injury recovery tips for dancers

Injury Recovery 101: The Do’s and Don’ts for Getting Back on Stage Faster

Sustaining an injury as a dancer can be brutal, both physically and mentally. However, as professional athletes, injuries are going to happen. And while injury recovery looks different for every injury and every dancer, there are a few actions you can take to help your body and mind along the process. 

Because whether you sustained an acute injury like an ACL or Achilles tear, or suffered as a stress fracture slowly developed over time, being pro-active about your recovery will get you back on stage faster. 

Now, this list is by no means a comprehensive guide for healing. Only your doctors and physical therapists and give you that.  However, this list of “Dos and Don’ts” will help you thrive throughout your injury recovery journey within the plan your doctor and PTs have put in place for you. 

So, do you want to know what you can do to speed up and support yourself while recovering from an injury?

To the list!

 

 

mindfulness for self-care, mental health support for injury recovery

 

 

  • DON’T Keep Going

The first and hardest lesson dancers need to learn about being injured is to stop dancing when the injury arises. Whether you hear a pop or you’ve “tweaked” something that’s bugging you, just stop. 

Dancers struggle with this because we were taught to “just keep going.” Although we are athletes, we were trained with the “show must go on mindset.” But by “keeping going” we are putting ourselves at risk for even greater injury. 

So whether you are bleeding through your pointe shoes, or dancing on a “tweaked” knee, just stop.  

I promise, you will thank yourself for preventing further injury to whatever is hurting.

**If you read this and said “Yeah, but I’ve always been fine, I know my body” this bullet point was specifically written for you.**

 

  • Go to the Doctor – Get a Good P.T.

Once you’ve stopped, go see a doctor or physical therapist. There they can asses the injury and create an action plan for your injury recovery. The faster you find out what’s wrong, the faster you can start healing. 

As far as finding a good physical therapist, read reviews or ask a friend for a referral.  You want to make sure you are working with someone who understands your needs as an athlete and dancer. 

 

If you know what’s going on, and don’t need to see a doctor, follow the proper rest protocols. 

For example, if you sprain your ankle during petite allegro, stop. Once you’ve stopped, rest it, ice it, add compression, and elevate it!

 

  • Eat well

Nutrition is a huge factor in injury recovery. Eating a diet full of nutrients, plenty of protein, and fiber promotes healing. 

Don’t make the common mistake of underfueling your recovery. Now is not the time to “cut” to prevent weight gain. You’re body needs all the fuel it can get to heal whatever is broken. Instead, ensure you’e getting plenty of protein, antioxidants and vitamins through a healthy and balanced diet.

Besides, healing burns calories!

In fact, depending on the type of injury, you might need to adjust your macro split. Studies have shown that during injury recovery, about 55% of total calories should be delivered as complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. 

Eating for recovery also means watching your alcohol intake. Alcohol has been shown to exacerbate muscle loss during immobilization. So, during injury recovery,  consider cutting out alcohol or at the very least, consume mindfully. 

 

  • Incorporate Resistance Training (Based on Doctor Clearance)

Whether you’re early on in your injury recovery journey or late in the game, incorporating resistance training will be critical to rebuilding and recovering. 

Resistance training can be used to both strengthen the injury itself and strengthen any imbalances around the injury that might’ve led to the initial injury or could contribute to re-injury.  It’s critical to your injury recovery that you follow whatever physical therapy exercises you’ve been given between sessions. 

 

That’s why I recommend finding and excellent physical therapist or personal trainer (or both)! 

In fact, did you know our very own Amber Tacy started her personal training journey by working in a physical therapy office? It’s true!

It’s one of the reasons Dancers Who Lift is so passionate about providing training that aides in injury prevention and takes personal interest in their dancers to create plans built around their individual needs. Want to learn more about that? Read about Amber’s journey to creating The Embodied Artist Academy here

 

  • Work with a Mental Health Professional:

As humans who are passionate about moving our bodies (and might even do so for work) being unable to do so can impact our mental health immensely. 

Between the lack of physical activity (known to release happy endorphins) and the temporary detachment from your performance community, injuries can leave dancers feeling low mentally. 

 Add on to the the possibility that the injury may have happened while dancing, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for anxiety and stress. 

 

Working with a mental health professional throughout your injury recovery can help you navigate these feelings and get you ready to dance even faster. 

Even after athletes have fully healed, hesitance to return to sport is common. From the fear of re-injury to the mental hurdle of trusting your body again, it’s normal to need help getting over these mental barriers. 

 

So, if you’re finding yourself facing a long recovery, get yourself professional external support so that when you’re body is ready, your mind will be also. 

