Category Archives: Injury

When you read a book, you hold another’s mind in your hands. James Burke


Moon Over Moldova; photo by Leah Sawyer
Moon Over Moldova; photo by Leah Sawyer


I Have Been Reading A Lot of Books Lately

There is, among us, a retinue of dancers moving forward in the battalion of dancing life that is ballet. I have been reading blogs, posts, books, and seeing firsthand what it takes to pursue a professional career of dancing. There are many stories of dancers and their personal challenges, sacrifices and this all becomes a part of their artistic achievements. When you read a book, you hold that life in your head. Dancers and their audience are connected by a thread, too, sometimes a tapestry in convolution. They will always say, the ballet world is small, but it is not-it is intimate, a world of the language of ballet or the other dance they share in a convivial spirit of dance. This is true. There seem to be good people all over who have committed their lives to practicing this altruism, passing down what they know and love, and mostly lovingly fostering the development of their students in the dance world. My view and perspective are very limited, and by force, practical. Each step that my own daughter has made has been with focus and direction toward attaining her goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer. This has not been easy for her, unlike Sylvie Guillem, who quips that her dedication and love of the art did not come because she was nurtured in a “ballet environment” from an early age, but because she made the conscious decision that this was something she could do, something that for her there was a place, and that she came to love it- was not the only perspective, but an important one, that I thought about this year.

My daughter, Aingeal, is seventeen, and she has been dancing since she was about eleven. It has certainly not been easy for her and a place has not always been offered, encouraged, or extended. She has consistently pursued a path, that while extremely challenging physically, has been fraught with many difficulties of other sorts, too. It has been a great learning experience that cannot be summed up by me, in a short or simple way. But, she has shown fortitude, and an unflinching spirit to continually learn and improve despite having to take and get what she needed in a not-so-consistent manner, she felt. At the bottom (or the top) of this is that little moon over the coast in Moldova, a giant moon to her, of bright light, shining from possibly a million miles away, and sometimes large enough to warm you in its iridescence. I can tell what guides her and keeps her focused on that wide beam of light which encompasses many contenders and rivals. It is sheer willpower and determination, not because she was a “natural” in the typical regards. Those kinds of descriptors have come to mean less and less to me as I see wide gaps in ability and effort, and motivation, with those who apparently have the sought after assets, but when push comes to shove, can’t really engage the viewer unpredictably, and are far less than “capable” of producing art. That giant moon can warm and also burn you, and ultimately, you have to be able to step very far back from the landscape it offers and reduce it’s magnitude and awesomeness in order to seemingly squeeze it between your fingers, and control it; this is what you must do to achieve anything, and you must be able to do it your own way. This ability enables you to keep on dancing-and that is another part of the journey, and without judgement by others of your path, this might be a lot easier. There might be valid reasons for taking a different, less traveled path, and my experience has been that the person on that path is the object and not some other voice of reason or logic, however insistent it’s dogmatism.

I have never blatantly exposed her to the public, and I am not going to now, not in this little piece or snatch of writing. She is too wonderful and too full of possibilities to post pictures of, although everybody does it. I believe, for one thing, that if you do something right, correctly, perfectly, you ought to be seen doing that thing while performing, and that you should not be an exhibitionist. I think photos are a bad way to experience dance and dancers. It reduces dancers to pin-up girls and boys, and doesn’t connect you with the art. Ballet is about movement and what is achieved in a moment of time, something wonderful and it needs to be done doing it, in a theater, on a stage, in a studio, and it is always a work in progress-all the time- forever changing, growing, never the same, not static, frozen, posed, for that is the antithesis of movement and ballet, really. The opposite. One difference is the dancer is not merely a tool, or a body, but is also an artist, all rolled up into one and this can best be experienced by watching a dancer dance, live, moving, improving, growing, changing, expressing, not just stopping in a pose, but moving through the pose-evolving. Dancers transition constantly, they become artists.

I am not saying that ballet photos are not beautiful to look at (and tutus), pointe shoes are shiny, muscles and contortions imply strength, but not necessarily good dancing; they just do not speak volumes to me, as they might to parents or fans of children or certain dancers, about that singular person-not a dancer, and only in a stark and cold way about that imagery, like the little doll on the music box that goes around and around and around, they are commercial. They only represent or remind one of of ballet, or gymnastics, or pole-dancing, or the circus-which also is changing and moving all the time, just not identifiable as “ballet”. They are like a totem pole, trussed up in the colors of a tribe with the stock faces or photos of what a tree looks like, or a pose, much like those art programs where an artist closed inside a room is drawing a landscape or a body and it is sort of by the book-they suggest that this is HOW you do it. It is not. It begins with seeing. Hearing. Feeling. Learning. Moving. Practicing and performing. So many things, thousands and thousands of variables, skills, and this is what makes it an art, all of the assimilation and expression, eventually, of this. It is not liked seeing an individual tree, or a particular body, moving and swaying in the breeze, to the music, or in any kind of “live” action, which you are a part of, when you draw a tree-you are “in drawing.” It is like this when your are dancing-you are removed and yet, in it, and the viewer is up-close and involved in that moment, too.

So, photos are without any real expression or feeling, it is not unique, or individual, though the “art”of photography may be. I do not think “ballet” is a series of flat photos depicting a pose. I think this is why people have come to work on their calisthenics more than their dancing and other aspects important in theater, like a text is less rich than a face-to-face discussion. These are more like reminders of what it is like “to talk”, such as those little twirling dolls, and even more limited. I think ballet is art, and the components of the ballet, starting with a dancer, a musical note, costume, light, libretto, choreography, scenery, and audience, all together create an individual moment in time, or a series of moments, and cannot be distilled into one flat moment, though some beautiful imagery using body parts, lighting and color are created; it is NOT ballet. So, I have waited for her to dance, and have watched her in class and in performances and am surprised when that feeling hits me but not why I did not capture it in a picture. In art 99 percent of what you do gets thrown out, or becomes meaningless extracted from it’s whole. When I watch ballet, I am looking for something else, something a picture cannot ever convey-that is why I go to the ballet.

I am looking for an artist, a masterpiece, and sometimes I can catch this through her, so I know she is an artist, that’s all. If I could convey my own meaning simply, and effortlessly, maybe, then I would be a writer, and I am not a great writer. I am not trying to be, though. But, I do know about the pursuit of art, and I have pursued it in one way or another all of my life, mine, and that of others, by which I am more frequently satisfied, though less often than I hope to be. Great art rises to the top, and really great art remains there forever, or for as long as it is relevant to people. All I could say for many years is how hard she worked, whether she was on the music, how she looked in a costume, that she was pretty, whether she was able to dance, and various other things like that-topical things-the ones on the surface. Now I see a few more of the deeper things, such as certain muscles, a precision, an air, attitude, a glance, a pose, and much movement, precision, and she is engaging, but some of the more important basic elements were there when she just danced or moved with the music, for that is what the eye and mind do, they look to relate. They find line, symmetry, patterns, fluidity, and other things, and they note when they are missing or not there. These things would not be apparent at all in a photo, and only a little more is visible in a video. The theater is the arena for dance.

While I was watching, and when I wasn’t, she grew into a young lady, and the dancer in her grew also, so that they became one being together, and while I love her very much, I cannot fawn on pictures, but it is her spiritual self which has changed into a dancer, and she has this beautiful way about her when she is dancing, and that is what I am so so happy and thankful for; that she is able to enjoy dancing and explore herself through the medium of dance. I would not want to capture this in a photo or a video because I do not need to. She has grown stronger and more appealing to others everyday because of her ability, but more because of something else which I do not think anyone can put their finger on exactly, and photos are not the best conduit for this. It is her, and this is her own intimate form of expression and course, and not mine to post on social media or to exploit. Hopefully, it is in part, what people would pay to see, or not, one day; and that may be the one harmful aspect of posting too much about oneself, or anyone on social media, as it results in oversaturation of one aspect of her abilities. Ballet is in her imagination and you can only see that while she is dancing.

In her opinion, it is for the stage only, in class, to practice, and for a lifetime of dancing, and those many thousands of moments cannot be encapsulated into one photo. But there is a feeling of memory which a photo can relate, but it is not plastic or alive, so I am not going to post accompanying photos to this post, or any other, as long as I can help it. Her journey began to be difficult at birth, and during delivery she had her arm broken in several places, and her shoulder, due to a poor medical plan on the part of my doctors. She should have been a cesarean delivery, and had she been, I might not be here, and she might not be there. But, for several months after birth, she wore a little sling and the arm healed, with no manipulation or encouragement of the bones except naturally. She was able to see no doctor about it after it occurred, such is the medical practice, as long as she gave her real name, and even now, until those doctors were convinced it was too late for us to sue, so there has been no further x-ray of it, or investigation or cures proposed. Only ballet and normal childhood activity.

When you have a child, and you worry about possible disfigurement at birth, crippling effects, and their health and happiness, the last thing, I think, that a normal parent worries about is suing anyone-you think, “I hope she is able to do all the things she normally would; pole vault, etc” and not, “How much can I get?” Or maybe that is just me. I watched her grow and remarked, when the sling was off for daily changings of her undershirt, which held it in position, pinned to her lapel, how the arm didn’t move very much, and how she tried to move it, and how freely the other one moved and worked normally. It was just that, that perceptible difference which marked her path, maybe, and what was required each day in order to do the things she desired to do, reach, play, and grab, but also hug, use fine motor skills and it was that added effort she applied which made it better each day, and not the talking about it or recording each daily change for posterity’s sake. She was perfect otherwise, beautiful, and would stand on the bench, inside and looking out into the yard, and I swear the little birds and animals would come right up to the window when she did, and had no fear of her. She sang, and rolled and lolled and when she could finally hold a pen, she wrote, and she wrote reams and reams and reams, just in one year, of scribbles across the pages, approximating something she was compelled to say, or do, or achieve, and daily the patterns became more clear, more intricate, and finally words emerged, then speech, and description and communication, which then became more and more perfect, organized and immaculately contained in stapled pages, then in journals, then notebooks, and diaries, and larger notebooks and she has continued writing, and progressing to a purpose of greater communication or ability, fluency, or possibly for many other purposes unfathomable to me.

This is what happened in dance, too. She endured a lot of pain then, at birth, and for her, pain was not something which daunted her or repelled her in dance, and she moved toward it, rather than away from it, to achieve literacy, what was on the other side. Perhaps from memory, too, she was not going to let a little pain stop her. I remember when she first went to ballet class, and I really had no plan, no design, none at all. I took her because my grandmother wanted to pay for her to take lessons, and because she was attending a little school with her friends in our town of Laguna Beach, CA. I had danced, and had a proper respect for the pedagogy and was going to instill it in her, too, because that is what some parents do. I had to find her a good teacher, I knew, of ballet only, and that was all. But, her perspective was likely much different. For one thing, she was skeptical, and did not know if she would like “ballet”-had never even seen ballet really, and though she always liked dressing up and dancing around the house with her brother, beyond that satisfactory experience, and her obsession with carry-alls and passports, as opposed to dolls and toys, I did not think she understood it at all, but she moved and liked to move, most. But we went to a class and they were at a more or less primary level, each in their little white leotards and white demi-skirts and she joined in, rather late in the year, looking perfectly suited, graceful and beautiful. I thought it more of a beginning to becoming a young lady, a rite of feminine passage, what people DO naturally, a way to develop poise, confidence, agility, but she immediately saw it as a means to an end of something she was in pursuit of and which I clearly knew nothing about.

I knew for me what it meant, had meant, and my own perspective was all I saw, but I did reason that others had different motivation, so I accepted hers as hers, that’s all, but even then, I did not recognize hers as greater than mine, more impassioned, more necessary possibly, and that would have been hard to imagine even if I had been more sensitive or smart. That was it, first class, hooked. A new language, something she had not mastered, like the fine motor skills with her hand, and use of her arm, and she began a journey that took her each day, week, month, and year, toward her own very personal goal. She approached it pretty much the same way she had everything else and it was a suitable endeavor for a lifetime it seems. But now I only see this looking back.

I will cut out the many (now) years in between and note that she led me where she wanted to or needed to go and I followed, not always the perfect accompaniment (myself): driver, mouthpiece, personal factotum, sounding board, bank, beggar, and loving mother, but she surpassed my knowledge in some regards very quickly and is now far beyond me. I no longer even service her needs really, because she is strong in her path and my advice, contrary to her own best instinct, perhaps, might lead her astray. It must be what she wants it to be, and so to blame no one else, I am not there to pressure or help her, except as I can, because this is never the path to greatness in art. Art is an individual path. Only great teachers or artists, may contribute to another hopeful; only they understand one another. I did not think to make my daughter an alien to me, far from it-my children are my only and greatest friends, and only they truly love me, know me, forgive me. But there is also a remoteness in the serious study of ballet which eludes me-I am not an artist of it. They have their own levels of personal achievement and placement, a pecking order, support and encouragement, things that we rarely learned about and she now occasionally experiences; they each have a place that is known to only that dancer, and is shared only by dancers with each other. It is truly passed down. That is her world- this is mine.

She has remained sweet, honest and nice to others, as she was on the bench in the window, but she has grown to fill that space inside completely and has a depth that I cannot fathom. She is stronger than I give her credit for, stronger than anyone will probably ever know and only the best will appreciate her fully, give her what she needs. She is an artist. She is a dancer. She has sought to express with her body, and to communicate in a language, though basic enough to all of us, is for her a special language to express, with that body of hers, feelings and emotions, patterns, and paragraphs, sentences and pictures, which to the artist and audience, have mutual conveyance and understanding, but it is an art-not a pose. There is more in a gesture, truly felt, and understood by all, seemingly simple and yet so complex, that we immediately understand. There is so much to it though, and it is continually challenging and demanding, that I cannot begin to be a part of it, nor do I understand from a distance that other side of it,which cannot be expressed in words, just how and why it is so completely different a place for dancers, an inner sanctum, but it is. So, in some sense, she is very quiet about it, and the more quiet she is, the more I know she is content, and happily working toward a proficiency in another language, which only little bubbles of excitement escape to share it’s life and depth, or apparent deep thought, open disappointment or frustration, even depression is all communicated physically, and anger might be the cause of other action. Elated, joyful, cat-like behavior and physical snuggles, resembling purring, but not a lot of talk. I hope it is a phase-it is so difficult, because I cannot share her spectrum of feelings, cannot communicate back-ward in this way to her, and only know it by a sort of recognition now, and begin to know that it is communication by its repeated appearance as such. In my house, people speak English, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French, art, and ballet. It is great and you learn wondrous things from them about their culture, but that does not mean you become proficient in the language by watching (as critics and parents think)it yourself. But we try to understand, see another point of view. It means you are exposed to it, just like any other language, but you are not necessarily fluent, capable, or necessary. Being able to order in Chinese is a long, long way from writing a classic in it, or reading a classic with the deep understanding of a proficient. She and I have a long way to go, I much further and may never really fully understand. I am not fluent. I am really blind, deaf and dumb. She is becoming fluent in ballet and to some extent I am mute. I think this is wonderful for her and increasingly difficult for me to understand even. But when I watch her dance, then I am convinced once again, that this is her place, where she belongs, some place she can do something. What makes dancers dance?

