Ballet: The ultimate exercise in humility

I don’t know if it was due to watching one too many episodes of “Dance Moms,” but I recently found myself yearning to return to my original true fitness love:  dance.

I vividly remember the exact day that I fell in head over heels love with ballet.  I was maybe 3 years old, and I was watching TV with my mom.  We saw a ballet performance where the camera angle showed an overhead shot of the dancers, twirling in formation in a circle with their big, flouncy skirts swirling around them.  I remember thinking, “I want to do that!”  So, I did 🙂

I started dancing as a young child and continued through my teenage years.  It was not only a love; it bordered on an obsession.  During the day, I daydreamed about ballet, and at night, I dreamed about it even more.  I had a little barre in my bedroom where I would practice and stretch in my free time, and I took classes most days of the week. I loved the “black and white” nature of ballet:  you’re either wrong or right with your technique.  It’s precise, exact, and demands perfection…and you have to make it look absolutely effortless.

Unfortunately, towards the end of my high school days, ballet started to lose some of its appeal.  I became very ill at one point with the stomach flu, ended up in the hospital due to dehydration, and lost a ton of weight to the point of looking emaciated.  As soon as I could hold my head up, I dragged my poor sick body back to ballet class.  That’s when my instructor told me, “Now you’re the perfect size to be a ballet dancer.”  Are you kidding me??  I really wanted to be a carefree teenager for a little while.  I started spending my time cheerleading, hanging out with friends, and applying to college…and my passion for dance began to wane.

But that’s not to say that I ever forgot about my first love.  I still daydream about dance!  (In fact, I find running sooo boring that I’ll usually choreograph dances in my head to the music I hear on my iPod while I’m running.)  So, that’s what compelled me to sign up for an Adult Ballet class.  And wow, what a lesson in humility it has turned out to be.

My brain remembers what my body is supposed to do, but my body just won’t cooperate!  My turnout is terrible, my feet cramp up, and my flexibility is all but gone.  Plus I’m about 25 pounds heavier than I was in high school.  Needless to say, I’m not as light on my feet as I used to be.  Everything that used to be second nature to me is now almost impossible (I almost fell over trying to do a simple pirouette tonight!).  It’s frustrating that I am clearly nowhere near as good at dancing as I used to be.

And.I.love.it.

Maybe I’m a masochist, but I’m actually enjoying that feeling of having to work so hard to improve myself.  I like relearning the steps that used to be so effortless.  And I really want to get better again!  Let’s face it, I’ll never be a prima ballerina, but at least I’ll get a good workout once a week 😉

Plus I have a legit reason to rock a ballerina bun!

What was your first fitness love?  Do you still pursue your passion, or would you go back to it some day?

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Raising the Bar: My 30 Day Challenge

This is our bar.

Isn’t it pretty?  All those lovely, shiny bottles all lined up in a row.

Problem is, my husband and I have been spending a lot of time here lately.  Ever since my father-in-law passed away, we’ve found ourselves indulging in comfort food and comfort beverages a little too often for my liking.

My family has a strong history of alcoholism.  My grandfather died of liver disease; my mom has had a lifetime of struggles of her own.  Sometimes I’ve even wondered if I have the addictive personality of an alcoholic.  (There, I said it.)  If so, I’d certainly be what you call a “functioning alcoholic,” but I’ve always had a little fear in the back of my mind that I’m genetically destined to have a problem controlling my limits.

It’s just that, usually when I have a drink, it leads to consuming more than what I intended.  Like I’m a college kid that drinks with the purpose of getting drunk (or really buzzed), rather than a mature adult that can enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner and that’s it.

Truth be told, the longest time I’ve gone without consuming alcohol since I was seventeen years old is about 4 weeks.  When I trained for my bikini competition, I imbibed right up until the end when my coach said, “no mas.”  So I’ve been drinking, on the regular, for 15 years.  Holy fuckin’ shit.

And today I’m dealing with a crushing bout of post-drinking depression.  I’m feeling really, really stupid and just generally bad about myself.  “Why?” you might ask. Well, it has to do with the fact that I acted like a college kid again last night.  We got together with some good friends and stayed up waaaay too late.  And I felt like a pile of dog poo this morning.  And all day.  That’s just great.

But because I’m trying not to get too down about it, I’ve decided to turn this into a blog-worthy learning experience. And confess my sins to the universe, because that’s how I roll 😉

Here is a really interesting post on accomplishing goals and keeping new good habits by implementing a “30-day trial.”  In other words, if you can spend 30 days doing something consistently, it is more likely to become a habit, and will be less daunting to accomplish than if you think it’s going to be something you have to continue doing that “something” every day for the rest of your life.  For instance, if you decide to start working out every day….forever….you might lose your motivation after a week and quit.  It just seems so hard!  However, if your goal has a defined start and end date, like 30 days, you are more likely to achieve your goal and keep your motivation up.

So, I’m ready for a little reset.  Well, a big reset.  30 days, no alcohol.  

I mentioned to my hubs that I wanted to lay off the booze for a while, and he kind of laughed.  And said, “that’s fine, but don’t be disappointed in yourself if you don’t achieve it.”  Which, my friends, officially makes this a challenge 😉

Here are a few things I think would be a benefit of my 30-day trial of no alcohol:

  • Better sleep (I sleep like crap when I drink!)
  • Wiser food choices
  • Losing some of my belly “fluff”
  • Better workouts
  • More energy
  • Higher productivity
  • Regaining a more normal level of alcohol tolerance (meaning, not being able to drink everyone under the table like I usually can)

And here is the downside:

  • Dang, I love a good glass of wine.

I’m already talking myself out of this.  We’re going camping in two weeks, and the entire point of the camping trip is to sit around and drink all weekend.  However, at that point, I’d be almost halfway through the 30 days already!  Can I do this?  I can do it.  And I will do it.  Day 1 is almost complete (LOL!).

And I wonder if this 30-day trial may lead to other 30-day trials in the future?   Could I journal, or workout, or meditate, or draw, or organize something every day for 30 days?  Who knows where this may lead?

And please let me know if you’d like to play along!  It doesn’t have to be the no alcohol challenge – but what is one thing you could do for 30 days to improve your life?  

Elements of a Great Weekend

Greetings!  I hope you have enjoyed a lovely weekend.  The weather here in PA has been perfection lately.  Early fall is my favorite time of year, and I’m happy that we had a full weekend to really enjoy it!

I may be a simple girl, but here are a few things that add up to a great weekend, in my opinion:

Delicious breakfast made with love by the hubby (and a steaming cup of hot coffee):

Lighting a new fall candle (“Leaves” from Bath & Body Works):

Tackling my to-do list

(I use this app for my to do list if you’re interested)

A two and a half hour walk through the woods with Pickles the Fearless.  This dog seriously has unlimited energy:

My first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season! ❤

A rockin’ new pair of shoes:

Sunday brunch with all the fixins:

Watching the game with my family (go Eagles!):

…and now just relaxing and preparing for Monday.  I’m bummed that the weekend is coming to an end, but happy that it was a nice mix of productivity and relaxation!

How was your weekend?  What sort of fun things did you do?  Please share!