 

  • Be Patient:

Dancers are famous for pushing through injuries.

And I’ll be honest, a lot of that is not our fault. Unlike professional athletes who are praised for “making a comeback,” dancers are taught that we are replaceable. And often, dancers are taught that to be injured makes you “injury prone,” “damaged goods,” or even “unreliable.” 

However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Research shows that most athletes actually report feeling stronger, more dedicated, and more physically focused after experiencing a long season of injury recovery. 

 

And while no dancer wants to be in the audience very long, returning to dance before you’re body is ready can lead to re-injury.  

The reality is, injury recovery takes time and rushing back to dance before your body is ready can make that recovery time even longer. 

Can you imagine spending months in injury recovery, working to strengthen, build confidence, and gain clearance to dance again only to re-injur yourself and have to start all over again?

It’s highly possible. Depending on the type of injury, it can make you seven times more likely. That’s why it is so incredibly important that you listen to your doctors and physical therapists before you start dancing gain. 

This is not meant to scare you. This is a reminder that one class, audition or show, is not worth sacrificing your body. Ever. 

 

  • Feel Everything: Healing is HARD

Injury recovery is incredibly challenging mentally, emotionally, and physically. Take the time to feel all of the emotions. 

Whether you’re feeling angry, sad, frustrated, exhausted, or even depressed, all emotions are valid and need processing in order for you to get back on that stage feeling confident and strong. 

 

Just remember, this isn’t forever. 

A good way to process those feelings is to keep a journal. It’s a habit that’s scientifically proven to increase mental health and we’ve seen the benefits of this in our coaches and athletes first-hand! New to journaling? Try these journal prompts to get you started. 

 

  • Remember, In general, all is not lost:

In the midst of not ignoring your feelings, remember that all is not lost. All of the hard work you put in before your injury does not just disappear. All of the networking did and audition successes you had are not suddenly for nothing. 

 

You will dance again. Casting directors will welcome you back. And you might even be stronger than before. 

One study raised a beautiful point. During recovery athletes have an opportunity to improve and grow in ways they might not when healthy. I’ll leave this quote for you because it is *chef’s kiss.* 

“While a successful injury rehabilitation process is crucial, it is important to consider how we can harness that time to not only help the athlete return to their pre-injury baseline ability but also leverage it as an experience of personal growth to aid in even further wellness and development. In fact, researchers have suggested that after enduring the challenge of a long rehabilitation period, many athletes report being more dedicated, focused, and mentally and physically stronger than they were pre-injury.” -National Library of Medicine. 

 

Helping You Amidst Your Injury Recovery

Whatever your injury, I hope this list provides you with the information to create a game plan for your injury recovery journey. 

And remember, while this list focuses on how to aide your recovery and get you back on your feet faster, take your injury recovery one day at a time. Not every day will be a slam dunk, and that’s okay. 

The important thing is that you remember that taking the time to rest and heal is as important as showing up to class. 

If you’re needing some help remembering that, know that you have a community right here at Dancers Who Lift ready to support you.

Joining Body Mechanics gains you access to our entire community filled with hundreds of dancers who are going through the same worries, struggles, and reaching for similar goals. 

If that feels a little too official right now, that’s okay too. Reach out to us at dancerswholift@gmail.com. We love connecting with and getting to know dancers and fitness lovers alike. 

Most of all, good luck in your recovery. Keep going, you’ve got this. 

Practicing Emotional Self-Care: Common Mistakes High-Performance Humans Make

Self-care is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Practicing emotional self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. 

That’s why lists of self-care products from at-home spa accessories to essential oil diffusers have people convinced that if they just “treat themselves” their emotional well-being will increase. And, while a relaxing bubble bath complete with face and hair mask, can do wonders for your emotional state, it’s not the only thing you should be doing to regulate your emotions. 

The National Institute of Health defines self-care as the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.

Based on this definition, to fully engage in self-care will require you to do things that might not be as appealing as that bath. That’s right, the age-old “dedication is greater than motivation’ mantra applies to your emotional self-care as well as your physical fitness. 

Unfortunately, a lot of high-performance people have no idea that they are missing out on so many opportunities for emotional self-care. 

How many times have you said,

“I’m sorry I’ve been M.I.A.. When I get busy I forget to reach out.”

Or what about,

“I just turned the TV on to zone out and mindlessly scroll.”

How about this one,

“I just got so busy I forgot to eat.”

Listen, we’ve all been there. But these are all elements of emotional self-care that often go unprioritized even though using a wide array of emotional self-care practices can result in greater resilience and lower levels of distress. 

Now, at this point, you might be asking “Okay, so there’s self-care and emotional self-care…what’s the difference?”

