Tag Archive | Exercise

Summer 2014 Ballet!

So I just saw the summer schedule for my studio and I’m happy to announce that there are two teen/adult classes offered! I am so very excited. My instructor did say she was going to put a word in for me about adding a class, but I didn’t think it was actually going to materialize! So from June to August I will be ballet-ing two times a week with a curriculum that will actually help me progress. I am excited and actually touched the studio wanted to help accommodate my needs, even if not just mine but other students who desire the extra classes! (Boom).

An important side note, I have been continuing to progress despite the lightened schedule. It seems that stress was my biggest inhibitor after all. It also doesn’t hurt that I have been working out like a maniac for the last two months. I have serious muscle again, not to mention that I can jump like a squirrel on steroids. (Well, kind of.). All thanks to good old plyometrics!

So what are my ballet goals? Honestly, I am still struggling to figure out how to get a decent grand battlement. I am strong and relatively flexible, but my leg will not extend much past 90 degrees in first position. Then I see younger, weaker girls who just put it up there with no problem. What in the hell am I missing?!?! My theory – I am utilizing the wrong muscles when I extend. I focus on my hamstrings and not on my butt and feet to help lift the foot into the air. So how do I practice this? Anyone have any suggestions on improving this or should I be resolved to defeat?

Hmmmm. I guess only time will tell. 😉

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Plyometrics + Ballet = Bliss

Hello dear readers. I hope all is well with all of you. I am doing great!! So many things to talk about. I know – “LB? What’s the haps, yo?! Have you quit ballet? Quit blogging? What’s the deal?” (In my head, everyone is under 25 and uses trendy lingo in his/her everyday conversations. Using words like “haps” and “yo” is totally the norm. In fact “totes” is often used, but I don’t want to scare you off with all my “cool” talk.)

Anywho – I have been here. Ballet-ting, working out and (the not so fun part) dieting. Yes dieting. Sweet Baby Jesus do I hate dieting. But the outcome is always worth it. I am actually on a “Weight Watchers” type of program. I down loaded an app that provides me with “points” and tracks the foods I eat. At my height, weight and age, I do not get many points. [Insert frowny-clown-face here.]. This diet is not always easy. I get hungry, but there are foods that don’t count as points (fruits and veggies), I literally munch on baby carrots between delicious meals of protein shakes, eggs with stir fried vegetables and hot sauce, ground turkey (turkey chili, shell-less tacos), fish and more and more and more vegetables! Mmmmmm. Are you salivating yet?! (The sad thing is, I am. Ha!). I also eat rice and raw oatmeal, but I limit my intake and I measure everything. I also eat spaghetti once a week because life isn’t worth living without noodles. So that is my diet. Pretty simple and sometimes boring, but it gets the job done. Oh yeah, and I no longer drink at all during the week. No more glass of Shiraz before bed for this fitness buff! Boring. [Insert frowny-faced-hobo here.]. It really isn’t that bad, but man do I miss fast food. I have abstained from crappy food for so long that I was even yearning for a cartoon (yes, cartoon) hamburger that I saw on the show “Bobs Burgers” the other night. Awesome show. Awesome food. Yes, I’m hungry. Enough said.

With the dieting, comes the exercise. I decided that since I am not in so many ballet classes, I might as well use the time wisely and get my ass in fighting shape. And I mean fighting shape. I want to successfully wrestle a giraffe to the ground with my bare hands. (Anyone? Answer: Step Brothers. Boom.). Honestly, I have wussed out with my workouts for long enough and I need to get my fitness-body back. Beautiful, brainy and brawny. That’s what a real woman is made of! Ha!

My plan of attack? Plyometric training. I created an intense circuit that is a combination of upper body weight training. and plyometric exercises. It takes 45 minutes to complete the entire circuit and by the time I’m done, I am toast. (Mmmmm. Toast. With jelly. *drool.). No breaks, no stopping, no excuses. I’m such a glutton for punishment. I have been at this program for one month and I am finally acclimated to it. I’m actually at the point where I can add one more circuit of exercises (I currently have 3 circuits, each has 4 different exercises and I do 4 sets of each). I’m seeing progress and I am finally leaning out and getting cut. I have a little more to go and I am confident to reach my goal by next month. I’m going to Disney and I want to look good. So what if it’s a place for kids! I want to be the most fit mama there!

Now with this program of dieting and exercises, you need to be patient. Remember folks – slow and steady wins the race. Stick to your diet, even if you don’t see the scale go down immediately or you reach a weight loss plateau. You need to keep plugging away at the training, no matter how tired or hung over you are (aka last Sunday – I had to make up for lost time!). In the end, you will see results and you will be so proud at yourself from setting, sticking with (and hopefully) meeting your goals! LB has spoken!

