Diets Almost Never Work Long Term
One of the challenges you might face is the desire to reach a body goal by a deadline. Sometimes there’s an impending audition or performance that you’d like to be thinner for (or more toned, or “have longer lines”). So you try a diet – maybe you calorie count or count macros, WW, Atkins, Whole30, Cabbage soup, the list honestly goes on and on and on and on.
You’ll possibly see a change if you stick to one of these plans for a couple weeks or a month. And that progress can be a great motivator, but what comes next? Usually there’s some sort of backslide. This can come in the form of a single binge or weeks of eating off the handle. Even if you don’t go to an opposite extreme, if the “diet” you were following was somewhat restrictive, when you start eating normally again you’ll likely regain weight lost (or more).
This is that whole idea of “yo-yo” dieting which really sounds a lot cuter than it actually is. It’s not healthy for your weight to be constantly fluctuating up and down. It’s not great for you physically and possibly even more importantly it’s not great for you emotionally. Dealing with those body changes and inconsistencies is exhausting – trust me, I was stuck in the yo-yo (definitely not cute) for over a decade.
So instead of the dieting situation, what’s the solution? First, look at where you are as a dancer. Are you bringing your best energy and attitude to class? Do you show up ready to perform and receive notes and feedback openly at rehearsals? What’s your level of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment in dance AND life?
If any of those things are out of whack – they’re your starting point. If you don’t address those things and instead put the focus on your body, food and weight, it’s likely that you’re ignoring the area that really needs attention.
Food is a great distraction and so are diets. They’re something for us to sink our emotions into so that we don’t have to face what we’re actually feeling. Maybe your passion for dance has been waning or you’re not feeling supported in your current dance environment. What can you do to address those things now?
Happiness. It needs to be the #1 focus. How’s your level of happiness? Think about how you feel in your day to day life. Are you enjoying your dancing? School? Meals? Time with friends?
If you’re feeling genuinely happy and you’re approaching dance, life and your body with a positive mindset then yes, it might be an OK time to start working on some food shifts/improvements. If the life basics and level of happiness are lacking – start there. Trying to make body progress or achieve body goals becomes 1000x more challenging if you’re not attacking those things from a positive place.
But still – no diets. Here’s a better approach : work one on one with someone or go through a program that’s going to guide you in figuring out the food that really works for your body. You’ll add in some new foods and work at limiting others.
As boring as it sounds, making incremental changes to deeply ingrained habits is going to have a lot more benefit for the long term than anything else. It’s tough when you look in the mirror and aren’t thrilled with what you see to tell yourself, “I’ve got to take this slow.” Still – do your best to take it slow.
If you’re dancing professionally and your job is being threatened because of where you are physically, I’d urge you to ask yourself how you feel about your body before jumping to extremes. If you feel good, maybe the answer is looking for other jobs. Easy solution? No. Healthy solution? Yes.
If you know you need support in getting to the happy, positive place where you’ll be able to make long term body changes, consider The Dancer’s Best Body Program.
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