December 29 2011
Wow! The Intensive is over, but my experience is not. I came to the Dancer's body Intensive with so much excitement and hope. I couldn't believe that a program like this had just appeared in front of me. The combination of the physical activity and nutrition programs were just what I had envisioned. My background in medicine and health has taught me that the optimal approach to fitness is well rounded. It includes a focus on both what you take in and how you use that energy. There is also the very common and frustrating problem repeated by countless women who come to my office for their regular check ups. "I keep gaining weight as I get older." "I eat the same that I've always eaten and my weight keeps going up and up." Or, the heart wrenching, "I eat hardly anything and exercise everyday and I still can't loose weight." These women feel trapped in their bodies and helpless to change the "inevitable."
In the past, I have commiserated generously, checked some lab work and given as much information as possible about caloric intake, the impact that advancing age has on muscle mass and any tips for exercise that I had read about or seen others try. I have been particularly alarmed, recently, by the popularity of a "diet" that includes severe calorie restriction combined with a "pregnancy hormone". In my opinion, the scheme seems designed to be a perpetual money maker for those selling it. Those trying this diet, semi-starve themselves, loose weight, stop the "hormone", regain the weight and then want to try again because they felt "successful" the first time. I caution my patients against this approach for more reasons that I have room to discuss here. But Tamara's Dancer's Body Intensive seemed to approach weight loss and fitness in a very healthy and sustainable way. I was determined to try it for myself in hopes of having another tool to share with my patients (and, of course, reap the healthy benefits for myself, as well!)
Probably the most daunting thing about the program for me, personally, was the "Dancer" part. I don't consider myself a dancer and never imagined that, as an occasional, non professional "poserdancer," I could use up enough calories to lose weight. Fortunately, I was willing to experiment with the program to see for myself!
The first major change that I experienced was something simple and obvious that had never "clicked" with me before. Drinking lot's of water has always been hard for me. I felt like I never had time to drink, I don't like the taste of water, it was always too cold or too warm. When I drank lot's of water, I had to use the restroom too frequently, it interrupted my work in clinic and I was constantly negatively reinforce for drinking water. The first week of food journaling, during the "100 week", Tamara challenged us to use only water for drinking. In the past, I had coffee, milk (lots of milk), juice and a rare diet soda. Making that change for a week altered the way I felt about water. Suddenly it wasn't about taste or temperature or what I felt like drinking. It was about quenching my thirst.... Instead of sipping water for taste, I guzzled water because I was thirsty. It was very satisfying. I couldn't believe how satisfying it was. This is a habit that has stuck; I drink water because I crave it now, not because I'm forcing myself. I'm also better at telling the difference between hunger... and thirst... which helps me give my body what it needs, when it needs it. What about the having to visit the restroom too frequently? Well, that has really been sidelined because Tamara's emphasis on core strength and using the Dancer's Body has hugely strengthened my pelvic floor muscles. The workout includes basically doing kegel exercises unconsciously through out the whole training program. Double whammy!! An example of how Tamara's program has affected me in ways that I never would have imagined. The food journaling gives you wide open choices, there are no forbidden foods. That's important because I tend to focus on what I can't have instead of what I can. Removing the "can't" lessens the distraction. In the Dancer's Body program, I eat all kinds of things I previously denied myself because of the fat content. It's about choosing a balance of foods, not restricting. I eat more than I have been, especially for breakfast. I can pick foods that my kids will eat with me for dinner, say. It's a very flexible approach. Before, I had lots of "crisis" and "fatigue" eating, where something stressful would happen and I would eat large quantities of carbs in short periods of time because my brain was craving the energy from glucose. Now I add more protein snacks and I feel better, especially after the stress passes and I would previously feel guilty for inhaling things I shouldn't have.
As far as the dancing goes: Yes, I was nervous about how klutzy I would look. It's not hard, Tamara shows us the steps in small chunks, repeats them several times then increases the speed a little, then gradually adds small chunks until we have a whole choreographed dance that we are all doing together. It's group bonding! I feel supported by everyone! Especially Tamara. Her energy, her passion, knowledge and vision are contagious and empowering!!!
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