Today I thought I’d write about nutrition. Although it can be a nuisance, eating well is so incredibly important for those of us who rely on our bodies, as the main source of our careers. What you put into your body, ultimately will effect how it performs. Not to mention a big part of the reason why a performer, dancer or athlete is hired, has to do with their overall appearance. Yes this can be harsh at times, yet we are the ones that knew this going into this industry and profession; so we might as well embrace it.
I’ll be honest, I have had some serious issues with this in the past. When I danced for the NBA, I would have done anything in my power to lose weight. No I did not care about my fitness, but just the fact of getting my body smaller. Basically I lost all sense of what it meant to be in good health. I did some really silly things to my body, that I’m almost too embarrassed to even mention. However this time in my life taught me SO MUCH about my body. Even though I learned the hard way, it was definitely quite informing, and now I feel like I can relate to so many different people.
I learned that my ‘issue,’ was mainly mental. Actually I think everything I created – the image I saw of myself, and the excuses for it all – was all in my head. Thankfully I had some great people around me, who really helped me see things in a different way. They weren’t judging, but listening. These people gave me tools to really fix it for myself. No one was forcing me to, but by meeting with a nutritionist, a doctor, my trainer and even a counselor, I was able to come to terms with what needed to be done.
Man I’ve come a long way! I am actually pretty proud of myself too. Once I got my body back on track (and it took me a good year), I really started kicking things into gear. Last year I was preparing for an audition and the end of my school year. I was working with James Urianza, who I began training with when I was honestly ten years old. He is an incredible private Pilates trainer based in Utah, who knows just about anything you would need to know about overall health and fitness. Literally he can relate to everyone, because he’s studied it ALL. I would highly recommend him to anyone, and he will always be very dear to me.
James taught me a great lesson: I needed to eat more! Yes, that’s right. Oddly I wasn’t eating enough and my body had been in a complete starvation mode. As active as I, and many of us dancers are, we absolutely have to eat and eat right. So I really started to pay attention to my intake and everything that was going into my body. I began to find foods that were rich in nutrients and that I actually enjoyed! I learned to get my body to the point where it agreed with me and trusted what I was doing. It’s better that we are friends anyway 😉 One week I would eat more calorically, and give it what it wanted (always drinking a lot of water). The week following, I would limit my consumption a bit and eat less starchy foods. Now by this I mean even when it comes to vegetables: carrots, peas, potatoes, corns and even beets have a bit more starch in them. Now of course none of this stuff is bad, but when I am preparing for something… I go ALL OUT!
For example, when I have a big audition or shoot coming up, I only eat very specific things. Basically it’s pretty close to the Paleo diet. I mainly eat lean meats and non-starchy vegetables. No dairy (except cottage cheese), no carbs and no fruits or sugars. Okay this seems pretty insane, but it’s actually not that bad. Plus it doesn’t last that long, because I always have to get back to my body agreeing with me again. My water intake changes too. Right before ‘the big day,’ whatever it may be, I will eat mainly carbs and drink less water. That usually sucks all of the extra water I may be retaining, to shred up a bit more. Oh and one of my most favorite things to make is cauliflower cooked and blended up! Mmm yummy, just like mashed potatoes! You can literally use it for anything from a pizza crust to burgers. There’s this new mix I found at Trader Joe’s, which has broccoli, cauliflower and some seasoning. Yea that stuff is the best! I literally could eat it everyday, and I basically do.
Okay so when it comes to fitness, I have always been such a fanatic. Even though I am dancing a lot and am very active, I feel like I constantly have to be doing more and more. Well once again, this comes with me just overdoing it. Sometimes this isn’t the best thing for your body… Imagine that. For me and with the way that I’m built (I’m obviously pretty muscular), it’s almost better for me to do less. Hah! Seriously. The more I dance, and the less I worry, the better things are. I’ve definitely been feeling that a lot more lately. Although Pilates and Yoga could possibly be the best things for me! I always need to lengthen and stretch things out, but that’s just me. Gosh no I would NEVER touch a weight, or at least anything that’s that heavy. When I worked out before, yea I would lift and went through a Crossfit craze; but my body doesn’t do too well with that kind of thing. That is unless I want to become a body builder! It’s funny, I get approached about that stuff all of the time and man I just want to dance, and be healthy and lean. I often to cardio, although it has to be very low impact: the elliptical and swimming are great for me.
Well enough of me preaching, but honestly our health and fitness is SO important! Whatever it is you do, you should always think about how you can improve your wellbeing. In the industry I am involved in, you have to look good. There’s no way around it. Instead of stressing ourselves out about it, we might as well learn to enjoy it in fun and creative ways. Although we also need to learn to love and appreciate our own individual bodies! Be our BEST selves. Actually this has been a really great reminder for me! Awesome. See this is why I do this? Have a great weekend y’all! Oh and don’t forget to treat yourself, because we can always use a little fun in our lives.