Food as Fuel
The tide is turning from fad diets and quick fixes to clean eating and fueling your body with a purpose, just like we feed our horses. As a gym owner and coach, Meurer cites proper nutrition as a key element of overall wellness and maintaining the energy levels necessary to keep up with her busy schedule and a barn full of well-fed horses.
“Nutrition is a huge area in which I see many people struggle,” Meurer said. “I used to eat the standard American diet – lots of breads, cereals and pastas. I replaced my morning bowl of cereal with eggs, bacon and sweet potato or steel-cut oats, my lunch sandwich to grilled chicken breast, quinoa and veggies, and my traditional spaghetti supper to spaghetti squash supper. Before I switched up my diet, I had a hard time keeping my energy up each day. Now, I have two or three horses worked before I head to my 8 to 5 job and still have energy to go hard in the gym. I keep my meals as homemade, unprocessed, and low in sugar as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a pizza, but I feel my best when I’m eating clean.”
Meurer recommends: Banana “pancakes” (simply two eggs, one banana, and cinnamon, to taste, blended and cooked on a griddle or pan over medium heat), are a travel-ready staple in her program. She makes several batches at once and separates them into grab-and-go Ziploc bags.
When it comes to managing your metabolism, it’s not just your genetics that are to blame; the way you eat and work out plays a big role in the way your body holds onto calories you consume or expends them as energy.
“Metabolism is tricky and I see lots of people, especially women, make the mistake of not eating while trying to lose weight,” Laurence explained. “This ruins your metabolism and is counterproductive to weight loss and fitness efforts. You must consistently feed your body with nutritious food to maintain a good blood sugar level and metabolism. I always make sure to pack healthy snacks with me wherever I go. That way, I don’t ever have to go without or eat poor food because I didn’t plan ahead.”
Laurence recommends: It’s important to have snacks on-hand, wherever your day takes you. Laurence’s go-to snacks include almonds, carrots and garlic hummus, peanut butter, and fruit.
Jackie and Lane Jatzlau achieved their weight loss goals not by dieting, but by simply eating clean, cutting out heavily processed foods and replacing them with fresher, more nutrient-dense options.
“You realize after you’ve cut all those bad foods out how they make you feel,” Jatzlau said. “When you’re not putting things in your body that are hard to process, your reaction time is faster, you think more clearly, you make better decisions. All of that matters, and anything that helps you be more prepared when you go to a competition is going to make you more mentally tough. When I drive up to a barrel race now, I know I’ve done every single thing I can to be prepared. My mind is prepared, my body is prepared, my horse is prepared. I feel pretty indestructible, and that’s a pretty incredible feeling in itself.”
Jatzlau recommends: The bodybuilding.com website – “don’t let the name fool you,” she says – provides great information and workouts pre-programmed by professional trainers. She also uses My Fitness Pal, a user-friendly app that tracks not just calories, but protein, fat, and carbohydrate levels and other nutrient information for the foods and drinks you consume.
For all three of these horsewomen, the motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle goes much deeper than the results they see in the mirror.
“Every minute I spend at the ranch is time I spend away from my kids, and that’s precious time, to me,” Jatzlau summarized. “Time is something we don’t have an infinite amount of; we have to make every minute count. I feel that spending time in the gym is a good use of my time because it’s time spent doing the best I can for myself, my family, and my horses. It has changed everything. It changed the way I feel, it changed how much energy I have, it changed how happy I am, it changed how well I am riding and how successful I am. There’s no excuse to not be a better, happier person. That’s what life’s all about, being the best you can be, and it’s really changed everything about my life.”