learned about how working different muscle groups can help my bad posture when riding and help me get enough strength to have a steady and effective lower leg.

He taught me that in order to get strength you have to challenge your muscles which tears them down and then when they build back up they build up stronger.

That’s why it was important to eat nutritiously. After a lot of research into nutrition I decided to eat mostly healthy foods. But I was still restricting my calories too much. It was like an addiction. A compulsion. It took a lot of determination to stick to eating more and more. But if that’s one thing horses taught me, its determination.

In time By learning how to properly exercise and eat healthy I lost fat, gained muscle, gained strength, greatly improved my riding and my self confidence.

Eating lots of nutritious foods gave me the energy I needed. So that instead of passing out on the couch after a day of riding I could keep going and get my house cleaned or something. Working my back, chest, and shoulders really helped my posture. Working my legs gave me so much more effectiveness and a steadier leg in the saddle.

Despite a busy schedule I’m able to keep eating healthy by cooking a lot at once and then portioning it out for the next few days. Most people call it Meal-Prep. I only workout 4 days a week in the evenings after work for about 45 minutes. I prefer to stick mostly to weight lifting and working only one part of the body at a time or a “split body routine”.

Throughout my journey I discovered how important REAL hydration is. To be truly hydrated you need at least half you body weight on ounces of water. So if you weight 200 pounds you need to drink 100 ounces of water a day.

It takes a while to work up to and some real dedication to stick with but it’s amazing what a difference it can make. Try it for a few weeks and then try to go back. You will realize how much better you feel when your hydrated. It helped me gain clarity and be able to focus on more difficult rides or maneuvers.

In this sport we do an excellent job of making sure our equine partners are fit and fed like the athletes they are. But we are too! We can definitely benefit from it. It changed my life!

You can follow along with Gaby’s fitness blog here.

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