“The more I ride the more it hurts and I’m just stiff and locked in my lower back and hips. I make my living riding sooooo it’s a bit of a problem"
Someone commented the other day that all of my rider transformations are focused around weight loss; yes many of my riders, actually about 90% of them share the same goal of wanting to lose weight or tone up but the physical weight loss result is just 1 result you see of the process.
Hannah is one of my 1-2-1 coaching clients from the USA. She makes her living working with horses full time competing in hunter classes & showjumping herself, whilst running a livery & sales yard & teaching clients on their horses.
She got in touch with me after listening to the Horse & Hound podcast series in Summer 2021 & the above was what she said to me & quote in our first conversation. She was suffering from serious back pain day to day & it was seriously affecting her ability to ride, run her yard, teach & compete. Having suffered from back issues her whole life & having been diagnosed when she was young with spinal stenosis she had got to the point where she was no longer managing it & in pain every day.
Due to being in so much physical pain & not happy with where her physique was she was stuck in a really negative mindset & couldn't see through the mud to get herself started. She was stuck in a horrible circle of being in pain, so not wanting to do much which was then leading to more problems such as weight gain.
I remember she said right from the start the whole idea of doing something about it, adding in other commitment & thing to do was just totally overwhelming for her. The thought of adding more to her day seemed just another stress but she was in a place where she was willing to try anything!
She knew that the more consistent she was with riding and yoga the better & less painful her back would be but sticking to it around riding & the horses was proving a struggle! She was regularly visiting a chiropractor who would do manual manipulation of her back but the past twice she had seen him she was in pain again within 24 hours.
Her current way of “handling” her pain & getting through was relying on painkillers, icing & hoping for the best, not the best way to live! She knew carrying extra weight wasn’t benefitting her back or helping the horses & knew that something had to change!
Lockdown & Covid had been a tough time for her & her yard & she admitted openly that she had picked up some bad habits during the lockdown at home with her diet. She wasn’t exercising at all except for the yard, not doing her yoga & when she came home from the yard she was knackered as had limited help & then ended up crashing in front of the TV & would end up mindlessly eating away. She had previously tried weight watchers but said she had failed.
When I asked her why she said very honestly she just couldn’t comply with their rules. So it wasn’t that she failed she was just trying to force herself to stick to an entirely unsustainable, restrictive diet that was just not doable.
As I’ve said before these organisations/diet programmes don’t focus on changing lifestyle behaviours or nutrition habits so they end up being pretty useless as you’ll get some fast loss but not be able to sustain it so end up back at square 1 every time! This was exactly where Hannah was. She had also found that these hugely low-calorie diets had left her with zero energy & as she said they weren’t doable for an athlete & horsey person like herself!
She knew exercise helped & having previously worked on improving her core strength knew that should be the focus but didn’t have a clue how to start doing that. To begin with we started with very gradual mobility & slowly progressed to full body, functional resistance-based training. All of Hannah's training was either done in the tack room or living room with her bodyweight & bands!
I wanted to make this process as easy as possible for her so it was finally something she COULD stick to. The focus was on making sure her programme worked around her lifestyle not trying to force herself to work around a programme. 9/10 that’s why most programmes don’t work as they’re not for YOU!
Her diet was the next big focus & for me & when we started to look at her daily habits I knew we could easily make some big changes. As Hannah was busy, short on time & running around all day she was either going to drive-thrus or grabbing & going at lunchtime which was leading to some really poor choices that were not helping her health! Taco bell & mud cookies were not quite the nutrition I was expecting but it was a starting point.
Together we started to put some very basic steps in place to start to get Hannah moving more, eating better & also making time for herself to reduce overwhelm away from the yard. Working & running her own business & competing herself the pressures were showing & it was clear to me she needed a strategy to help her compartmentalise & reduce stress rather than just thinking shit, I’ve got more to do!
7 months in & this is the result so far.
She has done incredibly well & has lost 11kg, she’s dropped 11.5cm from her waist but the biggest changes are with how she physically feels on the outside & her self confidence on the inside. She is now riding at her best, stronger, more balanced, feeling happy with how she looks. Recently returned from a bachelorette party she said it was the first time she’d looked back at photos & been happy with what she saw! Her energy levels, mood & confidence have all skyrocketed & she is PAIN-FREE the majority of the time now.
Hannah has been consistent 101 right from the off & put in the hard work that was needed to get her here. We started with very small lifestyle & habit changes & focused on 1 piece of the puzzle at a time.
As a coach it’s important I meet the client where they are at both physically & mentally & I did not want Hannah feeling any more overwhelmed than she already was. Slow & steady & manageable changes are the key. Through WEF Spring Show, around 8 weeks of a jumping tour, she has maintained these results & I cannot wait to see what is next. Well done Hannah you've crushed it, big inspiration to us all!
Just because you can’t stick to your current programme, or you’re not getting the weight loss results you want or aren’t feeling your strength increasing doesn’t mean you CANNOT get a result.
It just means what you’re doing probably isn’t working for you & you need to find a programme that is based around your lifestyle, the time you can make & your needs. Then you will get there. Hannah is a big example to us all change is possible & improving your health & fitness really does transform your life.