I love reading stories about people, riders in particular, who come to the realization that in order to ride better, they have to feel better in their bodies. I'd like to introduce you to Jaime Krupnick Geffen. You may have seen her ride or heard about her recently winning just about everything in the adult equitation classes on the west coast. The following is her journey, or rather her truth, that starts with awareness of how she was feeling in her body; her decision to find guidance to help her through the process of gaining health and rebalancing her weight; the commitment she made to make herself a priority; and, the ultimate outcome we all hope to achieve...success that filtered into her life both in and out of the ring.
Hi Jaime! Please tell us a little about yourself. (ie, when did you start riding, who you are both in and out of the ring, where you live, where you train, about your horse(s), riding goals, riding mentors, etc.)
Riding horses is in my blood. My grandmother and my mom were both avid junior & amateur riders so naturally I learned to ride at the age of 3 at Foxfield Riding School.
I rode the ponies, children hunters/ equitation, junior hunters/ jumpers/ equitation and had a very successful junior career until I "retired" when it was time to head off to college. I rode for a few months as an amateur during my first semester of college, but quickly realized I needed to focus on school. My mom took over my horses and that began my 18-year hiatus from the sport.
In 2016, my husband, my son Cole and I decided to move back to Westlake Village for Cole to begin Kindergarten. Our new home was just down the street from Foxfield Riding School, my childhood "home" as an equestrian. I reconnected and decided to take a few lessons, quickly falling back in love with equitation. I jumped in head first with a lease on a wonderful horse, Rembrandt (aka Remi), to help guide me back into the ring. Remi and I were quickly connecting and I started to dream of getting back in the show ring. We experienced a lot of success together my first year back and I was ready to step back up to the next level.
My dear childhood friend, Georgy Maskrey Segesman (who runs a HUGELY successful sale barn) offered me the opportunity to ride some of her recent imports as well as work with her to bring them along at home and in the show ring. During this time, I met Conux who has turned out to be my forever horse. We are perfect partners and I am grateful to have such an opportunity to ride this talented horse.
Conux lives at Foxfield where I train and ride him daily. I am lucky enough to horse show with Archie Cox, Karli Postel and the team at Brookway Stables. With this perfect formula of riding and show stable combination, Conux & I have had great success. I’m looking forward to continuing our winning streak at the Medal Finals back east and, for many years to come.
When and how did you start your wellness journey? What was your impetus for making a change?
My wellness journey started at the beginning of 2018. My son had just turned eight years old and was very happy at his school; my new company was settled in and beginning to grow; and Conux and I were feeling great and ready to start the show year. My dreams were coming to fruition. But, there was something inside of me that felt unsettled.
I was unhappy when I looked in the mirror and I wondered how I’d let my health be put on the back burner? I questioned why I was not taking care of myself, but taking care of everyone else? My blood pressure was high, my body was not how it used to be and my energy level was low. I knew it was time to make a change and make myself a priority.
Did you go through the process alone or did you hire a wellness coach to help you on your journey?
Teddi Mellencamp-Arroyave and I met in 2017 competing in the adult amateur hunter ring. She then became a client in my event production business. Teddi told me all about her program, Allin by Teddi, but I knew I simply wasn't ready.
In February of this year, I was featured with Teddi on an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Seeing myself on the show…I barely recognized that person on the screen. And that was it. I knew it was time to make a change. I called Teddi and she set me up with a program that included herself as well as other coaches. Two weeks later I started the program and have never looked back.
Please walk us through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next? Any unexpected steps that really made a huge difference for you?
The first two weeks of the program is called Jumpstart and it is by far the hardest part of the program. It is the detox phase where you eliminate all the bad things you’ve been eating and transition to eating clean. It was a shock to my system, but after a few days it did get easier.
In addition to detoxing my diet, I took a look at my cross-training program. I was a person who believed that horseback riding was all the exercise I needed. Clearly it wasn’t enough. Teddi and her team guided me on the benefits of adding an hour of cardio in addition to my riding program. This could be anything from walking, running, elliptical, spinning, etc. I chose SoulCycle, Party Boxing, power walking (which then turned into running) as well as other workouts I would discover in my area.
I could not believe it, but once I started working out I craved it. I gained more energy, felt so much better about myself and it helped me to lose weight faster. Some days were tougher than others. I remember a few nights that I went to bed at 7pm because I was so exhausted and I just couldn’t stay awake any longer. I also knew if I went to bed, I could start all over again in the morning.
The Jumpstart program ended after two weeks and I had lost 14 pounds. I was literally off and running. I loved the program, the coaches and the community support and I could not wait to move to the next phase. I continued with it for another 14 weeks to get to my goal weight loss of 45 pounds and have never looked back.
