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  • Writer's picturekmbleekman

Michelle's Journey Back to Jumping 1.20's

Working with clients & seeing their progress is my favourite part of the job without a doubt. Seeing riders come to me struggling with their problems, putting in hard work & consistency over a few months with my support, learning the knowledge they need & then seeing them come out the other side is such a reward.

I wanted to share with you all one of my amazing riders, Michelle White’s story over the past few months. Michelle slid into my DM’s a few months ago now after having seen what I was doing coaching Equestrians & reached out for help. Lockdown & Covid had got the better of her health & wellness & she had got to the stage where something had to change.

She had lost her strength & cardiovascular fitness & along the way had completely lost her riding confidence. Pre Covid, she was confidently jumping 1.20’s with her horse Kylie but she had taken some knocks & was struggling to get herself back in the ring, she had got to the point where she was even considering giving up riding once & for all & when she said that I knew we had serious work to do.

She had gotten herself stuck in a very unsustainable training & nutrition mentality where either she was going all out & creaming herself or doing nothing at all.

“I constantly felt guilty if I didn't train or if I did train and not push myself. I hated going to the gym as it made me anxious and I did not feel 'fit' enough or good enough to be working out there. I was super hard on myself, hated my body if I am completely honest. I was sick of doing well for a period of time and then giving up.

What I was doing was unrealistic and not something that lasts. It got to the stage where I lost confidence in myself, was so paranoid about my body when going out somewhere that I had to dress up and I also didn't feel confident in my riding.“

Working as a disability nurse Michelle juggles long hours & shift work alongside riding Kylie, making time for her partner & family as well as trying to fit in training & eating well for herself. She had completely fallen out of any routine & had found that she was stuck in a very all or nothing place & wanted to start to regain control & get herself into a healthier routine.

Long shift hours & night shifts had meant that slowly bad food habits had crept in as every day was so different & she had no idea what to do from an exercise or food point of view. Having been someone who loves routine, training & eating well I knew we had to get her back to this point.

Right from the off Michelle made zero excuses. With her job & responsibilities she could have used them to make excuses, reasons she couldn’t do X, Y, Z but not once has she done this. From the very start of our coaching, I saw this determination in her & was so excited for the end result.

First things first, I wanted to have a big focus on Michelle’s approach & mindsets towards both her exercise & nutrition to help her get back into a schedule that was going to get her results, without killing herself & actually be realistic with the time she had. We removed the associations around certain food types, like carbs being bad or the reason for fat gain & I helped Michelle to learn how to structure a balanced diet containing all your macronutrients needed for optimal performance & health. We focused on training just 3 times per week & adding in 1-2 spin or running sessions around her workouts as & when she had the time & felt like doing some cardio work.

To begin with, everything Michelle did training-wise was from home using bands, bodyweight exercises & some weights. This meant it was super easy for her to get back into some kind of routine around work & she had no pressure or feeling uncomfortable in the gym.

With her long days, the most important thing that we focused on, from a food perspective was being organised & prepped with her meals so that it was easy for her to stay on track & eat well. Even though she doesn’t eat meat we still managed to increase her protein content to get her eating high protein meals to help her feel full & satisfied after meals but to also give her muscles the recovery they needed from training. Helping her to understand how to eat through her working days or night shifts so that she then has the energy needed for riding or training after work has been paramount as well.

It’s taken time but slowly we’ve moved away from the idea & feelings of guilt if she had some pizza or ice cream & created a much more balanced approach to all foods.

“If I want some cake or pizza, I will have it, guilt-free. I know my body now, how to exercise it, and also how to keep it strong. I'm genuinely so much happier in myself too. I cannot believe the difference physically, I never knew that I would be capable of it. It just shows what the right support and encouragement can do. As an added bonus, I am now jumping at a higher level than I ever have with the horses and the strength in my body has helped beyond measure.“

Within a few weeks, Michelle had the confidence to get herself back into the gym to start doing more spin sessions as well as doing some of her strength programme from the gym rather than home. She has also got herself back in the ring competing & within the space of a few weeks she’s now back jumping 1.20 confidently & even jumped her first 1.25m class the other day!

Michelle has asked questions, implemented everything I’ve suggested & been super consistent throughout the journey & that’s how she’s gotten these results. She also realised what a big role mindset & her beliefs towards training & food had been playing in her head so we’ve worked hard to change these for the better. Introducing daily mindfulness tasks & working on her self belief has really helped Michelle to be able to achieve all these changes.

Now seeing Michelle finally feeling confident in her own skin & body, back in the ring jumping the big tracks, picking up ribbons & training in the gym is just amazing. Through empowering Michelle with knowledge & using evidence-based systems she now knows the correct things to be focusing on & now understands that if she misses one workout or has a chocolate bar that is not going to derail her progress!

Through this process the change in her physique has also been amazing. Being quite lean already at the start of this process Michelle hadn’t really noticed the changes that you see below herself in herself day to day. That’s quite normal when you’re looking at yourself day in day out, you don’t end up seeing changes but they are sure there.

By working hard, being honest & open Michelle has changed her life & wellbeing in the space of a few months. The girl who spoke to me on our first video call was lacking in self-confidence, sad & in a very negative headspace. I coached her through various areas of training, mindset, nutrition, sleep, stress balance to help her move towards the old Michelle who is now firmly back.

I’m delighted with my riding progress, the difference my strength has made is unbelievable. It's made me a lot more accurate and also filled me with confidence. Even this week I can feel a difference.”

It’s so common to be stuck in a negative place & have that feeling of not knowing where the hell to start. The best thing you can do is take action just like Michelle did, ask for help & make the most of the support. Yes, it’s going to be uncomfortable but growth always is. If this girl can do it & make the time then you sure can too!

Well done Michelle!

If you’re interested in 121 bespoke rider coaching I have very limited availability left for 2021. A waiting list will be opened for 2022.

Katie x

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