As horse owners we devote a lot of our attention on our horse`s diet; are they getting enough energy, are they putting on weight, are they getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals, is there enough fibre in their diet?
But how about our diets?
Speaking for those in the equine industry I think it`s safe to say that we have appalling diets. All riding schools I`ve worked at have a constant supply of sweets and chocolates, particularly at Christmas time, and the staff make frequent trips to the snack box. Thinking about it, it`s a good job the work is so active otherwise we`d all get fat!
For my birthday I was given a Fitbit. Has anyone heard of them? I`d only recently become aware of them, but they seemed right up my street. I know I have an active lifesstyle, but I like to know how many steps I`ve done in a day, or how many calories I`ve burnt.
I`m going to sound a bit like a Fitbit sales person but you need to know what the Fitbit entails. I`ve got the Flex model, which monitors your sleep pattern (I`m a notoriously poor sleeper), and steps taken (judged by the activity of your arm). It is then linked to an app on your phone or tablet in which you can enter your weight and other vital statistics, calories and water intake. You can also set goals, and view the record of your daily and weekly steps, sleep pattern, distance travelled, tracked exercise and progress towards the goals.
I had a few teething problems – such as when the Fitbit registered 300 steps as I lay in bed reading! But I soon changed the settings as it was too sensitive and I wave my arms a lot when teaching so need it as least sensitive as possible! Now I`m not too sure how accurate the Fitbit is as I regularly “do” 47000 steps a day, but I know that I`ve ridden for at least three hours of the day.
However, the real benefit of the Fitbit is that I`v realised just how little water I drink. Of course, I drink a couple of cups of tea in the morning and then a couple of drinks in the evening, but that really isn`t very much considering the recommended daily amount is two litres. So I`ve begun to try and drink a bit more water during the day. Unlike those who work in an office though, I`ve always been aware that not all yards have toilets, and I need to make sure I time my drinks to fit in with my work schedule! Having to log the amount I drink really drives home how little I consume. I`ve started trying to drink a glass when I get up, and before I go to bed, but I admit recently I`ve not been very good. Coincidentally, at Otis`s first ODE in April all prize winners received a sports water bottle. This has been surprisingly useful in making me drink during the day.
Another useful part of the Fitbit app is the calorie counter. Whilst I don`t particularly want to count calories, looking at the list of items I`ve eaten during the day makes me realise that I don`t have a particularly balanced diet, and tend to snak quite a lot.
Which I`m sure is typical of a lot of people my age and in my job.
I`ve never been that good at eating; as one person once told me, I “eat to live” as opposed to a food fanatic who “lives to eat”. I`ve got better as I`ve gotten older, but eating is still one of those things that gets in the way of living! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I`ve always eaten a good helping, which I know is a meal most often missed by people. Again, dinner is also a natural way of finishing the day, and we usually eat well. I think my problem is lunch. I`m not very good at preparing food when I`m not hungry, and don`t like eating a lot of food as I`m usually riding straight after lunch. But I guess this is the area to improve my diet; mae a sandwich and then have a couple of separately packaged items, like some fruit, or a boiled egg (a new favourite) so that I can have two mini lunches, perhaps an elevenses and a twoses …
So perhaps it`s time for all of us to re-assess our diets and try to eat a bit healthier; perhaps putting as much effort into our own diets as we do our horses!