As for ballet, clearly my training has helped my progress. But the best part, I am feeling so confident in class now. My feet actually do I want them to. I thought the connection between my feet and brain would never happen. I am doing combinations with ease and have actually picked up my pace. It feels wonderful! My instructor, who still has us work on single pirouettes, asked me to start working on my doubles! Yeah! She thinks I’m ready for doubles!! (Ha!).

I need more practice and my instructor want me to take more classes. The problem is, in not ready (for her standards) to move up. That’s fine, I just have to find somewhere else to practice. And I did. There is a studio nearby that just opened up, and low and behold, they have an adult ballet class on Saturday afternoons! There is just one thing – the class is very, very beginner. I am not a beginner. However, this really isn’t a problem because only goal is to work on my alignment and improve basic technique. The teacher is spunky and has a youthful perspective on ballet. It’s quite refreshing. She makes me laugh and I have fun working on the combinations I learn at the other studio. The other day we were working on jetes. Well, the beginners were just running and then hoping over a stuffed alligator. Nope, the days of aimlessly leaping over children’s play thugs are over for me! I asked the instructor if I could work on my jete combination instead. Of course I can! The moto is “free you body and let your soul free with dance” here! When it was my turn, I tombe pada bourre glissade jete-ed across the floor (repeat 3 times!). I’m actually able to control them now. (Boom). When I was done, the women in my class liked it so much they wanted to do it too! I was happy to inspire the group. It is kind of weird being the best in the class. That’s a real first. Mind you, there are only two other students in the class, but I will happily take the title anyway! LB has no shame!

I am having fun with ballet again. I missed that feeling and I was without it for so long. No more stress. No more pressure to perform. Just a regimented, predictable, professional classical ballet technique class. Add awesome workouts at the gym and getting fit to that and that is what I call “pure bliss”, my friends. Pure bliss

I hope you are all doing well. I would love to hear from you so give me a shout!!

Kisses. LB

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Time to Kick my Own Butt

Is that even possible? I think I can do it. It may not be a graceful endeavor, but I need to set my ballet pride aside and do it. Let the butt kicking begin.

Since the fall, I suppose you can say I got a little lazy. (Perish the thought). It happens to me every 6 months or so. I go hard in the gym or studio and then over time I just lose steam. Literally. I slow down. I stop eating super clean. My motivation becomes completely depleted. Then after several weeks of being slug-girl I snap out of it. I look at myself in the mirror and go, “Eww. I look gw-oss. Bis-gusting.” (My son is so cute. Ha!) Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not a hog beast. It’s my inner athlete getting pissed off at my laziness.

Which brings me to the present day. I’ve got my slug on and now I’m ready to buff up again. Although the motivation is back, it’s hard getting the wheels of fitness churning again. I always say that starting your fitness journey is harder then maintaining the path. So, I’m on day two of kicking my own ass. I started weight lifting again and doing a plyometric cardio program. It sucks. Hard. I hate being weak. But I know if I keep at it, I will be back in fighting shape in no time. Also know as “arm wrestling” and/or “wrestling” shape.

I’m hopeful the next time you see me, I’ll be wrestling a giraffe to the ground with my bare hands (anyone? Anyone?). I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. Watch me.

Boom.

Now what.

Love LB.

Kisses!!

Diet Dilemma Query

So about a week ago I got an email from a loyal Legal Ballerina reader asking about a little bit of a diet dilemma. I thought her question is something that a lot of adults can relate to, so with her permission, I am going to post her email and my response. I hope this helps and enjoy!

(Get ready – this is a long one!)

Adult Ballet Beginner writes:

“How do you hang with the diet thing? I went through weight issues after quitting dance but over the decades have mainly conquered the beast. And yet those last 7-8 lbs, the ones that no one but me cares about, that wouldn’t matter if I didn’t want to prance around in a leotard and tights balanced on two of my toes. I can’t make them go away. The best I’ve managed is half, and then I gain those back. (Cue the memory of the ballet teacher I had at age eight screaming at me, “Never say, ‘I can’t!’ in front of an entire class of 8-year-olds who could all do splits but me…ah, memories.)

