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I’ll ride once I lose this weight. I’ll schedule that lesson when I can fit back in my breeches. Getting back in the saddle or going to a show is my reward for losing weight.
Even if you haven’t said them out loud or made it your resolution, it’s a common refrain. And it needs to stop.
Discipline, Not Motivation
According to Mel Robbins, 1/3 of Americans are unsatisfied with their lives. So, my friend, you are not alone in wanting to lose weight, wear a smaller size, ride more, remember to put on make up or whatever else it is that you are needing.
If we all want more, why aren’t we out there getting it?
If you’re like me, periodically you have this conversation with yourself. Why didn’t I go to the gym or meal prep? If I could just stay motivated! Maybe if I buy this/sign up for this/etc, I’ll stay motivated enough to make it happen this time. Y’all, I don’t know about you but it never really works. And over the last few years, I’ve found that motivation is kind of crap in general. Fun play lists, goals written on the wall, apps that remind me of the next step –> none of it helps when I’m exhausted and hungry and deciding whether to grab something quick (and calorie heavy) on the way home or make the meal I’d planned.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally realized that motivation wasn’t what I needed all along – it was discipline & habit.
**Now, before we go any farther, let’s take a minute to address the fact that when I say discipline & habit, I’m not saying you can tough love yourself out of medical need. Whether it is a hormone related weight issue or panic attacks or post-partum depression, medical needs require medical intervention. I’m talking about mind set.**
Dream vs Goals
When I bought Elf, a dream came true. Easily the most talented and well-schooled horse I’ve ever owned, I immediately started day dreaming about shows and clinics and goals. Then life happened. We moved 4 months later. My husband left for a 5 month military assignment before our things came off the moving the truck. Our son struggled to adjust to daddy being gone. Then, my husband came home and quickly left for a deployment overseas. I went back to work in the middle of all of this. I continued to struggle with my weight, my health and making myself a priority. I joined a gym, signed up for personal training, bought Beachbody products, invested in meal planning programs.
None of it brought me closer to my goals and each perceived failure made those goals feel farther away.
When it came right down to it, I wasn’t doing the things that needed to happen in order to meet my goals. And, in that moment, it didn’t feel possible.
Just do it
In an email with my husband shortly after he deployed in 2014, I lamented that I wasn’t riding and that I felt guilty spending the money on board. That maybe I should sell Elf. That I wasn’t working out or taking lessons or showing anyway, so I might as well just sell him because I wasn’t making any progress. (Go ahead and roll your eyes at my wallowing in self-pity, I know. I’ll wait)
Bless his heart, he simply responded “well, why don’t you just do those things?”
Now, for those non-military folks reading this, let me explain a little bit about your state of mind as a spouse 6 weeks into a deployment. You’ve gotten through the worst of the tears and the first load of laundry without any of their clothes. You start to feel like you’ve got a handle on this. You can do it. Then, something happens. Something always goes wrong and knocks loose that tenuous hold you had on things. –> that was the moment when my husband asked me why I didn’t just DO it.
After a rather expletive filled vent with a close friend about how he obviously did not understand how stressed and stretched thin I was, I realized he was right. I couldn’t necessarily make the weight loss and the horse shows and things happen. I could, however, work out and ride consistently and make time to take lessons. It meant changing up my schedule and juggling the budget. But I did it.
Break the Cycle
Riding is more than a hobby for me. In the saddle is the one place where the constant buzz of ideas and to do lists in my head is quiet. Barn time makes me a better parent and wife, because I am more relaxed and plugged in. It’s worth taking the time out of my week to make sure that it happens.
If riding nurtures you, then it shouldn’t be a carrot that you only get when you accomplish something like weight loss. Pick one thing today that will make you healthier, take you one step closer to your goal – and do it. Tomorrow, choose to do it again. Make it a habit. But don’t wait to get in the saddle. All that positive momentum, that you-can-do-anything feeling you get from a great ride? Let that be the motivation, the push you need to make the healthy choice.
My first step? I’m focusing on setting myself up for healthy choices by making breakfast and lunch easy – soups, leftovers I can heat up and prepped meals. If you’d like some support, I’d love for you to join me over in my Facebook group. No programs, no selling, just equestrians cheering each other on.