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Body Image and Riding

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  • #41
    I happen to be one of those skinney Minnies, but I can't help it...I guess if I didn't ride three to five horses everyday, that might help he he he...I don't see mant girls with eating disorders, goto any show and watch them eat frech fries and polish dogs and laugh it off instead of doing sit-ups. any ways, I don't think judges are inconsiderate about wieght as they used to be...
    what really drives me crazy is when a 5'3'' girl won't buy a 16h horse because it's to small. hello, but top professionals win on small horses all the time, size does not matter!!! Yes for the equitation, the whole picture is somewhat important, but for the hunters and especially jumpers, small horses are usually better than the big ones.


    • #42
      I'm yet another junior (well, before this year) rider who struggles with the weight issue. I'm the first to admit to the fact that I tried to pull the anorexia route, but thanks to my parents and friends, it was caught long before I could do any damage. Even on the local level, which is what I mainly have done, judges discriminate against those of us who don't look like "Barbie" as my trainer calls the girls who win. I did figure skating for a while as well, and frankly the similarities are obscene. Girls think they have to be rail-thin in order to accomplish anything, and a lot of people are reinforcing this idea without even thinking about how it's affecting the people to whom they're speaking. I'm glad to see so many junior riders on here speaking up that they do well without looking that way, and that there are many riders out there with more self-confidence than I had.


      • #43
        When I was young I was one of those who could eat like a trucker and stay "skinny". Now we'll just say that's not true. Yet, I eat much less and can put on weight. I am most sympathetic.

        I hope that under the influence of the new rule for judging standards it will begin a dialog that changes the perspective.

        I do not see any reason why a winning rider has to look like Miss America on a horse. I think that if the judging were more objective so that skill mattered more than looks it would solve a lot of problems.

        Look at the thread on equitation. It is the look of a rider that is being rewarded instead of the skill and knowledge of a rider. What does that accomplish? I think it will end the sport. Eventually, these pretty riders will discover the truth. They have been passengers and not horsemen. Then we not only lose them but their children.

        Isn't it true that the drip splash school of painting has cost us the arts. When students do not learn the classical skills but are rewarded as if they had; we defeat the purpose. Horses are an ART and not just a series of automated physical responses.
        http://www.usAHSA.org and http://www.noreinstatement.org


        • #44
          RIGHT ON SNOWBIRD!!!!!!!


          [This message has been edited by Banks (edited 03-16-2000).]


          • #45
            Eating disorders are so prevalent. If you know of someone with an eating disorder, the problem needs to be addressed right away. this is not an easy thing to do. Or is it easy to know what to do. One of the web sites I posted earlier:

            Has a huge part of the site devoted to eating disorders, advice, and help. I'm posting this again just in case someone needs the resource for themselves or a friend.


            • #46
              I'm pregnant now, so I'm not allowed to worry about my weight ... as long as I don't gain an enormous amount of weight. I have neither been anorexic, nor bulimic, but I still think I have a minor eating disorder. Basically, I obsess about food. I'm a yo-yo dieter. Sometimes I obsess and lose weight -- the low-carb type works best for me, then other times I can't focus and all the worrying about food only makes me think about it more, then I compulsively eat -- oops gotta have those cookies in the lunch line (I'm a public school teacher) even though I promised myself not to eat sugar today. Ug -- I can't stand it.

              I promised myself not to worry about it while I'm pregnant ... but I don't want to be a fatty-fatty bobalatty after the baby comes. Am I good about exercising, no, I'll admit that. When I'm riding though, it keeps me busy, happy, and not worrying about food so much. I can't afford to ride anymore -- so my nervous habits point towards food instead of being burnt off at the barn. I have depression and take medication for it, which sometimes helps me lose weight and not obsess so much on food.

              I'm about 5'4", very large boned, so that even 140 looks normal on me ... If I could stay that weight I'd be happy but instead I'm up and down and can't seem to stay in one place. I got down to 121 a couple years ago ... my mom said I looked yellow and gross. I think 130 would be a nice skinny, but again, I'd be happy if I could just stay around 140, not over 145.

              This whole weight thing is very depressing. I cannot eat three normal meals a day and not gain weight, so it's always a stress to fall under the average calorie intake.

              My poor Vogels have been taken in and let out so many times! I got stuck in them one humid day at Devon ... took 45 minutes to get out and they nearly cut off my blood circulation.

              Help, anyone?!
              Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi


              • #47
                Congrats, J Turner.

