Some Holiday Help

Scary Deviled Eggs
Scary Deviled Eggs

I’m really not one for tricks for dieting or sleight of hand however we recently had Halloween here in the US and I think there are some very good ideas in an article I read by Stephen S. Holden at the Washington Post, published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on a recent Wednesday. In summary, the article talks about plate size and color as key to helping people eat less which is important since we have such an obesity issue in these parts. Ironically, anyone who has been to college in this country has also been poor enough to eat cereal out of coffee mugs and dinner on a saucer.

Brain nerd me finds all of this fascinating as we explore optical illusions. But there’s more to it than just providing less space to pile on your hot dish – researchers have found that the portion will look bigger  so you’ll serve yourself less and consume less if the plate you serve yourself on is small. And of course the opposite is true. The reason high end restaurants use very large plates is to create art, right? The food is framed by a mat and frame, if you will, with more space to embellish the food as art 🙂

But the contrast of the food against the plate and the plate against the table cloth also factors into the equation. The more contrast the better in terms of serving yourself less. Fettucini (white) on a colored plate on a colored cloth will result in a smaller portion that white on white.

Most of us realize that restaurants and bars use these illusions by using smaller, thinner glasses (don’t get me started about ice) to create the illusion of more beverage for your dollar. So tall and thin on the glass wear for more conservative consumption as well.

And if your goal is more consumption, a finicky child perhaps, use the opposite approach. Bon a petite!

Good Nutrtion- Our Best Ally!

There really is nothing more critical for a dancer than proper nutrition so it’s important to have great resources. Try  DR. ANDREW WEIL’S FOOD PYRAMID from a medical doctor who has spent his entire career keeping up with the latest and greatest that both traditional and progressive science has to offer.

Losing Weight: The How and Why of It.

By far, the singular question everyone asks the dancer is “How can I lose some weight?” I first wrote this article more than 3 years ago and with a bit of acquired wisdom, mainly realizing that I need more information than the question alone supplies, I’m glad to say there’s even more dimension to my initial reply. “Why do you want to lose some weight” is now my standard reply because that really makes all the difference in the world.

The human body is an amazing machine and you can’t possibly not believe in a Divine force if you understand the mechanics even a little bit. And scrambled into the human condition of body, mind, spirit marches the ego (personality) and its all-powerful wants and needs. Left un-checked or shall we say, living in less than mindful ways creates habits that have some consequences on both how we feel and how we look. Hmmmm – right back around to mindfulness, as usual.

All of us know that weight is simply calories in and calories out and that no weight loss occurs unless we expend more energy than we consume. It’s more complicated than that in reality but that’s where it all begins. So we are left with the simple challenge of changing our habits since, obviously, if you’re asking the question, your equation isn’t working for you.

I’m unable to tell you what you are willing to change. Only you can do that. But any one of the following will work. In other words, do one of these consistently, or better, a combination of them, and you will lose weight!

  • Will it be different eating habits?
  • Will it be a different fitness routine?
  • Will you give up driving and walk, bike, or run everywhere?
  • Will you stop eating dairy products?
  • Will you stop eating meat?
  • Will you stop eating processed foods?
  • Will you vow to not eat after 7:30pm every night?
  • Will you give up alcohol?

Professional dancers are considered some of the world’s finest athletes. Physical endurance and strength training six days a week all day year-round necessitates learning about the body, specifically your body. Everyone is wired differently but we know what we want and what we don’t want. Or do we? The discipline required to study an art form is unique in this culture but anyone can master their own mind but not without effort.

  • First develop a plan (or follow someone else’s) – make sure it’s a good one
  • Find a buddy, a partner, a trainer, or a sergeant to hold you accountable
  • Follow the plan
  • Measure your success and offer incremental rewards
  • Achieve results

So we see the process is simple to understand, uncomplicated to devise, BUT (there’s alway a but, and yes, you will always have a butt) discipline is the magic element. If I told you this bottle of 500 pills I’m giving you would drop the pounds, you’d take the pills consistently, wouldn’t you? That requires discipline. If I told you this bottle of cream would get rid of cellulite you’d use it religiously wouldn’t you? And hopefully you’re in the habit of brushing your teeth each night before bed. Habituated patterns come in both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’category. And we’re all capable when we engage the will, which, like any muscle, needs exercising. More on that at

There are plenty of areas of your life where you’re disciplined. Along with brushing your teeth, more than likely you fill the car with gas when it needs it, buy groceries when you need to, clip your nails and apply your make-up… I mean this all takes discipline as well so you do have what it takes – I promise! So the questions are can you develop this discipline? How badly do you want this? Are you willing to devote some time, energy and resources to it? If it was easy, would you want it as bad?

Changing patterns is a stretch for us humans. We aren’t, culturally, prone to caring well for ourselves. Most of us alive now have lived well, in the moment, accustomed to instant gratification. But we can grow up, change ourselves, lead healthier, fuller lives with a bit of effort.

My favorite motivator is this question – am I a good role model? For my kids, my students, for my clients? Am I earning the right to be a leader? Could I be doing a better job? What if my own children came to me with this problem- how would I counsel them? And remember- you must have a buddy, a helper, a coach – someone who will give you that nudge when the last thing you want to do is put on your shoes. The will does gets stronger the more you work it.