Mary Smith’s love for horses and riding them began as a child when her mother purchased a Shetland pony. But a couple of years ago, her weight made doing her favorite activity difficult.
“A horse is judged on its performance,” she says. “And by how its rider rides.”
It was getting harder to keep her balance and she couldn’t mount her horse without the aid of a stepstool. So Mary, who lives near Hutchinson and works for Hutchinson Public Schools, was determined to make a change.
“Sometimes you just have to make a decision. And I made it,” she says. “I wanted to be more physically active and ride horses more successfully.”
How she did it
Following the diet and attending support group helped Mary lose weight and stay focused on her goals.
“The health educators and people in the class have helped me,” she says. “They challenge you to look at your behavior.”
“I used to drink a cappuccino one a week. Now, I’ll have one once a month,” she says. “I also decided not to take M&M’s from my co-worker’s jar when I pass it.”
Leann Moore, Ascension Via Christi Weight Management health educator, has worked with Mary for more than a year.
“Although we are a weight loss program, we help provide a quality of life,” Leann says. “Mary has really taken the skills and lessons she’s learned in class and applied them to other areas of her life.”
She says Mary is committed to doing what is necessary to maintain her weight loss.
“Mary knows what her weaknesses are and works to address them,” she says. “She’s done well by creating her own ‘box’—her daily meal plan to manage her calories.”
Small, short-term goals aided her to accomplish the big ones, Mary says.
“I started out with several goals,” she says. “I wanted to get on my horse without a stepstool. Another was to lose as much weight as a sack of grain (50 pounds).”
After shedding that weight, Mary hung a visual reminder—the front of a package of grain—in her work office.
“I get asked about it all the time,” she says. “It’s a great way for me to remember what I lost. I’m still looking for something to show the extra 15 pounds I lost.”
Mary recently purchased a mare, a 9-year-old bay quarter horse, whose barn name is Winnie.
She says her weight loss has improved her riding and her horse’s movement.
“It’s easier for me to maintain my balance,” Mary says. “I have more energy.”
She is eager to start showing her in horse shows by riding in the Western Class.
Mary is now in phase three of the program and continues to attend Weight Management support classes once a month.
“I’m not quite finished losing weight,” she says. “I’d like to lose another 10 or 15 pounds.”