On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: An interview with Emily Mistretta of the Boston Ballet.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of ballet.  I live for essie ballet slippers polish, ballet trends in fashion, and the movie Center Stage.  I have an extensive collection of legwarmers (perfect for going to and from yoga).  The last time I actually wore ballet slippers, though, I looked something like this.

That’s somewhat of a lie, but I refuse to post my middle school aged ballet photo.  Needless to say, my appreciation has been from a far, and my behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to be a ballerina is limited, at best– so when I had the chance to interview Emily Mistretta, a member of the Boston Ballet’s Corps de Ballet, I leaped (somewhat gracefully) at the opportunity.  I am so grateful to Emily for taking the time to share her experience and insight.

[Photo courtesy of Emily and The Boston Ballet]

What does a typical day in the life of a Boston Ballet ballerina look like?  Does this change as you approach performances? 
EM: A typical day during rehearsal schedule starts with a class at 9:45 followed by a six hour rehearsal day until 6:30. The schedule varies depending on how many rehearsals you have, but it usually tends to be a pretty full day of dancing.   Our rehearsals demand all different kinds of ballet movement.  It is not atypical to transition back and forth from classical to modern or jazzy ballet rehearsals through the course of the day. For example, my day could start off with something classical, like Nutcracker, followed right by the the jazzy Rolling Stones piece “Rooster”. Then right back to another traditional ballet such as Sleeping Beauty. All before lunch.  As we get closer to performances, we start to focus more on the particular upcoming piece.  We change to a theater schedule about a week or two before showtime, which starts later in the day and goes later into the night. This way we get our minds and bodies ready for the performance schedule.
Is your fitness routine focused primarily in the studio, or do you cross train?  If so, what are some of you favorite ways to work out?
EM: Because what we do is so physically demanding, the majority of my fitness gained while working in the studio.  However, you don’t always get the cardio you need from working in rehearsals, so I like to cross train as well.  It’s always good to do your own abdominal work and keep a strong core by doing Pilates or Gyrotonics, but I also like getting in the pool.  Swimming is great and I also like to hold on to the edge of the pool and do a series of my barre exercises in the water.  It is incredibly difficult with the resistance of the water, but you also feel so great and supported.  I love a good yoga class as well, though I like to use it more as release then as an intense workout.  
What are some of your favorite foods for fueling your routine? 
EM: I recently discovered the joy of juicing,  it’s fantastic!  In the morning I like to make juices with fresh fruit and vegetables, like apples, beets, kale, carrots and ginger.  It’s a great way to get  my body all the great vitamins and nutrients that it so often craves.  I usually compliment the juice with something more substantial, such as an egg and a piece of toast. This usually keeps me from wilting by the time our 2:30pm lunch break rolls around.  Smoothies are a great snack to have during the day, when I need a quick boost during our short breaks that won’t bog me down. I like all different kinds and I always add some protein powder to keep up my energy.  
Do you consider dancers to be athletes (for the record– I certainly do!)?  Why or why not?
EM: I absolutely consider ballet dancers to be athletes!  I think it should be considered an Olympic sport!  But one of the most beautiful things about ballet is that while it is physically demanding as a sport, it is even more challenging as an art.  On top of the athleticism you have to be creative, beautiful, and painlessly graceful. It is wonderfully hard!
 
What do you love most about what you do?  What brought you to the Ballet?  Have you always wanted to dance?
EM: What I love most about ballet is that as a dancer and an audience member you have the rare opportunity to witness life through artistic expression.  There are moments you have on stage where your body is filled with adrenaline, energy is shooting through every part of you.  You are not dwelling on the past and you haven’t taken the next step into the future, you and your body are only consumed in the present.  Time slows and you are nothing but living in the bliss of the moment, experiencing each second as it comes to you..  I think you can give that to the audience so that they are along with you experiencing the present themselves and both sides are communally witnessing and enjoying life together.  I’m not quite sure I knew what that feeling was when I was a kid, I just knew that I felt it.  I liked the feeling of dancing and moving around as fast as I possibly could, which is probably why I usually tend to enjoy things that are a quick tempo!  As a child I knew I wanted to do whatever that was that made me feel so alive and if that meant dancing then I was going to dance!
Do you have any thoughts about the recent fitness trends involving “ballet-inspired” workouts? 
EM: Ballet technique creates phenomenal muscle structure.  When I look around at all my coworkers, guys and girls alike, it is so obvious!  Everyone is so beautifully toned and shaped!  Ballet technique, if done correctly (a never ending quest), has this way of creating incredibly strong muscles in a very linear and non bulky way.  I’ve personally never tried ballet tone classes, but I certainly would recommend any class that incorporates ballet technique.
 
