Your Best Body

Some days, it seems like however much I eat, my stomach just won't fill up. One possible culprit? A lack of Zzzs.

 

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that four nights of sleep deprivation reduced insulin sensitivity in fat cells by 30 percent—which means the body's producing that much less leptin, a hormone that inhibits our appetite. On top of that, previous research has also shown that getting only four hours of sleep a night slows our metabolism. Double oof.

 

Want to work out á la the Scottish Ballet? The company recently put out a pair of fitness videos that have been blowing up online. Although the 15–20 minute clips are aimed at a non-dance population, the exercises make nice cross-training routines for bunheads' upper bodies as well. One focuses on the core, the other on the arms. A third video is scheduled for release soon.

 

I know what I'm doing tonight!

Now that fall's officially here, it's time to get down to business. But while it’s important to work hard in the studio, make sure you know when to take a break. A recent study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that exercise, like anything else, can be harmful when over done. According to Dr. James O’Keefe of the Mid America Heart Institute of St. Luke’s Hospital, when an athlete exercises intensely for excessive amounts of time, the heart muscle begins to tear and releases troponin, the same enzyme that signals damage during a heart attack.

It's the end of the week, and if you're like most dancers I know, your body is sore and achy all over. Well-meaning friends and teachers will probably tell you to hop in an Epsom salt bath. But will that actually help? Maybe, but most of the benefit comes from the bath, not the salt.

You’ve always suspected that you’re different from your civilian, non-dancer friends. It turns out that science can back you up. According to a study published in PloS Genetics, dancers show consistent differences from the general population in two key genes. One contributes to spiritual experience, and the other modulates social communication and bonding behaviors.

Blisters are like irritating little sisters. While they aren't truly traumatic or career-threatening, for ballet dancers, they can be an almost constant annoyance, continually nagging at your toes with pinches of pain.

 

So what's a bunhead to do? Toe pads help, but there's more to blister care than stuffing your pointe shoes full of padding.

 

1. Get fitted by a professional. Feet change over time, so if you suddenly have blisters popping up, last year's maker may no longer be right for you.

 

Pre-performance jitters got you shaking in your pointe shoes? Grab a snack! Foods that are rich in carbohydrates, vitamin B or magnesium can help calm your nerves. After a few bites, these types of foods enable your body to produce serotonin, which gives you a calm and relaxed feeling. Carbohydrates like cereal and popcorn, vitamin B-filled bananas and magnesium-packed cucumber and pumpkin seeds will help you fight anxiety—and fit perfectly in your dance bag.

Dancers live hectic lives. There isn't always time to cook up the ideal snack. Carolina Ballet corps de ballet member Cecilia Iliesiu takes a short cut: Her homemade "energy bites" skip the baking process altogether. All you have to do is stir the ingredients together, roll into balls and eat! "They're a great protein boost for five-minute rehearsal breaks during the day, or between acts during a show," says Iliesiu. She shared her recipe with Pointe.

 

No-Bake Energy Bites

Ingredients:

After a challenging day in the studio, how do you refuel? BalletMet's Kerri Riccardi cooks up some stuffed peppers. Her recipe's filled with a nutritious mix of veggies and protein.

 

The dog days of August may be hot and humid, but that doesn't mean your dancing has to suffer. In fact, a new study shows that working out in higher temperatures may even make you stronger! Check it out.