If you read the post below, you’ll learn about the dismal condition of my life before I began taking dance lessons. Now, I’d like to share with you a few of the changes that I’ve made since I decided it was time to turn my life around.
It all started with simply moving to the music. At the very begining it was tough to make it through a whole lesson without a lot of breaks for water, but it wasn't long before I was wishing for a longer lesson. Before dancing, I hadn’t listened to music outside my car in AGES. After I started taking lessons, I started listening to music at home while cleaning, and then I would inevitably cease cleaning and begin practicing steps. I can’t tell you how many days my dishes have sat undone because I ended up using the counter to practice my swivels and completely forgot they were there. There’s also the system I have for drying my kitchen floor that involves practicing my Cuban walk, and the vacuum makes and excellent dance partner. So the first positive change I made without even realizing it was bringing music back into my life. I still enjoy the odd time when I get a new piece of music and I can just sit down or lay back and listen… to hear it for all it’s intricacies… but again I haven’t made it through a whole song in a long time before I’m picking out rhythms and beats to go with a particular dance.
Not long after I started dancing around my apartment instead of sitting on the couch, I started to use the workout machine I had purchased over a year before my first lesson, which had been collecting all my dirty laundry. It is LOW impact and with my music on I started with 20 minute sessions nearly every day. That slowly increased to two 30 minute sessions a day morning and evening. Lately I don’t use it as much as I have more complex steps to practice, and have taken to walking briskly at lunch, but when I do I work for 40 minutes without batting an eye. I am now an official “endorphin” junkie…If I don’t get at least one cardio workout in of some type I can be a real crab.
The biggest change I have made is with food. I was an emotional eater, if I was happy, sad, depressed or not feeling much of anything I was eating. I’d eat anything that was fast, quick to heat, easy to pick up after or quick to buy… (The fast food industry and I were good friends.) I honestly started craving “real” food. Fruits and vegetables were a quick easy way to keep the hungries away and the calories down. If I was happy I would bop around my apartment, if I was sad I’d write in a journal, If I was indifferent I’d work out and feel almost instantly better, and if I’m depressed a quick Bachata or Cumbia step can pull me right out of it. Once I identified what was causing me to consume unnecessary calories I created a list of rules for myself as a guideline it goes as follows:
1) I will not eat “fake” food – if I want dairy it’s real, not light or fat free.
2) If I have a craving I will satisfy it – If I want ice cream… I have a serving, not a pint.
3) If I am hungry I will eat – If it’s mid afternoon and I’m starving I will make the best choice I can with the options I have available.
4) I will not eat fast food – this one took a while to adjust to, but now I don’t even crave French fries anymore.
5) I will minimize the amount of simple carbohydrates- it took some work but now all my carbs are complex with the exception of the occasional craving (see 2) and the two sugars I put in my coffee in the morning.
6) I will keep my protein lean – which means mostly chicken breasts and fish.
7) I WILL NOT PUNISH MYSELF IF I BREAK A RULE- Oh this one is tough, I still have trouble not being hard on myself. I am the only one I’m accountable to and I am by far my toughest critic, but it’s definitely improved.
That’s it… I’d say it’s as simple as that…but nothing is ever quite as simple as it reads. I was inspired by learning to dance to make all these changes and every week I go in for my lesson I’m inspired to keep it up. The inspiration makes it easier than I ever thought it would be, but I still have tough days, the key is to take every day as it comes, and if you’re me…count the hours until you get to dance again.