You Want Me To Do What?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2011

Allegre Dance Studio

Private lesson with Ivan

I arrive a few minutes early today and the place is already hopping.  A couple I met at the Galaxy competition are here to work with their instructor and have a coaching with Ivan’s mother-in-law.  They are from out of town but when they come here they continue their dance lessons.  Talk about committment.  Also, the husband is a huge inspiration.  He is a below-the-knee amputee and dances with a metal leg.  I swear, there are just some amazing people and dancers out there.

So Ivan pulls up a moment later on his little Vespa.  A big hug to say good morning, and we’re off.   Got to work on that Latin Rumba.  Ivan is starting to get the routine together.  We count out some sets of eight in the beginning where he will move, then I will come and join him.  Then we find the place where we will begin moving together.  I still only have chunks, but it seems to be coming together, and it is so fun, I must say, to be working on this.

We do basic Rumba step, fan, spiral turn, and then he starts adding sliding doors, a spin with my leg in attitude, and this move where I bend forward then stand up and lean against him with my leg in a parallel posse position and my back to his chest, him framing me.  I think it looks funny with me being so big and all in the moment, but it looks different in my head, I swear!  lol.

So here I am, dancing my little heart out, and Ivan is being a butt.  While I’m in the aforementioned and awkward position, my shirt begins to shimmy upwards.  I take a moment to pull it downward.  I know, it is a silly thing we overweight people do, constantly tugging at our clothes, as if it will change anything.  But at least we are covered, or so we think.  Anyways, it is an unconscious habit sometimes, and the instant my clothing begins to creep up while dancing, I am immediately aware I don’t want it to go there and I will interrupt my dancing to fix it.   Ivan sees me doing this and grabs my shirt and pulls it upward to completely reveal my blubbery, white, stretch-marked belly.  Yes, I have pants on and yes I have both a bra and sports bra to cover all the important things, but it is unexpected, vulnerable, uncomfortable.

“Stop that Ivan!”

I pull my shirt down.

We do the move again.

He pulls my shirt up again.

“Ivan, no!  You are being such a dork!  Stop it!”

“Okay, okay.  Not again.”  And he keeps his word.

But I’m laughing.  I am genuinely surprised at this turn of events and, stranger still, is that I’m not angry.  Anyone else on this earth tried to do that, including my husband, and I’d probably explode in anger, give him or her a talking-to, and ask for an apology for revealing me in that way.  I certainly don’t want to show my belly, but in some weird way, it is okay that Ivan’s did this.  Miraculously, I’m feeling comfortable in my body, even with it being exposed in such a manner as I would never choose to show at this time.  What a gift that is – to be comfortable in one’s own skin.  I haven’t ever experienced it until now.  Even when I was thinner and more fit, I was still so ashamed of it.  How ironic that now at such a horrifying size I am finally able to begin to love myself and even my body, even if it is not where I want it to be.  Ivan, I can never thank you enough.

We continue dancing and Ivan’s actually getting a little excited with the moves.  He shows me this turn into a backward step that I’ve seen on DWTS and always loved.  I used to wonder when I would get to learn this particular step.  Well, today was the day.  It felt so good!

Then he has another crazy idea.

“You gonna step up on your tippy toes and put your knee like this (posse) and reach upwards.  Then you gonna lean back.”

“You want me to do what?”

He calls over his wife and partner, Marieta, and she demonstrates the move.

I’m like, uh huh.  Right.

I feel like I’m probably flexible enough, but I’m at least two Marietas.  How will Ivan hold me up?  He wants me not only to go backward in a bend, but to release both my arms toward the floor, and also to extend one leg up in the air.  This is not possible.   Maybe later, Ivan.

“You down 9 pounds by now.  It easy.  You can do it.”

“Yeah, with 264 left!”

“No, it easy.  Come on.”

So we try it.

The first time, I bend back with both feet on the floor and holding onto him with both arms.

On the second go, I release one arm.

Then two arms.

Then, well, you can see it here:

I had this moment, an out-of-body-experience, where I couldn’t believe I was doing this.  I wanted Marieta to video it as proof.  At the end of the video, Ivan is advising me that I have to let my fingers touch the floor next time and push my hips forward to create bend.

Sheesh!  Red shoes, being dipped by my ballroom instructor even while I’m still big, and a new haircut and outfit to come….my life, and my self, is changing right before my very eyes.

Again, it looks different in my head (ha ha), but not bad for my first time trying this.

And also again, I don’t know what my limitations are, even if I think I do.  Here is video proof!  What an amazing way to start the day.

I am so grateful, I can’t even tell you.  I used to wake up and cry going to work.  I used to wish for a better life and feel so unhappy.  I know what it feels like to be stuck, stagnant, dying.  Now, I am excited to start my day.  I remember when I began doing these personal growth and mastery workshops and the facilitators would talk about being so excited to start the day, they didn’t even need an alarm clock to get up in the morning.  What a crock, I thought.  It’s a myth.  These people are crazy.  I thought such a life wasn’t possible, at least for me.  I had to work hard.  My life was stressful.  I never felt fulfilled, energized, rejuvenated.

But now, after lots of inner work, and taking proactive steps to change a few things, I am starting to be excited about the journey of life once again.  Dancing is my practice, my walking meditation, and it is breathing new life into me at every step.

This is what I know:  If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone who is willing to do the work.

Of course, there are no “free lunches” meaning that every choice has prices and benefits.  I was paying some pretty high prices in peace of mind, and health, and balance in my old life.  I chose differently and I got different results.  Simple, right?  But I can tell you it was pretty scary at times to choose differently, even though the current choice was miserable, because it was also the choice in my comfort zone.  I realized that if I kept doing what I was doing, I’d keep getting what I was getting.  Thank Goodness I did something, anything different, and that I was supported by friends and my husband!

