August 18, 2010
The question of what is best to eat post-performance, or late at night in general, has been popping up a lot lately in my conversations. Most of us know that eating late, heavy meals don’t always agree with our bodies – but it’s also not always realistic to think that we are going to be able to stop eating by 7p as “traditional” nutrition advice would indicate.
First it’s important to know that the basic principle here is trying not to eat 3 hours before bedtime, so the 7p cut off is assuming a bed time of about 10p. While that may be possible some of the time, it’s not realistic most of the time for those of us in the performing arts.
However, keep in mind that the reason for the 3 hour cut off is that our digestive system slows down in the evening. Going to bed too soon after eating may cause your food to be improperly digested. This can lead to gas and stomach cramps. Most people who complain about bloating never realize that it is often due to the gas and food particles left over from improper digestion.
Eating late at night also forces your body to use its energy on digestion. One of the primary functions of sleep is to help you recuperate from the day. You want your body to be as relaxed as possible so you can wake up energized. Heavy meals late at night may lead to having trouble falling or staying asleep, as your body is still hard at work.
As tempting as it is, I highly recommend avoiding the traps of the late night bar foods or even a heavy restaurant meal. If the post-show social scene is not something you are prepared to skip (I don’t blame you!), try packing some healthy snacks to eat before you go. You can also stop to pick something up on the way, or peruse the menu for healthier and lighter options. No matter what…stick to whole, unprocessed foods late at night if you are not able to avoiding eating all together.
Here are some suggestions to help replenish nutrients, curb your hunger, and take it easy on your digestive system after a show or anytime you need a late night boost:
• 100% Fruit Smoothie
• Fresh Vegetable Juice or Green Smoothie
• Whole Grain Toast
• Cut up veggies with hummus
• Small handful of nuts and seeds or trail mix with dried fruits (you can also try Larabars which is like trail mix in a bar, with only very basic ingredients!)
July 21, 2010
Another fantastic guest post by Emmanuelle Chaulet! Enjoy!
Rotating three or four shows per week, sometimes playing in two shows per day, 6 days a week is a usual schedule in summer stock theater. It can be cruelly demanding and stress building to the point of exhaustion.
How do you avoid burnout when the schedule barely allows you to sleep?
Here are simple tricks that can make up for the lack of sleep and that will truly diminish your stress level.
First rule – Eat Well:
Drink plenty of water and feed your body with good fuel. No junk food allowed!
You want to give yourself all the proteins your body craves and plenty of good nutrients to replenish and energize yourself.
See Patti McCabe’s website for more information on good nutrition habits for the performing arts community.
Second rule – Ease lack of sleep by a short relaxation before bed:
In 15 minutes of deep meditative relaxation you can replenish your body of the missing sleep.
Lie down in a quiet space, in silence or with relaxing music. Concentrate on your breathing. Take deep cleansing breaths. Start by relaxing the top of your head, inhaling clearing energy and exhaling stress you want to release. Gently breathe in and out, and move down to your forehead, then your eyes, eyelids, throat, lips, and neck. Then move to your shoulders and your chest area.
When focusing on your heart, think about a place, a pet or a person that you feel grateful for. Feelings of gratitude have an immediate effect on your nervous system. When you feel grateful your body releases hormones that calm your nerves, and your heart beat slows down. The coherence of your heart beat improves. Your immune system strengthens. (For more information about heart coherence and scientific research, check www.Heartmath.org).
Then move to your solar plexus, and your lower abdomen. Finish by going down your legs, and the sole of your feet. imagine stress leaving from the sole of your feet, dissipating and transmuting in space.
When your attention wanders, gently bring it back to your breath and body.
Finally, imagine a bubble of colors surrounding you. You are bathing in it. Perceive it is a cocoon that can recharge and regenerate your cells. Feel it, sense it, and absorb its benefits for as long as you want.
Finally, open your eyes. You should feel refreshed and regenerated.
