Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Story of My Life... After Ballroom

Ok the title is really a misnomer… for me there will be no “After Ballroom” it’s permanent. It’s been the inspiration for every improvement I’ve made over the last 14 months and 92lbs lost. (I don’t have a recent pic, when I have one I’ll post it)

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.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is inspiring!
I'm really happy for you.

I used to dance a lot years ago, then gave it up due to family obligations. I'm dancing again, and lost 15 pounds while having the time of my life!

Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

You are inspiring and yet you are totally realistic about your expectations of yourself - which is so much easier to live with and to succeed by. You have it all figured out. Much success!!