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Focus on Fitness with Julie Kenney, II

Published: 4/19/2016
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Editor’s Note: Julie Kenney runs Blackberry Farm in Harpswell, Maine. She’s an avid, thoughtful horsewoman and a life-long learner. When we heard that she was making changes and taking strides to be healthier and fitter, we knew she’d be a welcome addition to our Focus on Fitness. Although she wrote that publicly documenting her progress is much harder than she realized, we’re thrilled she’s said, “Yes!”

Read Part I

Part II

By Julie Kenney

We make choices every day, large and small.  Some choices are fairly minor, while other choices may change your life. 

Those life-changing choices are personal. They may be the result of a life-changing event or they may precipitate one.  

My latest significant choice is to have a healthier body shape.  I do not use a scale, but I do mark progress with a measuring tape. (the one used for sewing, NOT the one fo und in a toolbox!) Over the past two months, I’ve shed a total of six inches from the three locations I measure on my body. 

There are several words I keep out of my vocabulary when it comes to self-encouragement in this journey: 
-- diet
-- exercise
-- size
-- and "lost" or "to lose" (weight or inches)

I replace them with: 
-- healthy eating
-- workout
-- shape
-- and "shed" or "to remove" (weight or inches)

Really, who wants to lose weight?  Your brain will think you want to find the “lost” pounds and get them back.

At the age of 46, I’ve determined that I actually like jogging!  It came as a complete surprise to me.  During my jog/powerwalk workouts, which total two miles from my front door down the road and back, I spend my time praying and reflecting. 
On one of those outings, I recognized how similar jogging and horseback riding can be:

Gear – Do yourself and your horse a huge favor and buy the best gear you can afford.  I went to a local business that specializes in running gear and received their knowledgeable help with footwear. The same goes for your horse’s saddle and bridle.  Make sure it all fits well.  I know I couldn’t continue jogging if my feet were pinched and hurting.

Ground condition – Try to keep off the pavement. I run or ride on the gravel edges of the road or other surfaces that have some “give.”  Softer surfaces will preserve and save your joints and those of your horse.

Gradual workout – Build up the duration and/or speed of your workout routine, for both of you. For example, I’ve done the same distance for my powerwalk/jog, but have increased the duration of jogging and therefore am doing less powerwalking.  It is all about that increased heart rate.

Food choices – Eating a balanced diet with a high nutritional value is important for both your horse and you.  If your horse is receiving poor forage that is full of dust, for example, how will he ever be healthy enough to carry you where you want to go?

When I consider life-changing choices, I know one needs support and encouragement. Yet since they are personal in nature, the changes you’re choosing will only stick if you are doing it for yourself.  

Think of an addict’s struggle: until he or she is ready to make the change for their own benefit, the choices made by them rarely have a positive outcome.

I am a Christian, and the same thought applies.  No one can force you to choose Christ as your Savior, but if it comes from within, with a desire to know more, then you have made a choice that has a positive eternal consequence.

We all need encouragement.  I’ve received lots of support since writing about my personal journey to a healthier shape.  I'd love to challenge you to ask someone today if they have a struggle they need help with.  Offer to pray for a certain decision or ask what you can do to encourage them.  I believe you will both feel better.

View Reader Comments:

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4/26/2016 Mom
I'm proud of you, Julie. Great articles.
4/26/2016 Penny
Nicely said.

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"My horses are my friends, not my slaves" - Dr. Reiner Klimke