I’ve been MIA for a bit because I got sick with this nasty little virus that’s been going around. Maybe you’ve heard of it – it’s called the coronavirus? (Disclaimer: I never officially got tested because I didn’t want to go to a hospital or doctor…but my symptoms checked all the boxes – bad fever, intense body aches, no sense of smell, dry cough, difficulty breathing deeply). Yeah, turns out I’m not bulletproof to Corona.
I make light of the situation now because I can, but the truth is the past 11 days weren’t that fun at all. However, they did teach me a lot.
To be honest, I hesitated to admit that I got sick. There is a level of shame involved:
“How could I get this virus?! I’m the f*cking Bulletproof Ballerina, bitch!”
But I did get sick. Despite cooking healthy recipes. Despite all the extra vitamins & minerals I ingested. Despite getting extra sleep. Despite working out to boost my immune system. Despite trying to stay positive through this mess.
My friend reminded me to look at things in a different way, “If it wasn’t for your lifestyle, health, and fitness, you would have been a dead bitch!” LOL. Well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but thanks for helping me spin things in a positive direction, Vinny!
So in the interest of full disclosure and my forever mission to help you see past the matrix, here I am sharing the truth. Hopefully this information comforts you and gives you a bit of perspective for everything going on. Because let’s face it, if you don’t have any real-life experience with this media monster, you can drive yourself nuts with fear, allowing your imagination and demons to get the best of you. The news just keeps blasting you with all the numbers of people dying. They’re not mentioning the many more who are actually recovering. So this is my attempt to pass on what I’ve learned to ease your fears and calm those demons in your head.
Speaking of demons, based on social media posts it seems most people in the dance world aren’t just afraid of this virus but are mostly concerned with losing their ballet technique and getting fat without their usual routine to keep them in shape. Tell me if this sounds familiar -- your mental demons are never satisfied no matter how much you do because there is always more you could do. And with the overwhelming stream of online workouts and classes to choose from, you’re constantly reminded that “you should be doing more!” every time a new class pops up in your feed.
Well, let’s give these demons a dose of reality. The first major lesson from this COVID-19 experience is that you don’t lose all your “gains” as quickly as those demons have you paranoid about. So, a little perspective:
For 11 Days...
- I did absolutely no (as in zero, none, zilch) exercise...and my body didn’t lose all its hard-won muscle, strength, or coordination.
- I ate lots of simple to digest carbs (*gasp!) consisting mainly of oatmeal and rice porridge (thanks to my fiancé for cooking his comfort food recipes for me!)...and I didn’t get fat or blow up to the size of a house.
- I did nothing but lay around either in bed or on the couch...and my body still remembers how to move.
- I didn’t even think about a tendu let alone a ballet class or barre...yet I’m confident my technique is still there.
- I did no rolling, stretching, mobility work, therapy…nothing…and yet my body is still intact and ready to start training again when the time comes.
- I will continue to do nothing physically demanding (meaning NO exercise or ballet!) for another 2, 3, 5, 10 days or however long it takes until I feel 100% healthy. This virus has a tendency to relapse if you push things too soon. Plus I still get out of breath doing simple activities like talking and taking a shower…so working out isn’t exactly a priority at the moment.
Sure, maybe I’m not in peak performance mode right now. But I will be ready to start building myself again as soon as this virus is eradicated. And that’s only possible because I’m giving my body the time to heal without stressing about all the things I should be doing or am missing out on. If I had tried to force things in my usual stubborn, over-achiever way, I surely would have set my healing back and complicated things. Instead, I’m trusting that you don’t just lose strength, muscle, coordination, technique in a few days of not using them. Science & experience indicate it takes quite a bit longer than that. So relax and stop flipping out about getting out of shape or falling behind in your technique. Let your body lead you...instead of your paranoia.
Which leads us to the next lesson - trust your body. Listen to it. It has a lot of deep wisdom built in if you learn not to bulldoze over it.
Your body has an amazing ability to heal and optimize itself when given the time and space. Trouble is, listening to your body and trusting it is something you’ve lost touch with as you force more and more of an agenda on it:
- “Look like this; do that better; push harder, keep up with that girl…”
You forget that your body has a built-in-almost-magical wisdom that knows what is best if you only remember to listen to it. Respect this innate intuition. Stop trying to force your own (or maybe I should say your demons') agenda on your body.
During this break when you have tons of extra time and space to deal with, start reviving that skill of listening to your body…not your demons. Trust your body to tell you what it needs. Some days it will need to be physically challenged. Other days it will need care and rest. But certainly what it doesn’t need is a litany of chores and tasks barked at it by your demons tormenting that you’ll get fat sitting around your house all day unless you do this, this, this, and this.
Use this opportunity to appreciate your body and all its deep wisdom. Use this fresh perspective to bat down those demons making you paranoid. This situation will pass one way or another. Hopefully you don’t have to get sick like me, but I do hope this experience changes you in some positive way. And if you use this time wisely, you just might be more primed than ever to attack your goals and passions when the world opens its doors again.
P.S. If anyone has specific questions about the virus and symptoms I experienced, please email me. I’m happy to answer any questions and explain what I went through so you know what to expect & how to take care of yourself. The news is making this such a scary thing, and while I don’t want to be cavalier about it, there doesn’t need to be as much anxiety over this as is being created. Happy to share my experience if you are interested.
PC: Sean Cook