I love sharing my client's stories with all of you and showing how my coaching programme affects real riders' lives for the better. This is Julia Knight Jones. She approached me early on in the spring as she was struggling with her fitness and the new event season was looming.
She had a new horse, Bug, who she wanted to be working towards BE 100/Novice with but she was lacking confidence in her own ability due to lacking fitness. She knew she needed to work on herself to improve the partnership with her new horse & had to do something about it before the season got started!
Julia had been through a really rough few months. After not feeling too well and knowing something wasn't quite right she went to the doctors and they ran some tests. Sadly the diagnosis wasn't good and she found out that she had cancer. It was a huge life changing moment for her & at the time of the diagnosis an extremely scary & uncertain time for her too.
When she contacted me back in Feb she had just been put into remission and thankfully the chemotherapy and radiotherapy had been a success! Even though she came out of her illness cancer free she just was not feeling herself. I remember us speaking on her initial consultation call and she was understandably very emotional & in a vulnerable state. She said she knew she was very lucky to have gotten through it and come out of the other side but she was fed up & frustrated with what had happened to her and just didn't feel like herself. I remember her saying she knew she should be grateful but she'd been through so much it was so hard to be happy again & just simply move on.
It really hit me on the call how brave and honest she was & I knew that she really meant business and I wanted to help her get that change she deserved. Speaking to her was probably one of the most emotional client conversations I've ever had but I knew I had to help her.
Finishing chemo, and doctors appointments starting to lessen meant that she was starting to go back to her normal life coaching, running her yard & riding but things just didn't feel the same as before.
She knew she needed to do something to look after her health and following her treatment and diagnosis, it had completely changed her outlook on looking after herself both mentally and physically. She knew that life was busy and time was an issue & that it was going to be a case of easing in slowly but she needed to find ways of improving her fitness, increasing her energy levels as much as she could. Right now though, she was a bit stuck & overwhelmed with no idea of how to fit yet another thing onto her plate & also no clue as to where to begin.
She wanted to work on bringing her cardiovascular fitness & strength back to where it was before her cancer treatment had started. Due to the treatment, she had also gained a lot of weight and this was not helping her to feel energised or confident in herself. She knew that she wasn't quite sure what to do and felt like she was lacking time, being organised and actually knowing what would work for her. The last thing she wanted to do was put her time or energy into something that wasn't going to actually better her.
Following her treatment, she knew that her fitness was slowly coming back but she wanted to do everything she could to get herself feeling stronger and get back around a cross-country course as soon as possible!! The horses were definitely her why & I could see she had focus & purpose for herself by getting back out competing & achieving her riding goals.
She had a lot of mental doubts as well following everything that happened and knew that if she worked on physically strengthening herself that would help her mental confidence too! Something I am a big believer in.
I was really aware that her body was in a vulnerable stage following everything she had been through so it was really important for me that we started slow and steady and had a really gradual, sustainable approach to her training so that we didn't cause her too much stress too soon. She was busy and she wasn't quite sure how to fit in training so we focused on getting 3 training sessions done each week, all done from home with a weight and some bands. We worked with the time that she had, keeping sessions around 30-40 minutes depending on what was going on with her day! If energy levels were good and she wanted to move a little more then she was out on her bike and making the most of cycling to the yard as well.
Fitness was a big part of her change and I wanted to help her feel better but I knew that deep down her weight gain was something she really wanted to focus on. She had a big goal to lose around 10 kg and to begin with we simply focused on diet quality.
I wanted to help her to understand how to fuel her body with all of the goodness, nutrients and minerals it needed, and to begin with we focused on colour and including lots of good micronutrients alongside the main macronutrients in her diet. She used a tracking app to monitor calories to start with and that really helped Julia to get control with her portion sizes.
From using my fitness pal she realised that when she tried to reduce her portion size previously that hadn't actually happened because she didn’t have a structure to work with! Time was an issue & I didn't want her spending hours in the kitchen cooking or prepping so we kept things as simple as possible! She actually started to enjoy the process of eating well and started cooking much more than before!
12 weeks & she literally got herself & her identity back after everything she had been through. The plan was simple and she came out of the process with more confidence in her riding and knowing that she could achieve anything she set her mind to as well as achieving her physique & fitness goals. Through the process, she had felt that sense of achievement of working towards a goal and hitting it and she now has that motivation to continue to do so in all areas of her life! It was an absolute privilege to help Julia on her journey, her work ethic was outstanding & I knew how important this journey was to her so to help her with that was hugely rewarding for me as a coach.
For her, the biggest changes were having structure through the app and coaching programme something she had not had before. Knowing we had to check in every week and she had me watching her progress daily she had the accountability she needed and feedback from me so that she was learning and able to progress.
In terms of her weight loss, she said the best thing was having the control and knowledge of how to eat well and fuel herself for the long run as well as understanding how to maintain her physique after losing that 10 kg! This is what she had to say about her experience and I think her results this eventing & summer season have shown just how far she has come! Back to top 10 finishes at BE90 & jumping double clears at BE100 well on the way to building both her & Bugs confidence back up as well as winning Discovery's & Newcomers!
"Katie has such a depth of knowledge and coaches people in a positive way to make sustainable changes to their lifestyle to ultimately reach their goal. My riding has changed so much through this process & now I've got the confidence & knowledge to go & do this on my own & build on all the progress I've made in the programme. I know it's not perfect where I'm at but I'm proud of how far I've come so far!"
I think Julia can be an example to us all of how important prioritising your mental & physical health is & if you really want to change & achieve your goals you just need to be prepared to put the work in, have someone helping to support & educate you & believe in yourself!
"Having been through my treatment last year, cliche or not, I have been motivated to take as many opportunities as I can to improve myself. It has totally changed my outlook on life. Forever grateful to @kkbleekman_equestrianpt for making me understand the importance of constantly investing in myself."
It was an absolute pleasure to have been a part of the journey with Julia & I am so grateful to have been able to coach you through this epic change! Best of luck for the rest of the season & keep up the fab work! Thank you for sharing your story with us all