In short, there really isn’t one. You see the way to care for ourselves directly impacts our emotions. That’s why it’s so important to practice all kinds of emotional self-care–not just the ones that feel luxurious. 

So what are the most common mistakes when it comes to emotional self-care?

I thought you’d never ask.

 

Not Exercising Regularly:

Okay, Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Of course, the fitness website is pitching that exercise is emotional self-care.” 

However, the fact is the National Institute of Health emphasizes that regular exercise has a positive impact on mental health and encourages mental health professionals to recommend a regular exercise routine to their clients. 

You see when people get stressed, depressed, or overwhelmed, hitting the gym is usually the first thing that gets removed from the “to-do” list to alleviate their schedule. Unfortunately, working out or even going for a walk would likely do wonders for alleviating the emotions they are experiencing. 

So next time you’re not feeling it, try the ten-minute rule. Do some form of exercise for ten minutes. If after that you’ve had enough, fine, go take a rest. But most of the time, getting started is the hardest part and once you’ve gotten moving, you’ll want to finish your workout. 

Not feeling like you have enough time to work out? Check out this 16-minute workout designed for someone on a time crunch!

 

Being Unintentional or Inconsistent About Food:

One of the biggest mistakes high-performance people make is being unintentional and inconsistent with how they fuel their bodies. Food is incredibly important to your emotional well-being. So it should go without saying that being intentional about how you fuel your body is a big part of emotional self-care. 

Why is food so linked to our mood? Let’s talk about Serotonin. 

Did you know that about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract? And the production of serotonin and other neurons are impacted by the “good” bacteria in your gut biome? That’s why what you eat is so important for regulating mood in addition to energy.

Furthermore, studies have shown that diets high in sugar are correlated with a greater risk of depression and other mood disorders, while other studies show a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grains, seafood, and lean meats can significantly decrease symptoms of depression.

So, how can we be more intentional about our food?  

First, don’t give yourself an opportunity to crash. Everyone has busy days, but ensuring that you can have breaks for meals or pack healthy snacks to consistently keep your brain fueled will make a huge impact on your emotions throughout the day. Not to mention, it’s another way of practicing emotional self-care by showing up for yourself.  

Next, be intentional about what it is you’re eating. I get it, popping into Starbies and grabbing a croissant and a latte might be quick, easy, and affordable, but it might also have you experiencing a large sugar spike and crash later in your day.

 Instead, pop into a deli and grab a turkey sandwich. It’ll still be affordable and (if necessary) you can eat it on the go.  But you’ll have the added benefit of a lean protein to keep you fueled until your next meal.

 

Failing to Prioritize Relaxation:

This next one is the most common among high-performance people because productivity is such a huge part of our culture. But the practice of embracing intention relaxation is an important part of emotional self-care. Yes, this is the category where you get to bring out those spa kits we talked about earlier if you enjoy relaxing that way. 

The most important part of this relaxation is that it is intentional. There is a big difference between sitting down in a comfy blanket to watch your favorite movie with a loved one and turning on Gilmore Girls for the gazillionth time to play in the background while you doom scroll. 

How did I know? Let’s just say I have a tab at Luke’s Diner as well. And listen, having a “comfort show” is not a bad thing. But it can be when it becomes a way to numb or dissociate. So while this can be a way to zone out, or have “company” while you clean, it’s not an intentional form of relaxation.

One of the best rules of thumb for restful emotional self-care is to do something that requires you to be present during your rest. Instead, drawing a bubble bath while you listen to music, download a mindfulness app and go through a meditation, or take time to journal with a cup of warm tea. 

 

Having Poor Sleep Hygiene:

It’s no secret that shutting down at the end of the day can be a challenge, especially for performers who are working high-energy jobs late into the evenings. But getting quality sleep at night is directly linked to improving your mental health. A great way to improve your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene

So, what are some examples of good sleep hygiene? 

Good sleep hygiene looks like having a fairly consistent routine that prepares your body’s nervous system for sleep by helping it wind down. This can look like doing a skincare routine, putting on comfy pajamas, having a sleepy time tea, and turning off screens thirty minutes before bed. It can also look like ensuring your bedroom is a relaxing space to be in, whether that is putting your folded laundry away and out of sight or investing in quality bedding that keeps you comfortable all night. 

My favorite sleepy-time routine? In the winter I make a “bedtime hot coco” complete with 10 grams of protein, zinc, and magnesium to help my muscles relax. It tastes just like the real thing and makes for a perfect bedside sipper while I read my book. 

In the summer I opt for a mock-tail made of 100% Tart Cherry juice, pomegranate juice, a squeeze of lemon, and topped with sparkling water. The Tart Cherry juice is a known sleep aid and the perfect sweet and sour to replace a nightcap. 

