Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eating for Energy

Your assignment for this week... if you so choose to accept it... is to read the following post, watch the video, and keep a food journal. You can do this in a notebook, or if you have a fancy smartphone there are tons of apps to help you with that. Just being aware of what you normally eat will make a huge difference I promise...

Please comment with your favorite food to eat... and make it a REAL food!


As dancers, it's important that you have a well rounded healthy diet. Painters take care of their brushes, Musicians take care of their instruments, and we, as dancers, need to take care of our bodies. Get rid of any insecure self confidence issues about your body.. it's not about looking pretty or self worth or being skinny or fat.. .it's about taking care of yourself so you can do your best in class and in performance... it's more about being healthy than anything else! We dancers do a lot to our bodies and we need to treat them differently than our friends do. Being over/under weight causes us to be more likely to have an injury (especially dancers or athletes when injury is always a risk) and a weakened immune system (which means you will get sick more often). Be meticulous about what you let into your body and know the effects of what they will do.

Eat for energy....

I've recently read a book called "Food Rules". It was amazing!!!! So I'll share my knowledge... he basically gives 3 very important, very easy rules to live by in order to maintain a healthy weight, and along with that a healthy immune system.

1) Eat Food.
No really... it's that easy...
Well, Let's define food I guess. Food is anything that you could find in nature. You should be able to pronounce the food that you are eating. You're great (great) grandma should be able to recognize what you are eating as food... (what would she think of a go-gurt? Flavored toothpaste maybe?) Food should eventually rot (which means that the bacteria etc. got to the food before we did). If bugs and bacteria don't want it... why would you? Apples, Bananas, Broccoli, Carrots, Chicken, Cheese... whole wheat bread (not wonder bread) are all foods.

Then there is other kinds of food... the kinds of food that make up most of our diets now-a-days.... The sad thing is that this type of food isn't really food.... it's what's called "edible food-like substances". I'm going to call them EFS. EFS is technically food cause you can eat it and sustain life (for a short time) on them, but they provide very little real nutrients and it's difficult to find any whith untampered nutrients... Most of these products are created in a science lab and are made from soy and corn derivatives. Basically... they are not real. You can't grow dextrin, dextrose, fructo-olgosaccharides, ethoxylated diglycerides or xanthan gum in a garden can you? Does your mom carry a bottle of Ammonium sulfate in her pantry... I'm guessing not.  Go-gurt is not food. Skittles are not food. Fruit snacks are not food. Goldfish are not food.... they are all just EFS... and they will NOT give you the energy to maintain your lifestyles!

Now I know you are all young and don't go grocery shopping. Your parents do that for you and you may or may not have control over everything you are given to eat. But talk with your parents about what you would like to be eating. Ask for more fruits and vegetables instead of goldfish, at lunch go for the salad bar instead of the pizza aisle, or if you must, get in the habit of packing your own lunch. I do... every day, so that I can control what I put in my body! If your parents complain about the cost of fresh produce... have them go check out (This place has changed the way I eat... I'm never going back!)

2) Mostly Plants
This may sound weird, but when I think about what I need to eat, I think about Adam and Eve.... Could they go to the supermarket and pick up a pound of hamburger meat? Or go through the drive-thru for some chicken nuggets? Nope... in order to have meat, they had to find the animal, attack it, kill it, skin it, clean it, and cook it... only then could they enjoy meat. Do you think they ate meat very much... I'm guessing not. Even in the word of wisdom it says to eat meat sparingly. Now, meat is VERY important in your diet. You should have a good source of protein in every meal, but in general, people in our civilization and culture eat way more meat than we should, just because it's available.

Your diet should consist of mostly plants... fruits and vegetables, leaves like lettuce and cabbage, these are all REAL food, that will give you just as much if not more energy than a bag of skittles, with less than a quarter of the calories... plus you will not have the sugar crash an hour later.

