We’ve all heard it:
“Ugh, I am so far off the wagon, why would I even keep trying to be ‘healthy’ these next few days.”
“Nah, I shouldn’t have that, I won’t be exercising until classes resume.”
You’ve just finished a very busy, very stressful few weeks that culminated in the absolute best performance high you’ve ever experienced. Now you’re looking at your blank planner like.. “Now what?” So, what does “healthy” eating look like between your performance seasons/before classes start back up? The studios are closed, there’s only so much you can do at home, assuming you even have space in your tiny apartment to dance. Well, let’s break it down.
So what happens post-performance?
Your body is pretty depleted: your performance anxiety both leading up to and during the show, your physical exertion required during warm ups + performance, the after-parties, and more can leave you feeling extra post-performance blues-y once everything wraps up and you’re in bed Monday morning, just too tired to open your eyes. How can you address + manage this extreme depletion and set yourself up, whether it’s for more shows, your next performance that’s on the horizon, or a new season of classes.
As movement-centric individuals, it’s often the most difficult thing for us to do, but truly resting - sitting on the couch, taking naps, being off your feet - is really necessary. We’ve talked about protein and muscle recovery, and physical rest holds a similar benefit. You’ll want to talk with your physical therapist for specific rest + recovery practices that are best for you. For me, I have found that some light foam rolling and stretching during these rest days help me to reduce the feelings of stiffness + soreness that can both arise post-performance and/or from minimal physical movement. Walks outside and/or gentle yoga movements can also be helpful.
Some might think of this as refueling - I’m not the biggest fan of this term. Instead, I prefer to think of replenishing the nutrients that have been depleted, and this goes beyond simply telling you all to eat. Nutrients are more than simply the components of the foods that we eat. Nutrients are utilized throughout our bodies for so many functions. Here, we’ll focus on the rest + replenish aspect. Nutrients are held within our muscles - wild to think about, right!? It’s these nutrients that help our muscles glide along each other and literally provide the energy, or ATP, needed for muscular contraction - vital to our movement during performance! Key macronutrients that come to mind include carbohydrates (of all kinds), protein (and their elemental amino acids), and fat - imagine that 🤯. Check out my Eating for Sustainability Guide if you’re new here and/or have yet to access my most comprehensive free resource. Lucky for us, macronutrients are naturally composed of all the micronutrients that become depleted or imbalanced as well. You’ve heard me chat about Eating the Rainbow, and specifically these micronutrients and yummy food options will be helpful to replenish for inflammation reduction, hydration, improving energy stores, enjoyment, and deliciousness.
B-vitamins - These are water-soluble vitamins used for macronutrient metabolism, RNA + DNA synthesis, nerve health, red blood cell function, and more! Yummy food options can include: tuna, salmon, beef, dairy products, fortified nutritional yeast, eggs, pork, poultry, bananas, soya beans, oats, fortified foods, brussel sprouts, broccoli, leafy greens, chickpeas, and kidney beans.
Vitamin C - Another water-soluble vitamin needed to protect cells (antioxidant), and is really important (in addition to collagen) for skin, bone, and healing. Yummy foods include citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and more!
Magnesium - This mineral is vital for energy creation, muscle + nerve function, and serves as a coenzyme in carbohydrate + protein metabolism. Yummy food options include dark chocolate, avocado, leafy greens, almonds + cashews, seeds (flax, pumpkin, chia), and more.
Calcium - An important mineral for strong + healthy bones, muscular activity, and blood clotting (+ Vitamin K). Yummy foods include dairy products, leafy greens, sardines with bones, and fortified foods.
Potassium - This mineral is vital for fluid/water balance and can help with digestion. You might notice reduced cramping and muscle soreness when your water + potassium levels are balanced. Yummy food options include beef, poultry, fish, bananas, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and more.
Iron - Iron carries oxygen throughout the body via blood - definitely vital for dancers + performance athletes. Yummy foods include legumes (chickpeas, tofu), enriched food products (cereals, breads), figs, raisins, liver, eggs, tuna, broccoli, spinach, almonds, hemp, and more!
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of micronutrients, just a few that pop to mind for us to be extra aware of during this post-performance down time.
Not often something we think about. Didn’t you just spend A.LOT. of time around fellow dancers, audience members, directors, production staff, everyone involved in your show? Why on earth do I need to reconnect? Well, during a busy and stressful performance season, we can often seclude ourselves - not in a negative way - to allow ourselves the time + space to focus on the upcoming show. Just as solo time is needed during show prep, time with friends, family, and loved ones is also important during your post-show rest + replenish time. As a mostly extroverted personality, I find that time with loved ones is really helpful in my rest process. Don’t worry though, in the midst of holiday parties, time with family + friends, you’ll also find me reading, listening to music, and doing other solo activities.
rest. replenish. reconnect.
enjoy your season of rejuvenation and eMpower your new year!