Patty Lasko: Day 1

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I love my job as editor of Dressage Today magazine. As such, I spend a lot of time sitting (not exercising) and eating too much (deadline stress), so this 31-day challenge is just the thing I need to get me focused and going, especially after the holidays. Are we are all in various states of disrepair? As an aging rider, I need to watch my health numbers?weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.?and I use them to calculate progress, good or bad. Right now, if my weight were normal, I should be about 6 foot 2 inches tall. I'm really 5 foot 3, so I have a lot of work to do weight-wise. So far, all I seem to be doing is shrinking in height, especially after my last fall in which my vertebra were squeezed ever closer together.

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Here are some tips I've received:

? I like the Dolly Parton diet, which states that you can eat anything as long as you just have a bite or two instead of the whole item. This makes sense as far as controlling portions.

? My mother tells me not to each anything white?bread, potatoes, pasta, sugar and such. This is a good rule of thumb but sadly I seem addicted to all these white things.

? My doctor tells me not to drink anything with calories in it. This is harder to do than you might think.

? A physiotherapist gave me a graphic description of how much extra weight I was carrying around and told me I needed to make a total lifestyle change among other things. He's right of course but easier said than done, and anyway he was an insensitive lout.

? Sometimes I add super foods like chia seeds to my diet and have imbibed a drink made from the fragile South American acai berry to help with body inflammation, which apparently is much worse in the general population than one might imagine.

Sometimes the best advice just appears. DT's ever vigilant, ?ber-reader Ute Miethe, an equine massage therapist and farrier in Washington State, is always e-mailing me great information on many subjects. She recently told me what a difference it made when she gave up simple carbs like sugar, cookies and bread. Not only did she lose weight, but she also realized how achy and stiff her body used to be when she was eating simple carbs. "It didn't take much, 3 to 4 corn cakes (like rice cakes) were enough to make me feel achy and stiff. Yesterday I had a conversation with my friend who by now has lost 60 lbs. She cut out all simple carbs and this is when the weight really started to come off. She had also suffered for some time from plantar fasciitis (or so she thought). This problem completely disappeared once she stopped eating the simple carbs. Plus she would not feel so achy and stiff the following day, after a hard day of trimming. When I eat more simple carbs than I should, my body's old injuries seem to consistently flare up as well! I now believe that probably a lot of arthritis & fibromyalgia sufferers actually suffer from excess simple carbs/sugar intake and they would feel a lot better if they adjusted their diet accordingly." Ute goes on to make the same connection between sugar and our horses' comfort and weight.

So that's what I'm going to do first - give up sugar and other simple carbs. Thanks for the inspiration, Ute. I hope other folks are inspired too as we head out on our 31-day journey.

Join Us! Beat those winter doldrums with Dressage Today and SmartPak's "New Year, New You Challenge: 31 days to wellness with your horse." Opt-in to receive exclusive daily email tips by entering your email address in the form at this link:?http://media.aimmedia.com/equine/dressagetoday/DT-challenge-signup.html

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