Susan's Blog

Monday, January 21, 2008

South Beached Whale Rescued By Bellydance

The love/hate affair with the body is a very strange and I would guess mostly female phenomenon. I marvel at how my sons simply eat to live (rather than live to eat). They say “no” to offerings of cake and ice cream, simply on the basis of already having had some, or being full! What the heck is that all about? How did children of mine get to be so sane, when they hear me daily moaning about how I shouldn’t have eaten this or that, because now — as Lisa Simpson eloquently put it when she was trying to diet, and she ate a carrot shaving and thereby spoiled her diet day — I can’t even have toothpaste! Maybe they just don’t take me seriously when it comes to food? Hmm. Perhaps I have stumbled upon an effective parenting technique — embarrass your kids so much that they don’t want to be like you at all!

Anyway, I’m starting the South Beach Diet today, as opposed to Atkins, because South Beach allows you to have milk/yogurt, beans, and later on, joy of joys, fruit! I am unhappy with what the scale says — I have named it Injustice Scalia, because it never offers a kind or fair verdict — and other physical developments that usually occur in the wintertime.

I sound like I am in hate with myself, but the truth is far more complex. I am also thrilled with what I can now do, in terms of working out or dancing. I run three miles, or do as combination of Stairmaster and treadmill, and I dance for 30 minutes at a time. But even more than that: I feel that I have moved up a notch in my dance technique.

Yesterday class was fascinating, and extremely enjoyable. It’s odd how I don’t want to learn combinations right now, as I did in the fall. These days I just want to work on technique. Probably because I don’t have much problem coming up with ideas of choreography, ways to move to songs; but I do hate it when my form is awful. Ned has taken movies of me where I look okay, and then I notice my hands are sticking out perpendicular to my arms, rather than curved and soft; or my body is rolling around trying to make a sinuous movement but really just flopping everywhere.

The worst move I execute is the big hip circle. This is a very belly-dancerly move because it is just so alien to the way we dance in the West. It is a bending at the waist, flat-back, butt-out move; done right it looks very rolling and exotic. You stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees straight but soft, and as your hips move in a lateral circle (parallel to the ground), your upper body moves in the opposite direction. At the same time, you try to gather your arms toward you in a kind of air hug. And, perhaps most important: you have to be completely tucked and lifted. Even when I think I’m doing a large hip circle well, I see in pictures that my posture can ruin it.

Najmat broke it all down yesterday in such a way that I could feel precisely how to move, and so I could focus on sucking in my gut. I caught glimpses in the mirrors, and I could see that the entire class looked like they had gotten it. It looked beautiful, to see seven of us orbiting around our hips in exactly the same way to the fantastic music of Natacha Atlas — how much more perfect could an hour on a Sunday be?

I have been replaying the hip circle, in my mind, all day. I wanted to practice at the gym, but I know it looks strange to the women there. I waited until tonight to try it out in the living room. I just love the rolling feeling in my hip bones and the way it looks, upper body rotating on the opposite axis from lower. If you go really low and wide, you can throw your hair forward and then as you come back up, toss it back.

Like so many things in life, it looks easy, like something natural a child might do while playing; but that is deceptive. Yesterday I was doing perfect hip circles, all sucked in (despite additional poundage), and loving the way it looked and felt.

The bellydance keeps me sane. It gives me a way to feel graceful, even when the scale says otherwise. As far as South Beach — the jury’s still out on that one.


Oy. Don’t get me started on the weight thing.

I understand, though.

Best wishes on your new diet – and yum! – fruit.

For me, it’s all about the sugar-free black cherry jell-o. It fills me up and sweetens me up.

— added by Drama Mama on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 8:10 am

Timely post Sue! Lots of us are feeling like we were washed up on the shore of post Holiday Eating: bloated and battered whales indeed! Always seems like late January is the right time to start afresh…right after new year there are still residual holiday events to attend and leftover holiday treats in the kitchen!

I always think South Beach sounds so much SANER and healthier than Atkins. Keep us posted!

— added by Nancy Bea Miller on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 9:14 am

Sooner or later all this dancing will have an effect on your figure. It took several years but I definitely ended up with a different body than I had before I started it (even though back then I used to do hardcore cardio workouts at the gym every day.) So don’t worry so much – just keep dancing.

I will say that taking up yoga has done wonders for my posture.

— added by Shannon Brooke Davis on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 9:31 am

how wonderful to do those hip circles! the one teacher at the one class i took did some absolutely delicious looking ones.

oy. the poundage. the unjust scale! every morning i begin and then fall off into bags of chips by sundown.

— added by kyra on Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm

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