After all, it led me to a path in which I got dipped in the ballroom today.  I never could have predicted that when I took the risk to quit a job and embrace a different life not-so-long ago.  I am in awe of the miracles, and the expansiveness of possibilities, in this life.  The world really is our oyster.

Go Eat Some McDonalds!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Allegre Studio

Private Lesson With Ivan

I don’t always know what I am getting myself into when I say yes to opportunities that come my way. Today was the first day I felt bona fide fear course through my body on a dance lesson. You see, because Ivan and I sometimes practice out of Dance Starz Az ( and because I take some group lessons at the studio, there is a possibility that I may be able to participate in an upcomming showcase. For those of you who don’t know, (I didn’t), a showcase is like a recital. Performers can dance to any song they like and add tricks and creative choreography.

Now, I have yet to participate in a showcase performing a solo number. In fact, the last time I was on stage was probably in high school in a production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. So I’m excited. Especially because Ivan let me pick the song I wanted.

I am totally into Latin Rumba right now so I picked Volveras by Gloria Estefan. It is a sad song and I love it right now, for whatever reason. I have never claimed to understand myself!

Realistically, I’m thinking we will do pretty much just dancing because you don’t do lifts with girls my size unless you want a hernia. But Ivan starts in right away with all sorts of tricks and I’m totally out of my comfort zone. I know Ivan is strong and all, but can he really support all this weight? I am scared to find out.

The first move isn’t so bad, kind of a develope’ kick up in the air. Then another move where I lean a little and put my back leg in attitude around his hips. I’ve seen similar moves on Dancing With The Stars (forever to be known as DWTS from now on in this blog). I’m mostly on my own feet and feel pretty comfortable and on balance with a little assist from Ivan serving as my barre.

But then he really gets going. He wants me to plie with my legs in a parallel position and squirm up back onto straight lets. This is a no go – I’ll need to strengthen my legs with some serious squats before I can master this maneuver. Then he tries a half-split thing, encouraging me to put 75% of my weight onto his arms and he will attempt to spin around. Fail.

Then my heart really gets pumping. He’s gonna attempt to drag me. I’m to push down on his shoulders and he wants to drag me using no arms. We manage with one arm and I’m super impressed. I didn’t even think this kind of thing was possible at my size right now. Props to Ivan for trying all this stuff.

Then a dip. I’m to keep my legs straight and he rests me on his bent knee. Holy crap! I’m scared. How is he holding me up?

He doesn’t stop there. The scariest one for me is one in which I lean to the side, he is supporting pretty much all of my weight and I’m to develope’ and reach outward away from him.

Finally, he’s had enough. I did not know agreeing to work on a showcase number meant I’d be bent into a pretzel and risk Ivan throwing out his back! It just isn’t prudent, or so I thought, at my size.

Whew! I survived! Thanks again, Ivan, for busting through some of my self-imposed limitations. Again, I do not know what is possible and what is not. We discovered some moves that worked, others that don’t right now, but we’d not have discovered any if Ivan and I hadn’t been willing to try. I seriously thought he was crazy…but who’s the crazier one? I followed!

But now Ivan is having me count Rumba and Cha Cha. My brain is about to explode. It is really hard for me to put verbal skills together with dancing. At one point I count two, four (instead of two, three, four) and Ivan accuses me of indulging in some vodka this morning. No, Ivan. Really, my brain just becomes mush trying to talk and dance at the same time.

But it is really a good exercise. I so need to start being aware of when to move, when to pause, when I’m rushing, when to accent the movement. For instance, I am rushing on four and one counts and moving sluggishly on the two count in Rumba. I am hitting two and four hard in Cha Cha, instead of punching beats one and three with pizzaz. Ay yai yai! I totally see how I count affects how I move and also how I breathe. Again, lack of cardiovascular conditioning is not my friend. I am so winded and I hate it. When will this stop being such a burden?

“Oh, Ivan. I am so ready to feel better when dancing. I can’t wait to drop some serious weight and make this easier on myself. The cardiovascular conditioning is killing me.”

But I’m saying this just after doing a Samba. I gotta say it – I have some great hip movement, yes I do! So I’m doing this move, really dancing it, and Ivan is like, “Wow.”

He then said something unexpected.

“I thinking about this. I actually prefer you big. I see you everyday moving like this. Just imagine how other people will see it. I thinking you no need to lose weight. Yes, it not possible to do the lifts and all this, but that’s okay. You can lose the weight, you gonna be skinny. Better the people see you move like this now. They thinking, all the other peoples is skinny but they not moving like her. Let them see you now. In fact, go to McDonalds! You can spend a lot of time and energy and money to learning dancing and never move like you do. But this moving is you.”

Am I like the luckiest ballroom student, ever? I get to dance and go to McDonalds! Just kidding. But wow, what recognition of me as a dancer, no matter how I am packaged in the moment, and from someone who I think is the bee’s knees, in terms of both being an excellent dancer and human being. It means so much to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m so over the idea of staying fat just so people might possibly be impressed by how I move. It is unhealthy and I hate the way it feels. It is beyond time to change. I am happy to report that I am right back on plan after Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’m also thinking about ways to intensify and augment my cardiovascular exercise as well as some weight training. The goal for January is to be 20 pounds (or more) lighter. And, update, I am down another 2.8 pounds since December 20th, current weight 265.5. Not bad for the holidays.

And…just like Linda Dean said, I have to know I am fabulous right now. So thanks, Ivan, but no McDonalds for me. I have plans of doing that split-spin-lift-thing someday, and sooner rather than later!