Thanksgiving dinner is one of those moments where it's more than okay to help yourself to everything. And you shouldn't feel guilty, either—your dinner plate is packed with nutritional goodness that'll keep your body in tip-top dancing shape. Dance Spirit spoke with Peggy Swistak, MS, RDN, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, about the bountiful benefits of the most popular turkey-day dishes.
TURKEY DAY TROUBLES?
A four-day weekend of feasting with family is supposed to be an all-around good thing. But if you’re a serious dancer, the stress of spending Thanksgiving away from your training regimen might leave you feeling less than thankful for the time off. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the holiday, so you’ll be ready to hit the studio when you get back from Grandma’s. Here are a few easy suggestions. —Helen Hope Rolfe
Turn family time into fitness time! Bring along a beginner-level yoga or Pilates video for the living room TV, and Aunt Sally might just join you in a downward dog.
Corral your cousins for a trip to the playground, or volunteer to take the dog for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. You’ll feel helpful and healthy at the same time.
If you choose to give yourself a quick barre indoors, use caution. Chances are you’re not used to dancing full-out in rooms crowded with furniture, and ordinary flooring isn’t designed to support strenuous exercise. To stay on the safe side, limit jumping and expansive movements (like grands battements and pirouettes).
Relax. If you never give yourself a break, you’ll be much more likely to burn out early on in your dance career. Success in any field depends on balancing the hard work with “having a life,” so savor this chance to connect with your loved ones and enjoy non-dance pleasures. When Thanksgiving break is over, you’ll feel more energized and inspired to dance than ever before.
Feeling that midday slump (oh, math class)? Pop a piece of gum into your mouth. According to researchers at Cardiff University in the U.K., chewing gum can stimulate your brain and increase alertness—which means it may help you keep your energy up for that 4 pm dance class. —Michael Anne Bailey
DID YOU KNOW?
Don’t take Advil or Motrin right after spraining your ankle. You should wait 48 hours to take an anti-inflammatory drug. That will allow your body’s natural swelling and healing process to kick in first. Instead, start with acetaminophen (like Tylenol) to help with the pain. —MAB
TAKE IT EASY
When you’re constantly surrounded by mirrors and talented dancers, it can be tough not to be self-critical. But according to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, cutting yourself some slack can do wonders for your health (and your dancing!), making you happier, more optimistic and more willing to take personal initiative. —MAB
Want flirty, longer-looking lashes? Apply an extra swipe or two of mascara to the outer edges of your lashline. It will make your eyes pop without being too over the top.