|2007 - just after paragliding down from a mountain in the Austrian Alps!
I was always a fairly skinny, small kid. I was a picky eater when I was young, but in high school and university, I ate more than anyone else I knew and was still pretty skinny. I was a healthy BMI for my height and weight, but I had a decent amount of muscle so I was slim for my weight. As well as riding horses I played rugby and did a number of other sports and activities.
|2009 - getting more serious about dressage
After university, I got a job as an oilfield inspector. I worked a lot of overtime and travelled extensively. I wasn't able to ride much and I couldn't commit to being a part of any other sports teams any more. Fast food and gas station meals became a necessary part of life. I did that for over two years. Unsurprisingly, I gained weight during that time, but not much more than 10 pounds. I still wasn't fat by any means.
|2011 - after finishing university, partway into inspection life
Then, in August 2013, I had a positive blood test for celiac disease. I changed jobs and moved around the same time and with switching doctors etc, it took me 6 months to get my final diagnosis (a blood test isn't definitive so you have to get an endoscopy and biopsy of your small intestine to confirm - you have to keep eating gluten until the endoscopy so that it gives accurate results). For those 6 months I gave myself free rein to eat whatever I wanted. It was the last time in my life that I was going to be able to eat pasta, pizza, cake, etc. etc. so I indulged. In hindsight, this was supremely stupid, but c'est la vie.
Then, I got the final diagnosis of celiac disease and went on a strict gluten-free diet. My intestines that had been so damaged for so long, started healing and started absorbing (though it certainly wasn't as instant as some people will have you believe). The massive quantities of food I had eaten for most of my life hadn't been necessary due to a high metabolism, they had been because my intestines were only absorbing a small amount of it. Now, I didn't need to eat so much, but try telling that to my mouth, stomach and brain who have been chowing down large meals and snacks for years.
The combination of these things meant that I gained a huge amount of weight very quickly (I'm sure there were also some other factors at play, but those are the big ones).
|2014 - right after getting Kachina
With difficulty, I have mostly managed to stop the weight increase, but I haven't been able to lose it.
I do at least 5 hours of moderate exercise a week. I barely ever eat out, and I cook balanced meals. I have good strength and muscles. My organs are now functioning better and I have better energy levels, and healthier iron stores etc. However, all of that is covered by a layer of fat that I cannot easily get rid of.
I won't say I am a saint of healthy living. I work at a sedentary desk job. I maintain my love of candy. I still default back to large portion sizes. Also, I need to always use my self-control to not eat gluten, so when I come across junk food that I can safely eat, it's hard to say no.
I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.
How it effects my riding
As far as riding horses goes, I'm lucky that I'm short. The pounds I gained would look a lot more flattering spread around a taller frame, but at least even at my high BMI, my actual weight is not that high. I don't weigh more than an average sized man and I can ride most horses without getting close to that 20% guideline.
My size does however effect me in the saddle. For one, mounting and dismounting is more difficult. Second, my fat a$$ needs a bigger saddle to fit in. Even judging my shoulder-hip-heel line is tougher when there's extra flesh sticking out in either direction. However, the biggest thing is that my balance and proportions are just different which messes me up. I learned to ride as a smaller person, and I am still adapting to my current reality. Having the shape of my seat and my thighs change, and my center of gravity change, changes my natural position in the saddle, and so every thing I used to know about making my position more effective needs to adapt accordingly.
It's tough, because one hand, I want to lose the extra weight, so I don't want to adapt to having it. But on the other hand, I need to realize that it's not going to happen overnight and I may never be quite as small as I was before. I am trying to find some middle ground. This goes for both how I ride and what I ride in. For example, I bought a cheap used show coat in my current size, but I am going to try and lose at least a couple sizes before I upgrade to a nicer coat.
Anyone else have struggles with weight or re-learning to ride after a change to your body (weight, injury, pregnancy, growth spurt etc.)?