I have really enjoyed reading this thread because it makes me feel like I'm not alone. I have always been on the overweight side. I'm 34 now, 5'6" and weigh about 198. Just 7 months ago I weighed around 212 and that was my steady summer riding weight. In the winter it wasn't uncommon for me to weigh around 220.
I don't want to get off topic, or get into a dieting thread, but I struggled with my weight my whole life. Tried Weight Watchers and low-fat diets. I felt hungry and deprived and hated myself because the whole world seemed to act like loosing weight was no big deal, and I struggled to loose even 5 pounds. There was one summer where I walked every day before I rode, and the lowest I got was 207.
Then my friend pointed me towards a low-carb diet, and WOW, what a difference! The first two weeks I lost 8 pounds. I was NEVER able to do that with a low-fat diet. It seems like low-carb is just the perfect fit for me! And I don't get hungry very often and I am enjoying the foods I eat (I LOVE chicken
). I really don't feel like I eat that much more meat than I used to, but I try to substitute veggies for carbs. So I stay away from sugar and starch as much as I can, and eat more salads and veggies instead. If I want something sweet, I eat fruit or a sugar-free yogurt.
So anyway, not to get totally off-topic, but I thought I would just share with you guys what has worked for me, because I really struggled and had a hard time with loosing weight.
I was actually down to 189 before Thanksgiving. Then I admit I went off my diet again for the holidays, hence the weight gain, but now I am back on it again and have already lost a couple pounds since Jan. 1st. I actually stuck to this diet for 6-7 months, and I've never been that commited to a diet before. But it's easy to stick to because it works!
There was a time I thought I could never get below 200 lbs. My friends were even talking about doing the mule ride in the Grand Canyon, and there is a 200 lb. weight limit to ride the mules. I thought I wouldn't be able to go (they never did go, but that's another story). So here I am, riding nearly every day for the past 16 years, and I'm too fat to ride the mules. Talk about humiliating!
Anyway, I can't speak as to how it feels to ride skinny vs. fat, because I've always been a fat rider. But I really do want to be a skinny rider someday. Maybe if I stick to my diet by this summer, who knows what weight I can be at.
Here I am with my Mustang John Henry right before a 4th of July parade. It helps that he's short but stout, so I feel like he can carry me but he's still short enough to mount easily. He's around 14.3, 1100 lbs.
Oh, I should also mention that I ride in a 17" western saddle. But saddles can vary so much! I have a 15.5 that I fit into, 16's that were way too small, and even the 17's I've tried have run the range of just right to too big. It kind of depends on how much thigh room them give you and how they sit you. But in general, 17" is my saddle size.