It’s hard to sit down and write a blog post when you are obsessed with the Olympics! Seriously – they are so addicting. And it’s so interesting watching them this year, because my perspective is different from it was before. I’m a competitor myself these days and especially watching the figure skating I see so many similarities. I’d never really considered the mindset necessary for performance, especially under pressure, and you may think it’s odd but I swear I’m learning by watching these athletes. Because, well, guess what, I’m an athlete too. I think that’s been one of the biggest changes in how I think of myself as I’ve been on this journey – I see myself and own the fact that I’m a dancer, an artist, an athlete and these were not identities I’d proclaim before. But I had no context for how to be an effective competitor prior to ballroom dancing so it’s been a learning curve!
So anyways, I was laughing because my mom asked me if I was watching the Ice Dancing and of course I was and she was all, “Can you imagine doing all those things on skates?” And I was like, “Um, no. It’s hard enough on dry land in heels!”
Okay, so before I get any further in this post, I have some news. Today I finally, finally, frickin’ finally hit 100 pounds gone from my highest weight. It’s taken years. It’s a milestone. I’m glad about it. And, I’m totally focused on where I’m going. Because the truth is, I still have about 75 pounds more to go. Next stop, under 200 pounds. I’ve decided to set milestones along the way. The one after that will be 180 pounds because then I will be officially “overweight” instead of “obese” according to my BMI. Finally, I have an idea that my goal weight will be around 140 pounds. That’s not set in stone. I’m actually more concerned with achieving a body fat percentage of 20% or less even if it is at a higher (or lower) weight because that is the body fat of an athlete.
So anyways, go me. I’ve done some calculus on my body. I say that because if you know how calculus works, it’s taking a curve and cutting it up into infinitesimally small sections to find a sum total. Well, that’s how losing weight works too. It’s the sum of a ton of tiny efforts taken consistently over time that will eventually create a sum total effect. Day in and day out. Every meal, every workout, every bite. If I stray, even a little, my body is such an efficient machine, it will not give anything up. I have to be on it like no kidding. So I am.
Okay, so now I bet you are wondering what is going on with my dancing seeing as I’ve not posted about myself in a while with the month of guest posts. Well, things are going pretty well. The deal is the biggest issue is losing the weight. Ivan and I agree that it’s the bigger problem than my actual dancing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to work on – but I have a good base and the aspect that will give me the most bang for my buck, that will change how I move the most, isn’t learning new steps or changing small details (which are also very important), but rather it’s getting the weight off. With being lighter I’ll automatically be able to move more, have more energy and stamina, and will have more confidence.
I really believe that’s probably the biggest aspect of all – feeling good about myself. When I feel good I dance better. Period. I hold my body differently. I stand up. I project. I fill the music.
So anyways, right now we are kind of in a holding pattern. It’s actually good in lots of ways. I’ve cut back on the number of lessons I take weekly because I’m at the gym more often and again, the priority is to get smaller and lighter. My activities have to reflect that priority. Still, I see him about 2 times weekly, sometimes for a double lesson. And we are going over our routines. I’m glad about it. Because my American Rhythm open routines were pretty new – there’s still a lot to clean up and polish. Not to mention just making things automatic in my muscle memory so that I can add more embellishments as time goes on. So I’m happy to do lots of repetition and just be with Ivan on my lesson.
He never fails to entertain. Not only is he funny as hell, but I also feel so blessed to get to work with Ivan. Let me tell you some of the funny stuff first, then I’ll tell you why I’m so glad he’s my partner.
Okay, so the funny stuff is because he’s Bulgarian. He had a charity event here locally called Dancing With The Stars to raise money for the Kidney Foundation and he told me he had to go home and “paint his hair.” Haha! He meant dye it. Also, when I was doing my “signature” Bolero move I was all, “God Ivan! It’s a feat!” and he was all like, “What you talking about? Feet?” It’s different but difficult to explain.
Okay, now the mushy stuff. Ivan’s amazing. I love how he isn’t just about technique. I love how he is about connection and expression. I love how he wants me to be present and to live the dance. I love that he can see that inside me and wants to share it with me. I love how he wants to build a partnership with me (and with each of his students/partners) and that it has the space to breathe and be unique. It’s like, who else could I do this work with? Of all the other dance teachers in the area, there is maybe one other person who I could maybe work with, who I think would possibly be a fit. I feel so blessed to be with Ivan. There’s no one like him.
So one thing he’s been saying lately when I have a moment where I am too much in my head about something rather than being present with him in a dance is, “You forget with who you are dancing.” And that’s a shame. I don’t want to miss one second of it, you know?
So one thing that has been really great on our last lesson was working on connection. We took the time to slow down, and go through moves piece by piece so we could discover when there are gaps, places where I let go, where I’m off-balance. It was so wonderful. It was an opportunity for me to get my bearings, him to get his, and the for us to come together and sort of merge into one unit, moving together. It’s pretty much the optimal, ideal situation when dancing. It requires presence and sensitivity and flexibility and openness, vulnerability and the ability to tap into the magic “action-reaction” of connection. And it requires me to be in the flow, to be relaxed, and that’s usually not the space I’m in before a competition.
But I did have one competition where I was brimming with confidence and relaxed, so I know it’s possible. I think the biggest thing was just feeling prepared and ready going into it, that I’d prepared myself properly and I knew what I was doing, and that I had been moving forward consistently prior to the competition, that I was in a good space for the time that had elapsed since the previous event. So that’s what I’m working toward during this time. As I’m getting this weight off, getting my body into shape, I’m working on the connection, the partnership, really knowing my body and my choreography, and I’m so satisfied about it. It’s actually been great to be working out outside of my lessons on my cardio because I feel like it’s totally okay to working on less intense aspects of dancing, that there isn’t so much pressure just to do rounds, so we can spend the time on things we can only work on together. Increasing my cardiovascular capacity isn’t one of them.
And I have to say it’s been helping. I can get thorough so much more so much more comfortably now that I torture myself on the stair machine regularly during the week. I definitely notice a difference in my endurance.
I think that’s all the news that’s news! Oh, except that tomorrow, Tuesday, Dance Advantage is running a story on me! That’s pretty awesome – go check it out.