 

 

mindfulness for self-care

 

 

 

Forgetting to Practice Gratitude:

It’s so easy to go through our busy days, go to the gym, cook dinner, go through our routines, and go to bed without considering what we’re grateful for that day. That’s a shame because studies have shown that practicing gratitude is correlated with experiencing fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Practicing gratitude as a form of self-care can look like keeping a gratitude journal

 

Neglect Their Goals or Compromising Priorities:

Imagine, for a moment, that your best friend promised to meet you somewhere important and they no-showed you. You likely wouldn’t be pleased and might think twice before relying on them again. When you break the commitments you make with yourself, you’re teaching yourself that you are unreliable. Conversely, when you say “I promised myself ___, and now I am following through on that promise” you’re teaching yourself that you can be relied upon. 

Setting goals and showing up for yourself daily is an excellent way to practice emotional self-care. Goals give us something to focus on and work toward that is outside of our circumstances. They give us a sense of ownership over our lives and choosing to not give up on our goals is an important way of showing up for ourselves and increasing healthy self-reliance. 

A good example of this is choosing your goals over the expectations of others. For example, visiting relatives can sometimes be stressful when working toward a fitness goal. Whether it’s choosing not to have seconds, going to bed early, or taking an hour to yourself to get some exercise, it’s often challenging for people to understand why we won’t compromise “just for this trip.”  

And sometimes, compromise is important. But allowing yourself to be the only one who chooses when to compromise is an important practice of self-care. 

 

Isolating Themselves: 

Does this sound familiar? 

“I’m so sorry I forgot to text you back! I’ve just been so swamped!”

How about, “I’m sorry I haven’t called you back. It’s been a tough season and I just haven’t felt like talking to people.”

We all have seasons like this. And we do need to listen to our bodies and set boundaries for is privy to what information. 

However, it’s important to make sure we aren’t isolating ourselves from the people who can offer us encouragement or support when we’re struggling. Isolation can be a slippery slope away from community and accountability. 

If you are feeling like you want to limit your extroversion, that’s okay! But I encourage you to find a therapist or trusted friend you can speak to when things feel especially bleak. 

Practicing emotional self-care can be a rewarding practice of discipline on top of being incredibly beneficial for your recovery as an athlete. 

So which one of these practices will you try today?

Want some guidance about where might be the best place to start? Reach out to us here and ask about Body Mechanics, our personal training program designed to give you the tools to do it on your own. 

deliberate cold exposure, ice bath, cryotherapy

Keeping Things Cool: The Benefits of Deliberate Cold Exposure for Dancers

 

From cryotherapy to ice baths, cold plunges to cold showers, it seems like deliberate cold exposure is THE new miracle tool for athletes. But is forcing yourself to withstand cold temperatures really worth the discipline?

History tells us that the benefits of deliberate cold exposure date as far back as 2500 BC as Edwin Smith Papyrus noted the use of cold exposure for therapeutic purposes. And the ancient Greeks utilized cold water as a means of relaxation and even socialization. 

 

Okay, okay, but history also believed blood-letting was a good idea, does deliberate cold exposure stand the test of time?

In short, yes!

Deliberate cold exposure increases your metabolic rate and spikes plasma concentrations which in turn affects the immune system. And if a boosted metabolism and immune system aren’t enough to convince you, deliberate cold exposure decreases cortisol levels resulting in less stress and anxiety while increases in norepinephrine aides in pain relief. 

Studies have shown that regular cold exposure positively impacts mental status and physical composition. This is likely because of the increased metabolic rate as well as an increase in Brown Adipose Tissue or BAT activity.

What’s BAT?

It’s a type of body fat that regulates your body temperature in cold conditions. It activates right before you start to shiver! Its primary purpose is to produce heat to help maintain body temperature and it achieves that by burning calories. 

 

But wait, there’s more!

Athletes who utilize deliberate cold exposure after intense exercise experience less muscle soreness. On top of that, deliberate cold exposure aids in muscle recovery, making your performance during your next workout even better. 

However, make sure you limit the length of time you subject yourself to these cold temps! Too long in the cold and the benefits of deliberate cold exposure for muscle recovery begin to reverse by limiting muscle hypertrophy.

 

 

mindfulness to examine boundaries

 

 

So what are the ways you can implement this optimally into your routine? 

Before we get into the many options of deliberate cold exposure remember, like your choice of gym location, whatever you’ll be able to do consistently is going to have the greatest impact. 