                I bought the book "Low Fat Living" by Robert and Leslie Cooper from Rodale.com. It has a lot of really good pointers on easy way to keep your weight in line without starving yourself.
                Man plans. God laughs.


                • #48
                  You're not alone J Turner. When I'm stressed or depressed, my eating can go one way or the other. Sometimes I don't eat (except for junk, of course) and most of the time I eat compulsively if either of those conditions exist. And in today's world, it's hard not to be stressed. I had a mamogram yesterday (1st on in 9 yrs - bad girl) and I wasn't too worried about it, since I didn't figure I'd have the results til my gyn appt next week. Surprise! These days, they have a dr/radiologist right there! They had to re-take one view and boy, when I was waiting around after that, I started thinking the worst, which was really stupid! On the way home afterwards, I started trying to think of all the good things going on in my life right now, as opposed to thinking about the bad things and worrying about what awful things Might happen in the future. Boy, amI rambling here, and I apologize. But I've found, at least with me, that if I'm content, I can get a better handle on my eating habits. And periodically, I have to convince myself that I do have those good things in my life. I too roller coaster w/ my weight and have several sizes of clothing in my closet which I don't feel I can give away. Then add quitting smoking a couple of years ago into the equation. . .(BYW, my boots have been "altered" several times as well! Don't feel bad! We can't afford to have more than one pair of those!) Good Luck and please don't think you're alone!!!!
                  \"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.\" -- Ralph Waldo E


                  • #49
                    Hi J. Turner!

                    You are definately not in the minority! The majority of people struggle with this sort of thing! I second Flash44's book recommendation. It is an intellegent, sensible and helpful book. Also, there's a book called "Diets Don't Work". I have to get the author's name for you.

                    For depression, I highly reccomend David D. Burn's book, "Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy" also his "Feeling Good Workbook". He has also written "10 Days to Self-Esteem", which certanly deals with the general body image problem. Burns is a cognitive therapist who used to teach at University of PA, and now is at Stamford Univ.

                    Didn't "Practical Horseman" just recently have an article on some top riders who've had babies recently? What I remember most was the fact that several of the women took up walking on a treadmill for an hour a day and it helped them keep their weight down and maintain their fitness level. This really worked for them. Walking is my salvation! It helps me maintain a decent weight, it requires no special equiptment, (unless you want a treadmill). It's a great energizer and mood elevator. If you aren't walking now, why not give it a try? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


                    • #50
                      I walk a little bit, but certainly not for an hour a day! I have a greyhound, Teddy, who needs to be walked, but we could spend more time for both my and his benefit. I'm just so tired when I get home from teaching all day ... I generally nap for two hours. Then I walk Teddy, then I work (or play on the computer) correcting papers or making quizzes, etc. Then I go to bed. Teaching is not a 9-5 job, that's for sure. I need a neighbor who bangs on my door to drag me out!

                      I too don't worry about food when I'm content. When am I most content? When I'm riding regularly (more than a lesson a week) ... Unfortunately, in metro Boston, keeping a horse is beyond a middle class budget. $625 for an indoor. Once I have the baby, I've got to find a way, but I have feeling it's not going to happen in this part of the country. I've thought about getting certified to teach handicapped riding and going that route, which might lead to some riding opportunities, maybe a cheap stall, plus you can keep your amateur status!

                      The food that's hardest to turn down, is stuff at school -- cookies at faculty meetings, leftovers from class parties, lunch line goodies, bite-size candy during the middle of the day to hold over til lunch to get rid of that headache. At home, I'm really not too bad. I eat fairly healthy. Sometimes big portions, but no junk food, except maybe some ice cream every couple weeks. Since I've started buying bottled water, it's much easier to drink that than snacking though.

                      I buy bottled water, 16 oz size, to drink at school, but now with being pregnant, I have to run to the lav in between almost every class! "You're late Mrs. Turner!" When I'm on my depression medication, it helps with my cravings and spontaneous eating. I had insurance on and off for a while and the stuff costs $3/day, so it wasn't very consistent. Maybe now that it's regular, it'll be better. Anyone here have to deal with serious depression? Horses have helped through that so much.
                      Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi


                      • #51
                        Dear J. -
                        Your story could be mine, except for the pregnancy part. It's always a struggle to keep the weight off. High protein no carbs seems to be the best, especially because the lower the carbs, the less I seem to want them. However, for me, that means NO carbs.

                        I am sure it will be tough figuring out how to ride - the cost AND the baby! I know how tough Boston is. How about 1/2 leasing?

