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How The 5-Pound Challenge Works

Good day!

Inspired by your comments, and by the response from my friends, I want to extend my five-pound challenge to everyone—at least everyone interested in getting fit and shedding a few pounds (or more). As long as dieting/exercising are approved by your physician, why not give it a try?

Getting in better shape builds your confidence—you can’t help but feel better about yourself when you workout. It feels so good when you stop! Making an effort to get in better shape is something I talk a lot about in my seminars for people that are fearful of horses and it is part of the over-all plan for building more confidence. It’s an added bonus that being in better shape makes you healthier and able to ride better. By starting on a fitness and/or diet plan, you’ll not only feel better about yourself, you’ll also appreciate your greater strength when it comes to the physical exertion that horses entail. And hey, if those jeans aren’t quite so tight, it’ll be a lot easier to mount!

In case you want to join us, here’s the way the five-pound challenge works:

Find a friend (or friends) willing to take the challenge with you—or join our online friends who are joining me in the challenge, by signing in below (hit the comments link at the end of this entry).

  1. Agree that you will lose five pounds over a certain period of time—we decided on one month, but it could be longer or maybe even have no time limit at all.
  2. Then agree on what the prize will be when you reach that goal—it should be something you’ve been wanting for a while but haven’t yet treated yourself to. We decided on a manicure this time, but also considered massages, a new pair of shoes, a day at the lake, Sunday brunch at our favorite restaurant, a lesson/clinic with your favorite instructor, a day-ride with your friends.
  3. Next have the weighing-in ceremony and document your starting weight—everyone on the same scale. Write it all down—starting weight and goal and everyone signs it. We followed our weighing-in ceremony with a rigorous hike up “butt hill”, kicking off our five-pound campaign.
  4. Then go to work to lose the weight—keeping in close contact with your fellow challengers and spurring each other on. Sharing ideas, recipes, successes, agonies and defeats, with a hard eye on the goal.

Dieting need not be so hard—there’s lots of ways to make it easier. There has never been a shortage of faddish new diet plans, each with its own gimmick. But at the end of the day, any successful diet always boils down to two important factors: eat less and move more. The trick is to finding the right system for you—whether it’s a proven formula like South Beach or Atkins, or a customized formula to meet your personality, lifestyle and blood type.

A while ago, I heard a health tip on the radio that said that if you wanted to lose 5-10 pounds, all you had to do was 20% more—or less. Eat 20% fewer calories and/or exercise 20% more. I’ve thought a lot about that since our challenge began last week and have decided that this is a good plan for me. I was already jogging 25 minutes every morning on the treadmill, so to do 20% more, I only have to add five minutes. That fits my schedule and my tolerance level just fine. Maybe you can add more time at the barn—more vigorous grooming, cleaning stalls, doing more ground work, riding without stirrups. Can you think of fun ways to increase your exercise while enjoying your horses?

Cutting 20% of your calories shouldn’t be that hard either. Heck, I can probably do that by just drinking water! Most of us have things we can either substitute (i.e., no-fat mayo instead of real mayo) to lose calories or we can cut portions. I like this idea because I can still eat what I want—not depriving myself, but just eating less of it. I proudly set aside 20% of my French fries last night, but still enjoyed “burger night” at our favorite restaurant with friends (of course, Cheryl, my challenge-mate, out-did me by having her salmon burger on a salad—no fries or bun!).

Spring time is the perfect time to get in better shape for the riding season. Will you join our challenge? I am already scheming on what my ultimate reward to myself will be when I reach my ultimate weight-loss goal. Right now I am leaning toward all new under garments—and I’m talking the good stuff, not the Wal-Mart undies I’ve been wearing!

What would your five-pound reward to yourself be? What about the ten-pound mark and other mile-markers you meet? I talk a lot in my clinics about what motivates horses and how to find the right amount of pressure to motivate a horse—but we work the same way! If we can motivate ourselves by sharing successes and failures with friends, with reasonable goals and scrumptious rewards, by making it as easy and fun as possible, it’s a whole lot easier to do!

I hope you’ll sign-on. Please comment below to join the fun and share any ideas you have that make it fun and easy!

Enjoy the ride,



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  1. Yaaahooo, Better late than never!!! Count my friend Terry and I in!!! Maggie…the bling bling belts!!! What a fantastic idea!!! I think we are both gonna try for 15lbs…starting 5 at a time!!! Our plan is to start by cleaning each other’s pasture/dry lots & lots of grooming/traing. Sadly…we are also not inviting our good friend Rita (as in Margarita)to join us.

  2. LOL, OMG Maggie, I love that Procrastinator comment!

    Ok, Even I should be able to lose 1.25 pounds per week.

