How “Going Vegan” changed my Dance Game

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Camella Camenzuli Photography

I have been Ballroom Dancing for the past 20 years of my life and in that time I’ve been searching (using my own body as a guinea pig of course!) for the best way of fuelling myself so that I can perform at my absolute best. I’ve tried WAYYY too many “diets” like; high protein – low carb, cutting carbs and eating more fats, protein shakes and bars, cutting sugar to then eating a buttload of sugar (uhhmm…not recommended) but none of them ever really delivered the way I had hoped.

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Earlier this year, in the lead up to the 2016 Blackpool Dance Festival, my partner and I were training harder than we ever had before but still I was becoming increasingly frustrated at how tired I was feeling and how my body felt like it couldn’t handle the increased work load. Then on one night off, I decided to watch “Cowspiracy” (go watch it if you haven’t!) and something clicked within me. I decided on that night to go Vegan cold turkey. It wasn’t easy to begin with and I definitely had my doubts, not to mention those dreaded headaches!! But, luckily that only lasted a week or so and then I started to notice positive changes in my body and my output at dancing. I wanted to use my performance at Blackpool as the real test though, because as all of us dancers know.. it’s no mean feat! In the end my partner and I achieved our goal of making the Professional Ballroom Rising Star Final and even made a dance in the quarter final of the Open! We were absolutely ecstatic because it was our best International result to date and a big part of us wondered if the change in our diet had anything to do with it. The plant-based diet was definitely Blackpool approved and I don’t see myself ever looking back and here’s why..

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Firstly, my energy levels and mental clarity have increased drastically. I no longer feel lethargic and tired half way through dance practice and my partner is extremely grateful to no longer have to deal with ‘Hangry Rachelle’. I also feel so much more ‘awake’ when I am dancing and am quicker to adapt to certain changes or tweaks that we decide on in lessons or our own practice. I was very aware when I started this Vegan diet that I would need to listen to my body (and stomach) and act accordingly. Also, after doing A LOT of research I realized I would probably need to up my caloric intake to around 2000-3000 calories a day. This seemed like a crazy amount from where I had previously come from but I actually loved being able to eat SO MUCH MORE food 🙂 I tracked a lot of this in the beginning on cronometer.com, an amazing website which is great for tracking all facets of your daily intakes!

Another benefit is that

My natural recovery feels so much better and faster…

After loooong days in the studio I would often wake up, move my body and think “Man I’m getting old” (Im 26 for those of you wondering..). Nowadays, I get up and whilst I do still sometimes feel a little bit stiff I’m no where near as sore as I used to be and mentally I feel so much more alert and ready to tackle the day ahead. A few other benefits are that my skin has cleared, I lost a lot of unwanted puffiness in my face (I no longer look like a 12 year old, YAY!) and my body has leaned out too! SO MANY WINS! Plus, I’m sure I’ve made a lot of furry friends out there happy as well 🙂

So if you’re keen to give this lifestyle a go be sure to do your research first as everyone is different, please remember what works for me may not necessarily be best for you and this is just my story 🙂 Make sure you look into taking a B12 supplement (I take one 500mg tablet twice a week) and lastly be sure to fuel yourself with ENOUGH food. My only regret is that I didn’t try Vegan-ism earlier but I guess as they say, it’s better late than never!

Author: Rachelle Plaass – Pink Suede
Cover Photography: Camella Camenzuli Photography
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

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