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Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You Hardcover – March 21, 2017
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About the Author
Misty Copeland is a Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Life in Motion, and the award-winning Children's book, Firebird. She made her Broadway debut in 2015's "On The Town", putting a show that had reportedly been suffering financially for months into the Broadway Box Office Top Ten for the two weeks that she guest-starred as "Ivy Smith." She's been featured in the New York Times, on 60 Minutes, and she was named one of SELF Magazine's "Best Bodies of 2014" and Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People.
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Top Customer Reviews
For me when it comes to fitness, primarily, I am a strength trainer, and I have a background in healthcare...those things shape my opinion of this book.
I really love that she talks a lot about the importance of loving the body you have, and accepting that it may not be able to look like or do the same things as somebody else, and yet deserves your love and care. I think she is spot on, hit it dead on the nail when she says the best way to have lasting changes to your lifestyle and to your fitness/health is to make gradual changes bit by bit that become part of your habits. Fast changes made too much too soon usually crash and burn, and yet I think because of the speed we've become accustomed to getting certain things in this society, people seem to expect that with diet and exercise. I had to loose some weight a few years ago as part of a health crisis of sorts, and it never fails to surprise me how many people ask me what I did and then loose interest when I say dietary changes and exercise. The truth is, if you loose more then 2 pounds a week, you're putting your liver under stress. You loose 4 pounds or more a week, you're actually damaging and killing liver cells. I have that straight from my GI Dr, who wanted to make good and sure I was clear on that since I was already being treated for medication induced liver damage. I was told it wasn't safe or recommended for a person with a healthy liver, but for me, it was even more important to go slow. So she's right...go slow. So those extreme weight loss shows that tend to be so popular are actually really doing the participants involved an incredible disservice just from the organ perspective alone, don't even get me started on the too restrictive calories with long days of working out.
Her nutrition portion...I didn't really have a problem with it, per se, and I do think she actually provides adequate guidance, and she's certainly right that studies have emerged within the last few years that implicate sugar as having a much higher risk for heart disease then fat. Very true. My fellow shoppers, sugar is not your friend on a whole lot of levels. I did estimate the calories on her perfect day meal (the one she considers a perfect day for herself) and it came in at about 1464 calories. So. What you have to remember here is that she's dancing and in effect exercising about 8 hours a day. So you can eat that number of calories, and not necessarily see the same results she does. Because looking lean is about your body fat composition more then anything else. And yet, I wouldn't recommend you go any lower, because you need to make sure you don't dip below your base metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn each day just to stay alive. Locate a BMR calculator on-line to figure out what yours is, and in order to best protect your health and metabolism, don't go below it, even if you're trying to loose weight.
Where I did feel like this book is lacking is in pictures for the exercises. There aren't adequate pictures for the exercises she gives. Some of them have none, and I think, especially if you don't have a background in dance, the worded explanation on some of them may leave you confused and unsure what to do. I also feel that the number of exercises given probably aren't going to produce the same results she's got, unless you're doing a few hours worth of them. And actually, really, I'm pretty sure just doing the ones included in this book alone isn't going to provide the deltoids (shoulder muscles) she's got visible in her pictures…
I also feel like promising anybody a willowy, lean dancer's body is a slippery slope. Some people's bodies don't do willowy. Mine sure as heck doesn't, not when I was in gymnastics, not when I was underweight, not when I was jogging, or trying pilates or yoga...you get the idea. I spent a number of years trying to pursue willowy, and it never happened for me. My body is built well for one thing apparently...short, bulky looking muscles, and it doesn't matter what I do, that's where I end up. Right now, I strength train pretty aggressively, because I have an amazing special needs son, and being the best mom I can be to him pretty much requires every muscle my body can come up with. This is the first time in my life I've ever been grateful for that. My point is...your genetics have a huge roll to play in whether or not your body can look the way Misty's does. So I think all of the sections in this book where she talks about focusing on overall health and vitality as your goal...those are the ones worth reading and setting your heart on. Because maybe you're blessed you can be willowy, maybe you're not. But improvements in health and fitness levels are pretty much attainable by most anyone.
I did do the floor barre exercises she was recommending this morning, and I've got to tell you. I found it relaxing as heck. And several of the poses are very akin to yoga. But I don't think for me, personally, that floor barre provides what I need, but it could be a great place to start if you haven't been exercising in a while.
Overall, I thing this is a book that has more merits then not. I love that she strives for an overall balance in healthy living where she involves pieces on stress management, diet, finding social relationships with people you aspire to be like, fitness, and food. I think there's a lot of value here, especially for someone who's not been exercising. If you have a higher fitness level, I think, unfortunately, you're probably going to need to look elsewhere.
That being said, this is not the book most people want when they are ready to start a new diet/fitness regimen. The nutrition guidelines are pretty run-of-the-mill protein/healthy fat/produce/complex carbs recommendations that middle of the road nutrition has been recommending for years. Generally portions are given in relation to the size of one's palm, and loose recommendations are given for ways to arrange your daily plate. This is going to be information that food-conscious folks are very familiar with, and yet is probably not specific enough for newbies. There's virtually no information for how to tweak to get the results you want, and nothing to address different metabolisms and lifestyles.
The same can be said for movement. Misty says to have movements that you do for the sheer joy of it, and focuses the exercise portion of the plan on simple floor barre and barre techniques. While it is refreshing and unconventional in the diet/fitness world that she focuses on the importance of balance and graceful movement, I'm not sure that the majority of people will see a huge change in their patterns from trying to teach themselves barre from a book in their living room. Unless they have previous dance background, it would be very difficult to follow her instructions in a way that would actually change some one's grace. Also, "at least two times a week but six would not be too much" is perhaps too loose a structure for most.
In the end, I think this is a fun read for people who want to peer into the life of a ballerina, and see how they might eat and what basic routines they might have, but it is not applicable to most people who would want to actually develop a "ballerina body."