Staying Fit will Maximize your Dance Progression in College
Many college Freshman step on campus excited to start their new adventure- new classes and learning experiences, meeting new people, and new living situation. But what looms over every Freshman is the infamous “Freshman 15”. The Freshman 15 is often the result of living away from home for the first time, making your own food choices, late night hours of studying (and partying), and poorly stocked dining halls.
For dancers, the Freshman 15 is greatly feared. Dancers sometimes fear how much 15 lbs would impair their dancing and physique. This fear potentially leads to making worse choices through borderline disordered eating behaviors. But have no fear; there is a healthy way to fuel yourself on campus.
Don’t Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast
For many students, college is their first time living away from home and making their own food choices. Many of these students get excited that they how the ability to eat ice cream (or any other sweet) at any time of day or night. Try not to get swept away in this initial excitement. I’m not saying you can’t have ice cream. A “treat yo self” moment is much needed once in a while, but don’t eat ice cream or other sweets every day.
Eat One Green Thing a Day
No a matcha latte does not count as your one green thing a day. And no coffee is not a food group, as much as many college students would like to think. I’m talking about salads- especially dark leafy greens. Every campus has a salad bar. You can never go wrong with grabbing a salad for lunch between classes. Salad bars often include many sources of protein (both meat and plant based) that will fuel you for class and rehearsal.
First, a friendly reminder that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21. However, I know that Freshman usually find access to alcohol one way or another. Depending on what type of school you go to, drinking can be very much a part of the social scene. You should never feel pressured to drink in order to fit in.
Beyond drinking empty calories, drinking affects your overall performance. According to a 2013 article by Perrin Braun: alcohol dehydrates you, harms your sleep cycle, hinders muscle growth and recovery, and affects memory. None of those symptoms are anything a dancer wants while training intensely. Bring a water bottle (filled with water) with you when you go out to stay hydrated, and sober.
Find Variety in Your Meals
This doesn’t prevent the Freshman 15, but generally you are happier with your food when you enjoy what you eat. Find variety on campus, try every dining hall. Discover which have the best food options- healthy options, quick grab-and-go options, vegan or vegetarian options (if that’s your vibe), etc. Don’t stick with the same food every day because it will get boring really fast.
Walk everywhere on campus, no matter how big or small campus is. It’s built in low impact cardio that can be a good warm-up before morning class (or higher impact cardio if you’re late and running to class).
Practice Body Positivity
At the end of the day, we have to be kind to ourselves and our bodies. Don’t body shame yourself while going through this life adjustment (or ever for that matter). Remember to always fuel your body, get enough sleep, and drink lots of water.
Keep in mind that in times of transition, it’s somewhat normal for things to shift and your body may still be changing. Your body’s shape and appearance may still be evolving into your 20’s so remind yourself that this is OK.