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The 10 Percent Solution.

Q I'm a 30-year-old female who wants to learn ballet, baton and tap. My problem is that I weigh 223 pounds. What must I do to properly lose weight to keep up in classes and be able to wear certain (if not all) outfits?

Desperate to Learn

A Congratulations for wanting to lose weight the right way! Starvation diets don't work. Instead, they actually may cause many dancers to gain weight by burning fewer calories and even making them binge. What does work with weight loss is to establish a reasonable diet and exercise plan that you can follow for the rest of your life. Besides sticking to moderate eating on a daily basis (1,400 to 1,600 calories), heavy adult dancers may need to do aerobic exercise as many as five times a week for thirty minutes a shot. Success also depends on setting a realistic weight goal. According to the latest research, the most that you can aim for is 10 percent below your natural weight. If you go beyond this point, your body will fight you by slowing down your metabolism by 15 percent. Last but not least, always get a clean bill of health from your doctor before embarking on a serious weight-loss program.

Q Do you have information about nationwide health insurance for a "student/apprentice" dancer who is paid a pittance? My 19-year-old daughter can no longer stay on my policy and she's moving to another state to perform. I'd like a plan that permits her to see a qualified dance doctor if the need arises.

Susan Tuohy in California

A You're in luck. Faith Petrides, the director of Dance Professionals Associates (DPA) has established an excellent health insurance plan for members who are current and former dancers, and their families. In fact, I joined last year! For more information, call 800/968-1401. A full membership at DPA (212/873-3433) is $39 annually.

Q I'm 14 years old and still growing. What types of food should I eat to keep up my energy for school and dance?


A Complex carbohydrates such as cereals, nuts, milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables are especially good sources of energy for dancers. Protein is also essential for keeping you on your toes, along with small amounts of dietary fat (no more than 30 percent of your calories). Start off the morning with a good breakfast and eat a variety of foods throughout the day. However, be aware that it's best to avoid eating meat and other foods high in fat right before you dance, because these are harder to digest than low-fat foods. Dancers who "refuel" immediately after class will also have more energy throughout the day.

Q I'm outraged that you told "Depressed" in the September issue of Dance Magazine to follow a high-protein diet. You can't not count fat grams or calories or omit a variety of foods. There has also been much evidence that these diets cause liver and kidney damage.

Outraged in R.I.

A Sorry to disagree. I never suggested that this dancer omit certain food groups. In fact, if you had looked at the book that I recommended called Protein Power, you would have seen that a moderate meal plan includes 55 grams of carbohydrates a day. This book also shows you how to gradually add back more carbs to your diet once you've reached your goal weight. As for potential risks, Dr. John Olichney, medical consultant at the School of American Ballet, assures me that this diet poses no threat to healthy dancers. Still, it's always good to check with your physician before starting a new diet.

Q For the past six months or so, my right knee has been aching so badly that sometimes I can hardly walk up the stairs. Do I need to see a doctor? I worry that I may need surgery or have to quit dancing.

Tara from Washington

A Knee problems are extremely common in female athletes. However, while some injuries are severe, others simply require physical therapy and cutting back in dance class. Only your doctor will know for sure.

Q My problem is that the older girls in my advanced class don't like me. I'm only 12 while they're 16 and 17. How can I change their hatred and critical manner toward me?


A Ask your mother to speak with your teacher. After all, it's your teacher who runs the class, and she needs to be aware of her students' actions, especially if they're misbehaving.

Send your questions to her at 2000 Broadway, PH2C, New York, NY 10023 and read her answers exclusively in Dance Magazine.

An associate professor at Fordham University, Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., is also a psychologist in private practice, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass).
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:healthy weight control for dancers
Author:Hamilton, Linda
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Kids in Good Company.

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