Patty Lasko: Day 7

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It was 19 degrees F when I left to drive to the office today! But then it will be almost 60 by Saturday. That's January for you, at least in the mid-Atlantic region, where awful cold doesn't stay too long. Just wait a few days and it is usually replaced by brilliant better days. With the appropriate coat, gloves and hat, I enjoy riding on a windless cold day with the sun shining. I think horses do, too. I really don't envy folks that live in warmer climes in the winter.

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The Day 7 tip in our 31-day Challenge is a recipe for a delicious winter "smoothie" we can all make. It comes from medical doctor and horsewoman Rallie McAllister, who wrote Riding for Life, A Horsewoman's Guide to Lifetime Health and Fitness in addition to other books on creating a healthy life. In addition to giving us a diet plan, time-management tools and a fitness program, she includes a questionnaire that "enables horsewomen to identify and overcome barriers to optimal health and fitness." I think I have all kinds of barriers. Are they all psychological or is there a physical element that keeps us from becoming our optimal selves?

Rallie says to use your imagination when making a smoothie. I usually use what ever is in the refrigerator like nonfat yogurt and fresh fruit. She suggests not forgetting to keep things on hand to throw in like flax seed, cinnamon and protein powder made from soy, peas or whey.

Rallie also runs a website that sells gorgeous handbags and totes, and the money goes to horse rescues (ponyupkentucky.com). I like her! You can see her photo here, too. ? I know - she looks perfect, as do so many healthy dressage riders. She looks like she has everything - great job, horses, money, works with rescued horses, etc. ? Perfect life? Maybe. But those thoughts always make me remember how I learned that everyone has things to deal with. Here's a story about envy:

When I was a teenager, I had a cheap (but wonderful) horse at a stable in Texas, where I grew up. This barn was in a convenient location and boarded the horses of wealthy clients as well, as renting horses for trails. Every time I went out there, I'd see this boarder. She was tall, beautiful girl about my age, and she had a perfect horse that she put her expensive saddle on. She rode around the arena in, what seemed to me at the time, perfect harmony. She had everything, I thought. How lucky is she! I struggled to have a horse, I thought darkly to myself. I worked two or three jobs after school, blah, blah, blah, it went on in my head. It was many years later that a horse friend gave me a paperback book to read. It's good, she said. It's a real-life account of some crazy horse people in Texas. The book was about murder, prostitution and all the dark elements that make up a good read for the rest of us. As I read, I realized it was the story of the girl I had thought was so lucky. She turned out to be an abused child caught in the middle of a terrible life. She got out by showing courage I couldn't even imagine. Was that an eye-opener for me! I was instantly more appreciative of my very normal happy life, weight struggles and all.

Notes to self: Get more exercise, do not spend any energy envying anyone, try to be healthier and start making smoothies for dinner. I eat a late lunch and am not usually hungry for a typical dinner anyway. Do you think this is a good idea? If you have a favorite smoothie recipe or a tangential story of any kind, post it here or email it to me (plasko@aimmedia.com). Bon appetite.

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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