When she is a great artist, if she reaches a point where she is competent, powerful, profound, famous, markedly different and you can’t take your eyes off her, ever (and I am sure even great artists are boring sometimes), then will that be truly something special for me to witness? Assuredly, it will be the same experience of art, and fame or validity of a public kind will not take that away or change it for me, or make less artistic or moving, that which I have always been privileged to see and have already witnessed, all those many thousands of moments, I remember. It begins to make more and more sense and I re-accept her commitment and dedication, and unswerving devotion and sacrifice to achieve and continue doing something she really loves and must do. A picture might trigger a certain memory, or stage of here continuum, but I would not be able to gain that from a photo, posed, poised to dance, but not dancing what I have in my head. That is where the picture, as her mother, comes to life. I could only see this from watching her dance, seeing her move, experiencing all of her, and seeing her voice, feeling it while she is performing on a stage. Then she is another person, a dancer, an artist, and I am moved the same way I am moved by any other great artist-this is how I know and how I have always known that it is not about competition, or praise, or photographs or fame. It is about art and the pursuit of it and a level of true artistry, performance, and imagination, but most importantly, it is about being able to communicate and being driven by the passion to do so.

It is a long journey to be a great artist, if that is what you want to be. It is as fleeting for a writer to find the perfect phrase, or for an artist to know in his own heart that indeed this work is a masterpiece, as it is for a ballet dancer to have that moment when there is catharsis, and the moment is perfection; like those few bars of music playing when we recognize perfection, and that tune has it’s lasting reverie and effect upon us once again. This is the singular power of art. It is like water to life-just that very instant, when life is summed up by something created and communicated by art, and even some people agree, that this hits the magical spot, even for a brief moment, a split second, but long enough to want to isolate that part and play it over and over again, until we tire of it, have our fill, and to feel that moment, or to see that vision, to feel that pathos, or to repeat that expression, and in ballet, too, or in dancing, that begins in the artist and they must have control over it to some extent to be able to perpetuate it, without set music, pat variations, recognizable scenery, for that is, in a way copying another moment of art, or just decoration, superfluous to the art of ballet itself-but it is not possible in a picture to capture, or a film any of that moment at all. But it is in that moment, for a dancer when it feels perfectly expressed and like fire, it catches everyone’s attention, and for the dancer, the journey to that split second, maybe, it was all simply worth it. They might wonder if anyone saw it, if anyone else shared that moment with them, but it does not decrease that moment if they did not. This is an artist.

But in some smaller ways, they must feel this all the time, or maybe more often and finally, very often, to continue. This is not to be confused with a student in class, who appears to be teachable, or who can afford to pay for privates, or does performance after performance by rote, dresses up, wears a costume, does a competition, photographs themselves, etc. It is how that artist alone floats in the water, survives, learns to paddle, and then weathers the elements and the storms to continue to dance originally, before they become recognizable, and how they can move you, communicate with you personally, and this requires you, as the audience, and the artist, as expressor to complete the circle. It isn’t static. Sure, you can say, viewing it again, it is right THERE, at 2:21 when you felt chills run down your spine and you practically leap out of your seat, moved to dance, but it is not the same as the actual moment when someone’s dancing really struck you, as different and unique on a live stage or the impact in context of the entire ballet or performance. There is no real magic otherwise, only perceived. It can never be the same for you, not the same as dancing, as it is for the person doing it, either, but it seems possible, and moves the paraplegic, the autistic, and others to do the same and to express themselves by using the language of ballet and movement. So, we all think we know about it, but the perspective for the dancer, what truly motivates them, aside from obsession, is not necessarily apparent. It is not meant to be. But in all great dancers, and those who continue to dance, it is there.

In class, people will say her upper body is beautiful, without realizing just how much work it takes to keep that shoulder down, or how much pain it causes one to dance, to hold one’s arms, and how when you are dancing, you forget that pain, and that in some way this is God’s blessing to you, that he enabled you to feel no pain in your feet, not wear even a toe pad, and how you have your teachers to thank for saying “all right, remove the wool-here we go!” and how you never looked back and just kept moving forward despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles and when you thought no one was interested-they were. It’s ironic that she should have such beautiful expression to me, that I can see her mastery and control of this instrument growing daily, and how long it has taken to perfect something more difficult than what she already has had to achieve, for her, and how much eternal joy can be gotten from moving at all, and being able to dance, and how that alone can be enough to propel you, and that you are unstoppable really, because nothing could hurt or be more difficult to overcome than those initial obstacles, and you achieved those. How those ballet muscles must literally be holding that little body together and without it, though I had never even contemplated it, how she might have suffered and been deformed, or had limitations, when now she has so few. How it has molded and shaped her, and helped her to overcome some things that might have seemed impossible had she stopped to actually think about it, or took cures, or dwelled on it, listened to any other voice than her own and the music, and how incredibly strong she is and has become, and how this strength suits her, and yet how she is also capable of expressing such vulnerability and how this, too, looks good on her.

If I took her to class and this was the result, only, I could find no fault with it, or our journey, only gratitude in it, from a mother’s perspective-ever. What could have been was far worse? So, she has always had to work hard, but not for the same reasons other people have, or the same ways, and maybe that is why I will never be able to fully speak her language, why it will always be a little alien to me, hers alone, really, because I took those things for granted, and I was not born with that same stick-to-it-tiveness, or determination, and I did not get up in the morning and say, “I have to dance!” But she does. I look at her, and I am so proud and happy for her, but I do not want to see pictures. They just do not communicate well enough the infinitesimal detail which she strives for, the expression which she ultimately seeks, or any of what I see or feel. So, I owe it to her to keep that journey private in a way, and to not interfere with her perception of herself, and to let her try to become what she wants, evidently, more than anything else, to do. I do not want her to look back too often and say,” that is what I was,” but instead, “this is what I am and will be.”

It isn’t what people think of your pictures, it is what they think of you in class, that you catch their imagination and hold onto it, hear your voice in your dancing, and are riveted by your performance, are inspired by your effort, see your very soul shining forth, your strength, your differences, and not your similarities-what you do differently from other people, and how that is unique. This is important, that you say something in a way that is distinctly you. People all communicate differently, and she is developing a way of speaking of her own, that comes with hard work and practice. Maybe something more, too, and maybe that is in all of us to some degree, but that is what makes ballet art, and never sport.

It is how you do something wonderful with the same pair of old shoes you draw, and how you make each performance and each step meaningful and vitally necessary. Art has an epitome, a reachable point of perfection. It is in our perception of it, not only others. There is a way to grab it between your fingers and control it, roll it around and ponder it, and then let go, stand back, and let it’s wide light engulf you. When she is comfortable in her ability to communicate, she soars, and I think that is what is important, and that journey is different for everyone, uniquely so. I do not believe that anyone who wants to do something, no matter their age, their ability, background, or their income level should matter-if they have a strong enough will, and an opportunity, I have found, they will find a way to accomplish it-despite all the advice, opinions, naysayers, competitors, dream-killers, and sad-sacks. It is the joy you seek, and some intangible reward, and that I know, which is the momentum for continuing. She is living proof of that many times over, and she literally needs to continue, no matter what. To continue is always a fight financially, and costly to keep moving ahead and progressing in level, it requires deftness and intelligence, too, but it has to be done somehow, and we have continued on, despite deadly setbacks, ridiculous politics, and other reasons which really have no place in ballet education, the arts, therapy, or communication. It shouldn’t be so difficult to pay for when someone really needs it, or wants it, to get the right education for you to continually get the extra help, encouragement, or opportunities that you need to go on and try, and each day is happier and happier still the closer you get to all of your goals, and to that place when you are better, and it’s reaching all of those little muscles, deployable now, and in your control, so you can speak ballet fluently, but it is very difficult and expensive just the same-part of the challenge. But, you have never shrunk from a challenge. I pray you get more!


Let The Body Go – Expression of Grief


Let The Body Go – YouTube.

Celebrity Invention: Bill Nye’s Ballet Slipper — The Atlantic

Celebrity Invention: Bill Nye’s Ballet Slipper — The Atlantic.

Part 4 of Winning the Fight Against Fat: The Emergent Sylph

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sweaty swan

Many children are dancing now. By child, I mean, anyone who has not reached adulthood, their final (ever-changing) post-adolescent body proportions, has not reached their full height, width, girth, started or regularly encountered their period, and anyone who is changing or growing constantly. These people need to be doubly cautious when it comes to providing enough and varied nutrients in their diets, and enough cannot be said here about this. It is a parent’s responsibility, and not only the child’s to make sure food is eaten, what and when. Weaning is gradual and in dance may need to be watched and continued until much later on because there is little time for student, dancer, teenager to make or prepare, shop for and eat all of the right things. Some people continue to grow into into their twenties, and men and women can fill-out later in life, and the body is always changing, going through new life cycles so there are adjustments to be expected aside from actual dancing regimens.

1) don’t cut calories drastically. instead, eat slightly smaller portions and better foods. you need your energy, otherwise you could injure yourself or just be too tired to work at your peak level while dieting. females should not cut calories more than 200-300 per day. that is, if you are eating 1500-1600 per day, you can safely go down to 1300-1400 to begin with. at the same level of exercise this will reduce you fat gradually, and

2) aim for many meals per day 5-6 at least over the course of a 10-12 hour day. you can lose more fat because more meals burn more calories [by increasing thermogenesis, the production of heat, in the body]. divide how many calories you expect to consume during the day by the number of meals you can schedule in and try to spread them out evenly.

Some things we are born with a certain amount of and we lose, and these things need to be nourished to continue to grow in our bodies and starving our bodies can result in their premature loss or depletion, such as protein and estrogen-one is short term and one long. Example, proteins which are eaten should frequently be “complete, and hormone replacement therapy is one option to low-estrogen. It is almost impossible to replenish certain things with food, just as wheat germ cannot really be “organic.” In the case of dancers, estrogen, and minerals may be on the decline or are lost with vigorous dancing. Water. Sugar. Fat. We need it, or some, to survive. We do want to try to choose our fats as often as possible, so I do not recommend eating prepared foods. it is one sure way to make a promising diet attempt a flat failure.

3) drink lots of water during the day. make sure you are thoroughly hydrated by consuming about 4 16 oz bottle of water per day or 2 32 oz ones. Take a vitamin supplement regularly and make sure to get your vitamin C, especially during cold months or at the onset of symptoms of a cold.

4) Some people swear by whey protein powder which is consumed in small amounts mixed with water and shaken in a tumbler or other cup. One after heavy exercise does reduce pain and speeds up muscle healing time. One would replace a protein portion, say in the afternoon snack period. Some food products naturally contain whey protein, so be careful not to overdo your protein: ricotta cheese, milk, yogurt (Greek of course), all cheeses (especially the cheap American variety). Sweet whey comes from the process that makes cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, swiss and other cheeses made with rennet enzymes that coagulate casein. Most cheese-makers consider whey a waste product, according to “Whey to Go” by Liz Campbell. She says that the Norwegians and Greeks continue to process whey further to make brown or Mysost “whey cheeses” like Gjetost.

Many foods and meal plans or choices exist which provide the needed essentials, tasty food choices and lots of options for different types of bodies, different or changing regimens, but which ones are suitable for dancers? What do dancers actually eat?  They will (almost) never divulge their dieting secrets or truths. What about the dancer who tours or performs part of the year and then is off? What about the dancer who performs more of the time, but different parts, such as a corp dancer compared to a soloist? What about the young dancer who is building her body to the desired form, or the dancer newly wedded with grueling performance and rehearsal schedules, student by increasing level, change of program, type, or dancer returning to classes and performance after injury or time off? What about the competition dancer? The varied genre dancer? The athletic dancer who runs and does cross-training to mold or sculpt? The student or university dancer? What about a new mother who gives birth and then returns to dancing? What about the older dancer or non-dancer who returns to dance or begins to take classes? All of these different people, different bodies, different genres, ages and styles or situations are different mainly because of their levels or types of activities, and many other variables.

lean muscled man

5) creatine is a naturally occurring fat burner, and is usually obtained via supplement because of the amount of food one would have to eat per day to get optimal levels of it for fat burning purposes, i.e., 500 g raw meat or fish every day. Since this is not realistic, supplementation with creatine is both prudent and advisable. Vegetarians and vegans do not get any creatine from food sources. Creatine levels in blood plasma are very low in these populations and it is one of the issues with vegetarian diets. How much is enough is debatable since you can’t get enough anyway. What is is most important about creatine is that athletes and dancers bleed it out. Whether you take a creatine supplement or not, is up to you, gauging whether it assists you is often the best way to find out. For those interested in reading more about it   . You decide.

6) increase you vegetable consumption-i did not say “fruit.” Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack maximum nutrition value with minimal calories, leaving you more full on fewer calories. Consume five servings a day of veggies, whether as a snack, on a sandwich or on the side of a chicken breast. Order your next grass fed beef, lean chicken or turkey burger with fresh vegetables instead of french fries. Vary the vegetables you eat for maximum nutritional whollop. Check a chart if you have questions about what vegetables are sources of which vitamins, minerals and other things that are good for you.

In varying degrees some of these situations run to the similar, but each one and everyone is unique for many different reasons, and it isvery difficult to not group people into similar categories, without making specific allowances for each. But to start with there are obvious differences which can be accounted for. Good foods and bad foods for a start, but face it, when you are starving, there is not really any bad food choice. So, don’t starve yourself! These other varying differences between dancers are, in accountable for in ballet specifically, and in those persons desiring to be professional dancers, certain distinct differences which can be used for comparison are abundant, but do not really change the diet composition much, or what it should be. They may need more of some things or less of others, but the food stores should be basically the same, failing personal taste. Age, to me is important. A child needs more to grow into healthy adulthood, and I will say, “womanhood.” Our bodies need to have stores of certain things to grow into fertile and healthy women. We need to mature and pass through adolescence and puberty, and at this time, when our bodies are doing many natural things they need to do, it is unwise to alter the needs of the body without being an expert and especially starve it.

