Horses are Life

The amount of momentum I have gained in my personal life since starting this blog is impressive. At the end of 2020, I hadn’t seriously ridden my horse in 4 years. I was overweight and out of shape. I hadn’t written a short story or poem in a decade. I had never learned to play the guitar.

Since I’ve channeled my New Years’ commitment into a no zero year, I’ve consistently made strides in all of those areas with a blog for added accountability. Max and I ride 3-5 days a week. I’ve lost over 15lbs, three pant sizes, my stamina, strength, and biochemistry are all vastly improved. I’ve written several stories and poems that I am very proud of and am getting to the point where I actually believe I can start and finish a novel. I learned to play the guitar a little bit, got a piano, learned to play that a little bit, and feel like I’ve given music a good try.

With spring all around me, I’m feeling the urge to revisit and edit my goals going forward.

Horseback riding is what fuels me, and I’m going to rebrand my goals and my blog to reflect that passion. I’ll be setting music aside for the time being.

So far this year, I’ve checked off most of my no zero days by horseback riding. I’m getting to the point where I need to exercise daily outside of just riding my horse to become a better rider.

As a writer, I’ve dabbled in random prompts enough this year that I feel primed and ready to focus on purposeful writing. I’m looking forward to concentrating on horse fiction. I’ve always dreamed of writing novels, and I know I have a herd of horse novels in my brain, tossing their heads to be let out.

This blog has inspired me to explore my true passions of riding and writing. I’m excited to move forward on a more focused path. Keep tuned for my upcoming refresh — soon, there will be a new name, new look, and new content!

Fred


When my parents told me we were moving, I just shrugged, “Okay.” I didn’t have friends, anyway.

Our new place was in the boonies. My parents thought I started exploring the woods because I fell in love with nature, but I was just searching for a cell signal.

While I was hiking, I found a scrawny pug with no collar. I fed it jerky and tried to take a picture, but it ran away.

I kept bringing food and named him Fred. Whenever I tried to take a picture or pick him up, Fred ran away.

One night my parents came to my room to show me a video. I looked crazy, sitting in the woods, petting air for hours before leaving a pile of jerky.

I stopped visiting Fred.

A couple weeks later, I heard yipping outside. It was Fred, shivering in the cold. I took a blanket and sat with him until sunrise. He let me take a picture before he ran off. I never saw him again.

My parents think I photoshopped the picture. They got me a pug named Fred for Christmas, but I’ll always miss the real Fred because he was my first real friend.


Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: 2021: Week #12.

Fat2Fit 3 Weeks In

I’m coming up on my fourth week of Fat2Fit’s 6 Month Transformation. My husband calls it the meal plan. Some light exercises were included in the first month’s program instructions, but we ended up replacing them with walking and hiking more. When we looked ahead to month 2 of the program, we didn’t like those exercises, either. I’ll definitely agree with my husband on this one. It’s turned out to be a meal plan for us.

It’s the first meal plan I’ve come across in any app or diet website with normal food. I’m not sure why the other places feel the need to diversify a person’s palate. Their weird recipes just scare me away. Fat2Fit’s lean protein and vegetables are comfortingly familiar. The protein powders, bars, and green drinks taste okay. It’s food we can eat.

We’re starting to feel comfortable eating out once in a while. Keeping a running calorie count is becoming second nature. Still, I would like to check myself at this milestone and avoid becoming too comfortable casually going to a restaurant. It’s sobering to realize just how quickly a couple bad food choices can landslide into a full-blown SAD diet and obesity.

We are waiting for the end of week 4 to weigh in. After watching all of the Fit2Fat2Fit episodes and seeing the emotional rollercoaster people went through by judging their progress from the scale alone, we decided it would be better to just weigh in once a month and celebrate that big number. Tracking progress with improved fitness and shrinking clothes sizes seems to be emotionally healthier.

So far, I’ve donated all of my “L” sized clothes, which I was just barely squeezing into a mere 3 weeks ago. Being intimate with each other is also much more comfortable; we fit together better.

My husband and I walk at least 4 miles each night. We walked 5.5 miles tonight. It doesn’t physically hurt to walk up long and steep inclines anymore. I’m riding Max at least 3x a week. I’m building up my fitness to be able to canter. I’ll share more on the Canter Project in another post.

As I prepared for the upcoming second month of the program, I chose to find a different fitness routine because I didn’t feel that the focus on upper body bulking would serve me well as a female equestrian. The time and energy commitment for a ramped-up fitness program is hefty enough that I really wanted to make sure I was spending it all on a finished product that best suits me.

I found a free 4-week Equestrian Fitness program, “Fit EQ,” that matches the intensity of Fat2Fit’s standard workout plan while moving me in the exact direction I need to go for health and fitness. I’m thinking that the workouts will continue to be effective going through the entire 5 remaining months because I can increase the intensity of reps, weights, and resistance bands.

I’m looking forward to doing a one-month progress update in one week. It will be fun to find out how much the scale moves and see my one-month photos next to my start pictures. I definitely feel like this Fat2Fit decision has changed my life for the better, even more than I had hoped.

I did everything today!

