Ok, my fellow hungry beastlings, I’m just gonna cut to the chase here. I love me some food. I love everything about food. I take great pleasure in watching the Food Network, I adore the whole experience of dining out, from the wine to the conversation to, of course, the heavenly grub, and we can’t forget about the oh-so-beautiful bread baskets (I’ve been known to choose a restaurant or two on whether or not they have a basket of marvelous bread). I fancy baking, not so much cooking, mostly because I’ve been blessed with a sweet tooth that could kill a small child. I love rewarding myself with food, comforting myself with food, combating my boredom with food, you name it. And that, my friends, brings me to my struggles with food.
I’ve had issues with the stuff for years and years, however, I finally managed to find ways to keep the urge to clean out the refrigerator at bay. This is why this blog exists. I want to share what I’ve found, and continue to discover, throughout my journey so other people can benefit from it as well.
As you can plainly see, food is something I am passionate about, so one would think I would’ve chosen a profession in which I could capitalize on that, but no, I went in the exact opposite direction. I am a professional dancer and have often referred to my enthusiasm for food as my occupational hazard, since you’re supposed to be this long, lean, dancing machine (I’m 5’2” and kinda burly, pretty far from svelte).
I have battled with my weight for most of my adult life. In high school, I danced with natural twigs so I constantly tried to, unsuccessfully, get down to their size. In college, I was a dance major and, after one summer of boy drama, I returned as a sophomore a few pounds thinner. One of my ballet professors, and the artistic director of the resident repertory dance company at the university, took notice and invited me to come dance for the group. That’s when she asked me to lose another 10 pounds. She told me I would be dancing with skinny assed (those were not her exact words) company members, and she wanted me blend in.
When she pulled me aside that day in the hall, she might as well have punched the wind right out of me.
Fast forward to my senior year in college. Wanting to be in a ballet company more than anything once I graduated, I knew I had to be thin, thin, thin. I was down a few more pounds from my sophomore year by practically starving myself, eating no more than 1,200 calories a day and no later than 5:30pm. I was hungry most of the time and highly cranky, or what they call “hangry,” because of it.
Dancing all day and teaching dance late into the evening, all I wanted was a damn cheeseburger, but somehow I managed to continue restricting my calories and taking dance classes out the yin-yang.
After an audition for a ballet that I really wanted to be a part of, I had been beaten out for a role by a dancer who was not necessarily more talented. I asked one of my other ballet professors what I could have done differently. She said I needed to drop another 5 pounds.
Well son of a bitch. I felt I was doing all that I could, short of doing drugs, and I still wasn’t small enough. So with defeat, I graduated accepting the fact that the ballet route was not for me.
A couple years later, I auditioned for a modern dance company and the artistic director told me, and I quote, “How do you expect my boys to be able to pick you up,” implying that I was too heavy for partner work. I still remember the pants that I had on. They were a size 2.
The next few years I danced with different modern companies and ended up in Denver dancing with a company for the next 3 and 1/2 years. During that time I constantly stressed about my weight. My day consisted of hitting the gym, going to rehearsal for six hours and, on most evenings, teaching dance for about three to four hours, yet never losing an ounce.
I would skimp on sleep so I could make it to the gym in the morning, however, that would come back to bite me in the ass throughout the day. Being butt crack tired from running on 4 to 5 hours of sleep, I’d practically knock a person down to get to a doughnut, cupcake or anything else that was full of fat and sugary goodness.
My body craved junk (it gives you a quick rush of energy, but then you crash shortly thereafter, and it leaves you wanting more, that’s right, crap), which completely derailed my efforts of waking up early and going to the gym in the first place! Even when I did ride out my cravings and eat well throughout the week, come Friday, I took that as a free for all and ate like there was no tomorrow.
Living in a vicious cycle, it wouldn’t be until I started retraining my brain, that I was able to begin seeing results. I needed to break my old habits and start forming new ones or I’d end up going insane.
You’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “That’s a lot easier said than done, ya wench,” and yes, while getting those new habits cemented into my head, some moments were tough. But I think the key here is NOT taking the “all or nothing” mentality. As a perfectionist, before if I ate even one thing I felt shouldn’t have, I thought that entire day was shot to shit and it would send me into a downward spiral.
That’s not to say I still don’t have those days sometimes, but more often than not, I realize one delicious calorie-laden food is not going to do any damage. However, if I allow that one food to ruin my good eating for the rest of the day, it just might.
Making a conscious effort not to berate myself every time I slipped up really seemed to help me get back on the track.
Putting yourself down causes you to feel like crapola, and that, my beautiful beastlings, only increases your chances of eating your way through the pantry later on in the evening. Once I got the hang of going easy on myself, reinforcing my new habits became that much easier.
Until you’ve conditioned your brilliant brain and put those new habits firmly in place (I’m sure you’ve all heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but now studies are showing that it takes an average of 66 days for something to become routine…Ufta), you’re going to need some tricks, tips, comfort as well as inspiration up your sleeve.
Being severely frustrated from reading piles of health and fitness magazines, and hardly ever finding any advice I hadn’t already seen or heard before, I am truly hoping that at least one snippet of input throughout the blog hits home for you.
So read, let ‘er rip and rest assured, with a little time and patience, you CAN tame that inner hungry beastling of yours.