What is your best tip for staying healthy and balanced during performance season?
EM: My best tip for staying healthy during performance season would be to listen to your body.  Give it the nutrients and proteins it craves, and stay routinely active. This will prevent fatigue and decrease risk of injury.  A dancer is generally most fatigued after a performance, so rest is extremely important. Stay on track with your health maintenance, including massages and physical therapy. Listening to and understanding your body will allow you to safely push it’s limits and increase it’s dancing potential! 
I am so looking forward to seeing Emily and her fellow dancers perform at the Boston Ballet’s Fall Programnext week.  In the meantime, I may need to dust off those ballet shoes…Also On Tap for Today:

Did you dance as a child?  Best/worst costume?


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Today: A weekend at home.

Home Alone

My older brother and sister-in-law celebrated their wedding anniversary this week, which meant Nick and I got to babysit our niece for the first time.  We partied like animals, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while changing into PJs at 6:45 PM and reading not one, but two books before bed.  She is just heaven to be around.

Home Improvement

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent working on wedding projects and trying to rectify the broken sink situation.  We made two trips to Home Depot and managed to sneak in a little fun between visits to the faucet aisle.  There is so much to see and touch (and break) in that store.  I was tempted to buy a pink ride-on pony from the Christmas section, but refrained.  Instead, we picked up some PVC pipe for mobility and Crossfit practice at home.  It will also come in handy when I want to turn off the light switch without getting up from the sofa.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

Home away from home

 

We spent this morning at Clark’s home away from home, the local children’s hospital where he does his therapy dog visits.  I can think of no better way to pass a rainy Sunday morning than watching the kids snuggle with the Frenchie, feed him treats, tug on his ears, and hold him in their laps.  It makes my heart swell.

Home cookin’

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m very excited to share that On Tap for Today was included in the North Atlantic edition of the Whole Foods Market 2012 Holiday Magazine’s “On the Web: Fresh Voices” feature, along with my pal Caitlin and the lovely We Are Not Martha girls.  I’m really grateful to the team at Whole Foods for including me, and was sure to pick up a few copies today after grabbing groceries at River Street.

On the menu tonight?  Enough vegetarian chili to feed an army.

 

Homemade

What would Sunday night be without a do-it-myself manicure?

I live for rituals.  And weekends at home.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Packing up goodies for Kasee, my #atxbos match
  • Getting ready for the week ahead
  • Seating charts 🙂

What’s your Sunday ritual?


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Today: My fairy WODmother. {and a Reebok #getafterit giveaway}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]The downside to being an adult is that when something breaks, you sort of need to fix it (or in many cases, have it fixed… because you don’t always know how to repair machines).  Our water heater peaced it on Monday night, making for several cold showers, one very hot shower taken at my parents’ house, an excessive use of deodorant (I am convinced cold showers do nothing other than lower one’s core temperature), and some general crankiness this week.  On Thursday night, we came home to a freshly replaced water heater… aaaand a freshly broken kitchen sink.  The plummer giveth, and the plummer taketh away.  And he leaveth dirty footprints and greasy paper towels all over thine condo.

I don’t really understand how any of this happened.  I just know that it annoyed me.  And that I got a headache.  I fought the temptation to wallow and I checked the mail instead.  Of my many quirks, an obsessive need to check the mail is right up there with my obsessive need to check the weather.  Incidentally, I don’t think it was supposed to rain on Friday.  But it did.  With just twenty-one days until we get married, I live for the sight of a response card (or twelve) tucked in among the bills and magazines.  Thursday night’s mail was slim on responses, but included a package from Reebok.   I like to think of the brand as my Fairy WODmother.  I opened the box to find two new CrossFit Tri Blend tops, one with short sleeves and the other with long sleeves.  This was just the kick in the pants short shorts I needed to get out of the faucet-less condo, and into the box.

Both tops fit perfectly.  I tend to wear tank tops to class, but knowing that the garage door at our box would be open, the temperature is dropping, and I was still recovering from my last cold shower– I opted for the grey long sleeve.  It’s lightweight but still warm, it stayed dry throughout a tough workout, didn’t itch at all, and was really comfortable.  I had my first attempt at rope climbs last night, and I think wearing long sleeves definitely helped protect my arms.  I added a whole 25lbs. to my high bar box squat PR (since my first attempt two months ago), cranked through 100 kettle bell swings and 50 ring dips (with a blue band).  As I’ve said before, the clothes don’t make the athlete, hard work does… but wearing perfectly fitting, high performing fabrics definitely helps.  Need proof?  Ask me about the time I ran a 10k with a wedgie.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to break out the short sleeve top this weekend.