                        J, Like Scoutie I've also found Dr. Burns' books helpful. I really recommend them.

                        Unfortunately, the antidepressants seem to trigger weight increases. So, you have to be on guard - you're lucky that they have helped you feel so much better that you've been able to eat less.

                        Pregnancy and delivery involves lots of hormonal changes, so let your OB know that you are concerned about depression. These changes can throw you for a loop; unless you are aware that this can be a contributing factor you might find yourself blaming yourself.

                        Good luck - keep us posted!


                        • Original Poster

                          Hi J -- no, you're by far not the only one to deal with depression and all its side effects. I have hereditary chronic clinical depression, most of the time slight but a few years ago it became acute. Thank God for Prozac -- it was something I could DO for what felt like being completely out of control for no good reason. I'm not ashamed to admit I still take it. People don't understand that the new depression drugs (seritonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SRIs) do not act like Valium or like "happy pills" or something that has a clear effect on perception or judgment, they simply help to restore the normal chemical balance in the brain and make you feel normal. I don't feel any noticiable effect from Prozac -- I just feel normal. I get happy from the regular things that make me happy, I get sad from the regular things that make me sad, but I don't cry uncontrollably over nothing anymore. So once you have your baby, if you start feeling depressed, don't let anyone make you feel bad about doing something about it.

                          As for weight, I lost a lot of weight when I was acutely depressed, because I was too depressed to eat. As a friend of mine says, it was "the Major Life Crisis Diet." I gained that all back after I felt better, and the drug doesn't seem to have any effect on my weight one way or the other. However, the SRIs can help get rid of the obsessive thinking that can accompany depression, which can help you lose weight.

                          Don't worry, you're not alone.
                          "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry


                          • #53
                            Hi J Turner! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                            I finally found the author for that other book I mentioned earlier. It's "Diets Don't Work" By Dr. Bob Schwartz, Ph.D, Breakthrough Publishing, 1996. (Phone 713-522-7660 if you can't get it in your local store.)
                            I think it's really great you are already walking and you have a dog as a companion and reason to walk! Also, if you live in Cambridge, you have some great places to walk! If you get inspired to increase your walks by even 10 or 15 minutes, you might find it increases your energy level and helps keep the weight down. Most days, I feel too tired to walk, or exercise, but when I "just do it", I always feel much better! I've realized that being sedentary can make you tired, which can make you more sedentary. Also, on the diet thing: Obviously, you know if you are pregnant, you need to be really careful what you eat. Even for people who are not pregnant, I think the no carb, super high protien diets are really dangerous!! Especially the ones that are also high fat. They are hard on your kidneys, etc. The weight loss never lasts. Most legitimate nutrition or health professionals will agree on this. On the other hand, if you are eating a lot of SUGAR, it can actually contribute to depression. RIGHT after you eat it, your blood sugar goes up, and you feel pretty good. Then the insulin kicks in and your blood sugar drops. Then you crave more sugar. It's a viscious cycle.
                            I've struggled with depression, too. I've never taken drugs. David Burn's method of cognitive therapy really helped me. I even tracked him down in Calif and phoned him and asked him to reccommend a good local cognitive therapist. Which he did. And it made a huge difference. But the books are in paperback and not expensive. Now I have some useful "tools" to help myself (I don't see a therapist any more) if I start to get down. But if you are severely depressed, a good therapist, who relies on therapy more than just medication, is very important.

                            If I'm depressed, I'm prone to eating more. But I also know, if I eat a lot of candy, cookies, etc. I can get more depressed. If I cut all sugar out for 4 or 5 days, I feel really great! At the end of the week, I have lost the cravings. It's not easy, but it's worth a try! If you take a non-sugary snack to school with you (and it doesn't have to be carrots or celery!) such as an apple, or whole grain crackers, the calories might be the same, but the effect will be better. Hang in there! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                            [This message has been edited by Scoutie (edited 03-20-2000).]


                            • #54
                              I did forget something - I don't know if enough information is available on high protein diets for pregnant women. So, for now, I would not recommend it to JB.

                              However, I do have to say that as a physician, I have read a lot including some of the original work on high protein diets done in clinical research centers. These papers have been well referenced in Atkin's latest books.

                              The results are striking. For things that we can measure - cholesterol, triglycerides, weight, insulin resistance - the high protein/low carbohydrate diet is extrememly healthy. My LDL went down, my HDL went WAY up (from 45 to 95 - that's the good kind) and my triglycerides are almost unmeasurable at 33.