7) Don’t use commercial fat burners without exercising, and don’t rely on them to burn fat without following a healthy eating plan.  They are  more likely to cause or add to harm, as they, like all vitamins, too are supplements and do not replace actually nutritional value.

8) Consuming fiber makes you feel full, provides slow-burning carbs and lowers insulin to aid in lean muscle creation. Try to have 20-30 grams of fiber in your diet per day. refer to nutritional details for information. Bran cereals, oatmeal and beans are good sources of fiber.

Further, unless there is an unusual set of ethnic or economic conditions which exist to limit these dancers diets, or ability to lose or gain weight, the circumstances or food may remain fairly static and is determinable. Habits which begin to develop in adolescence may take part of a life to change or control or omit without assistance. In some foreign countries rickets, and many other diet deficiencies are present (gradually less so) and deformities have occurred over centuries of malnutrition. Until about 30 years ago, no one looked at ballet activity and even thought that it varied from any other activity, researched dancer stress, strain or diet, or compared it to that of other semi-professional or professional athletes, or considered that the needs or habits of dancers were entirely different, and truthfully there is a paucity of well-thought out or researched information that is up-to-date or readily available to help dancers, specifically.

9) Eliminate ALL junkfood. Pizza and hamburgers have some nutritional value and can be consumed once in a while. This includes SWEETS-if you want that form!

10) Eat the right amount of protein. Protein will be converted to fat if overconsumed. About 1 gram of protein per pound of your weight (not the desired weight) is adequate. Keep track. If you do overeat protein, do not be terribly concerned, just lower it to the correct level if possible the following day. 1.5 grams of protein per pound is not going to hurt you or cause you to put on weight unless it is consumed over a long period of time. This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control. A lot of dancers do not ingest enough protein, making them have less muscle definition. Others might consume too much and be bulky or muscle-bound. It is definitely a visual thing.

In later life, aside from the dangers of messing with the above-mentioned and more obvious issues, are old age, and as women, what we begin to lose as we get older, how we remain healthy and prepared for those inevitable changes and losses, and even in early age many things can occur, but get worse or become more obvious as other hormones are depleted, so it is extra important for female dancers to educate and demand information about these concerns, but also to plan ahead. Those accumulated losses can accrue and devastate the female body well before old age. Some very healthy people exist out there who would belie this fact, and there are others whom are prone to certain diseases. Brittle bones, lost teeth, cancer, haggard appearances, etc. it is all based on how we treat ourselves over time and genetics, so we need to be good to ourselves because as women, teenagers, and children. We need to be prepared to withstand a lot.

11) Remember those healthy fats? Eat more. They are underutilized by people trying to shed fat. You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat but you cannot cut out healthy fats completely. They take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood sugar levels leaving you feeling more satisfied and reducing food cravings. Again, avocados, fatty fish, like salmon and tilapia, olives, nuts, and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola are good heathy fats to introduce into your diet. I recommend mixing one-half serving of butter to one tspn or more of olive oil until you become accustomed to reducing the level of butter in your diet. it is great for cooking, you know you are cooking with half the good fat and it practically never smokes! This works in recipes as well (most). Also, Wildwood brand vegenaise is absolutely delicious and as it comes in several flavors there is no need to risk adding ingredients for your sandwiches, dips or salads. Ask your grocery store to carry it or look for it at Sprouts retailers. They usually order it by the case and it is in the cold section. I do not recommend replacement of mayo, for those diehards like me, but this is a delicious alternative.

12) Share your cheat foods, but eat some, too. That way you do not feel cheated and you get some of the flavor while not consuming the whole pie. You are doing everyone a favor.

The history of each body is important, and its age, in determining proper needs and nutrition, but also important and calculable is its activity level, patterns of use, and wear and tear. I have said before how important it is to treat your dancer body well, pamper it as often as possible, use good care, hygiene, and do not overwork it. Work smart. In short, do not add stress to it where enough stress is already occurring. Good diet should relieve stress not contribute to it. Adequate rest is very important and most dancers at a pre-professional or professional level do not get enough rest. Proper nutrition, I mean really good nutrition, for each dancer, is often not evident in many dancers, particularly young ones, and this is disturbing to me. Why is more attention not paid to dancer health in schools? Why do any children in this country not have access to good medical care and planning when so many diseases can later be attributed to the lack of it? With all of our advances, we are not able to measure each persons general health adequately. Most people only begin to be concerned about their health when they are older and we worry, kind of like the old finding God or being repentant just before death and not before. It is not how we lived, but how we live, that is important. Each day, each choice, each change.

13) Eat breakfast! Balanced. Full. It is the most important meal of the day for a dancer and one who is dieting because it contains everything you need (a good start) and will most likely be burned off. Your body, whether you know it or not, has been starving all night long and it deserves to eat. Not eating breakfast will negatively impact everything you do all day, including your technique and dancing. Eat a goodly amount of protein for breakfast, too, about 1/4 to 1/3 of your daily intake-spread the rest over the other meals and snacks. Eat a complex (slow-burning) carb, like otameal or a whole grain waffle or pancake, and start with a piece of fruit (right when you wake up), even before breakfast to get your metabolism revving and provide that much needed surge of energy, before your day has begun. Start off right! Since this is the best time to consume sugars, maple syrup (real) or other sugar incorporated into your breakfast occasionally is fine, as they will most likely burn off. Remember to keep your portions normally sized. Larger portions (hoarding) will only cause your body to store fat. This is where discipline comes in-it does. But you can have an extra egg white or yolk, and don’t forget the option of having additional egg whites during the early part of the day, or at breakfast. You can actually have a lot of eggs at lunch and as snacks. Spinach and kale in your omelette are also good for you as well as throughout the day! Mushrooms and other breakfasty type veggies can be eaten now as well, safely. try to consume one potato in its skin per week instead of other types of potatoes. Yams provide completely different nutrients and are not really necessary during the dieting phase, but can be consumed after your optimal weight/shape is reached. 🙂 You will normally burn off most of this by mid-morning snack, except the slow-burning carbs which will continue to be used until well into the afternoon.

14) Dancers and people in general, should avoid any food that lists corn syrup in the ingredients.

A teenager has different diet requirements than a young adult or an older, mature woman, or an elderly person. Having dealt with the elderly, those dying of cancer and other illnesses, middle-aged women, younger women, teenagers, children, babies, athletes and dancers, I have had the experience of knowing they are all very DIFFERENT but all respond to good diet. We would all be in a better position, later, to watch sodium, sugar and fat, now. But comes the thought that you cannot worry all the time about food and you cannot necessarily afford the best choices or everything that would benefit you. Psychology of the woman, teenager, adult or child, is also a very big factor impacting personal eating styles, tastes and goals. Bad habits excluded, we all develop eating patterns that appear simple but can be quite complicated just the same. Just as the person who fails on a diet and gets fatter, suffers a blow to their ego, blames themselves for a fad diet not working, the person who never appears to have diet issues can be seriously malnourished and fall prey to eating disorders later if they gain an ounce, or they may have to eat to build strength or gain weight. People’s motivations and experiences, vanity, and self-loathing and love of ourselves all play a part on our diet and eating habits, right or wrong and you need to account for them, too. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and demand that others are respectful of your body differences and eating requirements. No one is going to do this for you-you have to be your own best advocate and discipline comes from yourself.

15) Sugar consumption. Taking in simple carbs (which is sugar) should be limited, especially the first week you are dieting. They should be eaten in a very limited quantity after that as they are stored as fat. Right after you exercise, or as stated above, before breakfast, they provide quick energy, replace depleted glycogen stores in the liver and replenish muscle. Since they are much abused and anticipated, it is important to give yourself some. Satisfy your sweet tooth occasionally with a piece of fruit, chocolate less often and soda NEVER! You can have tea, coffee, waters or diet soda (if you must, but it is really bad for you). Once your desired weight is reached, and lean muscle is overwhelming flab, you can safely have the occasional hot chocolate, mixed drink (1), or beer, as well as the occasional random dessert. But for now, give yourself a week, and then keep track of them ALL. They are your culprits along with breads-you know the crusty kind….

16) Rotate your carbs. What does this mean? It means, for dancers, that some days are not as exhausting as others. It means on lower energy days it is best to reduce the number of slow-burning/carbs you eat, because you don’t use as much energy, therefore what is not used will be stored as fat. If you consume 100 carbs per day (100 pounds) on some days you might eat 120-140 and on others you might only eat 80-100. You still need energy, but not as much, and mental activity (homework) requires carbs, and energy, too. You cannot starve your body, but try to reduce protion size, eating as many meals per day with perhaps lower serving levels, or cut out that handful of nuts at snacktime, or yogurt in the afternoon-maybe the whole afternoon snack, because on slow days, meal times may be longer, meaning your meals are better enjoyed, definitely have room, and may be enjoyed. No dash and run snacks, but make sure your spread you meals out over the same number of times if possible. that way when your body comes to expect the snack, it gets something, just half, etc….or only the protein. Also, don’t carb-load, for any reason without following the guidelines of carb-loading, particularly.  It is not highly recommended for dancers. Another rule is to try to stop eating all carbs (if possible) after 4pm. THis does not include veggies with dinner or your usual bedtime snack, just slow-burning carbs, like most grains.

Besides psychology and age is activity level and this can varies in all dancers. Are you lethargic, energetic or do you conserve your energy or expend it all very quickly? Do you give 110% to your regimen, barre, allegro, variation, or performance. Do you go the extra mile or leave off after the first combination. Do you mark the exercises, sit-out? What are your habits? Good or bad, they account for calories and may be the difference between burning fat or other carbs, never getting to the fat. What is your level of consistency each day in the number of or type of dancing classes/performances or exercises that you do? When do you expend the most energy? At what point do you become tired, peek, or have to stop and why? What did you eat today? What is your level of activity, cross-training or aerobic exercise out of class? Are you prone to putting on weight or do you have to eat just to keep it on? Are you recently losing or gaining weight due to increased/decreased activity levels? Are you battling with other health issues, poor thyroid, cholesterol or salt? Are you diabetic? What time of the month is it? All of these factors combine to make your body chemistry or system completely unique and also affect how it loses or gains weight and builds muscle or mass, uses fat, carbs or glucose, etc., and how rapidly it tires or becomes apparently or not, worn out. It is possible to improve other areas of your dancing or techniques regardless of diet, for a better, more focused workout-try this-

17) If you like caffeine, drink one cup of coffee before your classes and another later in the day, say before rehearsals or a performance. It is known to enhance a workout. It causes the body to rely on more fat for fuel, rather than glucose. The effect of it, however is lessened when you consume it with, or on top of a high-carb meal. Try to consume it well after breakfast, but before class and eat it with healthy fats or protein if you are eating with or near it. Skip cream and sugar with it always and do not overdo it or drink it at other times of the day as you will develop a resistance to its fat-burning qualities.

18) Reduce or omit starchy carbs. Potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (especially consumed at the same time or meal) provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores so what is leftover will be stored as fat. You do not have to eliminate them completely, and whatver your consumption of them, it should be spread over the life of your diet, and not omitted just for the diet. It is eating with purpose and good sense which results in permanent weightloss and not binge eating. You should, however, really omit or cut back on them while trying to reach your desired weight and shed body fat. They are the main problem with mismanaged carbs (sugars). Whether dietin gor not, limit their intake to 3-5 servings a day where most needed and as I said before, none after 4pm. A serving size is 1/2 cup to 1 cup per rice, pasta or sliced potatoes. Obviously, the rice is closer to a cup and not a cup of potatoes! Pasta servings should be fairly small when eaten and I do not recommend it if you want to see immediate results. You are what you eat.

I will attempt to post additional meal plans and advice as I come across it, adding additional parts to this article, so that some people can have a goto menu plan perhaps when they are too busy to plan or lose interest or imagination. Also, I would greatly appreciate comments and feedback on this as it is for dancers and any little bit of practical advice really helps people as long as it is related and in keeping with the idea of the piece. The best sources of diets for dancers are dancers themselves and though no one wants to interfere with their money-making, a little advice goes a long way from a professional  or a novice, and it is just mean to keep it to oneself. Mean and shallow. Why hold on to something that is useful knowledge, hurting lost people in the process, and then writing a book or doing a paid interview, expecting them to then buy it? I would more likely buy the book of someone I liked who helped me previously than I would someone who jealously guarded it until someone offered them money for it. So, don’t be stingy with the knowledge, not every idea or meal plan merits a book.

So, due to their complex nature, I am not going to deal with many more of these medical and scientific (but related) issues because the article content and my knowledge would have to be far above my ability or qualifications to guide or assist those affected in their thinking, and is not intended as a practicum or rulebook for those with any other issues such as the ones listed. These are factors to consider when dieting, how much, portion size and that after 6 meal or snack, whether you need additional carbs or not, and to make you start thinking about what and when you eat. We even use energy when we are sleeping but are you choosing what energy and components you use while sleeping? Or is your body just depleting stores of energy and nutrients you need.

Obviously, any issues need to be taken into account and treated by a professional medical practitioner and/or nutritionist. Instead, I am approaching this from the point of view of any dancer who is basically healthy and eats clean and simple, but who wants to turn their fat into lean muscle, wants to make their body the best asset it can be and this is not about exercise, this is about eating foods which give energy, provide options and flexibility, and protect you from injuring yourself, while trying to obtain your best body appearance as a dancer.

If you have been told that you should wear a long skirt until your are “ready,” struggle with areas of resistance, would like to have leaner legs, arms or abdomen, you might be very close to your goals, but you will have to have a leaner diet with slow-burning carbs, less sugar and likely more protein, so be careful not to mismanage your carbs. Understand simple and complex. If you have lost a lot of weight recently, or are still losing it, gradually, but have so far not been able to discern much muscle, want to control how you lose it or appear, and despite continued efforts at dancing, then you might also want to add cardio to one of your workouts daily, and manage your carbs and protein better, this article might be useful for you, but I would be more concerned with eating enough, healing and making sure I got those extra vitamins and minerals and didn’t lose too much weight than changing my diet completely. Chances are you are doing some things right! If you are weak, skinny and no muscle tissue is discernible, than you have to build muscle and strength, this diet probably might help you to learn what you can add safely, though your purpose would not be to lose weight.

