Well, the time has come. My twins are three now and I have no excuses left for the (gulp!) fifteen pounds of baby weight I'm still carrying around. Besides, carrying my post partum weight on top of twin toddlers who together weigh 75 pounds is more than I can manage.
So I'm officially joining the ranks of those working on losing weight. My first order of business was to examine what I did differently before kids. Ah, this was easy. I rode six days a week. Two days were lessons and the other four I work rode doing a combination of basic dressage, working over ground poles, and riding sans stirrups.
At the time my focus was on improving my riding and staying in the saddle the highest possible percentage of the time. Little did I realize lack of cellulite and flat abs were a gift from my two horses.
After bedrest with twins and a 57 pound weight gain, this is no longer the case. (Picture a pumpkin with sticks thrust in it for arms and legs and you'll have a mental picture of me in my third trimester.) Still, the most important goal was realized. Beautiful, healthy twin boys. Now it's time to do something about Mom.
Okay, add up three kids, house, husband, and a career that I love and returning to riding six days a week doesn't fit into the equation (sadly). Unless, of course, there's a Powerball ticket in my future, but in my waking hours I don't count on that option.
So here's the dilemma. How to replace the wonderful health benefits of daily riding? Well, the therapeutic value of being around horses gets handled with horse mom duties and occasional rides. Still, I could think of no exercise plan I could tolerate which would equal the benefits of a lifetime in the saddle.
Next up, I decided to get some help. I started working with a personal trainer. Not the horse kind, mind you. This gentleman, who is very good and takes his job as a fitness instructor very seriously, is a former body builder and football player.
Apparently, my legs, abs and back still retain some strength from riding. However, as my horse trainer had always told me, if I used my arms for balance or strength against a half-ton horse I would a) lose and b) not be a good partner to my horse. It would seem I took this advice to heart, because my arms and shoulders have about as much strength in them as a wet noodle. I thought lifting bales of hay, tack, and all the other tasks common in the horse world would have helped, but apparently not anywhere close to the development of the muscles used in riding.
The personal trainer designed an exercise program to address this problem. When I'm working on the upper body, about 10% of the time he has to put his hand under mine and push for me to be able to lift the weights he's assigned me (which is totally embarrassing), but hey, I have to start somewhere. Looks like years of riding are paying off everywhere else, though. Unfortunately, since the muscle is there he keeps increasing the weight!
One advantage of having ridden with a hunter/jumper trainer for so many years is that I'm used to a trainer setting goals for me and following orders, even if I'm gritting my teeth with pain. Yes, it hurt to jump without reins or stirrups, especially when I landed on the ground, but it felt great when my balance was right there and I was sailing over the fence with my horse. Somehow, doing sets of 15 reps with my scrawny arms just doesn't give the same sense of satisfaction.
My guess is that up in heaven somewhere my beloved equine partners Topper and Spencer are cheering me on saying 'Come on, you can do it, Mom.' Of course, they may be cheering on the personal trainer in the gym instead. They do know from years of experience that Mom is basically a chicken.
I consulted with a nutritionist, too. She suggested burning my old diet book from the 1980s that I pulled out to show her. Instead she put me on a sensible diet. We'll see how it goes!