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For a long time in the weight loss industry, a big concept was self – control and that’s one of the main ideas Allegra Kent promotes in The Dancers’ Body Book.

My mom gave me this book when I was in my early teens. She trusted it because it was written by a well known ballet star. When I read some of it aloud on Christmas morning she said, “hey wait, give that back!” in horror.

I convinced her to let me keep it and I was strongly influenced by the unhealthy suggestions it offered.

Today, lets tackle this idea that “self – control” is the necessary component to attaining the “ideal” dancers body.

Firstly, the concept of self – control is arguably the #1 contributing factor that makes people feel totally deprived on any eating plan.

You might relate to the feeling that if you can just stay in control of what you put into your mouth you’ll attain the perfect body, be a better dancer and have greater potential for success.Dancers' Body Book

However, modern food research shows us that you actually crave foods because you’re deficient in specific nutrients.

So, the biggest risk with a restrictive diet is that you’re not getting enough nutrients which is leading you to crave unhealthy or processed foods. Not to mention the effects of deficiency on your immune system, your ability to build muscle and maintain strong bones.

Even if you manage to stay “in control” for some time, restrictive eating plans tend to either backfire with major weight gain or result in serious health issues. It’s also worth noting: the desire for control is a cornerstone of anorexia.

This book was published in 1984 when dieting was a whole different world and I think Allegra Kent was writing about the things that were popular at the time that even doctors promoted: low calorie, low fat diets with self – control as the number one factor in all of it.

I also think her goal was to be helpful so this is in no way a personal attack. She and her friends had clearly figured out a way to attain the ideal ballet bodies but now we know that being thin without proper nutrition can lead to injury, shorten your career or even your life.

I don’t suggest you pick up this book for modern, sound advice. I plan to rewrite it entirely but for now, this will be a series I’ll share over the coming weeks because I think a lot of the food myths in The Dancers’ Body Book still persist in the dance world.

I have distinct memories of conversations with friends that occurred in the not so distant past where we said if we could just eat less, we’d have the bodies we desire and all our problems would be solved.

If you’re caught up in this self – control idea as I know I was, it is important to work on your mind – set. And this can be a long journey.

Start by reminding yourself daily that to dance professionally, this body of yours needs to function at its peek. Restriction will not get you there.

Try this mantra (I love a good mantra):

“My body allows me to dance. I will fuel it healthfully and sufficiently without restriction or deprivation.”

Bottom line:

Self Рcontrol and eating less is not the answer. 

 

The Dancers’ Body Book – Part 1

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Health Coach and founder of The Whole Dancer.

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