First, let’s just admit it, once and for all; Ballerinas are thin! Really thin. There it is. It’s out, it’s a fact – the ballet aesthetics requires dancers to be a lot slimmer than “normal people”. To healthily live up to these expectations (we can discuss whether they are good or bad another time), diet is an important part of any dancers life. Being a male dancer, and living with a female one, I’m going to give you a couple of nutrition tips to keep (or lose) your weight, without upsetting either your doctor or your mom.
You see, not all dancer-dieting is about eating disorders!
So first, how does one lose weight? Well, there’s a bunch of ways to do it, and you need to figure out which one is working for you. If you’re into counting calories or popping pills, it might well work, but I’m more of a “natural vibes” kind of person. I like to use the wit God gave me. By following the next few points, it’s actually quite easy not only to obtain and keep a weight ideal for ballet, but to just simply have a healthy body to work with, every day;
1. Eat “real” food. Try to eat food that is made out of “real” ingredients. Buy a whole chicken breast instead of mashed or mixed meat. Make the salad for your meal yourself, instead of buying a ready-made one (why do you think a cucumber rots after a week, but the cucumber-salad you bought last christmas still looks delicious?). If you really want to go hippie, buy bio-products, like meat from animals fed without synthetic feedstuff, and vegetables grown without chemicals. It may be a little more expensive (although many shops now carry biological food at same prices as the other products), but I promise you you’ll feel the difference. It tastes better, and you’ll feel better as well!
2. Give your body what it needs. Try to think about what your body may need from time to time. I’m not saying you should analyze and calculate, just simply think about what kind of work you are doing at the moment, and what your body needs to be doing it. If you have a hard schedule with long days and much movement, you’ll need energy so your body can handle the hours. Fill up with sugar or fruits when you need it, but make sure you had a good breakfast to start out with, and take that extra plate at lunch! Your body burns it. But if you have shorter, lighter days, maybe sitting more still, you don’t need the same amounts, and try to keep to smaller meals out through the day, instead of one, big heavy meal.
3. Drink a lot of water: Water is great. It is the one thing next to oxygen (and love, of course ) that keeps you alive. But it does more than that. If you drink enough water, not only will you have more energy, your metabolism actually goes up, making you burn more energy, hence not turning that into fat stored in your body. Have a big glass of water before the days biggest meal – it does you good, and you’ll crave less food as well. With a decent amount of water in you, you get less acceptive for disease as well, and your maximum physical capability rises. The best athletes in the world drinks water almost constantly. Follow their example.
My girlfriends keeps a day every couple of weeks where she only drinks water and juices the whole day, to allow the body to clean out and start over again. This works for her, but I tried it a couple of times, and wanted to kill someone by 4 in the afternoon (I can get a little jumpy when I’m hungry). As with everything, it’s really just a question of what works for you.
4. Eat varied! Don’t eat the same every day. It’s not good for you! Try to touch into different kinds of food every day; chicken today, fish tomorrow, steak on Saturday. If you are a vegetarian, make sure you eat food that supplies the same type of the nutrition you are not getting through meat (actually, a vegetarian dancer really needs to know what he/she is doing, or you might end up lacking important nutrition).
5. Try not to eat anything after 6 o’clock in the evening. Your body is phenomenal. It adapts to almost any situation. It even prepares for situations that are yet to come. In the night, your body knows you’re going to sleep. The metabolism goes down, and you burn less energy. If you eat a lot at night, your body thinks: “hey, I don’t need this right now. I’ll store that here around the hips, in case I will need it later”.
Check back to Tights and Tiaras for more how-to’s, and much more, later!
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