Because my Fairy WODmother is extra generous, I have a little something to share.  If you were at Healthy Living Summit 2012, Fit Bloggin or other events, you may have seen the Reebok team outfitted in eye-catching  #getafterit shirts.  These shirts are now available for men and women online, and I have one women’s top (size M)  to giveaway.  To enter, please let a comment below.  I will select a random winner at the end of the day on Tuesday.

UPDATE:  This giveaway is now closed.   Congratulations, Caroline!  And many thanks to everyone who entered.

 

Caroline: I saw so many #getafterit’s at the Tufts 10k…even tried keeping pace with one (literally got after it)! I would love to sport my own…thanks!

[For the record: I received these Reebok products at no cost.  I was not compensated for my review of these items, and my opinions are entirely my own.  I write about brands I respect and enjoy, and Reebok fits this criteria.]

Also On Tap for Today:

How are you planning to get after it this week?


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Today: Where are my Worry People?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I had a set of worry people (and a matching barrette, for questionably fashionable worry dolls on the go) when I was younger.  I am not sure how many worries I shared with them, but I can see the value in having something inanimate to unload on, consequence free.

I’ve been feeling a bit weighed down lately.  Some of my worries are worthy, like health concerns (The latest in a long series of body experiments? A weekly shot of B12… in the butt cheek.) or work stress.  Others are less worthy, like “which–of the three wedding headpieces I bought– shall I wear?”  While I tend to draw a lot of motivation from stress and worry (I’d never make a doctor’s appointment or meet deadlines ahead of schedule if my wheels weren’t perpetually in motion), I’m also easily drained, worrying about things I cannot control.  And worse, by inventing scenarios… just in case I run out of real things to worry about.  For example, my car is likely on its way out sometime soon… so why not worry about what might happen if it broke down on the way home from tonight’s soccer game?

Worry’s a double edged sword.  When worry prompts me to take action, take stock of a situation, or take better care of myself, it’s a positive.  When worry preoccupies my thoughts and prevents me from being present, it’s less than a gift.

This is the thing:

So after I finally choose between the flowered headpiece and the jeweled one, I am making a commitment to worry less.  Like all ingrained habits (I’ve been perfecting this naughty one for thirty years now), I know my inclination to worry will not be easy to break.  Step one: a worry-free playlist.

Perhaps I should dig out my worry people and enjoy the jams with them.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Congrats to everyone who ran today’s Tufts 10K for Women – way to #getafterit!
  • Soccer game
  • FaceTime with my niece 🙂

Are you a worry person?  How do you manage worry?


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Today: Give us this day our daily juice.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I bought a juicer a year ago, or so.  I used it a number of times, almost lost a finger once, got sick of cleaning up after myself, and then hid the whole thing away.  It lived under our sink with 9,000 reusable Whole Foods bags (I’m more likely to buy a few new ones that the store than endure the shame of requesting paper) and various other rarely used appliances until last week.  Nick and I have been going balls to the wall, proverbially speaking, with juicing as of late.  A man who will give you the choice of first shower or firing up the juicer?  I’ve got myself a keeper.  After a few weeks of struggling to get up and out the door on time, our new little juice ritual is working wonders.  Perhaps this #hulkjuice is turning me into the Incredible Elizabeth?

Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice in the morning is sort of like exercising at the start of the day.  It’s an insurance policy against all the naughty choices I might make later on, and great motivation to keep on the straight and narrow.  Whatever that means.  Even after just a single week of morning juice, I feel a difference.  I have more energy and fewer random cravings.  I don’t need to sneak Diet Coke.  I’ve made better choices at lunch and dinner (namely: more vegetables, in non-liquid form).  I haven’t given anyone the finger during my commute.  Did I mention my skin is glowing?  Oh.  Maybe that’s just the fluorescent overhead lighting.