Anyway, how do you navigate the mental and emotional aspects of dieting? I understand nutrition. I can count the heck out of calories and plan the stuffing out of a high-protein, mostly-low-carb diet. I can put small nutritious snacks in my bag and eat them when I’m hungry or before class so I don’t starve or space out. I can drive to the gym and (most of the time) enter the gym and do both cardio and weight resistance plus stretching, on a good day. I can drag in and do even-just-20 minutes at least half the time on a bad day. I take walks and do yoga. I can mix it up and even do a Zumba or Barre Vite class if I really want to spaz out just to stop taking myself so seriously and see if my hair will unwind from the ballet bun! I have even (and at this point in the email you may be about to suggest this) sought and received professional help.

Unfortunately, the one thing I apparently cannot do is stick to the diet enough to just get back down to a fighting ballet weight. Anytime something bothers me, I eventually eat my way through it (and stuff is always bothering me, because I’m a sensitive flower, and socially awkward, and I want my teachers to adore me). I know that things shouldn’t bother me this much and that I am very lucky, among other reasons, to get to be dancing in my forties.

Well by now you may think I’m a little insane for telling you all this, but if you do have a word of advice I assure you I will be eternally grateful.”

<My Response

Now, as to your question regarding dieting. Dieting isn’t easy. You are restricting yourself from eating the things you enjoy and that’s no fun. Especially when you are an emotional eater, as you have indicated in your email. Your task to lose those extra pounds will be exceptionally daunting given that you will have to stop a bad habit as well. But fear not young grasshopper, I believe your goal is completely doable. You are not seeking to lose tens of pounds; only pounds!! Although I realize those can be the toughest. I myself often struggle with losing the last couple. Let me queue you into my little secrets that will hopefully help you reach your goal.

It comes down the food and thought. Allow me to elaborate.

(1) Cut out sugared drinks (in fact drink water all day if you can), high calorie condiments and toppings (cheese, mayo, oil, bacon – yes bacon, or anything that adds calories!!), and processed foods as much as possible. Eat protein and veggies. Period. Lots of it.

You can easily avoid adding a lot of calories in your diet by cutting out any sugary drinks. One can of regular Coke has 120 cal in it. Personally, I would rather eat my calories than drink them. Wouldn’t you?

As for condiments or any toppings with calories, That is also easy to cut out. I have never been a real fan of mayonnaise or adding oil to anything so it is really easy for me to exclude it. If you think about it, she’s really doesn’t taste like anything. It’s the consistency that is the most delicious part of cheese. You can have a hamburger. Just don’t add the cheese. Boom – thats 60 cal. you just cut out! Stick with the main dish. Don’t add a lot of fancy because fancy equals high calories. Unless the fancy is involving vegetables. For example, spaghetti sauce is super delicious and has very low calories and is very healthy for you.

And then we come to the processed food concept. This is the most difficult for people to actually do. I’m not saying to cut it out completely. All I’m saying is to limit your intake during the day. And when you do eat processed foods, try to make them whole grain and earlier in the day so you have time to burn it off.

Eat your protein and veggies!! If you don’t eat meat – eat nuts. Do protein shakes. I make them every morning. Don’t worry about the calories involved. Those are stored differently in your body.

Veggies are a given, but are often thought of as gross allllll day long. I put spinach in my morning protein shakes. I eat baby carrots and humus for snacks. Veggies are a natural laxative! I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a nice poop?!?!

(2) Your mind is your biggest enemy when it comes to dieting. No one likes abstaining from delicious food. Hence why so many people fail. So, it’s important to ask yourself one simple question – how important is losing this weight is to you???? And then follow it up with – if you do lose the weight, will it make you happy???

I mean – we are talking about a couple of pounds here. If you succeed, it probably wont change your life. Some people may not even notice that you lost it. (Boo). So, is the worth all the effort to lose it? If your answer is “yes” then it’s time to move to the next step.

It’s time you develop a new relationship with food. Food is your comfort. Like a blanket to a toddler. Except a blanket doesn’t make you fat. So you need to let the blanket go. Throw it away. Burn it. Whatever you need to do to stop holding on to the security you feel when you put a donut in your mouth. Because, guess what – This is a mental game. Food will not make your problems go away. It won’t make you feel better in the long run. A binge usually makes you feel worse, right?? Whatever is stressing you needs to be dealt with. Either create a new “blanket” or resolve the stress. Honestly, it’s easier to find a new blanket. So try exercise (healthily). Ballet has been my blanket as of late!!! I feel stress – I have my weekly classes. Also, I started running again. It has been amazing. Use your body to let the tension go (if you catch my drift. Ha!).

Food is your energy; your sustinence. That is all. Try to create a new relationship with it. It takes time, but it is possible. You just have to decide that it can’t solve your problems or make you feel better. It’s just something that makes us life and breathe. Take the power away and you will find the strength to reach your goal.