You can start to enjoy the benefits of cold exposure from temperatures lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

As for the length of time, you need to ease into this practice. Submerging yourself in cold water can pose a risk of “cold shock” which is an increase in heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. This shock can put you at risk of drowning (if you gasp underwater) or even cardiac arrest. This risk is highest for the first 30 seconds, which is why you should never jump into a cold plunge or submerge your head right off the bat. Instead, ease yourself into the water. 

To reap the benefits of deliberate cold exposure you’ll need to remain in the cold water for at least one minute, this will decrease your skin temperature and you’ll start to feel the benefits of that norepinephrine release.

If you choose to stay in the water longer (3min-15min) you’ll start to reach the point where superficial muscle tissue temperatures will decrease. This is the point where you start to increase your metabolic rate and reap the muscle recovery benefits. 

Do not remain in the cold longer than 20 minutes! Once you reach the 30-minute mark your deep muscle tissue begins to cool and your body begins to enter a hypothermic state–not good. 

No matter how long you stay in the cold, studies have shown that people who use intentional breathing techniques while engaging in deliberate cold exposure yield the largest positive results. 

 

But What If I Don’t Have a Cold Plunge at my Gym?

There are a lot of ways to incorporate deliberate cold exposure into your life. 

The simplest way is to practice a hot-to-cold shower. This won’t yield the muscle recovery results, but it will yield some of the mental health benefits that those ancient Greeks loved!

Another option is to simply fill your bathtub will cool water- remember, water only needs to be 55 degrees or lower to be beneficial. If you practice this continually and want to up the intensity, add ice to your bathtub! (Similar to how you might give your  feet an ice bath after a long day in LaDucas!)

 

The next two options do require you to leave your home. 

The first is to visit a cryotherapy facility. In these facilities, you enter into a pod that exposes your body to cold air which yields similar benefits to water submersion. However, this can be a pricier option with sessions costing up to $32.

If you are lucky enough to live in a summery place, finding an outdoor pool you can use in the off-season can even work! Here’s a video of Amber shivering her way through one of her first deliberate cold exposure practices in a pool like this!

The point is, that any integration of deliberate cold exposure into your life will be beneficial to your mental and physical health. So what do you think? Will you brave the cold?

outcome goals, goal setting, achieving goals

Performance vs Outcome Goals: The Role of Each in Productive Goal Setting

Goal setting is a tool people have been using to achieve hard things for a long time. But as more and more studies about goal setting are released, the more types of goals there are to learn about. Today we’ll be talking about Outcome Goals and Performance Goals and why we need both of them. 

 

First things first, let’s take a look at some working definitions.

 

Outcome Goal: 

Outcome goals focus on the final point of an event. For example: winning a game or booking a job. These goals depend on not only how you perform, but how those around you perform, or (in the case of booking a job) what casting has in mind. 

You can perform to the best of your ability and still may not achieve your outcome goal. That’s why it is so important to have other goals that support this goal to help keep you focused. 

 

Performance Goal:

Performance goals do outline the end product of a performance, but they are mostly focused around personal acheivements and therefore compared to previous performances. 

 

For example: Consistently nailing a triple pirouette with a clean landing. Or, achieving higher extensions and easier kicks.

 

These goals are generally a bit more flexible and within your control. Bonus, statistically speaking, these types of goals are associated with less anxiety and greater performance when compared to outcome goals. 

 

 

personal training for dancers

 

 

So, practically speaking:

You may have an outcome goal of being cast in “A Chorus Line.” 

You might then have a performance goal of nailing the turn combo in the audition combo. 

 

Now, there is a third type of goal called a Process Goal that can help us achieve performance goals.

Process goals are focused on improving the strategy, form, and anything else needed to achieve performance goals. 

 

So, using our earlier example. If you’re performance goal is to nail that turn combo, a process goal may be working on maintaining a stable and neutral spine in a forced-arch-passé. 

 

As you can see, each of these types of goals work together to help you acheive your desired outcome goals. Keeping this in mind when you are goal-setting will only help you on your journey.

 

Now, if you really want to start achieving your goals write them down. 

Studies have shown that people who write down their goals were 33% more successful in achieving them than those who only set goals in their heads. 

Want to take it a step further? More studies have shown that 76% of participants who not only wrote down their goals (all three types), but also provided weekly progress updates to a friend, successfully achieved their goals. 

 

This shows the importance of accountability in goal setting. Having someone you trust to report your progress to is an incredible motivator. This person is not only there to be reported to, but also to encourage you when the work toward your goals starts to feel long and arduous. 

 

 

A Challenge for You…

Take a moment right now and write down two of your outcome goals. 

Now, write down one or two performance goals that might help you reach those outcome goals. 

Next, write down two or three process goals  that will help you acheive your performance goals. 