Emmanuelle Chaulet is an acting coach, a holistic acting practitioner, CRPL3, adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine, Fulbright scholar and author of A BALANCING ACT. She is the founder and director of Starlight Acting Institute, which offers individual sessions, workshops and retreats such as “Energize! a holistic approach to acting,” and “Unleash your Star Power.”
She can be contacted at: email@example.com
July 14, 2010
So I started classes at New Body Boot Camp last Friday.
See – even Health Coaches have goals for their own health. We’re not as “perfect” as many would think. I personally believe this makes me a better coach, because I understand that health is not a destination but a life-long journey. That may sound like a scary proposition to some, but I promise that it’s an exhilarating ride and not a punishment!
But here’s the thing. I think I forgot that for a while, and so even though I have been wanting to do something like a Boot Camp for a long time…I admit I kept thinking that it would feel like some kind of punishment and that this type of exercise just isn’t “my kind of thing”.
Boy was I wrong.
I love my yoga practice, hiking, and swimming. But regardless I had been finding myself getting bored with my regular routine and so it was becoming harder to motivate myself to keep up with it. This was just the thing I needed to shake things up – and to finally put some focus on building up my strength and stamina in new ways.
I had a ridiculous amount of fun in my first class, and now with four under my belt I am completely hooked. I am re-energized, and not only around my exercise, but in all areas of my life. I’m happier, more confident, and feel physically amazing!
And let me tell you – I’m eating like a CHAMP with all those extra calories burning off each day!
So I want to share some important lessons I’ve learned over the past week:
1. I can’t allow my commitment to helping others on their journey substitute for committing to my own.
2. I am stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for (physically AND mentally).
3. Support is essential. Don’t try to do it alone! (Big shout out to my friend Amanda for being my partner in class!)
4. You can do anything for 30 seconds.
Let me just expand for a moment on that last point. In Boot Camp, it’s not about the end of the hour or even the end of the specific circuit or routine. It’s about the 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute of whichever specific exercise you are doing. Focusing on that and only that. And putting all you have into it.
The truth is, this is a lesson I can certainly apply to my own life right now. As I build a Health Coaching practice, I’m doing things I never thought I’d do. I’m learning new things every day, and yes making some mistakes along the way. I have larger goals in mind, but I can’t focus on the end of the road or think myself into paralysis wondering how I’m ever going to make it there.
This week I’ve been much better able to focus on the task at hand. To focus on those 30 seconds and then move onto the next. And it’s paying off, because these small steps are leading to huge results. And this is how I will achieve my goals – mentally, emotionally, physically, and in my business.
If you are in or can travel out to the Brooklyn area – I highly recommend signing up for a free trial with Aja Davis’ New Body Boot Camp.
All of this is true for you. YOU can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds!
June 23, 2010
Last night I went with my friend Amanda to be a part of Yoga on the Great Lawn in Central Park. The goal was 10,000 people, and though I’m not quite sure we reached that – we were still told that we acheived the world record for the largest registered Yoga class to ever take place. Except it didn’t really take place.
We spent 2 hours building our excitement – from waiting on line to getting settled into shockingly organized rows of our new,free mats to having the chance to do some serious people watching. What a diverse group of New Yorkers all in one place. As our anticipation grew, there was no denying that we were in the perfect spot to celebrate the start of summer.
But just as the class was about to get underway, the clouds rolled in and the rain began. Sure some left right away, but most just took out umbrellas (luckily I toted a poncho as well) and got ready to OM the night away. But because it’s (understandably) a safety risk (and apparently illegal) to conduct class in the rain, the instructor could only take us through a few plank poses, a downward dog or two, some long, grateful stretches to the sky, and a namaste before they had to send us home. Total bummer.
So you might wonder why I’d bother writing about an event that never came to pass. Well the truth is, it did. If you look beyond the marketing aspect to our free goodies, beyond the sounds of the news helicopters above threatening to take away our zen, and beyond the rain – what you found was a peaceful and accepting New York that I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed before.