Conclusion:

I am not interested in promoting a bad habit. That being – eating disorder. I have been through it and would not wish that experience in my worse enemy. ….well maybe. (Ha!) I am only trying to help people in their short and long term goals in weight loss. What I just explained can help you maintain a healthy weight with lots of flexibility. Always try to be smart. Eat out. Have cake. Drink wine. Give yourself a 5 pound weight fluctuation. When you are pushing the 5 pounds, that’s when to get serious. Instill the rules, lose the weight and you will always achieve the balance. Only freaks of nature enjoy eating clean 24 hours a day. You and I are humans. We certainly not professional athletes or models. Embrace your body type and always strive to make your body “the best is can be” and nothing more. You have a pear shape – strive to be j-lo. (Ha!). I’m more like a pre-adolescence kid. No waist, hips, or thighs. That also means I’m build like a child. I’ve excepted it. So should you. You are beautiful – just like God intended. The more confident you are about yourself, the more people will will respond to you. You can shine no matter what your size. It’s your attitude that counts. Trust me on this one.

One thing I forgot to add – as you get older you lose muscle. It may be time to add some weight training to your exercise routine. Adding more muscle will definitely rev up the metabolism!!

ASYLUM!

I previously blogged about my desire to get back into the gym and increase my endurance. The gym has been going OK. I don’t have any desire to use the weights. I pretty much just use the treadmill or stair master, stretch for a half hour and go home. Ehh. It’s getting the job done, I suppose. I don’t think I am working hard enough though. Well, I KNOW I am not working hard enough. What’s the point of working out if you are hardly working, ya know?!

So Gynormica informed me the other day that she started to do the Insanity program. I am sure you have seen the commercials on TV. The workout routine is so hard that it is INSANE! I don’t have the Insanity program, but I did get the Asylum program for my husband for Christmas this year. It has been chilling underneath the bed since then. My husband planned on cracking that baby open in the summer to switch things up. I decided to accelerate the unveiling date and start it now. My plan is to do the program on Wednesdays and Saturdays, dance is Monday and Thursday and the gym on Sunday. I have done two of the videos so far.

So what does the Legal Ballerina think of the Asylum program….Well…..it is OUT OF CONTROL!! It is literally the hardest workout program I have ever done. The guy is a complete animal. He literally doesn’t stop moving for 40 minutes. After you ever jumped and/or planked and/or lunged for 40 minutes straight? That is what this program is like. After 2 minutes (yes 2) I was breathing so hard that I thought my lungs were going to explode. They didn’t, but needless to say I was EXHAUSTED after 10 minutes. Regardless of my fatigue, I stayed the course and completed the workouts. I was so proud of myself when I was done. Getting though those videos are an accomplishment. I am looking forward to seeing results from doing this program. I just know it will help me in my ballet. It just has to.

So anyone who is interest in purchasing one of these programs I say GO FOR IT. It does help to already be in shape, because it is really a difficult program. Even if you are really in shape, this is going to challenge you more than you expect. Even the people in the video bottom out left and right and they are supposed to have “graduated” from the program! What does that tell you?! I am really excited to see how this new routine is going to benefit me and help me become a better dancer AND athlete.

Yeah for me.

I’m a Beast

Last night I snapped my theraband while I was practicing some leg exercises on the floor.  Who knew I was such a beast?! I suppose it is time for a new theraband.  Good thing Christmas is just around the corner (hint, hint).

I am telling you, exercising in between classes and working specific muscle groups (plus cardio) is going to help me get to my goal more quickly.  I know, “Derrrr LB!”  I just want to stress to those who have pointed out that I am progressing at a freakish pace, this is the reason why.   I work at and away from the studio and I am not just dancing.  I am working on building muscle and keeping my endurance up.  I am not a freak, I am just an “athlete”.  (Woah – still hard to admit.)

This is me, minus the nose picking.  Get it, “beast.” HA

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A little update to the “Practice Makes Perfect” post.  I watched a YouTube video about Misty Copeland.  She is a soloist for the American Ballet Theater.  In the video, Misty explains that she didn’t start taking lessons until she was 13 and went pro four years later.  If my math is right, that means I will be pro by 38! I can handle that! (HA!!)

No, but seriously, I know I shouldn’t get so upset about years and time and stuff.  I know that everyone progresses at a different rate.  Who knows where I will be in one year or even four!  Most likely not even close to a “professional level”, but at a level I am sure to be satisfied with.

