The Whole Dancer really is all about balance and your best body journey in dance can be balanced. There are a lot of messages in the dance world that still tell you if you want to succeed, you have to be extreme. You have to eat, sleep, dance. These messages don’t encourage you to prioritize your well-being or to home in on your unique needs.
If you want to dance your best and achieve your goals in dance, an extreme approach will actually slow you down. You might achieve temporary success or strides in the direction of technical improvement, but an extreme approach is never sustainable.
Beyond The Whole Dancer 7-step best body process, there are some things that will help you to truly find what balance means to you.
Connect to Your Body
The perception is probably that dancers are incredibly connected to their bodies. However, the practice of dancing through pain and hunger can really take you out of that connected place.
To come back to yourself, feel the sensations of your muscles as they engage in class. Acknowledge and remedy feelings of hunger. Then, find and honor the place of satisfaction.
Sit in stillness with yourself. You might do this through meditation or by laying in savasana (corpse pose; traditional ending to a yoga class) and connecting to your breath. Tune back in.
Have a Food Experience
Allow your meals to be an experience! Find a place to enjoy them, whether that’s in your home or at the studio on your breaks. This is a key component of mindful eating.
Rather than allowing meals and snacks to feel rushed or hectic, even when you’re busy, allow your eating to be a short break (even just 5 minutes for a snack). Use cute containers or a bento box when you’re on the go. Pack your food up nicely so it still looks appealing when it’s time to eat.
Enjoy Your Food
Food should be enjoyable. It’s such a big and important part of life;, it should taste good and be something to look forward to. In most cases, if you’re obsessing about food, you’re overthinking what’s the “right” thing to eat or what you “should” be eating. The reality is, there isn’t one right way to fuel your body for dance.
If you make more health- or nutrient- conscious meals bland or tasteless, you won’t enjoy those things. Create delicious sauces and use plenty of flavors and seasonings to make your meals delicious and crave-worthy. Allow dessert and know that it can play an important role in your fuel plan.
Prioritize Nourishment and Nutrition
Let whole foods take the front seat. This will make meeting your performance nutrition needs so much easier. When you include lots of minimally processed foods, you’re maximizing nutrition and nourishment.
You’ll still likely need to include some convenience foods (trail mix, pre-made hummus, dairy or non-dairy yogurt, protein bars, etc.), but including more whole food ingredients will support energized dancing. There are lots of nutrition-specific posts on The Whole Dancer blog, here’s a good one to start with.
Make subtle shift to your meals to enhance flavor and nutrient content. This might look like cutting the sugar in a recipe in half or sweetening something with honey or maple syrup (sweeteners that offer trace nutritional benefit) instead of refined cane sugar.
Your body is more than your instrument, it’s your home. The sooner you start to treat it with kindness, both with how you speak to yourself and with how you nourish yourself, the better you’ll dance.
The truth is, you might not be able to get to that balanced place of relating to yourself on your own. That’s where a health coach or another support person can come in to show you the way to a more balanced perspective.
Connect to Your Why
Bring some intention to your approach to food and your body. Why is it important to care for yourself? Why do you aspire to make more balanced choices in relation to food and your body?
You might consider creating a vision for your relationship to food or, on a more grand scale, a vision for your life and dance journey. Revisiting your vision on a more regular basis will help you come back to your why.
Cultivate a Positive Mindset
It’s not natural to be happy and positive all of the time. However, bringing yourself back to what’s going well and what you have to be grateful for can help a lot. It’s also essential that you acknowledge your struggles and challenges.
Dancers have to watch out for the energy of those around them. Dance environments can spiral into negativity quickly, whether it’s surrounding casting, body image, or food. But you get to control the energy you let into your life and the energy you allow to affect you.
If you’re ready for some big steps to finding a truly balanced approach to your best body journey in dance, Elite Best Body Coaching is for you. This program was created to support aspiring and professional dancers in finding your personal balance. You’ll discover the eating plan that best fits your needs. You’ll adjust your view of your body, and you’ll be able to bring your focus back to the dancing.