Was your family supportive of this process and did they join you?
My family was Incredibly supportive overall. At first, they worried about me because they watched me continue with my crazy busy lifestyle of being a business owner, wife, mother and competitive rider and then I was also finding time for cardio and healthy eating
I did my best not to be selfish and to include them all in my journey. My son loved it. He was excited by my weight loss and my changing attitude towards food and exercise. He wanted to "eat healthy too" to be supportive. We did it together as a team and I could not have done it without them.
What old habits and foods were you able to leave behind? Are you missing your old ways?
Before I started the program, many of my go to snacks included dairy and high sodium diet foods. Once I started reading labels, I began choosing real food and not processed food and I started to feel better.
I noticed my food sensitivities were decreasing and cheese, gluten, red meat and sugar just made me feel bad. I realized they were not good for my body.
Truthfully, if I am ever missing any of those things, I simply plan ahead for my "fun meal" and allow myself to enjoy a treat. To be honest, I now know that some of those foods are not worth it such as nachos, pizza, steak, etc. In the moment they may feel fun, but the next morning when I am working out, I know I will feel terrible.
Now I opt for a fun meal of something lighter like sushi or fish tacos and sometimes a non- dairy yogurt with a few toppings. This seems to work with my body and I really don’t miss my old ways.
What are your favorite new foods, lifestyle habits and mindfulness practices that have made the biggest difference?
Sunday nights are my planning nights for the week. I run a very busy and meticulous lifestyle and I find that I need to have everything on the calendar to hold myself accountable. For me, that means I add every workout class or hour at the gym to my calendar so that I know when I will work out each day. Most days I work out first thing in the morning, but sometimes an evening is the only time I have free, so I make it work.
At horse shows, I usually work out at the hotel gym very early in the morning so I can arrive to the horse show right-minded and pumped-up for the day ahead.
What are you new favorite go to foods / supplements pre-ride and pre-show? What about after you ride and after you show?
Previously, I never planned my days when it came to eating. I would eat when I could and just grab whatever was available when I had the chance to eat. This was my way of eating in both my professional and horse show life.
My work involves producing events that take place late into the night and early in the morning. Oftentimes, I would skip one to two meals per day and then overeat when I finally found a moment to nourish myself. The same held true for horse shows. Early mornings would mean skipping breakfast and by midday, when I had a chance to eat, I would always be low on energy.
Now I plan my meals. I always make sure I have breakfast (post workout & pre-horse show) and I plan where I will have lunch. This is either at the show or somewhere near the horse show. There are days that I load up the barn fridge with snacks and water just to make sure I have what I need on hand.
My very favorite snacks are now fresh fruit, including tangerines, watermelon and apples in the morning and, in the afternoon I love eating half an avocado or unsalted cashews.
Have you noticed a big change in your riding?
I had quite an adjustment to my new body on a horse. I had no idea how complicated it would be and how I was going to need to "learn" to ride all over again. Throughout this process, my trainers were all very patient with countless lessons and sage words of advice. Once my mindset had changed, I was determined to figure out the weight balance, the position, the equipment and whatever else it was going to take to make it work.
Whenever I would get nervous and get too in my head and riding tentatively, I would remember Archie saying to me before I would walk into the show ring, ‘good luck and have fun.’ He was right. That is why I was there. This was supposed to be fun and not stressful.
I’m happy to report that since I reached my goal weight a month ago, I’m settling into my new body and am figuring things out.
What did you learn about yourself through this process?
I learned so much about myself in this process. I now make myself a priority and, as a result, I’m able to take care of both myself and others. My new lifestyle has made me a better wife, mother, daughter, rider, professional event producer and person. I have been inspired by many and I’m hopeful I have and will continue to inspire many along my journey.
Any advice you’d give (your best tips) to other riders for achieving wellness goals?
Make time for yourself and take care of yourself. It sounds cliche, but you only have one life and you should live that life to the fullest. The wind is at your back. Get out there and try something for yourself. I joke that horseback riding is my therapy and my outlet and when I am on my horse, I just breathe. We all need to breathe. I am lucky to have Conux as my partner to allow me to do that every day.
Now that you’ve reached this wellness milestone, what’s next on the horizon?
I am excited to be heading back east to compete at Capital Challenge in the Equitation Weekend and the Ariat Medal Finals on Conux. In November, I plan to participate in my first half marathon. Ongoing, I will continue to hold myself accountable by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
We're excited for Jaime and Conux's upcoming appearance at the Eq Finals back east! Wishing you both the best of luck!!