Real Talk || Food-Gym-Body Image and Riding

As equestrians we make sure our horses are in top shape. We buy them the best quality feed, and just for safe measure spend a ton more money on supplements just in case. We make sure our horse is worked and conditioned enough. That he is fit. That he is healthy from the frog of his hoof to the tips of his ears. Making sure he has a gleaming coat and plenty of rest.

But what about us?

Equestrians are notorious for grabbing fast food if they even remember to eat. For never spending a dime on a Doctor's visit because let's face it, we can still move! And the horse comes first. We will dismiss any and all health concerns because we can't afford a Doctor, we already pay for a vet. We never dream of going to a gym after killing our backs mucking stalls. And what is sleep anyway??
And that's just the normal stuff.
I once read an article about the link between equitation girls and eating disorders. It was interesting. But it's far more common and potentially dangerous than people think.

Ready for another sap story of mine?

I was never overweight. Not even close. Most of the time I was underweight but not too severely and it wasn't my fault. I ATE! A lot!
When I was 13 a lady took my mom aside to ask if I was ok? To ask if I was anorexic?
My cousins always teased me and called me "string bean".
I hated it!
One time I tried to gain weight to prove my cousins wrong. I stuffed my face for 3 days and only gained one pound. Lost it the next day after eating normally again.
But all it took was one "suck it in" to make me think I was fat.
I never weighed more than 98.6 I weighed that much for a long time. But when I was 15 I started to fill out a little bit and I was doing a lot of hard work so I was probably also putting on muscle. However I knew nothing about fitness. I was always attracted to it. But my family is not exactly "active". So when the scale read 111lbs I freaked out! I know, I know that's NOTHING to worry about and no where near overweight but, again, I knew nothing about health and fitness.
I started eating less and working out consistently. Keep in mind I didn't know what I was doing. My workouts were some benchpress, and lots of crunches!.
Now, that worked for a while. I lost 5lbs. I felt better being under 110 again. But as I started looking at motivational fitness posts on pinterest I wanted to look like those girls and all I knew was eat less and work my abs. So that's what I did. I arrived at 100lbs. I was eating less than 1,000 calories a day. Riding 5 horses a day. And exercising at home at night.
95-97lbs was my lowest and it was such a struggle to stay there because one extra bite or two of food would shoot me up a pound.
I once was so desperate I once only had a handful of cereal all day. I could barely stay awake let alone move.
After a week of starvation with only 500 calories or less a day I'd binge for a few hours. Probably only eating 1,000 calories or so but it didn't matter. My damaged metabolism would pack on the weight. Then I'd spend the next week starving myself again eating as little as I could.
I got to the point where most days I only had 300 calories at most. I'd do 1,000 crunches and as many push-ups as I could.
My weight crept back up to 106. Then 110 give or take. But it was all fat. My body clung to fat for its life sake. It was in survival mode. When your that deprived, even lettuce will be stored as fat.
A relative of mine had a friend over one day and when I walked in her friend said "omg! You got FAT!". I was devastated inside but on the outside I just shrugged and brushed it off.
At this point in life. Only 7-8 weeks before she said that. When I felt my worst. Looked chunky without being anywhere near overweight. That is when Matthew and I started dating. I remember how happy he was that we were together. He did not see me how I saw me. But I thought maybe it's just because I hid it well.
I starved my way back to about 106 give or take for most of our courtship. I had told him about my insecurities and he gave me reassurance. I felt better at 106 and was ok. I couldn't tell if I was hungry. I had starved too long to know the difference.
After getting married and going on "the pill" my weight shot up to 115/117 and I stopped weighing myself because I couldn't cope. No amount of starvation and exercise worked. I ate 300-600 calories a day and literally passed out at work. I was always so sick. Always in pain and nauseous.
I knew what I was doing. But I was in too deep to get out. I was terrified to stop doing this to myself. If these extreme measures didn't work then what would eating normal do to me???
I willfully for a few years at this point, knowing how sick I was, persisted in my agonizingly unhealthy path.
All this time I never told a soul. Not even Matthew what I was doing. I hid it very, very well. When people showed any concern I always had a way around it.
But when we moved to Texas and lived with my parents my mother ate very clean. I followed her example. I lost a few pounds but not much. Then 3 months after the move I ran out of birth control pills before I could afford to get more. After a month or two I realized I NEVER wanted them again. I realized what havoc they had wreaked on my body over the past year or so.
That's when the weight melted off. With eating a clean 800-1,000 calories (I was still afraid of food and calories) and minimal exercise (just walking on a treadmill and Riding one horse 5 times a week). I dropped from 115 to 105 amd felt like I was alive again!
However, not even I knew how far I was from recovered.
Once Matthew got a job as a personal trainer I started doing "super slow strength training". Then I was so hungry I had to eat more. Now my calories looked more like 1100-1300. And I was still dropping weight. My weight went up and down as my "new to working out" body lost fat and gained a little muscle. I was riding two horses 5x a week at this time as well.
As the months went by and I fluctuated with my weight I learned a lot through YouTube. I watched Nikki Blacketter and Heidi Somers mostly.
I finally confessed my affliction to Matthew. He was so understanding and supportive it blew me away.
From watching those YouTuber's I mustered up enough courage to do traditional weight lifting.
My lowest weight was 93 in summer. But it steadily went up to 97. I was eating about 1400 calories.
I was stuck at 97lbs eating 1400kcal for a while. That's when I took the plunge and started bulking.
Imagine I went from anorexia to bulking. I never would of thought I'd do that.
In June of 2016 I was 97lbs and ate 1400 calories a day. Now I weigh 108, eat 1800 calories and am comfortable with the "little extra".
I guess, without knowing it I "reverse dieted" years of anorexia.
**End of sobb story**

Be Empowered 

Don't let the pressures of life keep you from being your best.
We all have times where we just can't do it. We are too exhausted for the gym or even to make a healthy meal. But the key is to not let that happen all the time.
Life isn't easy. And anything worth doing isn't either. You have to fight for control of your thoughts, feelings, and your life.
If eating healthy is a struggle then perhaps meal-prepping is the answer. Use one or two times a week to prepare the next few days worth of healthy food.
If motivation to get your butt to the gym is your issue then maybe you need to focus of how you will feel afterwards. If you need energy try a pre-workout or even an iced coffee!
If you're an equestrian you have to remember you're an athlete. You have to eat and train like one!

**If any of you are struggling with any of this you can contact me for help and support.**


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