No one was angry or shouting about the weather, or the decision to cancel the class. Everyone made their exits gracefully with smiles, no pushing ahead or signs of aggravation about the slow crawl towards 5th Avenue. Some even stayed behind, reveling in the opportunity to continue their own Yoga practice alone or with friends.
My favorite moment was hearing a long, echoing “OM” as we approached a tunnel, which of course we promptly joined in chanting as soon as we entered – connecting us to all of the people with us in that moment, as well as all of those who had passed through before and who still had yet to encounter it.
The serenity of our group became more apparent as we spilled out onto the streets of the Upper East Side. The light summer rain became a downpour, but we persevered in much the same manner towards the subways – in great contrast to the observers on the street who were far less pleased by the shift in the weather. And who couldn’t seem to fathom what would be making us all so happy.
Yes Yoga on the Great Lawn was supposed to be the biggest Yoga class ever. But it turns out it wasn’t really about that in the end. It was about connection, the true core of any Yoga practice. Last night I felt immensely connected to an immensely large group of strangers. AND I got to reconnect with my friend Amanda, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time.
This feeling continued with me into the morning, as I decided to skip checking email and opted instead for a long walk through Prospect Park. I smiled at everyone I passed, soaked in the beautiful sun, laughed at the relationships being forged from dog to dog and owner to owner, and didn’t mind slowing down a bit behind those on the sidewalk as I turned for home who were too focused on their smart phones to notice me.
I realized that this is ultimately what Yoga has given me. A chance to slow down. To connect. To find peace in this city that never sleeps.
One of my clients has been practicing Yoga on a regular basis since the start of his program. Each time we talk he tells me what an incredible impact it’s having on his stress levels, and especially on his ability to cope with the pressures of his work day. It’s been a pleasure to be his cheerleader as he builds his routine into his lifestyle.
Last night made me wonder what would happen to NYC, or even the world, if we all practiced just a little bit more Yoga.
I happen to think that actors need the exact opposite: gentle, positive, relaxing, nurturing of your instrument; and a mind, body, spirit connection. You ARE after all, the work of art.
So, let’s say you are a musician; would you send your Steinway or Stradivarius to a boot camp for tuning? Would you want the tuner of your instrument to bang on the keys violently or to use force when repairing your delicate instrument? Of course not! You’d want them to take good care of it and be gentle, respectful, loving so they tune it to its highest potential. It’s time to do the same with your instrument-self.
Use self-love, self-appreciation, and self-esteem development techniques…Tune and clear your body and mind gently, lovingly. Use yoga, stretching, visualizations and energy relaxation exercises. Enfold your emotional range with safety and stress relief techniques. Learn the anatomy of your emotional and energy system to better manage the highs and the lows. Discover ways to recuperate your strength your energy and your power. Use proper nutrition and physical care. Choose a physical activity you enjoy. Give yourself time to play, read and rest. Reclaim your creative self, reclaim your Artist within.
In order to reclaim your highest creative spirit, your approach must be loving, caring, and appreciative. You must be indulgent and understanding. You must listen to your selves, to the voices within. You need to take the time and allow the space for your inner artist to enfold his wings. You need to listen within, and to care.
Each of you, artist, is unique, precious and fragile too. Like flowers, sunsets or rainbows, you illuminate when you perform, yet your works of art are always changing and ephemeral.
You are a living work of art. Your training must take this into consideration and treat you like one.
FMI about how to use these self-development techniques on your own, read my book A BALANCING ACT and visit http://www.starlightacting.org
or contact me; firstname.lastname@example.org
Emmanuelle Chaulet is an acting coach, director of Starlight Acting Institute, adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine department of Theatre, Fulbright Scholar, international actress, Energy awareness counselor, ENERGIZE, RYSE III and REIKI practitioner and in Who’s Who in America since 2007. She has developed a unique acting method incorporating energy development techniques in the training: ENERGIZE, outlined in the book A BALANCING ACT (Starlight Acting Books 2008)
June 1, 2010
To alleviate snack attack guilt, try to understand why you are snacking and what snacks work best for your body. Perhaps you snack because your daily diet is missing nutrition, or because you are eating too little at meals. You might be snacking to soothe jangled nerves when you are emotional, or to entertain yourself when you are bored. Whatever your reason, acknowledge it and start thinking about how to create a life that is nourishing and truly satisfying.