Finally, (and this is the hardest part) write down someone you trust to be accountable to each week.  Make sure you ask them if they are able to be this person for you. 

 

Having trouble with the last one? If you’re a member of Dancers Who Lift, ask your trainer if they can be that person for you and add it to your weekly check-in. 

 

Not a member of Dancer’s Who Lift, but don’t have anyone to be your accountability buddy? Reach out to us at info@dancerswholift.com or on instagram or Tiktok @dancerswholift. If we aren’t able to help, we’d love to connect you with someone who can!  

Ready to dive right into accountability? Check out our Body Mechanics program. Not only will you have access to trainers for accountability, but also the entire Dancers Who Lift community of dancers working together to reach their individual goals. 

  

food guilt, healthy eating over the holidays

Kick Your Food Guilt to the Curb: 5 Tips for Enjoying Your Food This Holiday Season

Talking about enjoying your food during the holiday season can bring up a lot of stress for people. Especially if you’ve been working hard to meet certain fitness goals or creating a healthy relationship with food. Fortunately, kicking your food guilt to the curb can actually be helpful in both of theses endeavors.

That’s why we created this list of 5 tips for enjoying your food this holiday season. Because food freedom can bring you so much more than just chocolate cake and pasta. (Although, those two things are definitely worth it!)

 

Stop Believing There are Good and Bad Foods

The belief that there are “good foods” and “bad foods” has run rampant among society for years. Statistically speaking, snacks, candies, and sweets tend to be labeled as “bad”, making food guilt when eating these foods much more prevalent. 

This is a real shame because studies have also shown that those who associate guilt with certain foods, rather than celebration, report unhealthier eating habits overall. On top of that, they perceive themselves as having less behavioral control over healthy eating. 

 

What does this mean?

It means that food guilt brought on by eating sweets, treats, or snacks, does not help you eat healthier. It actually leads you to feel more overwhelmed by the idea of eating healthy.

 

So ditch the idea that foods are good and bad and instead look at food as fuel! Making this shift allows us to recognize that different foods fuel our bodies in different ways. And when we accept this we can release the guilt we feel after eating those “bad foods.” 

  

Recognize that Food Guilt is NOT a Motivator

Food guilt will not motivate you to eat healthier. Take a look at  this study that revealed participants who associated eating chocolate cake with guilt did not have stronger intentions of eating healthy than those who associated it with celebration. 

What’s even more interesting, participants with weight-loss goals who had food guilt associated with chocolate cake were LESS successful as losing weight over a three month period than those who associated chocolate cake with celebration. 

 

Why might this be?

Well, some studies have shown that people who associate anxiety and shame after eating certain foods have a greater impulse to binge than those who don’t. This is because food deprivation leads to an increase cravings of those foods. 

 

On top of that, when you stop feeling guilty about eating foods it’s much easier to eat them in moderation because you no longer limit how often you can enjoy your food. If you can have Oreos whenever you want, you’re less likely to eat an entire sleeve in one sitting. 

 

 

Free energy estimator - macro calculator for dancers

 

 

Remember that Days or Weeks Will Not Undo Months or Years   

I get it. You’ve been working hard consistently for the past eight months. You’ve done a complete body recomposition with your trainer. You feel strong and sexy and you absolutely do not want to impede or, worse, lose your progress. 

One thing we know is that once you’ve been eating a balanced diet of proteins, fats, and carbs, consistently for along period of time you will start to naturally balance your plate that way. Consistent habits die hard. 

 

Another thing I want to discuss is the apple seed theory. Did you know that apple seeds are poisonous? It’s true, they are literally arsenic. Luckily, we aren’t sitting around eating apple seeds like peanuts and cracker jacks, Instead, we maybe consume or two here and there when we are munching on an apple and it’s fine. No tummy aches, no accidental death by apple seeds.  

The same is true about our meals. If one, or even four of our 21 meals during a week aren’t *perfect* it’s not going to affect us in the long run. Especially if after your holiday you return to a more balanced diet. 

 

Consistency will always pay off! But celebrating life will always be worth a deviation. 

 

Eating Mindfully Ensures that You Will Enjoy Your Food

A very important part of enjoying your food is taking the time to enjoy your food. 

I’m not kidding. 

 

Take time to notice how your food smells. 

What’s the texture like in your mouth? 

Notice all of the flavors.

And finally, chew your food completely.

 

This is important to do anytime you’re eating a meal. But, when we are eating foods that trigger food guilt, or that we have labeled as “bad,” we have a tendency to eat them quickly. As if eating them fast minimizes our choice to consume them. 