If you want to begin discovering yourself underneath a very small layer of fat, seeing your muscles, as they are naturally, with a rigorous program of ballet in place, then this method might help if you have the discipline to stick with the meal ideas, make small goals and stick to your guns, follow the advice and stay constantly on the lookout for better foods for you which meet roughly the same criteria.  It might be safe to say that after one year has passed since reading this article, you come back and share your experiences and knowledge and story.

This article is not about dieting, it is about eating. If you want to see slow but perceptible change and begin a path to an improved image in front of the mirror, then there is going to be change which is visible, but not plenty here to motivate, inspire or sustain that journey as it is about a life of commitment and not a fad diet-but may it especially be a continued one for a long and healthy life of self-love and self-accomplishment. It is your body and is never going to look like someone else’s body no matter what you do! No diet is ever going to reveal another body-just yours, but you might be surprised of what you are capable of….and the body you can reveal by eating right. This article also assumes you dance at least 10 hours per week in a serious ballet or dance program, but it is written for someone who is newly dancing everyday for 6-8 hours or more per day every day. And, oh-take one day OFF.

Keep on Dancing!

Part 3 of Winning the War Against Fat: The Emergent Sylph

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When I was growing up, people did not say that dancers were disciplined, but it was true. You could see it in their form. Also, it was much harder and more expensive to obtain organic foods, locally grown foods, or to find food without dextrose, sucrose, or corn syrup. Packaging was not very helpful and we did not have the Internet. Dancers were still seen somewhat as freaks, and so were yogis, health ‘nuts’, etc…. and now they are acceptable, but dancers still are, to some extent, still seen as freaks, trading a normal lifestyle for one of sacrifice, discipline and commitment, whether in a studio, on a stage, as a general fast, cleanse, eating regimen or health nut. At best we are acceptable as athletes, but this is not really what we are, is it? But when a dancer is judged, they are judged on the body, on the line, on what they can do on stage, in under 2 minutes, to a much greater degree than any other athlete. It behooves a dancer to have a healthy outlook and a positive one on the benefits of good food and a healthy lifestyle, because you have to be strong and resolute. It’s a matter of doing the best you can with what you’ve got. If you are starving your instrument, your art will suffer, eventually, because YOU will. The audience, judging public, professional or otherwise, has already decided what level of discipline you are based on how you look that quickly, too. I know many a very lazy dancer who is very slim and some very hard working ones who are not, but they will generally cast the slim ones-not always. Competition is fierce.

But, it is definitely how you appear, as a performer, and also what you do, so it is not uncommon for a choreographer or company to cast on body type, then teach teach teach the work or variation to a less accomplished dancer because they want a certain look. Artist has a much different connotation than dancer. It also implies age , maturity and wisdom, but you do not have to wait to eat smart. To begin with, size even determines what roles you get or don’t get and what you are permitted to or encouraged to wear, and this is largely based on how the choreographer or director or public perceives you or will perceive you (and how many costumes they want to keep on hand of various sizes) or how much sewing they reasonably want to do. As many factors as they can control, they do attempt to control and if you are a ballet dancer, you will have to control what you eat for longevity, health and appearance. No one has bought a ticket yet to see Sumo wrestlers perform ballet, but they have (regrettably) bought tickets to see a fashion show, where a skeletal body is the norm for hanging ballet clothes, and then these bodies typify what we as dancers, expect to see at a performance of actual dancing or in ourselves. Not fair? Who cares if they can’t dance, or can’t dance as well? Sometimes we are surprised that dancers are never like supermodels and when you see a real company of dancers, they are all muscular and few are starving. Well, some are very thin, but they do exercise more than average dancers and their calorie intake can be higher, also their basic metabolisms might run hotter more often. The first step is to reach that plateau, and then deal with adding calories, changing or inspiring your metabolism to work faster, and dancing all day and all night. La!

Sometimes we are even more surprised at the amount of actual energy required (and food) to perform variations, a full-length ballet, and support the work that goes into it, or more understandably how tired we are after a private, rehearsal or performance. The week after performances a lot of people are out. To remain healthy is a big job and the most important one. Sometimes time must be taken off to let the body heal, restore and replenish-rest. Sometimes that is just not possible and we have to be as fit and prepared for that inevitability, as dancers, as possible. Fit for dancing. Individual dance performances and exercise are short bursts of energy repeated after resting, usually, but any dancer who has just walked out from her half-hour private, will have the look of exhaustion and she is just working on a 2 minute piece. It takes some getting used to, building up for, and effort to sustain dancing for that long and you just do not get that at the barre. Even greater stamina is required for actual full-length performances, tours, seasons, and professional ballet in general. It is a constant juggling act, so I think food and dancers must be sympatico, because there is just too much on their plates already.

So, importantly, there are all exercise levels in ballet, but some must be obtained regularly to lose FAT. At your level of dancing this may not be possible, so you might have to crosstrain or get on the elliptical or spin or whatever to lose weight, just so the calories you are eating to work as hard as you must, do not exceed the calories you need, and are ingesting (fats, carbs and protein). Mostly you want to reduce your store. Be efficient, clean house. That has to be balanced against going home, sleeping, time off, illness, sabbaticals, and school, largely sedentary activities for a dancer. Dancers do not like to sit. Rather, you prepare the muscles at barre for the way they will be used in dancing and that is simply not fat burning exercise! So you have to eat less of certain things for now.

Slow-burning carbs are good choices for dancers, especially early in the day  These would also include oatmeal (steel cut), and quinoa. For other kinds of energy, such as a pick-me-up or morning activity, and lets not forget the other kind of fast burning sugars/carbs for energy after sleep for instance, when your body is depleted of it.     of which canteloupe, an apple, orange or pear might do the trick, given time to work, and then followed by a normal breakfast of protein and slow-burning carbs for your classes. Many meals in the day provide constant energy and nutrients, which a dancer needs, and sustains them for long days of varying kinds of movement intensity. The idea is to keep fueling your body when you need it, and then to heal, regenerate and continue to burn fat and use energy you provide, even when it sleeps. Late night snacks are not verboten, just controlled-the same as dinner after 6. A midmorning and afternoon snack are just that, not meals, and anything from a piece of small bagel and water or yogurt and blueberries to some lentils and quinoa (pre-made) with tomatoes and chicken broth can do the trick, or cottage cheese, milk and a small serving of peanut butter, or meat. Just make sure your food is clean and wholesome with no added fats or sugars. Healthy fats are numerous and should account for about 20% of your daily intake of fats: avocado, olive oil, even butter can be healthy fats, but there are many to choose from. a characteristic of healthy fat is that its polyunsaturated fats fat count is much higher than either its trans or saturated fat levels, discernible from-reading the package or from a nutrition source. Also, avoid deli meats if at all possible, or within the “fat” rule, as most deli meats contain things you do not want and “oven-roasted is always better than any other kind as the meat is probably just rubbed as opposed to soaked in brine etc., before it is baked. But make sure. Cured or uncured does not necessarily connote this.

krave snack


As performances for the novice, pre-professional or recreational dancer, just do not last that long, or come that frequently, there would seem to be little if any change necessary in diet, but as you go you do increase your caloric intake because you need more energy, such as for that variation, not less, and there is gap with regard to dancers who are new to this and virtually no help in understanding or dealing with it available. There is almost no mercy for students, because that is going to be displayed and no matter the age, they look at the package-how well you dance, pose, and what you look like. Sometimes there is device and trickery, but there is almost always a moment of truth for a dancer, when all is exposed and the fat shows or lack of lean muscle shows. The result of working so hard everyday should be visible, the labor, the effort, the pain, but it does not always meet our expectations and you cannot fathom why or what is causing it. Sometimes there are only minor things about ourselves that we want to change and as dancers we know that requires work-another small part of our attention focused on that trouble area to fix-no matter what we do, it is always going to be a juggling act. Learning to eat healthier is the first step to controlling the weight and to seeing a leaner you.

It might be our backs, the space right at the top of our thighs where there is a little bit of fat (legs rub together), it might be calves, arms, bosom, or torso, but it is usually there and looking right back at us when we look in the mirror, or noticeable to people onstage. Chances are, when we put on our clothes, or take them all off, everything fits, looks beautiful and is fine, and we love ourselves, so we say, “I am just fine.” We work on other things and we cave in to hunger cravings, and that is an important word, c-r-a-v-i-n-g-s, when we get a break. That is why we do not want to get caught out not having edible food, which we have prepared, or accounted for, handy. We eat whatever is available or easy or we have prepared to eat, but is this what we need to build the body we want? We have to teach ourselves what is right and acceptable for our own body chemistry and activity level and for every woman, this is a job, it is habits and discipline, and knowledge of ourselves, and time to develop. We have to work on it, sometimes inch by inch, because as dancers, our bodies are observed very closely, judged and they are our tools. Dancers later into life deal with other issues. So this project sometimes never stops, particularly if we have been unsuccessful in our dieting attempts, suffer from low self esteem, believe we come from FAT people, have big bones, are large, are flabby, and in fact, some of these diets can result in extra fat stores being accumulated just in case we decide to diet again, compounding our problems. Or if something is working, we often don’t change at all, but our bodies DO, making that diet ultimately wrong later on. The truth is, the body fights back!

The body is a survivor. It is the perfect example of the survival of the fittest. Fat people or people’s bodies who respond normally to having food taken away are healthier, stronger, fitter, champion bodies, because they have come across this before and determined to survive and keep your health, keep you alive, they fight back in a warrior-like and genius way. Bodies that disintegrate and lose weight, starve easily, or as a way of life, are probably not all that healthy-they don’t have a safety switch that turns off when they have depleted their bodies important store of nutrients. So take some comfort in your body working perfectly. They take what they need to survive, and they sort out the contents, nutrients, and various chemicals later, as their first mission is to inspire you, urge you, to eat. They might overeat to protect you, to prepare you, they are greedy. They are a force to be reckoned with. You cannot win that way.     If this is a fairly good diet for dancers who are not working on toning and making leaner muscle, then the diet has to be modified slightly. Very slightly, because the thinking is sound. Some actual dancer meals from Ballet Austin  (again, they do not specify DIETing), but good so far and these I focus on as lunch. A dieting dance needs to eat just the right foods after her dancing day is done or after 4pm and 6pm and 8pm (if she eats at all-and she will). High energy snacks include    and   Remember to keep portions of snack very small. Dinners typically include protein and veggies, no grains for dieters or fruit (sugar) and certainly not past about 4pm. A late snack before bed can include some healing carbs and protein, preferably casein such as found in milk and cottage cheese and other snacks which might promote healing and energy creation during the night of the leftovers and chosen. I refer to this very cautious article for dancers attempting the sylphlike body of a ballet dancer, as it addresses and precipitates eating disorders which are caused generally by this attempt.

Depending on your level of activity, you need to balance your caloric intake with a healthy diet, and most importantly one that provides energy, builds muscle, and enables you to carry on the endurance activities that professional or semi-professional dancing requires. Also, it needs to be palatable food, nutritious food, and you need to replace vitamins and minerals that you lose while dancing or exercising rigorously. Any student that takes a break from dancing can put on weight. Expect it. First, it is water weight and then it is fat. When you return to dancing the process starts all over again. The body re-adapts. Unless you have come off a starvation or carb or other diet where your body has been denied what it normally uses for energy, and it is in a recovery mode, hence storing up more glucose and fat for later use (and it will redouble its efforts each time), you are in a pretty good place to get to where you want to be, eventually, at that point in time. You may not think so, but you are. Any diet should start from a baseline approach, meaning eat what you eat normally beforehand for a few weeks. If your body is in shock and working to replenish those lost supplies, then you had better approach your diet in a more patient and less demanding way, anyway, because it will win if you try to trick it, starve it or control it too aggressively-that is a built in response. The real trick is to give your body exactly what it needs in terms of nutrition, water, fats and sugars, so that it doesn’t try to compete with your sylph. That way you both win.

Part 2 of Winning the War Against Fat: The Emergent Sylph

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I found this on a dance diet Pinterest page, which is interesting to gander at when you have the time, but contains slightly different foods than I would expect to see listed for dancers-namely, the purple highlighted section toward the the bottom says “Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.” NO. Definitely not.  But it does show a lot of information being gathered in an attempt to discover the sylph as well as eat enough of the right kinds of food for dancing long periods of time, and as well underlines the need for information on this subject which is available for all dancers in one place.  This search by dancers, on the Internet, most visibly, underlines the need for good advice and guidance in this area. You can check it out here

eat healthy plate


In recent media, we would be told to believe that barre exercises alone will work those trouble spots, sit-ups and leg lifts will out those little fatty pockets, giving us six-packs and a space between our legs you could drive a truck through, but especially that “anyone can have a ballet body”, by just following a ballet regimen or ballet barre-dancers know is just NOT TRUE, no matter the specious facts which support it. I would find the references sited in this article useful possibly, rather than the whole question (and certainly not her answers) posed by someone who is evidently struggling with the concept at best. Yes, this information is published in a magazine (!) Yet, her sources could have answered some of her questions (some of them), but all dancers know this is full of absolutely false information and theorizing. Almost no facts. No facts. Be careful what you read on the Internet! I do not want you to think I am just dissing on dieting folks writing around the web, I am not-this is a random (more or less) search and find on dance dieting articles which I have come across and I am pointing out the benefits of researching further, not being afraid to be skeptical and of listing those questions you might have as you read, so that your answers become part of your own solution. But you can read the article here:


The fact is, the more you run, exercise, spin, aerobicize, yogasize, or do pilates, you can lose weight, build muscle, adapt, change, and the body will continue to adapt, if you starve it, or low-carb-it, or paleo it, and these things = big money for their progenitors, but do not work for everyone all the time or at all for some people, depending on many factors. I would say if you spin all day and do yoga you will lose weight, but you will not have a dancer’s body. You will also lose a lot of muscle, and information stating that yoga leads to a ballet body is also false. Weight lifters do not have ballet bodies. Much of this information is fad dieting and touts a weight-loss promoters form of diet and exercise as the best form of diet and exercise for everyone. Again, not so! Take a look at a 104 year old yogi-does he look like a ballet dancer to you? I am not saying crosstraining and yoga are not good for you, they might be, but for some people they are not necessary for losing weight or building lean muscle. In our case, yoga is good, certain kinds (Vinyasa, especially), for opening up the hips and stability, but I think if you are a dancer, you dance, primarily, because that is what you have time for. If you do other things, it benefits you, but it is a small part of your regimen.