Although snacks are no substitute for loving your life, they can be great energy boosters. Many convenient snack foods are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, damaging fats and refined sugars. When a snack attack hits you, try foods that are filling and satisfying, but also nutritious. Snack on things that don’t come in a plastic wrapper or a box, like fresh fruit, leftover vegetables or rice cakes with almond butter and fruit spread. Make your own signature trail mix, organic hot chocolate made with almond milk sweetened with agave nectar, or blue corn chips with hummus.
You can also try “upgrading”. If you are craving something crunchy, upgrade from potato chips to raw carrots, apples or whole grain crackers; if you are craving a candy bar, upgrade to a handful of nuts and dried fruit; instead of a cup of coffee, upgrade to green tea; instead of ice cream, upgrade to applesauce with cinnamon. Upgraded snacks are high in nutrition and give you a greater sense of satiety and satisfaction; you won’t feel physically or psychologically deprived, and you’ll have plenty of energy to sustain your activities for hours.
Snacking is enjoyable and there is a wide variety of healthful goodies for whatever you’re craving, be it sweet, crunchy, salty, creamy or spicy. Dive in, be creative and enjoy your snack attack.
May 19, 2010
A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity, optimum weight, abundant energy and balance. By using fruit to satisfy our taste for sweetness, we can leave behind the use of chemical, processed and refined sweeteners. Fruits are easy to digest, are cleansing and cooling and are great for those who are overstressed and overheated from excessive mental strain or hot climates. Fruits are filled with fiber and liver stimulants, which act as natural, gentle laxatives. Whenever possible, buy fresh, locally grown fruit as opposed to imported fruits shipped from far-off places. This keeps you eating in season, and more in harmony with your environment and climate.
Eating raw fruit in summer months is highly cooling, while baking it in the winter months neutralizes the cooling effect. Fruit in the form of juice is a great choice for cleansing the body, but be aware that juice rapidly raises blood sugar levels, leading to an energy crash soon after. Frozen, whole, puréed or juiced fruit can make great summertime cool-down treats. Try frozen grapes, banana-coconut smoothie popsicles or lime juice ice-cubes in iced tea!
Whether you are having fresh fruit for a light early morning breakfast, a midday snack or evening treat, enjoy nature’s sweetness and whenever possible buy organic. Here are a few tips on fruits and their health benefits:
Apricots: Great for lung conditions and asthma; used to help treat anemia due to their high copper and cobalt content.
Bananas: Help to lubricate the intestines, treat ulcers, detoxify the body and manage sugar cravings; are rich in potassium (which helps hypertension).
Cherries: Slightly warming in nature; increase overall body energy, remedy arthritis and rheumatism and are rich in iron, which improves the blood.
Grapefruits: Treat poor digestion, increase appetite during pregnancy, alleviate intestinal gas and reduce mucus conditions of the lungs.
Papayas: Tone the stomach, act as digestive aid, moisten the lungs and alleviate coughing; contain carpaine, an anti-tumor compound.
Raspberries: Benefit the liver and kidneys, cleanse blood of toxins, regulate menstrual cycles, treat anemia and can promote labor at childbirth.
Recipe: Fruit Nut Smoothie
Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
1 cup soy or rice milk
1 cup berries
1 cup diced melon
1/2 cup almonds
2-4 ice cubes
1. Mix in blender for 1-2 minutes and serve.
Note: You can add other ingredients for added nutrition such as a spoonful of bee pollen, coconut oil, flax seed oil, spirulina powder or a scoop of protein powder.