Unfortunately, this often leads us to over eating and can start to reinforce a “scarcity mindset” around these yummy foods that bring us joy. 

 

These special foods are just that, special. So take the time to really enjoy them! You deserve it! And, when you take the time to eat your food, your body will have time to send your brain full cues, making you less likely to over indulge. 

 

Plan Ahead 

We’ve all been there. We had a friends giving last weekend and arrived home early on this been week. We’ve enjoyed some drinks. Eaten out. And snacked on our favorite holiday snickadees all week long. 

Then, you wake up on Thanksgiving morning and the smell of cinnamon buns waft through the air. Someone greets your with a mimosa and a coffee and everyone settles into the couch to watch the parade.

After eating a cinnamon roll and some bacon your heart sinks because you know you not only have the meal this afternoon, but pumpkin pie tonight, and leftovers tomorrow. You start mentally calculating the entire week and the anxiety starts to seep in. 

 

First, take a deep breath and re-read number three. However, if a week of indulging tends to leave you feeling sluggish or you’re finding you’re feeling sick after each meal, try planning ahead. 

If you know there are certain foods around the holidays that tend to be triggering, take some time ahead of time to ask yourself, why.  What about this food pushes you to eat past the point of enjoyment? Understanding why certain foods trigger us can help us feel like we have more control around those foods. 

 

Another tool to make sure you’re not indulging past the point of enjoyment? Plan a couple meals that you are choosing to prioritize protein and fiber.

 I don’t know about you, but after three or four days of decadence, I often find myself craving salads, fruits, and veggies. Planning ahead to ensure our bodies are getting nutrient dense foods throughout our vacations can really help us listen to our hunger and full cues throughout the week! 

 

 

Have you tried any of these before? Will you try any of these in the future? Remember, the goal is not to limit your enjoyment of special holiday foods. The goal is to give you tools to remove food guilt from your holidays so that you can spend time enjoying your food with your family and friends. 

 

7 types of boundaries

Honor Your Limits: 7 Types of Boundaries and How to Set Them

Learning how to set boundaries can be really hard. Especially when you’re setting boundaries in relationships that’ve previously gone unchecked.

But whether you’re setting boundaries at work, or in interpersonal relationships, boundary setting is an important part of self-care. It aids in protecting you from burn out and resentment, and boosts your emotional wellbeing and sense of autonomy and identity.

Today we are going to discuss 7 types of boundaries that are worth looking at when building relationships with others and deepening your relationship with yourself. But before we dive in, it’s important for us to understand exactly what boundaries are. 

 

First, It’s important to understand what boundaries are

Boundaries are clear, communicated guidelines established to help communicate the behavior you will accept from others and what behaviors they can expect from you in all types of relationships. 

These boundaries will vary person to person and situation to situation. For example, appropriate boundaries in an audition room might seem a bit stifling at movie night with the girls!

What’s important to keep in mind here, especially as we get into the 7 types of boundaries below, is that boundaries are all about you. Not about controlling the other person.

 For example: If you send me a text at work, I won’t answer it until I’m on my break or work is over. 

See how this puts all of the power of boundary maintenance on your shoulders rather than being dependent on the other person’s ability to change their behavior? 

This also allows you the freedom to be in control of how that boundary is maintained. 

 

Visualizing Boundaries in Relationships

You see, boundaries are often viewed as walls. But instead, I’d like you in imagine a boundary as a large fence with a locked gate. Then, when you come up against things that test your boundaries in any given relationship you have three choices:

-Be pushed over the fence. 

-Choose to unlock the gate and walk through the fence. 

-Choose to stay put next to the fence. 

Thinking of boundaries in this way allows for relationships to grow, ebb, and flow based on the level of trust built up in those areas. 

 

The 7 types of Boundaries

Boundaries will vary relationship to relationship. They can also change depending on the setting; i.e. if you’re one on one, in a large group, or working professionally. 

That’s why understanding the different types of boundaries can be helpful. So that when you feel imposed upon, resentful, or angry, you have to tools to deduce which of your boundaries was infringed upon and how you might go about communicating your needs. 

 

Time

Boundaries around our time can be very challenging for people in our industry. Because we love what we do, it can be very hard to protect the need for us to have “off-time.”

Personally this might look like having one day a week that you don’t take class, don’t practice, and don’t submit to auditions, etc. 

Relationally this might mean setting a time limit of availability when helping others with self-tapes. For example: “I’d love to help with your tape, but I have to leave by __ time.”

It could also look like protecting your “free-time” so it actually remains free, giving you the opportunity to incorporate rest or even spontaneity in your life. 