For dancers, some workouts and diets may do more harm than good, and some diets may be extreme, actually dangerous for some people, and result in loss of muscle (skeletal, too). There is a lot of talk about cleanses, and purification, and in my day this was Ex-lax, enemas or diuretics. Fasting might be good for some people and they might swear by it, but if you are not basically dirty, eat well, are young, and don’t drink or smoke, then what exactly are you getting cleansing? Well, for starters, water, and lots of it, is absolutely necessary for everyone. So you must drink what you need of it-that is not dieting or cleansing-that is common sense. Muscles are 70% water and the rest of our body needs water, too. Naturally, we consume water, so to lose water weight, which will all be gained back, is not the best way to “diet”, and a lot of diets, a lot, start out by causing you to lose water and this is cheating and lying to yourself and your body-it knows, maybe you don’t. Too much sodium will cause you to drink too much water, so a low carb (all fat and meat diet) could make you very, very thirsty, but when people go on them they usually have trouble with raised sodium levels. No wonder! Can any diet that prevents you from pooping seriously be good???  Again, common sense. Ideally, you are supposed to pee out the FAT globules (in a perfect world). You can do so many things on this diet to mess it up,  a lot of people fail on it anyway, and gain back all the weight (and water) in under a year, so that each time it is attempted, the end result is some weight loss, a sense of failure, and then inevitable weight gain. Carb dieters report that the first few days you are very tired and unenergetic (duh). This can be really detrimental for a dancer who needs all that strength and power to lift her leg and hold a pose! She could get injured horsing around like a drunken dieter (carb dieter alert-get out of the classroom, you could be detrimental to everyone else’s heath and safety! ) That euphoric feeling of fasting or starving could be like an alcohol or drug high.

So, where can a dancer get enough carbs, fat and protein (as well as all the vitamins and minerals to keep her healthy) while dieting and keeping or creating a superb form? The differences in diets may be like a sound board, where you increase the bass, treble and volume, and other incidentals, or lower them, ever so slightly, and the sound changes. While the layman may not readily hear, see or be able to quantify these minute differences, to the trained ear or eye, those changes will be discernible, and the proof is in the pudding or the product. In reality, little modifications to diet are very big changes to your system. Are you tired, worn out, malnourished, hungry, fat, too thin, lethargic? Only dancers can answer these questions about themselves and dieting is highly personal, too. Everyone has habits, psychological failsafes, and patterns as well as different personal taste, but only by EATING can you discern what you like.

barre barI am not downing dancer industry I quite like (Irina and Max’s Booties), and dancers do go-to bars for a meal in a bite, but I have my doubts about whether Lara Bars, or any other product, actually provide enough sustenance and protein for dancers, and they are all very high in sugars. They are a snack, so stop treating them like a meal! The last thing I do thinks about bars are even though their ingredients may be wholesome, are they combined, what you need? Why not eat the ingredients clean?  By clean, I mean, 7 walnuts, a half a dozen almonds, a fig, a date, rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, chocolate and agave syrup, when all you really need is one yogurt and a handful of blackberries/blueberries right now, especially if you want to lose weight. A bar of any kind is all these ingredients rolled into one and equals a healthy candy bar. It does the same things, it weighs a lot, it has calories, carbs and fat, but not much protein. and if you want protein why play around? Get protein. Get it straight from the source. Those extra CARBS in that bar are excessive, not slow burning, may not be worked off in one classroom or technique class, and are most likely eaten at a time of day when you do not need that kind of energy-unless you are performing. It’s like dancers who eat nothing but ice cream for the casein protein I suspect. It has sugar! Tons of it and the alternatives to straight ice cream, like sorbet, or Ices, have as much sugar and virtually no protein, so are not healthy. If you want milk drink it, but drink organic because it has loads more (70%) omega-3 fatty acids because they feed them grass and “grass-fed usually means: Cows were meant to eat grass, not grain. But nearly all milk producers, including those that sell 100% Certified Organic, exclusively feed their cows grain. Studies are currently underway on the health benefits of dairy products produced from the milk of grass-fed cows. This much is known: grass-fed dairy products contain an increased amount of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)”. Nearly six times as much. Is this bad? Decide for yourself

Eat healthy, but keep in mind that not all information is required to be on labels (for your protection) and in advertising, companies tend to try to sell product on the merits of it, but may omit other details which may be of significance to you. I will not say they lie, but most cannot tell the complete truth or their products would not sell. Sometimes just eating the best foods you can find, cleanly, is the best way to lose weight and eat healthily and you do not have to spend a fortune doing it. It is an elitist concept that “rich” or expensive foods are necessarily better. Sort of like the Emperor’s New Clothes. You can study all of this information later when you have lost the weight and are making decisions based on your new more lovely appearance and attitude. Not all of the facts about health foods are out yet and this is not about agriculture and industry as much as it is about you liking what you see and eat, and being able to afford to maintain an eating habit.

Dancers eat and train, they don’t diet and exercise. This stress, diets, constant vigil, trying to find things to eat that are readily available, rather than what you choose or plan, other exercises, aerobic exercises, can take that extra weight away, whittle it away and expose taut lean muscle of the Gods, alone, is a fallacy. Stress alone adds fat. All that expended energy doing crosstraining to burn fat can wear out your instrument, make you old, make you fat, and make you just plain give up and eat whatever is available. Largely, what you eat determines, chemically, what happens that you cannot see and there is no adequate measure for it, except the mirror, and your physical self, so I tend to advise not looking at scales very often. Anyone who has struggled with issues, like I have, will know it defeats you when you expect to see numbers but you don’t understand them and no amount of starving yourself lowers them. Losing weight and toning depends on diet, activity, genetics, body chemistry and desire/discipline but the scale can be a friend, eventually. I have lost more weight not dieting than all of the conscious efforts of someone who watches their weight. I use the scale now (when I diet) to check one aspect of the process, but completely ignoring it can provide better benefits to some people and less stress until you are communicating with your body intelligently and that means listening to it. It is like Google translate-the scale understands the weight, but the context of the conversation is lost in translation! It is the right diet that is important and staying on it until you begin to see results, the right diet of food! Eating enough, not less of the right things, and more caloric intake, rather than less is usually necessary, and which is ultimately important, should increase the more or harder you work. How many hours per week/day do you exercise? How many times do you nourish your body per day? What time do you slow down? Stop eating carbs? What kinds of slow-burning carbs are you eating and when? Protein? And do you allow yourself rewards or cheats? Do you pick at least 20% of your fats per day? Are they good fats? Do you drink enough water?

while in france

And for most of you, who think French food (or Italian food, or British, or Russian) is healthier, it depends on what you eat and when you eat it. These ingredients, bought on a shopping trip, would reflect the appetite of a cyclist racing across Europe, and not a tiny dancer. Why? You tell me. Even in Fre! nch, I can recognize the word “lard”. Canteloupe is one of nature’s only fruits which contains fast-burning carbs-but it is not a dinner item for a dancer trying to build lean muscle, because carbs should be eaten when we are or are going to be active-and sugars, especially, in the early part of the day, say before 4pm, or earlier. It is not suggested, when dieting, to have them later in the day or to subsist on fruits rather than certain veggies because there is a carb chart of veggies, just as there is for fruits, and variety is important in both, but you just should avoid fruit for weight loss and fat loss because all that sugar does is turn into fat. One reason carb diets work is because you are allowed true fats, butter, oils, whipped cream, fatty meats, in short all of things by nature you should know to avoid, they tell you to eat, because chemically our bodies do not turn fat into fat-we make our own-Out of sugars! But you are to starve your body of healthy foods to lose weight! These items were turned into this meal_

Dinner at farm

Which for many reasons, not alone the time of day eaten, a dancer does not need and should avoid. It is fine for a cross country cyclist, though.

Most people would say dancers are disciplined. Not necessarily. If they are professional, they must learn to be. Many of them possess a lot of incorrect information and subsist on that, starving themselves to eat their favorite things, and eat lots of things that they don’t like “to be healthy.” 1st of all, if you do not like something-take it from me-you will eventually reason yourself out of your diet unless you can find a way to make that food palatable, which usually involves putting something you do like into it anyway, thus ruining (possibly) the good of it. Making your own food is key to enjoying it though, and liking it, and being a lot more healthy.

We tend to argue larger portions of the foods we like balanced (?) by smaller portions of the ones we don’t and announce that we ate healthier. Some people need to completely revise their thinking about food and find good reasons for not eating things that are bad for you. Most of these foods are readily available, everyone else eats them, but like smoking, you have to try not smoking before you can say food tastes better and you should just avoid smoking for the health reasons. It is the same way with soda-I have never liked it, just the occasional small sip is enough to remind me that it is just too sweet, and a lot of times, when you train yourself to eat less sugar, less salt, you find later, when eating something pre-prepared that it is too salty or too sweet.

You have adapted your eating habits and are subsequently requiring less salt and sugar, or other things to satiate you, and the inevitable finickiness thereafter is rewarding to you. When you eat good things, bad things taste, well, bad. You have to try it to see if foods are naturally salty, naturally sweet, or whether butter is truly better than healthy fats, to get used to it. It doesn’t sound palatable necessarily, but some things are actually better when they ARE healthy. Feeling good is also about eating healthy and the more you do it, the better you feel.

For some people, adjustments alone, require that dieting may take longer than one expects-like for me. It takes time, but even small results are immediately noticeable. You may feel better, be more energized, and begin to get in tune with your body. It is pretty easy to get healthy foods anywhere now, and with the whole population going Whole Foods crazy, we forget that some things in cans, in cupboards, and frozen are still healthy. Health foods could put a world of good companies out of business forcing up the price of groceries by fulfilling demand for so-called healthier foods.  Natural foods are a good thing and I have always known when I had too much meat in my diet because I tended to make less and eat less. But this is more psychological than nutritive or fact-based. Our bodies tell us something and we have to learn to listen, but that doesn’t mean we have to be food snobs to be healthy.,16641,20121203,00.html

time food snobs


Part 1 of Winning the War Against Fat-The Emergent Sylph

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Lean muscled bodies Sarah Lamb

Lean-muscled bodies in dance-that is what we have come to expect to see-in the media, at a performance, at competitions, on Instagram, on the Internet, in the movies, on So You Think You Can Dance, in the classroom AND in front of the full-length mirror, at home. Riiip! Stop right there! Not perfect, not seeing what you want to see? Not what others see? You are what you eat, and if you do not see that desired image in the mirror, you might feel somewhat of a failure. You might think that no matter what you do you are not ever going to succeed, improve or be the  image you have in your mind that is perfect-usually. Your body may get in the way of your seeing yourself as the best dancer you can be, and feeling good about yourself inspire confidence. Aside from that, it may have nothing much to do with your ability to dance. Getting the body you want is not the same as not being able to rock a hairstyle, bodies are usually obtainable, believe it or not. But, you might be guilty of projecting someone else’s body onto your own.  If anyone tells you you cannot achieve what you want to, prove them wrong!

You are unique. You have to believe that, but you are also capable of being the best that you can be, and the most healthy and strong dancer you can be. To me, and to a growing number of companies who invest large amounts of money in training, and lose dancers due to injury, this is also very important to succeeding in a professional career in ballet. Posers who do photo shoots might just be that, and it is possible that they are not as good a dancer as you are! A career lasts at least 20 years. What you do now will definitely impact the longevity of your dancing career as well as a competition in 4 months. So, you must make a commitment to eat right for the rest of your life and not just to lose weight, only to gain it back again, up and down and so forth.

Therefore if you are gearing up for the winter and you are a dancer you might want to try this plan:

old fashioned winter menu

NOT! Let me say again NOT!

It speaks of holidays and comfort foods and lots of starch and fat and sugar. But what is wrong with it? You say. “I am a dancer and I burn off calories-that is what I do. Well, for every calorie you burn off, another ten of these above turn into fat while you sleep. It isn’t just the sugar, it’s that all the right foods are there, hidden in gravy, butter, marmalade, cheese, sauces, and taters and other foods which you will have to eye cautiously over the holidays and during the winter, because this is what people eat. Regular people, not dancers!

In front of the mirror at the first self-assessment, any women or teenager might say,”I need to lose weight, maybe 5-10 pounds.” In the real life of any woman, every 10 years that need to “go backwards” goes up by 5 or 10 pounds, after you stop wearing the little tiny black dress, your brother’s jeans (with no butt), after babies, surgery, loss of work, a change of regimen, a more sedentary lifestyle, drastic change of lifestyle, health conditions, anything-you develop a bosom and may be lugging around more “desirable” fat, but it’s still fat and weight and adds numbers to the bathroom scale you can’t fathom. Also, we cook, and when we cook, we taste, we nurture and feed others, and have to shop and you know never to go shopping on an empty stomach. Everything looks good, but one benefit of having Madonna’s personal trainer is the likely aspect that she shops for you, puts it in your fridge and guards you from eating outside of your diet. She also works your butt off. Renee Winhoffer is her name. She is a dancer, too. In her words, “I plan and pack all my foods – and if I’m on tour I work with the hotels and cater ahead for specific foods. I often travel with my box of steamed vegetables and lean protein so I don’t get caught out. If I eat out, I make a special request for a green salad with some grilled fish or chicken and a little olive oil. And any time I have a hunger urge I drink 10 gulps of water and then wait 10 minutes.”  She also states that if you want to see results in a week try not eating before your midday snack to attack the fat stores immediately in the AM. You can read more advice by her and other fitness gurus, here, .

However, I find that in doing research including that article one has to look at whether they tell the whole truth, do the same number of exercise hours per day as any given dancer, the same type of dance and dancing as you, and realize that one article and a few tips does not a meal plan make. There are plenty of questions I would want to ask, more on the technical side. Men differ from women, so I try to look at a diet that is good for women, too.

In reality, it might be fat you need to lose, or weight, most people have some, but it might be that more muscle needs to be developed (and are being) or exposed to best display our body’s assets and we have to give this process TIME and the right nutrients to help it along. We may be long of limb and tall, frail and tiny, or somewhere in between, but we can all be the best we can be. All women can relate to this, not just dancers. We all experience this self-doubt and analyze, and it is especially difficult for anyone, for any reason, in any case, and even those who have heretofore had perfect bodies, so no ones difficulties are less important than anyone else’s, whatever they are.