Here is the video if you are so inclined:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6YSbHa2gSY&feature=player_detailpage

More on Sciatica

Kate writes:

Hi, I’m a ballet dancer too and having huge trouble at the moment with bad sciatica pain. I’ve searched google for some advice but any exercises are for non-dancers or for people who do dance for fun. However ballet is my life and taking it easy is just not an option, which I’m sure you understand! It was reassuring to read that you have a similar problem to me and I wondered if you have any advice or exercises that could help? The pain gets worse with arabesques and back bends and working on turnout, but these are things that I have to keep working on! The pain gets better only when I take time off, but as you know these days we’re expected to be like contortionists so I really can’t give stretching a rest. However the pain is terrible and leaving me very miserable. I’d really, really appreciate any advice you have for relieving pain and also how to prevent it! I do pilates and I always warm up gently and slowly, but this doesn’t seem enough…

Hope to hear from you soon!

Thanks in advance,

Kate

My response:

Oh Kate – I know what you are going through.  The pain associated with this type of injury can be unbearable at times.  I thought the pain would never go away, but it has significantly subsided over the last couple of months.  I still have it, but it does not get as inflamed as it used to.  Thank you, Jesus.

The sciatic nerve is a big, nasty ropy nerve that runs down your butt and into your legs.  Activity like working your turn out and stretching your hamstring muscles can cause inflammation in the surrounding ligaments and thereby irritate the sciatic nerve.  Hence, why you have pain when you practice or stretch and have none when you rest.  The only cure for sciatica when you are a dancer is not to dance.  Not an option, so the question is what can you do to help alleviate the pain while continuing to pursue your passion?  Here is what I did:

The pain got so bad I went and saw my doctor. I was terrified that he was going to tell me to stop dancing.  Quite the contrary.  He actually said, “Well, it hasn’t stopped you yet. Why would my advice change your activity now?”  So right.  My doctor wanted to do an MRI of my lumbar spine.  I say (politely), “Hell-to-the-No”.  Why?  As an injury lawyer I know a lot about the costs of certain medical procedures and what happens after the MRI is administered.  I’m sorry, but for $1,000 I just didn’t think it was going to tell me anything I didn’t already know.  Then my doctor suggested physical therapy.  I gave him another “no”.  Why? Once again, cost and the fact that two of my husband’s best friends are physical therapists.  I see one in particular all of the time and he already said he would give me exercises to do (which I will get to later).  I asked him whether he could give me some cortisone to help with the inflammation (who is the doctor here?).  I got one of those 7 day packs and I have to say it helped a lot.  I think the inflammation was so bad that Advil was just not cutting it.  So, I suggest that you contact your doctor and see if this is an option for you.

As for physical therapy, my husband’s friend stated that I may be having so much pain because my hamstring muscles and the muscles around my hip flexors are not as strong as they should be.  He said the stronger your muscles are, the more control you have in your movement and the more protected your surrounding ligaments are and may prevent inflammation.  Makes sense to me.  He gave me a couple of exercises to do at home and, once again, I have definitely seen improvement.   The exercises are as follows:

Tie the theraband to the bottom of a sturdy post.   I usually use the bottom of my bed or the couch.  Lie on your stomach in front of the post, wrap the theraband around your calf muscle and pull your leg towards you.  Do you feel your hamstring working (not to mention your butt)?!  You should! Here is a picture to illustrate this (I drew it myself!)

The next exercise is similar.  Turn over onto your back and put the theraband on your knee.  If the band is too high, it is going to roll down and that hurts!  Now pull the knee to your chest.  You should feel this in your hips and abs muscles.  Then, try the same exercise but pull your knee to second position.  Think Grand Battement, but with only your knee.  DO YOU FEEL THAT NOW?! Holy crow.  THEN try the same two movements together! Front to side, side to front (and so forth). Good stuff.  Here is another picture!

If you are having pain when doing arabesques and back bends, you may need to work on your back muscles as well.  The exercise I do to strengthen my back is lie on my stomach and while keeping my legs and hips to the floor, pull my chest up as far as I can.  You can use your arms to push your back further.  Hold the position for 60 seconds and then do it again.  Make sure you are forcing your back muscles to hold the position (as opposed to your arms).  I also grab my ankles and rock back and forth on my stomach.  I can’t draw this one, but I think you understand what I am talking about.

Well, there you have it.  Beyond sitting/sleeping on ice packs and taking Advil (which I also suggest your do) this is what I did to finally address my ass pain, I mean, sciatica.  I really hope this helps, Kate.

Remember, I am not a doctor. These are just of the things I did to help my pain. If your pain does not resolve within a month or two, go see a doctor.  OK?

Happy Thanksgiving!