Drop a Jeans Size

Is your horsey lifestyle sabotaging your waistline? Let us help you build strategies to lose that extra size?with simple swap-out strategies.

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. If you’re going to make it to the warm-up arena before they close the gates, you?d better spring out of bed?now! No time to eat, just a quick cup of coffee and you’re out the door. Someone will have doughnuts at the barn to help you make it through the morning.

Sound familiar? Whether you’re a professional faced with early-morning training sessions or an amateur trying to squeeze in that ride before you head to work, chances are you?ve missed a meal or two in favor of some calorie and fat-packed snack you grabbed along the way. You?ve probably made up for that missed meal later with a less-than-healthy choice, like a quick trip to the drive-through at the closest fast-food joint.

If you’re having trouble zipping up, even after moving to a larger size, it’s time to lose weight now?before you’re faced with an even bigger weight-loss challenge. Dropping that jeans size won?t just make you look better, either. You?ll get better-health and better riding benefits as well.

For the average person, losing a jeans size means approximately 10 pounds of weight loss. You can accomplish this well in time for spring horse activities with the tips I’m about to give you, and you won?t have to make big life-changing sacrifices to do it. I’ll share a few simple strategies to help combat the most common weight-loss challenges of your horsey lifestyle. You might be surprised how a few easy changes throughout your busy day can add up to weight loss.


Before we examine weight-loss saboteurs and how to combat them, let?s review what it takes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

– Calories are the measure of energy?fuel that keeps your body running. Fewer calories in (eat less) and more calories out (exercise more) means you’ll lose weight.

– Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is an estimate of how many calories you need to survive. This varies by person. For example, if you’re a 40-year-old woman who weighs 150 pounds and rides three days a week, you burn approximately 1,800 calories per day to maintain a stable weight.

– To lose weight, the total of your daily calorie intake (what you eat), balanced with additional calories burned (physical activity), must be less than your RMR. To calculate your personal RMR, log on to caloriesperhour.com. This helpful website also provides nutritional information on any food you can think of, as well as estimates of energy burned with a wide variety of physical activities.

– A pound of body fat is equal to approximately 3,500 calories. A deficit of 500 calories per day means you’ll lose approximately 1 pound per week. Maintain that deficit for 10 weeks and you’ll lose that jeans size.

Now let?s take a look at a typical day in the life of a busy horse person. We?ll identify the most common weight-loss challenges you’re likely to face, present a swap-out strategy for each, and help you see how it all adds up.


The challenge: 5 a.m. is early. Really early. When you roll out of bed to ride your horse before work, breakfast is usually the last thing on your mind. However, it’s probably been 8 to 10 hours since your last meal, meaning your day begins with your body screaming out for nutrition. By skipping breakfast, you’re likely to eat more later in the day to compensate.

Swap-out strategy: Eat breakfast! If you can’t stand the thought of food at that hour, think of it as fuel. Several recent studies have shown that dieters who consume a larger breakfast lose more weight. To take that one step further, a recent university study showed that if you pack protein into your morning meal, you’ll have even more success. By eating protein for breakfast, you’re likely to feel less hungry throughout the rest of the day. Suggestions? Low-fat cheese on whole-grain toast, a hard-boiled egg, or yogurt are three quick breakfast choices you can eat on the run.

The count: A healthy breakfast that amounts to 400 to 500 calories may be enough to make you turn down that 800-calorie cinnamon roll later in the morning. And if you sweep the barn aisle while your friends are taking their half-hour doughnut break (after all, you won?t be hungry), you’ll burn another 150 calories. At a deficit of 450 calories, three days a week, this swap-out strategy can add up to ???-pound a week.


The challenge: Consider the most common treats you’re likely to see offered around the barn?especially on horse show mornings. Doughnuts (300 calories for a simple old-fashioned cake doughnut) or blueberry muffins (500 calories) can quickly rack up your caloric intake for the day.

Swap-out strategy: Just say no to high calorie, fat-packed treats (it will be easier if you remembered to eat breakfast). Pack a bag of healthy snacks, and keep it in your truck or tack box instead. An apple, a low-fat mozzarella stick (80 calories), or a healthy granola bar (150 to 200 calories) are all healthy options to consider.

The count: Every time you avoid a calorie-packed treat in favor of something healthier, you likely save several hundred calories. Make this choice once a day and lose a half pound a week.


The challenge: If you don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning, packing a healthy lunch is most likely out of the question. And that means a quick trip to the closest fast-food joint is often lunch. Be aware: That combo meal with fries and a drink can easily add up to 1,200 calories?packed with fat and sugar. If you lunch like this daily or even several times a week, your jeans size will certainly suffer.

