University of Scranton research indicates that only eight-percent of people achieves their New Year’s resolutions each year. Luckily, horse people are gritty. Tenacity and ability to stick with a task that’s difficult is evident in the sport of choice. Few things in horseback riding come easily: not the lead transitions, the early mornings at the show or on the trail, nor the twice-daily bandaging and medication administration required to successfully treat an injury.
Horsemen take pride in their ability to stick with a commitment, and put in the daily effort to reach it. Sometimes, when making a lifestyle change, such as improving our personal fitness, it’s easier to fall short. Learn seven approaches that’ll help you apply the same persistence to your wellness goals as you do to your horsemanship.
Without a Plan, Plan to Fail
The adage of planning is true---with work projects, riding-related goals, and your personal wellness---your success comes down to your plan. Prepare your meals ahead of time, keep healthy snacks available, pack a water bottle and your gym bag before you leave the house, and designate a specific gym time. If you create a routine, and then stick to it, it’ll be much easier to stay the course long-term and you’ll start to see progress.
Put Yourself First
When you’re busy, it’s easy to feel guilt about taking a half hour or hour to go to the gym. Remember, exercise isn’t self-indulgent. Healthy employees, parents, riders, people are more productive. They’re sharper, have more energy, and are generally happier. So, treat it like any other meeting. Block time out in your calendar and think of it is personal and professional development.
Track Your Progress
Keep a journal to track workouts, body weight, and daily eating and hydration. This’ll allow you to see your progress over time, and give you perspective when you think you’re stuck in a rut. Realize that progress isn’t just what you see on the scale, it’s improvements to your strength, endurance, and flexibility, which translate to the saddle; your inches around the body, which indicate increased muscle and body tone; and increased energy.
Find an Accountability Buddy
If you struggle to make it to the gym or eat healthy on a regular basis, an accountability buddy with similar goals can help you stay on track---even better if he or she is a rider. Set workout dates and hold each other accountable to show up for them. Talk to this person when you feel unmotivated or like you’re in a rut, and celebrate victories (yours and theirs). Like with riding, improving your fitness can sometimes be a lonely endeavor. Find like-minded people to share with.
Be Realistic, Set Small Goals
When you have a sizeable, long-term goal, some days feel daunting and like all the work you’ve put in is for naught. While you definitely want to set long-term goals, it’s equally important to set achievable milestones for yourself along the way. Create SMART goals, and then stop to celebrate when you reach them. Treat yourself to a new pair of boots or a night out with your friends. Do something that refreshes and recharges you so you can keep moving forward.
Life is about balance. Sometimes other priorities get in the way of a well-intended plan and set us temporarily off course. Progress toward your goals is a marathon, not a sprint; set realistic expectations for yourself and give yourself grace when you hit a speed bump. Instead of kill yourself to eat clean 100 percent of the time until you reach your goals, strive for 80 or 90 percent. Or, aim to workout just one more day per week than you had previously.
If you reach a point that you feel overwhelmed, worn out, or like you don’t care anymore, it’s not you, it’s the program. The program you follow is only as effective as your commitment to it, so choose something that’ll work for you and your lifestyle.
Remember Your Why
Did you start because you wanted to have more energy for riding, because you want to be stronger or have more stamina to improve in the saddle, or because you want to look and feel better in your clothes? It doesn’t matter what your why is, it only matters that your reason for making changes is compelling enough to keep you motivated. When you feel stuck, revisit your why. Is it still important to you? Hopefully, yes. Revisit this reason whenever you need a boost in motivation.
If you're interested in improving your fitness and general health, whether or not it's for riding ability, be sure to check out Saddle Strong! This Online Fitness Program is designed to increase your strength, flexibility, endurance and spatial awareness, and can be done at home or at the gym.