It is sometimes much later in a women’s life that she just asserts herself and accepts this body as her own, or decides to make it the best she can, when she is finally tired of ignoring it or trying to make it something else, feeling guilt or shame. I blame the media, Instagram, men, and sometimes families for making women feel they are less than perfect, and women for listening to them and not being strong and believing in ourselves. To be honest, ballet dancers must make a decision, and that is whether they have the discipline to eat only enough to maintain their exercise level, turn fat into lean muscle, and strive for the weight level required in partnering. It is not fair to maim your partner because you have to eat a cake. Just have to. For this reason, and for the body-beautiful a ballet dancer must be slim, as slim as is reasonably possible-maybe a bit slimmer than is reasonably possible, and she also has to eat right. Luceat lux vestra! But let your own light shine!


Pointe magazine – Ballet at its Best.

The Workout: Rebecca Krohn

Balanchine powerhouse

By Jenny Dalzell (reprinted by Mysylph)

Published in the February/March 2014 issue.

Krohn with Justin Peck in Balanchine’s “Four Temperaments.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Glancing at the long and sinewy Rebecca Krohn, one might not guess that the New York City Ballet principal eats about every two hours. But to keep up with the rigorous rehearsal schedule that comes with her job, Krohn has figured out a mix of strengthening, refueling and daily maintenance that keeps her on top.

On the menu: Before or after class, Krohn has a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruit, coconut water, spinach and sometimes half an avocado. “I also eat simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the day. They’re not filling, but they’re satisfying. And I always keep a chocolate and peanut butter Luna protein bar in my bag in case hunger strikes.”

Cross-training: Private Pilates classes three times a week in the off-season, and on Mondays in-season. “I have a little bit of scoliosis and I always feel more even after the sessions.”

Rolling out: “I have a ball for each part of my body: small rubber balls from vending machines at grocery stores that I use in between my metatarsals; a slightly larger ball for my plantar fascia; and the next size up I use on my calves and back. The biggest, called KONG Balls, are for the front of my hips. I found them at the pet store—they’re for dogs.”

Recharge: A 15- to 20-minute cat nap between rehearsals and performances. “I lay down and put my legs up against a wall to decompress my back. Plus, your feet get so swollen from standing all day, sometimes you can barely get your pointe shoes back on.”

Stamina secrets: A lean-protein–filled meal, like a chicken breast, two hours before curtain. “It’s enough to keep me going through the evening without getting hungry. I make sure I have water on hand, and adrenaline helps. Once you’re in the zone, you just do it.”

via Pointe magazine – Ballet at its Best..

Part 2-Winning The Fight Against Fat; The Emergent Sylph

You have been dancing now for several weeks, after a long break, and you are not happy with yourself yet. Although you have developed better eating habits, hardly have time to eat some days, and even though you are definitely losing weight, and developing muscle, you are not exactly where you would like to be, there is still some fat around your hips and on your legs. A few pounds are gone, hopefully, if you have been sticking to your diet-which you have, and you haven’t! Do not rest for the worst of Winter is yet to come. It is most important to stay healthy. If you had listened to me and drank your lemon and honey teas, you might not have gotten sick! And how can you take your vitamins if you are out of them?? You might even look extremely thin on the upper body and face, but below there are still areas you need to address. They are improving, but you cannot quit working on them. Pretty soon, if you stick with it Be happy!!!!You are w they will be perfect and you can be proud.

adonis thighsI thought I would post this picture because you would look very cute in these warmups and because when you Google “Adonis thighs” some pretty weird pictures come up. 🙂

You are well on your way to not only succeeding in your dieting plans for life, you are becoming a healthier eater, better and stronger person. One thing I notice is that like smoking, after a break of being really good, and not smoking, or a trauma (like your teacher yelling at you), we run back to our carbs for comfort. Like ice cream, bread, cookies, muffins, candy, anything we have been depriving ourselves of which we think is not really bad for us in small quantities. But after we have sated ourselves, then we feel guilty, or worse, we have started smoking again! It is not the weight, we can lose that again. It is the self-confidence and the discipline, which we have believed ourselves capable of that we undermine. It is important for your psyche in ballet, to believe in yourself, to be disciplined, and that takes training, too! If you discipline yourself to do something or to not do something, you take pride, and then it is not a job, but a purer way of life. A temple for your inner sanctum, where you can go and revel in the fact that you are you, not a cave where you dart and hide, hoarding goodies for when you feel bad or want to let down. Look at those foods that provided a minute’s solace. Did they really? Were they good tasting? Were they healthy? Were they worth it? Think about it.

Think about eating half a la a partridge in a pear tree- A giant vat of spinach, 10-12 medium-sized shrimp, 2  and one-half shiny red bell peppers, 2 and one-half small potatoes, a small plate of popcorn, A large handful of chickpeas, a small handful of raisins, a two-finger wide slice of salmon (maybe one-and-a half finger wide), one-half of a blueberry muffin, and a teaspoon of peanut or other nut butter. These are snack portions of these items-as part of a meal they are roughly the same size (for a dancer), but you can eat other things with them. The potatoes are raw, by the way, and not on your diet at all, yet. Except on cheat days and if every day is a cheat day, you do not get a cheat day! Nag, nag, nag. No, really, you don’t. If you don’t want to listen to me, try this app-it’s free for 7 days-a virtual nutritionist. She can support you in your weight loss endeavors, very nicely, if you don’t cheat, and suggest better food choices, or alternatives that are healthy!

But if you are eating things like this, and they satisfy you, then you already know that 1) your stomach is not that big, and 2) they provide you with energy and other vitamins and minerals you need-that is why they satisfy you. Let them. Learn from them. See what that can do before you tear off a big chunk of crusty bread and chow down. Try eating snack-sized portions of these tempting tasties instead of eating a whole one, a cup or a bowl, or a big plate of food. Try smaller portions, a smaller plate. If necessary, carry your plate around with you and fill it up instead. You know you cannot go over if you use a measure. And don’t say, pile it up. You can make a bigger pile of veggies or protein, slightly. This is a cute write-up of Holiday food portion sizes. Don’t know-take a look!

Gradually, you are building up your stamina so that instead of being exhausted on Thursday,you are exhausted on Friday. You are not only doing some things right, and you must continue your good progress, you are better able to see where your failings are occurring and you may now begin to consider what those are and how to address and change them. One, you are trying to give yourself energy to compete in a very highly demanding profession of dancing. it is a long journey. probably, you are still not giving your body adequate replacement of minerals and electrolytes lost. You may not be drinking enough water. If you are run down and getting sick then you need to work on this but continue to lose weight and build lean muscle. Maybe you have inflammation from dancing the Nutcracker, preparing for competitions or doing an entire season on your tippy toes- here are 10 foods that fight inflammation:

Also water and Turmeric.

Soon, you will face the onset of winter, you will need to heal and get adequate rest especially and as well as Nutcracker and auditions, you will be preparing for competitions (possibly), travel (maybe), and the stress from academic if not ballet exams and the deep deep winter months which will limit your other activity (possibly). You will have to face of and confront the holiday issues. I start by watching Bridgette Jones once and then the second part and then move on to Holiday and other chick flicks, because no where else will you actually see Renee Zellweger being eaten by Alsatians and scraping the mold off of cheese to prepare you for winter and the fact that you will not actually starve or freeze to death, but you may very well catch cold.  So let’s consider that while you are on this fabulous plan to have a plan, you do not actually have one yet. let’s look at nutritious Fall and Winter foods and produce and try to find sustenance in pictures and produce departments-not necessarily more meat, but complete proteins are essential.  Meat free meals can be less expensive, lower in calories, etc….A complete protein refers to proteins which contain ALL of the amino acids, but nine of them cannot be produced by the body alone, so vegetarians have to go an extra mile to get them without eating meat. These nine are called (not the ring bearers) the essential amino acids, as “it is essential for you to get them.” Meat and eggs are complete, beans and nuts are not. Humans do not need every essential amino acid in every mouthful or at every meal but we do need most of them everyday. Most dieticians believe that plant-based diets can provide enough. Here are some excellent recipes and foods which provide not only vegetarians, but also dancers with tasty food choices and plenty of protein. Try eating one plant-based meal one day per week and see if you notice raised energy (or feeling better levels) if you are a staunch meat-eater and need those amino acids every day. Notice most of these meals provide adequate, though not off the charts amounts of protein and you are looking for a plan that provides roughly 10 grams per meal or 1 gram for every pound of (actual) weight of your body per day.

A list of healthy go-to dinners is given here-not all of these will follow your diet exactly, but you can use alternative ingredients that you have on hand and they almost all work as a lunch!

Top foods in your diet should include:

Quinoa- (I like it mixed with lentils, a bit of tomato and chicken broth). It’s full of dancer needed vitamins and you can use it in baking, too; buckwheat. is not wheat at all, but in the rhubarb family.

Soba- (i.e noodlers) You can have it in pancakes, or like a cereal as in grits. It is very healthy, has antioxidant properties, may improve circulation and helps control blood glucose levels (helps you burn fat);

Hempseed- (contains significant amounts of all nine amino acids in question) may help to stave off the common cold and boost your immune system. It is also a rare source of essential fatty acids including omega-3s, which can help fight the winter blues. Hemp is popular in baking and cooking recipes;

Chia-add some to your diet or try making chia “gel” which can replace eggs in baking (!), and is delicious as a homemade refrigerator jam with blueberries and agave syrup-look it up. Chia doesn’t have a lot of protein per serving and you cannot or should not over indulge as it contains very high levels of phosphorus (good and bad) but it is the highest source of omega-3s and is full of trace minerals as well as antioxidants. Puddings, smoothies and a few in your favorite fruit beverage or juiced drink won’t hurt. They also look pretty on baked dishes as an accent like wheat germ and absorb liquid very quickly;

Soy- Not for everyone but is absolutely chocked full of protein no matter the type and 1/2 cup remains the typical serving. For protein choose the firmest tofu available.

I am leaving out Quorn as a lot of people are allergic to it-its a bit like a mushroom the way they grow it, and also Cricket Flour (as it is just gross); Rice and Beans, everyone knows about already, but does have a protein content on a par with meat and is very healthy and good to eat;

Ezekial 4:9 bread- and you can make your own! It contains all the amino acids and a lot of vegetarians swear by it. All bread should contain sprouted grains anyway, and trader Joe’s has plenty of those for less money than Whole Foods, though i am not dissing whole foods. They are awfully affordable on their sale goods, dairy and grass fed beef. Ezekial bread has 21 grams of protein and it is already complete so two slices is a serving (at breakfast/lunch).

Wheat gluten- gets demonized by a lot of people these days, but with the obvious exceptions of celiac-sufferers and the gluten intolerant, it’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I have read that it is not necessarily to avoid gluten IF YOU ARE NOT ALLERGIC TO IT-

First created more than a thousand years ago as a meat substitute for Chinese Buddhist monks, Seitan is made by mixing gluten (the protein in wheat) with herbs and spices, hydrating it with water or stock, and simmering it in broth. But this one’s not complete on it’s own—it needs to be cooked in a soy sauce-rich broth to add gluten’s missing amino acid (lysine) to the chewy, very meat-like final product.

I like stores that make shopping interactive and fun while educating me about good nutrition options (at a fair price) and that is why God made Trader Joe’s.  He loves their shopping list feature as much as I do and most towns or areas now have one. If you had to, you could eat there entirely and still pay rent and afford coffee. You can send this list along with your shopper, email it, or use it for other things and it prints out, but you can also access it with your phone. Most health food stores have a newsletter and they are usually chock full of interesting information. I include 4:


Fresh Thyme/Sprouts/Henrys (their website also boasts a resource health page and a shopping list!)

Whole foods (too much on their website to list)

Balducci’s-it’s not strictly a health food store but the food is ridiculously good and healthy! (primarily a source for recipes and general food info)

Chances are you are depleting some of your fat reserves if you have been eating better. You might have an injury of you do not eat properly. What is beginning to happen at this time of year (with everyone) is common and your body is using up its usual reserves of various stores (winter, and yes, we do!) of nutrients. You are not drinking enough water. You are not eating the right things but you are eating a lot of calories, leaving you feeling hungry within hours of eating a big meal again. You are eating late at night and rushing out before having a good breakfast. You take whatever is available for lunches and snacks. You take a vitamin. You are not thinking about food-who has time? Let alone think about it, who has time to prepare it all? It is very important now to reread that first article and take stock of your habits. Cutting out the bad ones now will help you through the winter to the Spring, when people typically want to see the results of dieting and good health, but Winter is not conducive to it. We are not only going to survive Winter, we are going to give our bodies plenty of nutrients all winter long, and enough food!

Follow the clean eating concepts    which we discussed before to remind yourself that you are not eating processed foods. Without counting calories, this is one of the best methods of learning to eat healthy. Stable and proven, but will not exactly cause weight loss or the creation of lean muscle.


Great Fall and Winter foods (by design) give us the added vitamins and minerals to fight off sickness-some are : Pumpkin seeds (full of zinc); Tuna (helps protect cells from free-radical damage and boosts your immunity); Mushrooms (packed with beta glucans, which help the body fight infection); Sweet potatoes -now that you have lost your weight!-or substitute your weekly jacket potato for one of these (rich in vitamin A, which fights free radicals that could weaken your immune system); Green tea (hot cup of green tea has amazing antioxidant benefits); Greek yogurt -just cannot beat it for probiotic properties (found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods, help maintain a healthy and strong immune system). And these are just a few that you should include in your Fall and Winter diets regularly to help build a stronger dancer and to enlist their super power strength and immune system building properties.

I have noticed that when a professional dancer is asked about her diet, she states she “eats whatever she wants.” I think this is largely hype, perpetuating the myth that she is just perfect and everyone wants to continue to be like her. Also, it cuts off the dreary conversation of weight control and refocuses on her perfectionism. But partly it’s true. Once you learn to eat right, you are likely not going to have to calorie count again. Eating right and good eating habits become habit, just like anything else. There is also always something they tell us is bad for us, then they come out with conflicting evidence that it is also good for us, hence variety is the spice of life, I think. Variety in diet also provides different sources of nutrients. Dancers who subsist on a diet of anything, are going to pay some price down the road. Also, as there should be some reward, everything in moderation, is a better motto than “I never eat_____,” unless ______is unpalatable to you, there is almost nothing you cannot eat in moderation. That should stop people who think they are going to have to cut out their favorite foods for life. I once had a NY-based voice coach who was an older Austrian man, of small stature and he said in order to watch his figure he dieted during the week, but on Sundays he ate whatever he wanted. I used this approach to maintaining a weight and found it largely successful as long as you did not overeat those things. The point is, food, and the kind you like, is always going to be readily available and believe me, after years of food experience, you do not run out of opportunities to eat. So what is good in foods for the Fall?