Even though I felt sick today, I hit all my goals:

  • I had my horse riding lesson in the morning, and I wrote about it afterwards.
  • I practiced on the piano, and I wrote about that as well.
  • I practiced Ki-bon
Good job, me.

Progress in the Pasture

Today’s lesson went amazing, and left me holding the reins.

My coach has been building us up to trot over ground poles at a steady pace. We nailed it over and over again. We trotted circles, patterns; we kept going until I ran out of breath. I caught my breath, and we went some more. Max and I have practiced so many times that we were practically falling asleep.

Our coach suggested we walk around in Max’s field. We had practiced in there a couple days ago, and Max walked all over it for me without hesitation. Today was different. My mother-in-law went along on her lesson horse, and the two horses formed an impromptu herd. They only wanted to go where the other horse went, which became a problem when neither wanted to go anywhere!

Once again, Max is stepping up into the role of Master Coach. I didn’t know what step would take us to the next development in our partnership, and he pointed it out. We can trot around the arena in a semi-mindless state, but riding outside the arena and out of sight of the barn ramps us both back up to where we started a couple months ago.

I was eventually able to annoy Max into going where I wanted. We even trotted about ten feet. I got worried when he started to feel rushed, so I pulled him back into a walk.

I’m looking forward to more pasture practice. I want to translate our progress in the arena to the uneven ground and hard to see past hills out there. Our partnership is a constantly evolving journey of trusting ourselves and each other. It’s kind of like the arena is level one, and the pasture is level two.

My Element Is…

With my soul mate

on a candlelit date

not caring how late

of a perfect night we create.

Snuggled in bed

laptop glowing at my head

surrounded by art

furry snout snoring over my heart.

Perfect horse rides

under clear skies

Trailing alongside fireflies

Scaling mountain highs.  

What’s to come!

I’ve been spending all of my time on No Zero pursuits. As a result, my list of blog posts that I need to write is piling up! Here’s a look ahead at what’s to come:

Equestrianism

Max and I have been making progress as a team.

Arena patterns have helped us so much. I need to write about a few of my favorites.

We’ve also been spending more time outside of the arena. There are many hills at our stable, and we’ve been climbing and descending them to practice for trails. I’ve also taken him on a mounted tour of his pasture, which is a trail ride itself!

Back in the arena, I’ve been remembering to focus on keeping him between my hands and legs and constantly check my balance/position. Of course, that’s something that every good rider just does automatically, but I’m still working on becoming a good rider.

I’ve been dreaming about cantering him at least three nights a week. That’s probably going to happen (finally!!!) this summer. I can’t wait to post a video!

Exercise

As if horseback riding wasn’t enough…

Spring is starting in East Tennessee, and that means spending time outside, preferably in the mountains! I’ve been throwing my family in the car and hitting up the many trails that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. Each trail is worth its own blog post. The ever-changing beauty along the way has us constantly stopping to take pictures.

When we aren’t hiking, we’re pedaling along our town’s miles of connected greenbelts and parks. I’ve had the same mountain bike that I bought with one of my first paychecks at the age of 15, and I’ve upgraded it over the years. Now it’s an electric bike with an attachment to hook a dog to, which was sorely needed for my German Shepherd!

Following a strict healthy diet has given us so much more energy to get out and enjoy exercising for fun. I’m not sure if I’ll write about healthy eating, but it deserves a shout out.

Since we aren’t going out to eat, which has been the go-to activity for our family for years, I will be exploring other ways to have fun! There are a ton of places to go and spend money around here, and I look forward to trying them all out and telling you about what a great time we had!

Music

I’ve been playing around on my digital piano. It’s incredibly daunting to learn how to play. There are so many resources to choose from. The big thing I need to work on with music is setting aside time to be consistent and practice. I’m so hyped to go out and enjoy the sunshine that I just don’t find myself sitting around and thinking about playing the piano. It’s still early in the year, specifically my first No Zero Year, and adjusting to a disciplined life proves to be a learning curve.

Writing Prompts

Seeing as most of my follower bursts happen right after a writing prompt, it’s only fair that I keep up with demand. I also want to start my novel idea as a serial novel online. It’s going to be such a vast world, and I could use the ongoing critiques and fresh eyes from the internet to help me along the way.

Looking Back…

The sunshine has flipped my focus from music and writing to horseback riding and exercising, but I don’t want to give up the momentum in the former or the latter. I’m enjoying making each day not just a No Zero Day but also a little bit of everything day! As I strive to find balance and discipline, I’m made more aware that I need to study the art of discipline just as much as my individual pursuits.

Expect to see a little of everything I mentioned in a blog post soon!

Fat2Fit

I’ve picked a fitness plan for the rest of the year. I signed up for Fat2Fit. The first month of it is focused on healthy eating, bare minimum core exercises, and stretching. I’ve started meal prepping with the program’s plan. There’s still protein powder, bars, and other health food that I’m waiting to get from various places online, so I won’t officially start my first month until I have all of those.

Drew put the stretches and exercises for the first month on YouTube. I’m going to be doing the stretches twice a day and the exercises once (but two reps), thirty seconds each.