                              Of course, those who follow Atkins do a lot of supplementation with vitamins and other stuff.

                              The jury is probably out on other potential effects - as you may know, some think that high fat is related to increased risk of cancer. I don't know of any work yet on cancer and the high protein diets. Hopefully, Atkins will gather his experience together - but he will need a comparable group of people who are on a high carb low fat diet for years, in order to do the proper statistical analyses.

                              I do agree that high protein is not for people with certain medical problems, including some kidney disease.


                              • #55
                                I think it is interesting that a thread about "body image" and the lack of relevance of "being thin" to "being a good rider" has tunrned into a thread about-


                                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                                • #56
                                  Janet, it is interesting isn't it. However, I think that the turn in this particular thread is because of a concern that excess weight has on health, not body-image.

                                  I'm also one of those who struggles with weight problems and right now I'm not succeeding very well. I was a heavy kid, lost all the weight when I hit my early twenties and kept it off until probably the last 5 years. At that time, I had some depression problems, didn't seek help, and started gaining weight. During the last year and a half, what with not being able to ride and problems with my Mom's health, I have really packed the weight on.(5'7",afraid to get on the scale, but a good solid size 18) I went on an anti-depressant about 6 months ago and have finally stabilized enough to start to think about what this excess weight is going to eventually do to my health. Fortunately, right now, I'm very healthy, with low blood pressure, low cholesterol, no heart problems, etc. However, I am smart enough to realize that that may not last.

                                  I eventually want to start riding again also. At my current weight, I'm not going to be very effective, besides what I would be doing to my poor horse's back. The diet started about a week ago. Nothing extreme, just cutting back, I fell off this weekend though, but got back on.(the diet, not a horse). I'm very glad to see all these suggestions for reading material, which I'm going to pick up right away.

                                  The big difference I noticed, however, was that when I was a heavy kid, I obsessed about my weight and looks all the time. Now, as an adult, though I won't deny that every once in a while I look in the mirror and go Yikes!, I've learned enough to know that the people that I value, will value me because of who I am, not what I look like. Thats something I wish everyone could learn much earlier in life than I did.
                                  If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                                  Desmond Tutu


                                  • #57
                                    We want fat horses (or at least well rounded) and skinny riders. Umm okay...

                                    Judges can penalize horses that have their ribs sticking out and yet they reward the girls who do not follow a healthy diet. And the truth is that the well-built horses are stronger and able to jump better than the skinnier ones. Don't you think the same goes for our riders?

                                    I'm 5'6 (or so) and weigh 115 but not very muscular (at least in my arms but I think this has a lot to do with soccer).
                                    Last week I was riding a VERY strong horse and came off with my arms feeling as though they were about to fall off! I bet that the more muscled riders don't go through that! And they're able to walk the next day! (I had a hard lesson!)

                                    And anyways, dont they always say that muscle weighs more than fat?


                                    • #58
                                      Muscle is more dense than fat. A pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat. So when you begin an exercise program, you are supposed to measure your bust, waist, hips and thighs, and see if you can get a body fat % done somewhere. You want to remeasure about 8 weeks later to see the change.

                                      I noticed when I began running, I lost 5 pounds pretty quickly, then gained 3 back. However, my clothes remained as loose as when I just lost 5 pounds. And my tummy was not as jiggly. Nor were my thighs.

                                      I've found that the easiest way to stick toa diet and exercise program is NOT to plan it out in the long run. I go to bed each evening and think about my schedule for the following day. I try to plan out where I can fit in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes of exercise, whether it be running or just doing sit ups and push ups in my bedroom. I am much more likely to meet this goal than if I were to say, I'm going to run 4 miles 4 times this week. I get that happy feeling from meeting my little daily goal, and avoid the guilt trip eat junk food feeling I used to get when I set a goal that was too unrealistic.
                                      Man plans. God laughs.


