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On The Subject Of Weight

Posted by Avishay04, 29 April 2012 · 183 views

So I've been following a few of the threads on HC about a rider's weight/fitness and how that affects a horse. I couldn't find exactly who suggested it, but someone had made an offhand comment about how she would like to see someone look more towards the positive side of this issue, and share what it is that they are doing to help themselves (and their horses) become more fit. This is something that I've been actively engaged in myself, so I thought that I'd take that person's suggestion and share a little bit of what I've been doing.

First, a little background to give some context:

I turned 28 years old this past Friday. I've been riding since I was 4, though not consistently until I was 11. I played basketball from first grade until my junior year of high school, and I spent all of high school and most of college doing shotput, discus, javelin, and hammer, as well as competitive "Olympic" style weight lifting.

I know how to eat right for my body type/energy needs and how to exercise for maximum fitness. However, even when I was doing 300+ crunches and jogging 3-5 miles a day, plus spending time doing sprints, and weight room conditioning, I still had a spare tire. What I didn't know then was that I have a metabolic issue (diabetic, plus some other stuff) that makes weight loss very, very hard for me, and no mater what I do short of surgery, I'm always going to be paunchy around the middle.

To has made my weight struggles worse in recent years is my inability to exercise to the extent I had in the past. Over the last ten years I've had some major injuries - blown tendons in my left ankle, multiple tears in both my rotator cuffs, and permanent nerve damage in my back. As a result, most of my exercise is now less structured. I maintain two small facilities, and about 14-16 horses at any given time. My "home" facility is on five acres and I do most of the maintenance for the property, including mucking (lots, and LOTS of mucking!)

In short - I'm a tall, chunky, physical wreak of a human being. But I'm NOT lazy or inactive, quite the opposite.

But I love my horses, and I love to ride. I want to be the best rider I can be, as well as a good role model for my students. And not insignificantly, I want to look good on a horse and in my show clothes.

The tough part that I struggled with for about two weeks was this: to loose weight one needs to do two things:

1. Move more

2. Eat less

Weight loss isn't rocket science.

What I didn't really know when I started looking into preparing a plan for this new journey to a healthier me was just HOW MUCH LESS I should be eating. I'm not a big eater, and I generally favor the fruits and veggies since I was a vegetarian for 7 years and it just became habit. But I admit a severe weakness for pasta - hey, I'm Italian! - and baked goods (though I've always been careful to limit my sugar intake).

Still, it wasn't until I bought the official Biggest Loser diet book at a discount store and started thumbing through it that I stumbled upon just how few calories I really needed to eat in order to lose weight. According to the book, I should only be taking in about 1,700 calories, which is surprisingly hard to do. So far I've only been moderately successful for the past week, but I know that as I develop new habits, it will become less onerous.

Another shocker: you have to burn 3,500 calories to loose one pound.

For context - an hour walking trail ride only burns 275 calories. An hour of moderate intensity arena work (mostly trot stuff) burns about 700 calories. So for those of us who think that riding is enough to help us actually lose weight - you'd have to ride at a moderate pace for 5 hours to loose one pound. So while riding may help improve muscle tone and keep you active, you probably won't LOSE weight by riding.

What your barn chores burn:  
- 1 hour of mucking pens/stalls = 653 calories
- 1 hour of general cleaning at a moderate pace = 378 calories
- 1 hour of gardening/landscaping (such as working on your pasture or fence lines) = 542 calories
-handwalking your horse for an hour at a moderate pace (roughly 3mph) = 378 calories.  

(reference: http://www.prohealth...lculator1_2.cfm)

I also learned that in order to maximize fat burn, you need to maintain a minimum heart rate, which is 220 - your age. So in my case 220 - 28 = 192. To have a heart rate of 192, I'd have to be really pushing myself, and with my other physical issues, it will be up to my doctor and I just how much of that I can handle without over-stressing my back and ankle.

So with all of this info and a powerful motivation, I'm setting out to lose 40 lbs. Assuming a target of healthy weight loss (about 2 lbs a week) that should take me 5 months. And to keep me on target, I've decided to chronicle my journey towards a me that is going to look better in the saddle, feel better, and be the truly fit rider my horses deserve. Won't you join me?




You sound so motivated! Good Luck! I am 7 months pregnant and soon I will be commencing with my 1250 Cal a day diet to drop the baby weight, so I know how grueling what you are going through is. I always have good luck dropping weight when I actually count everything I eat though. I really don't realize how much I eat until I write it all down. Know that I will be there with you in a few months. <br><br>Also, remember that 220- your age is your Max heart rate, not your Min. You should be staying between 50% and 80% of that most of the time when working out. When I read that I thought "Holy cow, I hope she isn't training at her Maximum heart rate." <br><br>I like your 5 hours of trotting to lose a pound. Maybe I will use that to help both me and my hippopotamus looking horse after this baby is born. <br><br>Let us know how things progress for you.&nbsp;<img class="bbc_emoticon" alt=":smileywavey:" src="http://forums.horsec...ileywavey.gif"> &nbsp; <br>
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Congratulations on your baby! :D I wish you an easy delivery and a healthy, happy baby!

Thanks for the encouragement and the correction on the heart rate info. I must have misread/misunderstood the book. It's so much harder to go this alone, without the help I've had in the past, so your kind words are very much appreciated.
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