Have you got some extra weight you now want to lose? I always do this time of year. Luckily I have found a method that lets me drop weight each time I need to. However, apart from recovering from the festive season gorging, weight control methods are ideal for dancer. In this post I am going to first talk about why weight control is a good idea in dance and then how you can achieve this best as a dancer.
Why it helps to be lighter
There are numerous reasons for wanting to trim down for dance.
The first is that you will be able to move faster. It’s a simple fact of physics that the heavier you are, the harder it is to move quickly. There are certainly dancers out there who have extra weight and can move well – I think of people like John Lindo and John Belushi. Still, I also know people who would move faster with a little less weight.
Many have seen the video below of John Lindo winning a 2008 Pheonix dance championship.
Who’s seen the blues brothers? John Belushi impressed most people by being able to somersault and kart wheel (1:40 in the video below).
You will do less damage to your body. It only takes a 15% increase in body weight before you will notice joint wear in your knees. You don’t want dance to be a source of pain or injury. If you have some extra weight on you, then dance will contribute more to wear and tear on your body as your age. This means injury and less dancing. So the lighter you the more you can dance. Finally, there is also the chance of injury – to you and yourself. We sometimes fall when dancing, we sometimes fall on others. The more weight you carry the more damage you could do if you fall and that too means less time dancing.
You can also dance longer and more happily. Because extra weight is harder to move, you will need to work harder, sweat more and rest longer. That means you will not feel as good when dancing, your partner might not enjoy dancing with you as much (men especially, women cite sweat and hygiene as one of the biggest issues that they have with male dance partners) and you will simply not be able to dance as much as you like.
You will have more figure options. Some figures require you to lift, be lifted, move your weight onto your partner and so on. A lot of these moves are fun to do and look good. However, they are not so easy when you have that extra weight. Leaning up will allow you to increase your repertoire.
The key to weight loss
If you have ever looked into managing your weight like I have, then you will know that there are many diets out there. All with their supposed secret. However, they are not all as scientific as you would think they are based on the way the proponents talk their favoured approach.
Scientific research into weight control finds again and again that the key to weight control is energy intake and exercise. If you manage your energy intake and engage in exercise, then you will control your weight.
That means you simply need to manage the energy you eat and the activity you engage in so that you can control your weight. Any weight loss program that works has these two attributes. So that’s good news – we DO know what is needed to manage weight.
Here’s the even better news
As a dancer, you are already half way there
The research has shown that being active for half an hour each day is enough exercise. You don’t have to do it in one session either; you just need a total of that.
How long does your dance lesson go for? Probably 45minutes to an hour. As long as you are active in your dance lesson – and you usually will be – you have the days of your dance lessons covered.
How many dance lessons do you have a week? At least two is a good idea for learning so that leaves 5 more for most. You could fill this with serious dance practice at home. Two 15 minute stints throughout the day (or three 10 minute stints) and you’re done. That will improve your dance tremendously and help trim you down. You could also look to doing other workshops or group classes that your studio or others put on free. You might want to put the effort into going out social dancing once a week too.
With dance it is pretty easy (because it’s fun and what you do anyway) to engage in the exercise that is needed for weight control.
One note on the type of dance
See the link here for a list of different dances and the energy they burn. You can see that is a bit of difference so you might want to make sure that you engage in some of the more energetic ones, like jive, to ensure you get the benefit of dance. However, building muscle will also help burn energy. Even you sleep. Greater muscle strength and density will help reduce weight. The dances that build this are the ones that require greater control of how you move and ae usually slower so these dances too help. A mix would be best.
Now here’s the reality we need to deal with.
It’s all about diet
You need to know the energy that you consume each day. The best way to do this is to note the energy in each item you eat and ensure that you eat the appropriate amount come day’s end.
The best way to track energy intake is via this book by the nutrionist Allan Borushek.
This book will tell you the energy in just about any type of food you could eat. It also tells you how much energy you should have each day to manage your weight. On top of that, it gives you excellent advice on how to make meals lean enough and still satisfying – I was incredibly happy when I read the section on eggs.
But the best part is the price.
Most diet books and weight loss programs come with some pretty high prices, but this book is on around the $10US mark.
The key to using this book is looking through the listings and then creating a collection of daily meals that when added together give you the energy content you need. I actually quite enjoy doing this and find that it helps improve my understanding of how much different types of food can add to my weight. I have friends who can actually recall the energy content of all the items they eat; they can spend the whole day mentally tallying up the energy they consume and then stopping when they should. I am not at that level, and still need to make a plan. Hopefully after reading this book, you will be able to mentally tally in your head the energy you have had each day. However, even if you can’t, then after flicking through this book you will have a much better understanding of the food that puts weight on. Then you will find that you automatically become a healthier eater, and start to manage your weight better.
The only thing you still need to work on is the way your body processes different foods. Some of us are better at absorbing energy from some foods. You will need to do a little playing around with your diet. But you will be able to work that out much more easily with this book. If you want the best way to manage your weight so that you can dance better, then get this book.