3) Not too much.
In general our culture eats way too much. Our serving sizes are much bigger than our stomachs but we eat it all because it's given to us. A good rule of thumb is to not eat to fill up 100%, but just about 75% or something like that. Eat to get rid of hunger, not to be stuffed full. Eat slower... really enjoy what you are eating, don't scarf, even if you are in a hurry. Science fact... it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to release the hormone that tells your brain to stop eating. That's 20 minutes that you are filling your stomach with food you don't need. If you slow down, you are more likely to eat the right portions and be fully satisfied with less food than you thought you needed. Don't feel bad about leaving some food on your plate... and if your parents freak out about it, then just don't take as much, you can always go back for seconds if you need to.

As far as calorie counting goes, I say this. It works for me... it helps me a lot. Like a lot a lot... but it IS difficult and it is tedious. But let me tell you this...If you are following the three rules above... you will have NO problem eating too many calories. No need to count them. If you would like to talk further about this... email me and we'll talk!

There are special occasions in which you can eat whatever you want... but treat these as such.. special occasions.. Being ontime to class or getting a good grade on a quiz is not a special occasion... Christmas is a special occasion, but the 2 weeks before and after are not! Follow these rules as best as you can, and enjoy your special occasions, but don't let your "special Occasions" last for longer than 1 day! Get back on the horse after that!

As far as exercise goes, it surprises a lot of people to find that they may need more exercise than what they are getting in class... But think about it.. We are in a ballet class for an hour and a half... and unless we are moving at ridiculous speeds and you already know all the combinations, it's not likely that we will be dancing the whole hour and half. there is a lot of standing around time where we are talking about concepts and combinations.... Some extra exercise is healthy. Go for a bike ride, run or walk, do pilates... all very healthy and VERY helpful in dancing. They will give you the endurance and muscle strength you will need to endure long dances or long days. The lead dancer in La Sylphide in our company last year cross-trained (that's the word for doing other training besides your particular field - in this case dancing) with the elliptical last year. She was in every piece in our concert and La sylphide alone was a pure 20 minutes of dancing en pointe for her. She told me that she would NEVER have made it through the whole thing if it weren't for her endurance training she did on the elliptical. So get your tush off the couch and go for a bike ride! But read this next part first... most important part of the post:

Now... because we are dancers, I need to talk about this. Extreme methods in weight loss like Eating disorders and unhealthy workouts are a very real and very big deal, especially in the dance world. It started with George Balanchine (who was an amazing choreographer btw,) when he decided he wanted all of his ballerinas to look like little skinny twig baby girls... They are called baby ballerinas (no womanly curves like hips or chest or anything). Thats when it started and it was like that for a long time... sometimes it still lingers... but I'm here to tell you something.... THAT IS NOT WHAT IS VALUED ANYMORE. Oh sure you will get the occasional old fashioned choreographer that only likes the skinny chicks but what is really valued is athleticism. What is that?? It's healthy. They want dancers that can jump high, and turn for days... they want strong. And guess what... you CANNOT be strong if you aren't eating enough or destroying your body with an eating disorder. You WILL be weak and tired and you will suffer some major consequences.... I hope none of you are hurting yourself this way... but if anyone needs any help with this subject you are more than welcome to call or email me and we will talk.

In fact... Dancers should eat more than a normal person because food (real food) gives energy and dancers expend way more energy than the average person.... Anyway.. I'll stop. Again if you have any questions about diet and/or exercise call, text, or email me! Or just talk to me after class!

The video I chose for this week is awesome... But be sure to read the message at the end.


  1. My favorite food is Mashed Potatos!!

  2. My favorite food is.... Orange Chicken!!

  3. Ok so I'm not in your class nor am I even a dancer, but wow Ellie! This was a powerful post! I really want to go do something better now with my body and I think that I will! Thanks for the encouraging words! I think I need an Ellie app on my phone to get me motivated to do things besides just school & being a mom! ;) Love ya!