Sassy Gregson-Williams is a former Professional Ballet Dancer turned fitness and wellness guru. Her recipes and workout programs are available on her site Naturally Sassy where she shares her philosophy about food:
“The Naturally Sassy philosophy is all about embracing foods that are the most beneficial to your body. There is no one-size-fits all answer for what we should eat, food should be a journey of personal discovery. As a society, we are so trend led when it comes to health. How you choose to eat should be entirely bespoke to you, based on how YOU feel.”
Sassy’s outlook is so aligned with what is promoted at The Whole Dancer. I’m thrilled to share this exclusive interview with her! Enjoy.
The Whole Dancer : What got you into cooking and creating recipes?
Sassy : As a ballet dancer, food and nutrition was always something that was considered important to my training, but was never something I had learned much about. In my early teens I was injured and spent more time watching my friends dance than dancing myself.
I felt like I was falling behind and started dieting to keep me feeling in control of a situation that felt uncontrollable. With lack of education around food, and an unfortunate bout of food poisoning I was left injured and far from healthy. It took some time, but I realized from a low point that in order to rehabilitate my injury and continue training towards being a professional dancer food was one of the best tools I had.
A switch in perspective was what started an interest in cooking, and as I moved away from home and started cooking for myself I became passionate about nutrition and creating nutritious meals.
TWD : Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?
S : 5 years ago when Naturally Sassy began my recipes came from creating healthier versions of classic meals I used to love, and I suppose this still rings true. Now however the foods and meals I create are really inspired by flavors and seasonal ingredients.
TWD : What’s your best cooking/food advice to dancers who have long rehearsal days with little time for cooking or food prep?
S : It all starts with a plan. Schedule in a time each week you think about the meals you’re going to be making for the week ahead. Write your ingredient list down and stock the fridge. If you have some time on a sunday, prepping a few staples is a must.
I often make three salads, a dip, a grain and dressing for a tupperware lunch on the go during the week. If you don’t like that idea, and make an extra portion or two at dinner, you can freeze it or have leftovers the next day.
TWD : What is one ingredient you think every dancer should have in their kitchen at all times?
S : Turmeric. If you don’t love it, learn to!
TWD : What’s your go to snack to throw in your bag for after the gym?
A protein smoothie with Form Nutrition protein powder or an RXbar.
TWD : How did changing to a healthier diet increase your body self-confidence both in and out of the studio?
S : I think the biggest change was my energy and therefore my overall mood. I felt better, had more energy to smash gym sessions, and those side effects made me feel better within my body. Having a good relationship with food and eating well was all part of learning to appreciate and love my body as much as I do now.
TWD : How do you balance a loaded schedule of teaching Ballet Blast classes, creating new recipes, creating content for your blog, and having time for yourself?
S : I leave my laptop at the office! Having just launched the Naturally Sassy Online workout studio, a lot of my hours are spent online. It’s so important I spend time looking away from a screen, so I’ve started leaving my laptop at the office at night so I have no choice but to chill.
I have movie nights with my girlfriends each week, and make plans that force me out of the tech-vortex I can easily spend my day in. I hike every other day, go on beach runs, anything to change things up and get inspired from things that don’t relate to my business. Having the night off makes me work harder the next day.
TWD : How did you maintain a positive mindset while dancing and currently while running your business?
S : Finding people that keep you sane. I couldn’t keep as positive as I do everyday if it wasn’t for the people that support me.
TWD : What advice would you give your younger self? Whether it be dance, life, or food related.
S : That you don’t have to stick to the plan, you can do and be anything that you set your mind to. I’m still telling myself that.