 

 

mindfulness to examine boundaries

 

 

Emotional 

Emotional boundaries require us to be in tune with how we are feeling emotionally and psychologically. Ask yourself, “How emotionally available am I right now? Do I have to capacity to help in this way?”

This one comes up a lot during audition season. Sometimes we’ve recently been dealt a big rejection and at the same time a friend of ours is asking for help on a final callback. 

It’s okay to communicate your need for space and say no. It might sound like this,

“I am so happy for you and I am rooting for you, however I don’t have the capacity to help you with this right now.”

 

This also comes up around the holidays when family members are talking about political issues you have a personal tie to, or even asking you questions in an effort to understand your choices. But again, It’s okay to communicate your needs and ask to change the subject. It might sound like this, 

“I love that you want to understand more about me, but emotionally I don’t have the capacity to explain it all right now. Thanks for understanding.”

Remember, like Brené Brown always says “Choose discomfort over resentment.” The momentary discomfort you may feel expressing your needs, is way better that letting a relationship deteriorate because of resentment or anger. 

 

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice” -Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

 

Mental 

Mental boundaries represent the freedom to have your own thoughts, values, and opinions. Mental boundaries are excellent around the holidays. Debates surrounding politics, religion, morals, etc. can become heated very quickly when our loved ones find we disagree with them. 

But sometimes these debates become less about understanding one another and more about changing your mind. At that point, it’s time to set a boundary.

Setting a mental boundary might sound like,

“I respect your perspective, and I understand how you might feel that way, but I do not agree.” 

 

Physical 

Physical boundaries are one of the most often crossed out of the 7 types boundaries we are discussing today. And that’s because a lot of people assume others’ physical boundaries based on how they like to be touched. That’s why it’s a good rule of thumb to always ask before hugging or touching someone. 

It also means that physical boundaries are super important to communicate early on. I find that people are more than happy to observe physical boundaries once they are communicated, so don’t be afraid to voice your needs. 

That might sound like, 

“I don’t love giving hugs unless I initiate them.” 

Or

“I know physical touch is important to you, but I don’t feel comfortable with it, is there another way I can support you, right now?” 

 

Conversational 

Conversational boundaries exist so you can communicate topics that you do and do not feel comfortable discussing. Now, this is not a get-out-of-tough-convos-free card. This is a way to protect your peace when triggering, upsetting, or hurtful conversations arise. 

 

Setting a conversational boundary might sound like,

“I would rather not be a part of this conversation. I’m going to go to another room.”

Or (in the event that this conversation is also crossing a mental boundary)

“I appreciate your perspective, but I do not agree. And while I love learning more about something your passionate about, I’d like to take a break from this subject.”

 

 

Material

Material boundaries exist to help you protect your autonomy surrounding monetary decisions, giving, or lending to others. 

If you’re a girl, you’ve likely had someone ask to borrow a piece of clothing. I, personally, do not like sharing clothes. As that was an anomaly in our college dorm I had to set a boundary. It sounded like this, 

“I don’t like to lend my clothes out.”

Or, if I had the time,

I don’t lend my clothes out, but I’d be happy to be a set of fresh eyes on styling something in your closet!”

 

Material boundaries are also helpful when it comes to lending money. 

I’m not able to lend you money right now.”  

 

Internal

Finally we have arrived at the last of our 7 types of boundaries: Internal boundaries. 

Internal boundaries are all about self-regulation and how we expend our energy on ourselves and on others. 

 

Setting an internal boundary might sound like this, 

“I have been social all week, I need to weekend to refill at home with myself.”

Or

“I feel really low after making that mistake, I’m going take a moment and breathe before I jump into my next task. 

 

How to Set Boundaries

Now that we know 7 types of boundaries. Let’s talk about how to set them

It’s surprisingly simple. 

 

First, you define what you need and what boundary will help you fill that need. 

 

Then, you communicate your need and boundary. Boundaries are best received when stated in terms of what you’d like rather than what you don’t like – keep this simple. You do not need to over explain or apologize. 

 

Finally, you need to set consequences. These are not punishments for crossing boundaries, these “consequences” are focused on communicating how crossing these boundaries makes you feel. 

 

For example, 

“When you don’t respect the boundaries set around my free-time, I feel like you don’t value my need for rest.”

 

Remember, boundaries can always be adjusted. You can always open the gate, close the gate, or communicate a new boundary. 

But boundaries, despite their name, give relationships freedom. 

Freedom from resentment. Freedom from anger. And freedom from unintentional hurt. When we communicate our needs with others, we learn more about ourselves and them. 

 

So, if the person does not react well to these boundaries or pushes back, don’t be afraid to stand your ground and restate your need and your why calmly. 

 

Remember, “Discomfort > Resentment.”

What do you think?