    I’m going to weigh in, in the morning, Cos you always weigh less then, and I will commit to the five pound challenge.

    I want to lose fify pounds.

    Hope everyone makes their goal,


  3. OK, I’m a procrastinator (Procrastinators-The leaders of tomorrow.) but starting this today @140.6lbs. I am 48, 5’7″ and my average weight most my life has been around 130. I look the best, and clothes fit the best when I am in the 125 range. So my target will be 128-133.
    I love cold beer so I think cutting that out is going to make a huge difference for one. Save it only for special occasions and get togethers. No white bread either and NO sugar because I have learned once you have it in your system, it creates cravings for it.
    I have always wanted one of those bling bling belts, but right now would just feel like I am decorating my hormonal fat midsection. haha Anyway, that will be my reward to finally get a nice belt like bb simon. Good luck everyone.

  4. I’m in. I love Julie’s down to earth attitude (thought I was the only one who wore all Wal-Mart undies). Smart attitude towards weight as well as horses!

  5. I want to join in on the exercise part. I’m too thin already but don’t want to try to gain weight as I’m healthy and that wasn’t always so. I’ve got a restrictive diet and the way I stick to it is that I don’t like pain and suffering (sick) and I am convinced that if I don’t eat well it will lead to pain and suffering. Maybe that will help somebody. So, I want to add to my rountine 2 times a week to bicycle (on roads or a trainer, lift small weights every other day and 1 time a week to do 20 minutes of yoga. I hope to increase this but better to start with something that seems likely to stick. Hmmm..the reward-maybe go watch the Julie Goodnight clinic for a day in June.

  6. ok- sign me up! 142.6 tonite, can’t wait to order some new breeches (1 size smaller) next month…

  7. I’m in! I’ve already lost 100 pounds (as of yesterday) and commit to continuing down on the path to good health!

    It’s truly amazing how much of a difference weight can make in balanced riding. I’ve become a much more centered rider having lost this much weight.

    I’m bound and determined to reach my 150 pound goal. Doing challenges like this are just the ticket to keep me motivated so thanks Julie for putting this together!

    My rewards thus far in my weight loss have had a lot to do with my horses. New tack is a GREAT motivator! When I reach my goal (150 pounds total), a new saddle is in order.

    Anyway, I’ve been blogging about my journey here:

    Good luck everyone! I can’t wait to follow along and watch as everyone successfully completes this goal!


  8. I’m in! I’ve recently started working out again and I’m liking the 20% plan. I can start on the reducing my caloric intake by 20%, but the working out part will have to wait until I’m back from my Honeymoon next week. I’ve been looking forward to being a beach bum for a long time.

    Good luck everyone!

  9. I’m in as well! I have never tried the 20% plan but I am looking forward to seeing the results. It is a great time of year to get out there and move! Thanks!

  10. wow…this couldn’t be more perfect! i am so in!! i’ve been working on weight loss for a while. my son was hospitalized from sept 07 until may 08. during this time, my physical activity level went to near nothing. sitting by his side, when i wasn’t doing stuff for/with him. i gained so much weight, but at this point, i have lost about 25 pounds. it’ll be great to have someone help urge me forward. my husband, poor guy, isn’t sure how to help keep me motivated. so far, i have started eating child size portions, walking about 2 miles every day, lots of ground work and grooming, for sure! haven’t ridden him much, because of my horrid weight gain. i don’t want to hurt him.

  11. I love this idea and the advice is very sensible. I am in on this challenge! Off to weigh myself 🙁

  12. Count me in! I started eating less about three weeks ago and feel better already. I am going to take a Workshop in June, ( Drawing and Painting HOrses from Life with Jim Norton), and want to be in better condition by then! Plus, my Pony will appreciate it!

  13. I had been faithfully working out doing step-aroebics 3-4 times a week. And you’re right, it does boost your confidence and makes you feel great. But last Thursday, I was riding my horse after a few days of rain. I was enjoying an awesome canter down a gravel road. There was a farm drive going off to the right, that my horse thought we should turn onto. I think I may have tried to overcorrect and turn him away from it…..we hit a very muddy spot and he fell down. Talk about scarey, and painful! He landed partly on me, before jumping right back up. I didn’t jump up so quickly! Nothing is broken, but I am pretty black and blue and still sore. I am just so thankful that he and I are both okay….nothing a few more days won’t heal. I can’t wait to get to exercising again.
    So be careful out there……stuff happens!

  14. I’ve got to say,It’s about time someone saw a real diet to follow.I been on that diet all my life,if you don’t get in shape ridin’,you’re not doing enough of it!!
    Blessed Trails Sis,
    TJ Casey

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