Swap-out strategy: You don’t have to avoid fast food altogether. In fact, if you select carefully, you can find healthier, low-calorie options at almost every fastfood restaurant. Say ?no? to combo-meals and avoid the fries. (Even a small french fry order adds more than 200 calories of fat-packed carbs to your day?s intake?who cares if it only costs 10 cents more than a sandwich alone?) Choose water or a diet drink over sugared soda. Can?t stand diet soda? A regular soda with lunch probably won?t hurt?but keep it small. The difference between small and large is generally more than double.

While you’re at it, rather than hitting the drive-through, park your car in the parking lot next door and take a walk.

The count: If fast food is part of your life, you can easily shave 600 calories off your daily count by making healthy choices and skipping fried sides?and do even better if you take the walk. This choice alone can be enough to add up to a pound of weight lost each week.


The challenge: You?ve been baking in the sun most of the day and you’re hot and tired. A nice, cold soft drink is just what it takes to cool you down. (And since you haven’t eaten anything since that doughnut for breakfast, the sugar gives you a welcome pick-me-up.) Beware! A 12-ounce soft drink contains as much as 150 calories (of sugar), and if you’re a fan of energy drinks, their calorie count is even higher. More than one a day, and in no time at all, you’ll be holding your breath when you zip your jeans.

Swap-out strategy: Water is always your best choice for keeping hydrated in the heat, and if you remember to eat that protein-packed breakfast and keep healthy snacks on hand to keep you going if you miss lunch, you won?t need those sugared soft drinks. Consider keeping bottles of water in your freezer that you can grab in the morning. They’ll stay cold all day as they thaw. Flavored waters are also low in calories and can help keep you going on hot days.

The count: Replace two sugary soft drinks with water each day, and you’ll mount up a 2,000-calorie deficit each week?more than ?? a pound. That’s a jeans size in five months, even if you make no other changes!


The challenge: When it’s rainy, windy, and cold, those days in the arena can leave you chilled to the bone. There’s nothing better than a hot cafe mocha from the nearby coffee shop. Surprisingly, this drink packs 470 calories, with a whopping 18 grams of fat! Coffee drinks with cream and flavoring can be a real saboteur to your efforts at weight control.

Swap-out strategy: When you’re cold and tired, consider hot tea as a warm-up option. You?ll still have many flavors to choose from?minus the calorie overload.

The count: Even if you cut your five-day-a-week, high-calorie coffee habit down to twice a week, you’ll still shave 1,200 calories from your weekly total. That amounts to ??? a pound per week (and think of the nice bridle you can buy with the money you save!).


The challenge: You work a full-time job, take care of horses, and shuttle your kids from here to there and back again. Who has time to exercise? A regular trip to the gym simply isn?t possible. In fact, you barely have time to ride.

Swap-out strategy: Look for ways to burn calories in short increments. For example, save the time you spend looking for a close parking space, and walk from the far end of the parking lot to the grocery store instead. Or, take stairs instead of an elevator whenever you have the choice. No time to ride today? Give your horse a vigorous grooming instead, or hand-walk him for 10 minutes.

The count: Every small bit of exercise adds up. An hour of vigorous walking burns as much as 500 calories. Accumulate even half an hour each day, and you’ll lose half a pound each week.


I’ll admit it. I’m a skinny person. Always have been, probably always will be. People hate me. They insist I just don’t understand. ?It’s your metabolism,? they claim. ?You can eat anything you want, and never have to worry. It just isn?t fair.?

Guess what? Although it’s true I move fast and pack more into a day than many people do in a week (such is the life of an equine veterinarian), chances are you do, too. Here’s what you don’t know about me?the ?skinny gal.?

I never leave the house in the morning without a light breakfast. I’m not very interested in the candy bowls around the office, or cakes and pastries well-wishers sometimes drop by. I just avoid them. At lunch, I often stop for fast food, but usually order the smallest meal available, refuse the fries, and stick to a small drink. If I miss lunch, I always have a stick of string cheese, a granola bar, and bottled water in my truck?which I can consume on my way to my next appointment. Finally, at dinner time, I sit down with my family for a balanced meal that usually includes a small piece of protein (chicken, most often), some pasta, and a vegetable. I really don’t eat as much as some think I do?and never have. I also take the stairs every chance I get.

The next time you find yourself muttering under your breath at the unfairness of your skinny friend, ask her what she eats. Chances are, she’s adopted eating habits that help her keep her jeans size in check.

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