Ballet was my life for much of my formative years. No matter what was happening in my personal life or at home, the ballet barre provided stability and security. For my entire adolescence, I didn’t worry about how much food I ate or how many calories they contained. At the barre, I would dance away the fat cells and in the mirror, I would see a girl my mom described as “too skinny.” I didn’t withhold food from myself, my teachers never told me to drop pounds; I just always managed to dance away the calories consumed.
Naturally, everything changed when I left the barre during my second year of college. I was no longer dancing away late night burritos and queso. I found myself sitting on the couch each evening instead of practicing routines. The scale’s number began to rise, and my clothes quickly grew tight. Everyone said I needed to change my diet and start exercising. But I had been eating this way for over 20 years and the elliptical did not provide the same adrenaline rush as successfully performing more fouettes than anyone else in the class. In the first few years, I tried several types of exercise. I even taught a cardio dance class at my local gym and tried running. But nothing was the same as dance so the pounds continued to add on.
Since I never had to manage my weight as a child or teenager, I never developed the self-control necessary to avoid bad foods. According to my brain, I could still eat Taco Bell and Hungry Howies with little to no consequences. Of course, my hips, stomach and bowels beg to differ. Each morning I wake up determined to eat healthy and then find myself walking into the break room each afternoon in search of Doritos or cookies.
My husband and closest friends assure me that my weight doesn’t look bad. I look healthy and no longer “too skinny.” However, I remember how the girl looked in the mirror by the ballet bar. I wasn’t happy with her appearance then, but I am even less happy with her appearance now. Nonetheless, that thought doesn’t motivate me to stop eating junk food or to hit the gym.
So, what have I learned since leaving the barre? That no matter how many diet ideas I pin to my “Get Healthy” board or how many classes I attempt to take at the gym, I need to retrain my brain to accept the fact that I am no longer a 14-year-old ballerina. In other words, it starts with accepting the fact that my life is different and my age and lifestyle affects my physical and mental health (currently in a negative way). I also must come to terms with the fact that I may never love exercise again. That no matter how hard I try, I might never dream about cardio or weightlifting like I dreamt about ballet and tap. I am an adult now and that means my life is different. My life doesn’t have to be worse, it is just different. And different is okay. Leaving the barre is okay.
Author: Samantha Hall
Author Bio: I am a native Floridian with a passion for rescuing animals, raising awareness for Mental Health and being a valuable member of society. My husband and I share our home with three cats and a dog. When I am not developing websites for work, I enjoy reading, crafting, photography and writing.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @swhall14