I have a friend getting her masters in Nutrition, and for a class assignment, I agreed to be her lab rat. I needed to name a health issue. I am 55 years old and I work outside all day, doing work that would exhaust an 20-yr.-old, so my complaint was energy. I might have complained about my weight, I suppose. I am what farmers call “big boned”, meaning stronger than thinner. I gave up on normal beauty standards long ago, and my horses have always encouraged me to be more focused on what truly matters, relationship and communication. I want to be able to continue living this way and doing this work.
One of my mentors is Connie Douglas Reeves. She lived to 102, finally passing after a fall from her beloved chestnut Arabian. (She liked a spirited horse.) She was the first woman in Texas admitted to law school, married at 42, and ranched all her life. She taught riding for 66 years and she is my hero. Her motto is, “Always saddle your own horse.” I hope to do just that, and for just that long.
So that brings us to nutrition… I usually spend my day outside and as anyone who works with animals knows, the day can get away from you. I don’t always eat at regular times, which messes with what metabolism I have left, and when I do eat, it is whatever is available. Bad Cowgirl… I awaited my diet diary results with great trepidation; I have been known to eat my share of cake. I was shocked to find out that I wasn’t consuming enough calories, and not shocked to find out that I wasn’t combining my foods correctly.
A week later my meal plan arrived, and I am on Day 2. I am drinking lots of water and eating foods that I never used to buy. It is like eating someone else’s cooking. Every day is new. This morning for breakfast I had turkey sausage stir-fried with kale. Who knew? (Well, since collard greens fried in bacon fat are a cultural favorite, it isn’t new, but this is healthy!) I am loving the adventure and feeling stronger already.
So much of this is paying attention to the details of eating, and we Dressage Queens are very detailed oriented, so it isn’t a stretch. And the time is a small investment into my next 40 years of riding. I really recommend taking a look at Juliet’s blog (http://eatyourpeasnutrition.blogspot.com/) and considering a diet that is more organic and sustainable — better for us, better for the planet, and (what might matter most to us) better for our horses.
Spring is here, we are all trying to get into shape, and as usual, our horses are better fed than we are. I usually spend more time making their food than I do my own, and it is finally time to take care of my horse’s rider.
A special thank-you to Juliet — sharing your passion with me will sustain my passion.