So, I’ve been dancing every day for a year.
(What?! More on that here.)
When I started, the way I related to food and exercise was not about to support me in my mission.
While I’d mostly healed from years of disordered eating and body image issues, a lingering vigilance about not eating too much and never touching anything unhealthy was keeping me undernourished.
Like my relationship to dance, my lifestyle was reflecting the belief that I’m not good enough. And in pummeling that belief with my decision to dance every day, I knew the way that belief showed up in my diet was going to have to change, too.
Well, shit. How does one deprogram (quickly) from years of behavioral and physiological patterns?
If you’re me, it happens out of pure necessity. The drastic shift in physical activity triggers exhaustion, weakness and hunger. For a couple days. Then you change, because if you’re really going to answer the call to adventure and do this crazy thing and dance every day for a year, you have no choice.
So you stop worrying about eating too much. You stop thinking about calories, and you stop trying to eat foods with less of them.
You shift your focus to amino acids: getting the right ones, and enough of them, to make sure your muscles have the fuel they need to work hard and repair themselves. Rather than stuffing yourself with just any vegetable to stamp out hunger, you lean towards the most hard core nutrient-dense green stuff so your body can process it efficiently.
When your (brilliant) trainer tells you to “eat one more meal a day,” you balk. And then you listen to your body, and you realize it’s saying the same thing. When you do it, you visualize the food you eat transforming into fuel for your muscles and nerves and blood and brain. You feel the energy you’ve been lacking return in full.
You feel supported, and you start trusting all the subtle signals you get. You know when you’ve had too much animal protein, when you really need some fish but not eggs, or when whatever chickpeas have in them is exactly what you want. Your once dull appetite turns into that of a 16-year-old boy, and it’s kind of awesome.
You stop looking in the mirror to figure out whether you might have gained weight since yesterday. You realize what a waste of precious energy that is, and instead thank your body for working so hard.
You realize that this body is something you actually live in, and that your capacity to trust it to do its thing is exactly the same as your capacity to trust yourself. Your body is the reason you get to have each moment of your gorgeous human experience. It is the reason you get to dance. You realize that its intelligence is nothing short of a miracle. That it works 24 hours a day to do the very best it can with everything you feed it physically, emotionally and spiritually—even if you’ve treated it like shit for years. You realize that all of that is pretty much the definition of unconditional love.
You feel a pang in your heart because you have never realized this before. Your body has always been something that had to be tamed. Managed. And suddenly it doesn’t. Suddenly, all you have to do is move in the ways that make you happy, and listen.
Suddenly, you are free.
And then, my friends? Then you can really dance.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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