It turns out the juicer is very easy to clean if you tend to it right away.  I am sure that was somewhere in the directions (why read them when you can promptly recycle them?).  It still takes up considerable counter space (the juicer isn’t getting any smaller, and our condo isn’t getting any larger), but we’re making do.  For people like me who have trouble following recipes, winging it is perfectly acceptable when juicing.  After making multiple trips to procure more kale, I finally just started grabbing whatever was in our refrigerator or on the counter.  A few combinations that have worked well:

  • 1 bunch of kale, 2 cups of spinach, 1 lemon, 1/2 cucumber, 3 stalks of celery, 1 inch of fresh ginger, 1 apple, 1 handful of parsley
  • 3 cups of spinach, 2 apples, 2 carrots, 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of spinach, 3 stalks of celery, 1 lemon, 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 medium cucumber, 1 cup of raspberries

Each batch perfectly fills two tall glasses.  Next adventure: make use of all that pulp.  And make fewer trips to the market.

Also On Tap for Today:

What does your morning routine look like?


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Today: Pulling myself up.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Before I joined CrossFit Southie, I didn’t give much thought to pull-ups… well, other than, I can’t do ’em.  Now I find myself passing the park on my way to the bank, eyeing the monkey bars and wondering if playground sand might be a suitable alternative to chalk.  I grilled Nick the other day, demanding to know how long it took before he was doing unassisted pull-ups.  His answer was akin to, “Once you get there, you’re there.”  Very Zen.  And very unhelpful.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

I want a date on the calendar.  I’d like it to be tomorrow, but I’d settle for a month from now.  Realistically, though, January 1st seems like it might be doable.  In two months, with admittedly no practice outside of the box, I can whip through assisted pull-ups with a green band.  I’ve even managed a set while wearing a weighted chain around my neck.  Like a total badass.  When I attempted to move up to the blue band, though, my eyes almost popped out of my head and I involuntarily made a dying cat noise.  Like a total lame ass.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to pull-ups.  I keep reminding myself to strive for progress, not perfection.  I am sure there is a life lesson in there somewhere, but you’re not getting it from me today.  Sorry for that.  And for saying ass.  Twice.  The only way I am going to make this happen is by practicing.  When I kept getting harassed about helpful advice pertaining to my inadequate squat form, I started practicing in secret.  I am sure I could have done them in public, but hey.  I was more comfortable gettin’ low in the comfort of my own kitchen.  After a few weeks, yours truly was complimented on her form.  And after 100 wall balls last week, I could still walk upright.  My sneaky practice paid off.  I’ve gotten better and stronger.  In the spirit of full disclosure and humility, though, the squat part of my wall balls was awesome.  The hitting myself in the chin?  Not so awesome.

I’ve been working on pull-ups both at Crossfit and at home, using modifications like jumping pull-ups (using a sprinkler box below the pull-up structure) and bands.  I’ve made a little progress with the blue band (which is to say I can get my nose to the bar, my my chin wants no part in whatever happens above the bar… yet) and have watched every “how to do a pull-up” YouTube video thus created.  Will I reach my goal by New Year’s?  We shall see.  At the very least, I know I will have made progress by then.

Speaking of progress, I’ve been showing off my guns-in-the-making (they’re mostly like squirt guns right now, but I am expecting full blown rifles, or whatever, in the near future) in my new Poly PlayDry tank, which was sent to me courtesy of my friends at Reebok.

I’ve worn this tank to the gym, on runs, underneath my soccer jersey (long story… it involves us not having uniforms until 30 seconds before our second game… actually, that was the entire story), food shopping, dog walking, and just plain old hanging around.  The fabric is extremely soft and wicks away sweat really well.  The bright pink color will ensure that no one misses me when I finally get that first unassisted pull-up.  In the meantime, I’ll keep on practicing and progressing.  And being a complete cheese doodle.

Also On Tap for Today:

What goal(s) are you practicing towards?


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Today: Grown up snack packs.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I couldn’t help but think of Billy Madison on Sunday night, while whipping up lunches for the week.

Billy Madison: Where’s my snack paaaack?
Juanita: You got a banana, you don’t need no snack pack.

I don’t care what Juanita says.  I need both a banana and a snack pack to get me through the day.  I like variety.  And you know what they say: Good things come in small (plastic, likely hazardous) packages.

I’ve been following my RD’s recommendations to ensure I get enough protein.  Knowing now that lactose isn’t an issue, I’ve been back on the sauce low fat cottage cheese lately.  Though it looks rather terrifying in the photo above, cottage cheese can be a great source of protein for vegetarians.  I like to add a little ground pepper to spice it up a bit.  In addition to a bigger green salad, I packed up a few miniature caprese salads featuring teeny, tiny bocconcini, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and a heaping amount of fresh basil.  Also in my snack pack to start the week: fresh raspberries and carrots with hummus.

Check out my snack pack stack.  Or whatever.  Kids shouldn’t be the only ones to have fun at lunch time.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was your favorite food growing up?