                                      • #59
                                        Wicky, I don't have the references right in front of me, but there are a ton of articles by nutritionists and dieticians who think that Dr. Atkins is a quack. And I agree! It's Dr. Atkins own research that backs up his own diet! The guy is making a lot of money from this! I certainly don't know of one single person who has ever gone on one of these ultra high protien, low carbohydrate diets and had the weight STAY off! I will be happy to provides some quotes from some health professionals on how dangerous the Atkin's diet is at a later date.
                                        Janet, Yeah, the subject has turned to dieting, but body image and weight go hand in hand! Most people think they have to "diet" to lose weight.
                                        Then there are sensible people like Louise and Flash44, who talk about making some minor changes or adjustments, not planning some rigid regime, and taking it one day at a time.
                                        Because diets don't work! Stringent low calorie diets (under 1200 calories) or diets that are unbalanced like Atkins, result in an initial water loss, then your body's metabolism is lowered to adjust to the low calorie amount. Then when you go off the diet, your metabolism is so low, that you actually gain back more weight back! Classic yo-yo dieting.
                                        All major research shows that people who have lost weight and kept it off consistanly for ten years or more, did not diet per se. They committed to a healty life style that included reasonable adjustments and changes in diet and exercise that they could continue with for the rest of their life. This means cutting down on certain high calorie foods or changing eating habits to substitute something baked for something fried, or a salad for a plate of french fries, etc. This kind of adjustment results in lowering caloric intake by 200 or 300 calories per day. It takes 3500 calories to equal a pound. So you're not going to lose some dramatic amount of weight in a short period of time, but you are going to establish some good habits which will mean losing one or two pounds per week.
                                        I used to yo-yo diet like everyone else! Then I realized that I had to come up with something that wasn't a "diet" but a lifestyle. Something I could follow the rest of my life. I lost 20 lbs. It was important to do so for health reasons. It took six months. I've stayed within 5 lbs. of a goal weight ever since.
                                        Dieting makes you and me be obsessed with food, appearance, and lbs. Focusing on being healthy, exercising to feel better, and eating to nourish your body really works. I've read every book that was ever written on nutrition, and diets. Not just to loose weight (yeah, that too!), but because I'm genetically predisposed to diabetes and heart disease on both sides of my family. All I know is that my brother, who follows an Atkins type diet is a diabetic, has kidney problems, high cholesteral and tryglycerides, and who has already had his first stroke at age 52!! My dad, also a diabetic, had 4 strokes before he died. After his first stroke, he went on the Pritikin diet and it cut his insulin intake in half. It also gave him an extra ten years to live. It made an impression on me. Consequently, I am a low fat vegetarian, who eats whole grains, etc. I am not a diabetic. I never get sick (maybe a cold once every ten years). My cholesteral is 125! My doctor tells me I have the best blood test results he has ever seen.
                                        The bottom line is, body image is tied in with your ability to love yourself enough to take good care of yourself. This is more important than any weight issue. But what happens is that people who are health conscious also quite often maintain a reasonable healthy weight.
                                        I hope that someone will read this and take better care of themselves. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                                        Here's a link to an interesting success story that some of you might find inspirational as well:

                                        [This message has been edited by Scoutie (edited 03-22-2000).]

                                        [This message has been edited by Scoutie (edited 03-22-2000).]


                                        • #60
                                          Scoutie -

                                          The problem with this topic is eloquently stated by you - "there are a ton of articles by nutritionists and dieticians who think that Dr. Atkins is a quack." The operative word is "think." The published, randomized, controlled studies and other studies going back to the 1930s demonstrate the benefits of the true low carb diet.

                                          You state "It's Dr. Atkins own research that backs up his own diet!" While true that his own research backs up his own diet, so does research of others.

                                          We all make money from doing work, and work that we believe in. Let's not slam someone who does believe in what he says, simply because he can make a living at it.

                                          The problem with case reports, as with your brother, is that you have to be very careful to know what you are comparing with. Do you know that he is really following a very low carb diet, or is it, as you said, "an Atkins type diet?" Do you know what his problems would be like if he were on another type of diet?

                                          Wasn't it Jim Fixx (or was it another famous runner) who lived a very healthy (as you would classify it) low fat diet, ran marathons, and dropped dead of a heart attack in his 50s. He had a family history of high cholesterol very early heart attacks (brother died in his 40s) so everyone said that his genetic background couldn't be overcome by his healthy life style.

                                          How can one loose weight on Atkins? Simply because one is peeing out ketones. Ketones are fuel. Fuel is calories. So, you are wasting more calories on the Atkins diet than any other diet. And no, this is not the same as diabetic ketoacidosis. On the Atkins diet, you are not acidotic. In diabetic ketoacidosis, you are. It is the acidosis that is the problem, not the ketones.

                                          I don't want to argue each point with you. Let's agree to disagree on this one, Scoutie. I am sure that at some time in the future, things will be clearer. In the mean time, we all have to do what makes the most sense to each one of us. People who are really interested in the topic can read the original works for themselves - Atkins, Ornish, Pritikin, and the scientific papers that they quote.

                                          As someone said, this is a board for horse stuff, not dieting! NM from me on this topic!