Some choices are obvious, but others less so, or less appetizing until you find recipes or have them prepared in ways that are appealing. A book I do like is Keri Gans, R.D., author of  The Small Change Diet

Apples- apple picking season is upon us, as are other crops, hugely of value to dancers eating to work hard and stay healthy. They are good innumerable ways (perhaps the most widely reciped of all fruits) this is their season and apples picked now will last you all winter if not mixed among the bad. They are full of vitamin C. They are also full of natural pectin which helps the cardio vascular system. Apples with peanut butter are delicious though not the highest source of protein, they are a healthy snack. Baked, in yogurt, or first thing of the day, they help fight colds.

Pumpkin- is a prime source of vitamin A, which improves your vision, but it is also loaded with phytosterols, which decrease bad cholesterol, and are one of the most obvious beta-carotene (besides carrots), which help protect against free radicals which can lower your immune system. Trending now are hot and cold pumpkin drinks, smoothies and pumpkin smoothies. Stock up now and make your own pumpkin seeds, but it is also as nutritious canned. Explore the wide range of non-dessert uses of pumpkin and its seeds, it’s interesting and informative, as well as potentially delicious. No one has more knowledge of pumpkins than pumpkin growers

Brussel Sprouts-brussel sprouts are a very good source of iron, which helps your body form red blood cells, and vitamin K, which can improve bone health. The mini cabbages just taste healthy but this would belie the fact that they are chocked full of  vitamin C, for your immune system. Moe than one source of vitamin C daily is proven to assist in building immunity in cancer patients. Here are six quick and easy ways to eat Brussels sprouts and you can usually buy the trees at trader Joe’s (et al) right now as they are in season. I have frozen them before. 🙂

Figs-you do not have to eat solely bananas for potassium as figs contain a lot of it and more compact, therefore perfect for dance bags. This is an autumn fruit and anexcellent source of fiber, which helps decrease cholesterol, promote blood sugar control (lose fat), prevents constipation (!), AND keeps you feeling full longer. A win win win win. Figs are also packed with potassium, and that, as dancers know might make you feel a little less sore and exhausted, but did you know that it also helps control your blood pressure. Amazing little purdy fruit.

Cauliflower is getting a lot of positive attention lately as its white color deceives you into thinking it is a brain, but in reality this in-season veggie is just as nutritious as those dark leafy greens! Cauliflower is probably the top source of vitamins C and K, which helps to regulate your inflammatory response.Pay close attention professional dancers with chronic tendonitis! Rich in fiber and folate, which is crucial for any women thinking of conceiving since it helps prevent neural tube defects….in other words, it is one of those vegetable women are WISE to eat. It is one of those tricky little foods that picks up the flavors of those with it, so look no further than the Internet for loads of low fat recipes by which to transcend your previous knowledge and enjoyment of cauliflower.

Though some people may forego BEETS, of all the root veggies, and veggies, this one alone is one dancers must find a way to eat. Why???? Weeeel, they contain a phytonutrient called betalains, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets are also a good source of folate, potassium, and manganese, which helps with calcium absorption and blood clotting. Dancers are hard pressed to find another source so rich in beetness, and dancers need betalains to HEAL. Coupled with some of the other items on this list, they are bound to assist you with possibly even recurring conditions you thought you might have to suffer through life with as a dancer. i will not provide any beet recipes here as it has to be totally your choice, but beets are best uness you can find a Nopal cactus, Beets are it. Somebody knows about this  and look no further because it is betalains that give beets their color…..

Pear. At this time of year, it might be good to stock up on pears as you will not find them so abundant as now, and to because they contain vitamin C (another source), copper (which may help prevent against certain cancers), and boron, a nutrient that helps the body retain calcium, also good for Winter.

There are many myths about eating. I remember one girl in ballet class who decided she was going to live on popcorn. She ended up in the hospital. She was definitely slightly voluptuous, but she was not eating any nutrition and of course this did NOT help her dancing career and she gained back all the weight she lost anyway. Once she recovered, her family got her professional help. When sugar or carbohydrate intake is not enough to maintain a certain glucose level, the body must turn to its own muscle tissue and skeletal tissue to supply the needed glucose. fat cannot be converted to sugars primarily and we operate on a high level of glucose, especially our brains. No sugar, no you! The body is geared toward survival and once you begin to eat again, even a normal amount of food, the body starts repleting its fat stores, preparing for when you may possibly starve it again. Winter is nothing if not a great testament to the fact that we as humans, must survive, as we see foliage and natural things around us die off, we prevail. As dancing activity depends on glycogen stored in muscles for fuel, not many calories are burned so winter is especially tricky for dancers. Fat is not used for high-intensity workouts because it cannot be broken down fast enough. Most dancers have an abnormally low caloric intake, so they are undernourished, yet overweight and usually feel guilty. Muscle is denser than fat, so inch by inch it does weigh more, or looking at it differently, the smaller, leaner you, may not actually weigh less, so a combination of intake and exercise has to balance to lose weight and to build lean muscle, if weight is a consideration. Some dancers are thin and have no visible muscles. If you gain a few pounds over the winter don’t sweat the small stuff! Your body has tricks for survival and even though you are eating somewhat less, without dancing everyday, you may tend to gain a few pounds which by the Spring will fly away once normal activity is resumed. This might be a perfect time to polish the stationery bicycle or dust the elliptical or get on the treadmill, just to make sure your calories burned equal or are greater than ones consumed. 15-25 minutes per day to start, and building up to 45 by mid-November or December should get you through the winter, and though the temptation may be great, avoid alcohol and traditional holiday dinners, cookies and cakes, but not the preparation or festivities. Drink waters, have a coffee or tea instead of hot cocoa and remember to succomb to your cheat day allowance regularly so that you do not feel cheated.

Calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates must blend together for an optimal and well-balanced diet. Obviously for every individual these amounts of each are going to need to vary and do. There is no amount that is agreed upon by practitioners, actually. Dancers are observed to have fairly large intake of fat. Typically a normal person should consume protein 10-20%, carbs 55-65% and fat 20-30%. But depending on your dance regimen and level of activity that should vary and differ by person slightly or seemingly more than, but remember those guys have faster metabolisms anyway. You do not want to Fall backwards! Some professional dancers in major companies have had reported fat levels of up to 50%, and this is in part due to what some people consider protein-rich foods, including cheese and peanut butter, which is actually very high in fat. Dancers like sweets and they like pasta. Other starvation diets have had proven effects upon the psychology of individuals, resulting in obsessions with food, psychosis, and extra fat storage. It is very important, especially in cold weather not to deprive or starve your body-it will rebel! In all, there is a connection to eating and there are famous experiments proving that the best way to lose weight is not to starve yourself. If a body is deprived of food, it calls upon every physiological and psychological mechanism it has to cause itself to eat and gain weight. DO not feel guilty about not being smarter than your body. Listen to it, instead of fighting it or depriving it. Give it what it needs-food more often if necessary but smaller portions. Drink plenty of water. You might even want to add a glass or two during winter in addition to your 8 glasses per day, that is.

There are several published guidelines for dancers and they affect how you should approach healthy eating habits. They are:

1) Dancers must maintain olympic-like physical condition all the time so there is only one way to approach a dancing life and that is to begin to eat healthily and get used to it. Make it a way of life and engage yourself in it. Enjoy food-buying it, preparing it, and eating it. Make what you enjoy and do not depend on others to adhere to your own personal guidelines. They won’t. Letting others take control only guarantees you are not in control of what or how it is prepared. If it is a child, get them involved in the whole process. It should be a family plan and not a lone wolf plan because that will only leave them feeling deprived and left out. It may also result in other children feeling you are leaving them out or that you care about another child more. Food is fun!

2) Dancer see, dancer do. If one dancer sees a lot of other dancers eating ice cream, or living on one or two items, or eating Nutella or subsisting on peanut butter and they look okay, it is common for them to repeat this for themselves and omit variety and eat a lot of bad things, or things that simply do not provide them with all their nutrients and energy required. It is important to eat what you like, but also to eat a variety of different foods and from different food groups. No one food is going to provide you with what you need and will result in problems later. This is an act of desperation. Don’t follow, lead, or at least use your common sense: How can a diet consisting of only one thing and omitting lots of other types of foods be healthy? Dancers have to be smart!

3) In normal weight loss, the last 5-15 pounds is considered the hardest to lose. This is doubly hard for some dancers because to achieve the perfect ballet body, considerably more than pounds is at stake. It is your career, and despite dancers being underweight or at least not incredibly overweight, they need to lose the pounds and achieve the toned body look to be successful and aesthetically pleasing, whatever that may be for the day. This is very exhausting and stressful mentally and possibly physically.

4) Dancers are in the studio all the time so what time remains, particularly for teenagers, limits the activities for cross-training available or possible. Once you have trained your muscles to dance, is it alright to train them to do anything else, used to be the question, but dancers have proved that other aerobic activity, such as swimming, walking and running, builds stamina, is cardio and sheds weight, as well as strengthening other muscles, preventing injury, not contributing to it, but of course you have to be careful not to “bulk up.” Certain activities would be off-limits for dancers struggling with this problem naturally, but others activities would be fine. The eliptical is a common and available tool to increase energy expenditure without causing any particular stress or bulking up to the body, and it can be done in increments to either lose weight or to warm-up, or to build stamina. Swimming is also a good Winter sport for dancers. I know one dancer who laps in the pool once per week in the Summer and 3 x per week in the Winter. So consider your body type and experience in absorbing this as it matters in your approach.

5) The dancer must always consider her goals and balance what is good for her professionally and what is good for her health, development and future. The two do not always coincide and it is most important in adolescents and young adults not to sacrifice too much for ballet. DO not cut corners with nutrients in Winter. Your health and future health govern the length of your dancing career. It can be shortened by not attending to your overall health. Choices, choices, choices. Stay warm.

Consider body builders for a moment. Though the connection between dancers and bodybuilders is not hugely noticeable it is in certain regards and the study of it has led many researchers in sports nutrition to divide types of desired looks in sports by types of exercise, and while it is know that ballet benefits athletes, bodybuilders set out to achieve a certain look the same way dancers do and their short spurts of exercise also develop lean muscle, though their intention is usually to bulk up a little, some are very slim and attractive. What do they do differently? Well, it starts with nutrition.

The entire article detailing these meal plans for one week can be followed below, but keep in mind this plan is based on the consumption of calories consumed per day of about 13-15 per pound of weight. S0, if you seek to lose weight and not bulk up, then you would want your food intake to be slightly different, and of course containing fewer calories, but if you activity level is very high, you might want to eat more food, so that you don’t lose weight.

They feel that the 15 best lean-muscle building foods are:

1) Beef (from grass-fed cattle)-it contains high levels of protein, cholesterol, zinc, b vitamins and iron. Also, beef from grass-fed cattle contains much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised beef, which gives you a boost in shedding body fat and building lean muscle. You are what they eat…..

2) Beets- contain a source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, and is a nutrient that enhances liver and joint repair, especially important for dancers, and also has been shown in research to increase strength and power. Dancers need those. They may enhance energy and aid recovery.

3) Brown rice-slowly digests and is a whole grain, giving you longer-lasting energy throughout the day and during actual workouts. It helps to increase your GH (growth hormone) levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss and in gaining strength.

4) Oranges- eaten before a workout can boost lean muscle growth, strength and endurance.

5) Canteloupe- has a low fructose content and is one of the fruits that converts quickly meaning it is good to have in the morning and is one of the good fruits to eat after a workout.

6) Cottage Cheese (organic)-is rich in casein protein, an immediate protein source, and is especially good before bed. Casein protein is exceptionally slow digesting which means it prevents your muscles from being used as energy while you sleep.

7) Eggs- Known as the perfect protein, but their good for other reasons, including the yolks, where there is cholesterol. Egg cholesterol id proved to create lean muscle and decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL) particles associated with atherosclerosis.

8) Milk (organic)- ocntains about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than normal milk and is rich in both casein protein and whey protein, as well as the amino acid glutamine.

9) Quinoa-besides being a complete protein and a slow digesting carb (like brown rice), it has been linked with (IGF-1), and insulin-like growth factor, associated with lean muscle and strength gain.

10) Wonka Pixy Stix- yes, contains dextrose, which requires no digestion, going straight to the bloodstream after a workout, for the fasted possible recovery, getting the carbs straight to your muscles.

11) Spinach-of course, you remember Pop-eye. Well, it is both a good source of glutamine, the amino acid responsible for lean muscle growth, and spinach can also assist muscle strength and endurance.

12) Apples-An apple contains Polyphenols which helps to increase muscle strength and prevent fatigue, allowing you to train harder and longer. They have fat-burning qualities as well and they are a good pre-workout carb source.

13) Greek Yogurt-and this is on just about everyone’s list. It comes from milk, but contains more protein (20 g per cup) and fewer carbs (9 g per cup) than regular yogurt, which contains, on the average 16g or protein and 16 g of carbs per cup. That minute difference can mean less-lean muscle over time or taking longer to get it. Also, we are talking about plain Greek yogurt (with apples) and not the preserve-ridden kind popular even in health food stores. And, it is also a good source of casein protein.
14) Ezekial 4:9 Bread-made from organic sprouted whole grains, it contains grains and legumes, is a complete protein-which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body can’t produce on its own, and these are the needed ones for muscle growth. It is kind of like eating the whole peanut, and the little tiny nut inside, because that is where the protein is! But, it’s bread.

15) Wheat Germ-that old standby is still a top source of zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, B vitamins, is high in fiber and protein and also has a goodly amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) arginine and glutamine. It is not only a great source of slow-digesting carbs but is also a good quality protein that is great before workouts.


A Guide to Eating for Lean Muscle for one-week. Other plans can be purchased at the link below or spliced together from accumulated sources.

It states: “The following plan is designed for a woman weighing 140 pounds. When trying to gain lean muscle during a rigorous exercise program, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for an intake of about 13-15 calories per pound of bodyweight. So for a 110-pound woman, total daily calories would be between 1,430 to 1,650; for a 150-pound woman, about 1,950 to 2,250.” It notes additional supplements suggested for workout days.


Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • cantaloupe cantaloupe

    1/2 small/medium

Breakfast 2: (30-60 min after B1)
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
  • cottage cheese 1/2 cup
    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size 1/2 cup (110g)
    Servings Per Container 4
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 100 Calories from Fat 20
    Total Fat 2g 3%
    Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
    Trans Fat 0g  
    Cholesterol 10mg 3%
    Sodium 450mg 19%
    Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
    Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
    Sugars 3g  
    Protein 15g  
    Vitamin A 4% • Vitamin C 0%
    Calcium 8% • Iron 0%

  • salsa salsa

    2 tbsp (Mix salsa in cottage cheese if you want)

Nutrition Facts and totals for the Day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,675
Total Fat64 g
Total Carbs133 g
Protein178 g
Note: From our previous discussion this does not match a typical or normal dancer diet. It is highest in carbs, but higher in protein than fat. They are flip-flopped. It repeats the cottage cheese, peanut butter and whey and casein proteins for building bulk and muscle. This would lead to a leaner muscle composition, and the excessive carbs and protein would increase muscle tissue and size. This is conventional for a body builder, but slightly different than a professional dancer would want. But you can see how to vary the diet slightly and how it would be appropriate for a dancer. This are all foods a dancer can and should have, but if not extremely active, they would be slightly too much, especially the late night snack. Dancers typically stop eating around 6 (or they are advised to). They can also eat more good carbs, but fewer breads and less rice and grains. A male dancer might find this diet composition good, a female would probably want to slightly increase her fat and decrease, ever so slightly, her carbs and protein unless she is extremely active everyday, say during a performance regimen. The calorie content, or serving size is also based on the 140 pound weight of a women and not a dancer’s lighter weight. But to convert fat to muscle, this is a good lean diet for one day. It takes a large amount of protein to build muscle, more than most people want, and it can lead to muscle size increase, so most professional dancers would omit the whey protein and perhaps reduce one serving of meat or other source of protein such as the extra cottage cheese. As you can see, it is a lot of food, especially protein. See other days below.



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • orange orange

    1 large

Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • whey protein whey protein (could sub Greek yogurt ta this time of day)

    1 scoop

  • wheat germ wheat germ

    1/2 cup (Mix wheat germ in whey shake)

Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,870
Total Fat60 g
Total Carbs145 g
Protein190 g



Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • stir fry Stir-fry B Recipe
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,900
Total Fat55 g
Total Carbs160 g
Protein180 g



Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day /Amount per serving
Calories 1,850
Total Fat75 g
Total Carbs130 g
Protein165 g



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • apple apple


Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • wheat germ wheat germ

    1/2 cup (Mix wheat germ in whey shake)

Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,915
Total Fat65 g
Total Carbs145 g
Protein195 g



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • orange orange

    1 large

Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
  • spaghetti Spaghetti and Meatballs C
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 2,000
Total Fat70 g
Total Carbs170 g
Protein180 g


Sunday (High Carb “Cheat” Day)

Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
  • breakfast sandwich Breakfast Sandwich D
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Dinner: Cheat Meal
Nighttime Snack
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 2,500
Total Fat75 g
Total Carbs255 g
Protein160 g

Note: Cheat Day for dancers is Sunday or ONE DAY and not two and the recipes are provided below-

The Recipes

Recipe A: Frittata

  1. In frying pan on medium heat, cook onions for about five minutes with fat-free cooking spray; add broccoli and cook for about five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, and cottage cheese and add to pan, lift and rotate pan so that eggs are evenly distributed; as eggs set around the edges, lift to allow uncooked portions to flow underneath.
  3. Turn heat to low, cover the pan and cook until top is set.
  4. Invert onto a plate.

Frittata A Recipe PDF (12 KB)

Recipe B: Stir-fry

  1. In a pan over medium heat cook shrimp in nonfat cooking spray, add boiled rice and vegetables, add scrambled egg and soy sauce if desired.
  2. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir-fry B Recipe PDF (54 KB)

Recipe C: Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. Mix desired spices with ground turkey and roll into balls; add desired spices to sauce and cook meatballs in sauce until done.
  2. Cook spaghetti squash in a shallow baking pan with ½ inch of water in pan at 350 degrees in oven until tender. Scrape out spaghetti squash with fork to make spaghetti strings.
  3. Top spaghetti squash with meatballs and sauce, and spinach and top with ricotta.

Spaghetti and Meatballs C Recipe PDF (12 KB)

Recipe D: Breakfast Sandwich

Recipe D: Breakfast Sandwich

  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1 slice reduced-fat American cheese
  • 2 slices low-fat deli ham
  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin
  1. Make breakfast sandwich: toast muffin; fry ham in pan and place on one half of muffin.
  2. Fry egg in pan using nonstick cooking spray and place on ham; top egg with cheese and cover with other muffin half to make breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast Sandwich D Recipe PDF (12 KB)

See the entire article here:
Nutrition 101 Main Page

My feelings about this meal plan is that it is too high in protein and calories for most dancers working from a significantly smaller frame. But it contains a lot of foods and gives examples of healthy ones which help to develop lean muscle, build strength, provide energy and reduce fatigue and aid in recovery. A lot of small meals is also ideal for dancers because of their class length and activity level, and of course they need many of the same slow-working carbs and protein, but not in necessarily such great amounts or number of servings per day. Much smaller, and somewhat servings and nothing after 6:30 would probably do the trick. But there are tremendous differences between a bodybuilder and a female dancer visually at least. She would not want to bulk up this way and as you can see by the type and number of proteins and powders, average weight speculated upon, that is what it takes to create and maintain a powerful looking frame. The minute this diet changes at all, so does the composition, these results begin to fade and muscle loss increases and bulk decreases, so you remember how people look when they deflate from bodybuilding. That’s the general idea here, too and as we stated a dancer trains everyday and needs a diet that can be flexible enough for time off, but also increased for heavy performance periods and longer workouts. And they don’t mention it here, but a lot of yogurt and cottage cheese makes you fat! These are all extremely healthy food choices for dancers, though and for the same reasons (nearly).

The Song of the Body – a new book/thinking about Holiday giving to dancers et al, already!

A new book, singing the praises of dance health and education for ALL ages and stages:

by author, Dr Anne Hogan, with a preface by RAD President Darcey Bussell CBE, The Song of the Body celebrates dance.

Order here:

The Song of the Body – a new book from the RAD — RAD.

Your IT Band is Not the Enemy But Maybe Your Foam Roller Is

I am not sure this applies to dancers per se, but it is food for thought.


Your IT Band is Not the Enemy But Maybe Your Foam Roller Is | Breaking Muscle.

Foot and Ankle Injury Prevention Tips for Dancers

Dance Injury Diagram-The Foot
Dance Injury Diagram-The Foot

About now dancers in pre-professional programs, those starting back from a lazy Summer, or those simply not accustomed to the new level of pointe or technique they are experiencing will begin to feel pain in different places when dancing. It is no fun sitting out, but the wise dancer checks herself to see what is wrong and tries various remedies to heal the pain. It is human nature to do so, and those who ignore it could be in for some less than trifling troubles later. An unchecked injury, whether from overuse or a real problem, rarely gets better on its own if you dance through it. Anything to stop you is enough to verify the cause of. Who wants to wince with pain during a classical variation?

Foot/Ankle Injury Prevention Tips for Dancers

1) Proper training and teaching are essential to allow dancers of all ages to develop their skills without injury. If your school is having you overdo it then you have to watch out for yourself. That means make sure you are doing the exercises correctly, not repeating combinations twice or more a day because of duplicate classes, even if it means talking to the teachers and explaining to them this is all new for you and you need a little time to work up to full throttle. Proper training and teaching would encompass this rapport with your teachers-who else knows more about it than they? Talk to them. It is your instrument and they cannot replace it breaks and it is up to you. There is no warranty with your equipment-no customer service either!

Rest Ice Compression Elevation= PRICE (Precaution)$$$
Rest Ice Compression Elevation= PRICE (Precaution)$$$



2) Take adequate rest to allow the body to heal itself from daily wear and tear. If yours is a particularly rigorous schedule, rest often, do nothing in between, ice, soak, massage, apply cremes, take ibuprofen, use epsom salts, pamper yourself. No one else is going to. It gives your hands and fingers a workout. Try heat and ice, or hot water (as warm as you can stand it), then as cold to increase circulation and healing to the area. Obviously don’t do that which hurts you. Take it easy if you have a second portion of the day as rigorous as the first. Build up slowly and bring issues to the attention of some people who care so they can be thinking, researching and trying to find ways to help you, too. Don’t stay quiet about it. Cry if it helps. Dancing is not easy. You deserve to be pampered. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

3) Maintain energy levels by eating and drinking adequately. No nourishment, or little nourishment, in dancers is a common cause of injury. Lack of nutrients causes the lessening of the production of Estrogen in the body and can lead to injuries. Better eat right! Take your daily vitamins (at least) and don’t forget to eat MEALS. Drink plenty of water.

This feels good-do it!
This feels good-do it!

4) Conditioning and strengthening of the leg muscles that support the arch are crucial. Yes, on top of dance, you need to ask your teachers for exercises that will increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles you are using everyday, so as to try to keep up with what will be expected of you. Ask your teachers for foot strengthening exercises. If they hurt, it is probably a sign that you are weak and need to strengthen. Flexibility and strength in the foot of a dancer is critical, wouldn’t you say? I mean you can’t dance without them-that would look funny. Use a tennis ball, rotate them, point and flex them, put them under the bed, sit on them-DONT’ BE LAZY.

5) Try to avoid dancing on hard or uneven surfaces, which could cause injury. What surfaces are you dancing on everyday? walking on? Where is the impact being absorbed? This is pretty hard to prevent, but perhaps classes should be held in the studios with raised flooring, but those are often not available. Wearing pointe shoes and even tightly fitting ballet shoes all day takes its toll. Shoes that are too tight, too narrow, or do not have proper arch support can also lead to increased problems, swelling and even fractures. Try to reassess all you are doing before you blame the floors. Chances are something will cause improvement, if you try. Are your straps or ribbons too tight? Are you releveing properly? Are you sickling? are you using your plie in your jumps? Landing properly? Check everything. Keep track-keep notes, dates and times, so you can look back and say, “during this class this happened and after class I felt this way.” Then you begin to see a pattern of activity, or action, which cause pain, or relieves it.

Naughty no-nos and Dancing-DOS!
Naughty no-nos and Dancing-DOS!

6) Take care of your shoes! Wet and worn out shoes are not supportive, and without support and on pointe for long periods of time, any dancer will experience pain. Stress moves to other soft tissues when a dancer compensates, causing injury to those areas as well. Keep them clean and dry, adding alternating pairs to your collection as needed for rotation. Always put your feet first! Skip the new leotard-better get shoes! Try different shoes for different classes. Sometime a higher vamp might be necessary for extended dancing as the foot can strain with overuse. Support, support, support!

7) Dancers should adopt new training schedules slowly. This is the number one ignored reason for overuse injuries by students because they AND teachers press forward, into maxed out training schedules, failing to accommodate for rehearsals, competitions, etc. Too much, too soon, can result in an injury and especially when taking even one day off, but especially a few, take it easy when you return, stretch as opposed to dancing hard even if you risk insults, it is better than injuring yourself just to keep up. How are you going to have a career in dance if you injure yourself permanently???? I never think returning to pointe on Monday is a good idea, but after a week off no pointe should be taken for a few days. You have to build up again. after a Summer, WELL! what do you think? Get plenty of rest at home. Even if that means going directly to bed after supper. Feet up. Soak, Massage, Eight hours. Why do you think professional dancers like to sleep late? And they DO!!!

8) Not everyone can have custom-made dance shoes. Although not always possible when dancing, but more so off stage or out of class, wear supportive footwear, and if you need to wear orthotics, wear them as often as possible. I recommend a wide variety of gel arch/foot supports, shoes and ZUMIES (AT CVS) for walking around the house. As important as the surfaces in the studio, are the street, sidewalks and concrete flooring found everywhere. A dancer lives on their feet and especially sore, they feel everything! Put your feet up. Try wrapping your feet to see if that stops or relieves the pain. But always, wear special and comfortably supportive footwear out of class. NO PAYLESS GARBAGE. Good shoes. Not always sneakers either because they do not have enough support on the sides. Finding good shoes should be a number one priority and just another example of how you should treat your feet. Would you put a baby in those shoes? Your mothers did not and how dare you treat yourself less well and carefully than they would!

Pronation and fallen arch foot pads. All dancers have impact to their feet. Fact.
Pronation and fallen arch foot pads. All dancers have impact to their feet. Fact.


9) Although I have already expounded on this in other articles, I will say it again: If dancers perform excessive pointe or demi-pointe work one day, they should focus on other types of work during the next workout. Try skipping the second technique class. Move your schedule around to try not repeating movements or overusing certain muscle groups. If you are doing variations, repertoire, privates and rehearsals-you do not need a second technique class everyday. Try jazz and modern, yoga, pilates, anything but a repeat of the same exercises you already did once in the morning. I have heard some dancers attribute their superior technique to 2 technique classes per day. On some level this might be okay, such as during Summer, or when other classes are not available, or when the opportunity arises (such as master classes), but one has to be very careful not to overdo it everyday. Repeating exercises with the hips, tendus, feet and other movements can cause overuse injuries in dancers that have not built up the stamina and strength to do this. at any rate, we are all just like the Duracell Bunny-at some point, there is a limit. Don’t let that happen when you are so young! Make an effort to work on different muscle groups and not repeat the same exercises.

Don't wait for a f.l.y. guy or your MOM-massage your OWN feet!
Don’t wait for a f.l.y. guy or your MOM-massage your OWN feet!

10) Most importantly, early recognition of symptoms is key to understanding the cause. Stop activity if pain or swelling occurs. If the pain persists after a few days rest, consult a sports-medicine physician or preferably a dance therapist or doctor. It is sometimes worth traveling to see one as opposed to getting the wrong advice. Work to break bad habits: leaning in one’s hips, poor posture, not pulling up on point, sickling. Left to chance, these might throw off all of your good training, creating areas of weakness and poor alignment which can literally stop a performance career. Fix these things now, and never look back on them, don’t keep nursing them. They are easier to correct than the one million ways they can cause you more problems in the future left unattended. Keep on Dancing!

Keenan Kampa: Russian dancing

Keenan Kampa: Russian dancing | The Economist.

Just Dance

Just dance – The Orange County Register.

Dancing ballerina skeleton pinpoints injury hotspots – health – 18 February 2014 – New Scientist

Dancing ballerina skeleton pinpoints injury hotspots – health – 18 February 2014 – New Scientist.