Recently, I was asked to speak at the San Francisco dance school "ODC" for the "Dancer's Day of Health." This day was all about health information and free screenings for freelance professional dancers. We had medical doctors, mental health professionals, physical therapists, and of course - dietitians, all giving their time to screen and educate the dancers.
The panel I spoke on asked us each to briefly say what our role is on the dance medicine team. Here are my bullet points of what the Registered Dietitian does:
“The #1 goal of nutrition counseling is behavior change” – Herrin & Larkin
We help dancers specifically:
When you work 1-on-one with a RD you are going to get help on eating for your individual lifestyle, medical needs, and your personal preferences. No generic meal plans, and any RD worth their salt will come from a place of “all foods fit” and “health at every size” meaning we can focus on health behaviors and risk factors without weight being the focus or “fix.”
Do you need a RD in your dance life?
In just a few weeks I will be speaking at the San Francisco / Bay Area "Day for Dancer's Health" at the ODC!
And dancers, it's totally FREE to attend!!!!
In case you are going, here is what my breakout session is going to be about:
"Fueling the dancer's body for long rehearsals"
With Libby Parker, MS, RD; Registered Dietitian and owner of Not Your Average Nutritionist.
This session will cover how to eat for rehearsals and show days with the foods you love. Libby will cover timing of meals and snacks, hydration (and what’s the deal with sports beverages), and you’ll learn what macronutrient is the MVP for energy. Bring your performance nutrition questions. This is one topic from Libby’s more extensive online course “Whole Health For Performers” which covers all the health topics for stage performers that you never learned in school. Learn more or register here:
Find out more about the conference:
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/221721465441739/
Facebook Fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/66436867466/posts/10156027814407467/
ODC’s event webpage: https://odc.dance/DancersHealthDay
Indance article: http://dancersgroup.org/2019/01/injury-prevention-longevity-odcs-healthy-dancer s-clinic/
Libby Parker is a Registered Dietitian specializing in eating disorder recovery. Her private practice, Not Your Average Nutritionist, LLC, is in San Luis Obispo, CA, and she also does virtual counseling. She is in the final stages of her first book, Permission To Eat, coming late 2019. Libby started dance at the age of 3 (thanks, mom!) and is happiest when she is on stage in musical theatre productions. She just got back to CA from NYC where she auditioned for Broadway’s Mean Girls. Libby wants every dancer to love their body and never diet. @DietitianLibby www.NotYourAverageNutritionist.com
The concept of choreographing meals is one that I came up with when working with a client.
As a dancer, I like to bring art and creativity to my work with eating disorders. Here is a fun way of looking at food if you are stuck in a food rut.
It's National Nutrition Month and I have a treat for you!!!
For National Nutrition Month all of my current online courses are on sale for 50% off as my treat for you! You can learn the info that I teach my private clients in the comfort of your home - for a steep discount! Use the code SAVE50MARCH at checkout.
Do you overeat? Check out: "Stop Binge Eating Without Giving Up The Foods You Love"
Are you a performer (dance, acting, musician)? Check out: "Whole Health for Performers"
I'm super excited to share the education I give my private clients with a wider audience that are not able to come to nutrition counseling or cannot afford counseling, or who want a refresher to keep the motivation up between sessions with me or other professionals.
I am so excited, because an idea I have had rolling around in my brain for months has finally come to fruition!
Yesterday, January 8th, I opened for enrollment my course for performers,
"Whole Health for Performers!" This course is "A scientifically-based mind-body approach to get the most out of yourself, so you can focus on creating the performance of a lifetime."
This class is aimed at non-pro level actors, dancers, singers, musicians, directors, drama teachers, and techies who get their heart rate up on (or back) stage.
We cover: Physical fitness, Eating healthy, even when you are busy, Avoiding digestive issues on stage, Hydration, Vocal health, Mental health in the theatre, Better coping skills, and more, with step-by-step "homework" with each module so you actually TAKE ACTION on your goals!
It is being offered at a low cost of $97 for beta testing. This means you get to be a voice in the creation of this course! I will be tweaking the course based on your suggestions, and will be offering free live Q & A sessions to overcome personal barriers in a private facebook group for those who sign up. I normally charge $125/hour for individual counseling, so this is a steal!
Keep your eyes peeled for more educational courses coming later this year! I have some free education available on the online education page under "services" - check them out too
(I admit they are my first online creation, and not the prettiest!).
If you are in the performing arts, and want to take better care of your body on and off stage, what are you waiting for? Go to the course now!
Don't just take my word for it, a wonderful article about this course was written by the creator of OnStage Blog. Here it is for more info:
(originally posted 9/19/2016. libbysfitnutrition.com)
I danced from age 3-13 in ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical before taking a break to pursue my equestrian passions. But at age 16 I had a gnawing feeling that something was missing, and asked to re-enroll in dance lessons. At 16 I had no interest in ballet, leotards on my pudgy adolescent body, or the slow piano music; so I signed up for hip hop and break dancing. That lasted all of 3 months, when I found even with the technical steps in place, I didn't look the part.
Around that same time I got really into east-coast swing dance, and my real love emerged. I started taking ballroom, then teaching my peers. I went off to college, and started the first swing dance club on campus where I taught, performed, and lived out my dream. Then I transferred schools to a major university known for dance. I knew I was going to be a small fish in a big pond, but I joined their swing and salsa clubs, and let the music take me away. Dance became my stress reliever, my social crutch, and the way to make my science degree have a creative side. By the end of college I was known as a dancer at my school, and was president of the salsa club.
photo of my tattoo from last year: a reminder that I need to dance
During college, I had taken a break from acting. A musical theatre geek in high school, college was too demanding to allow for more rehearsals especially with dance taking up my evenings.
When I left to move to California for an internship, the first group I sought out besides a church community was a dance community. My people.
Fast forward a year, and I was getting married, he had dislocated his knee and was not up for dance, and the clubs started too late for this early-bird. Slowly social dance became almost non-existent in my life, let alone studio dance or lessons that I had not touched in 10 years. I was becoming clinically depressed, but had not idea why.
Then I got cast in our community production of "A Chorus Line." Rehearsals were rigorous. 8 hour dance rehearsals on Sundays, 3-5 hours several other days each week. My body had changed from when I had last danced. I did not know where my balance was, I had no idea of the terminology I had long forgotten, and my body struggled with the complicated combinations. But I was so alive!
That show did so much for me. Though I was "only" a swing that never got to go on for any of my overstudies, I had made friends, and re-ignited my passion for dance!
Now three years have passed, and I have been back in the studio taking dance lessons (yes, even ballet) and appreciating every moment in a way I hadn't when I was a kid. Now my struggles are a place to grow from, my hour of class a time of pure freedom and meditation, separate from "real life." I have gone on to act in more shows, dance in more classes, and I am not letting dance out of my life again.
This article was first posted on "OnStage.com" as part of national dance week.
(originally posted 12/25/2015. libbysfitnutrition.com)
Have you been looking at my (or other RD's) websites and brochures and not sure what to expect? Nutrition counseling is a very individualized service just like with traditional psychotherapy. Some dietitians create specific meal plans, analyze intake with nutrient analysis software, help you manage diabetes medications, learn what food do in your body, and so much more.
Make sure whoever you choose to go to for nutrition services has a "R.D." or "R.D.N." credential. This is a indicator of education level and national standards of practice. As with any profession, we hope everyone is ethical in their business practice, but trust your gut, and never be afraid of getting 2nd opinions.
What do I do, specifically?
"The primary goal of nutrition counseling is behavior change."
Herrin & Larkin, Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders, 2013.
Here is a list of services that one may experience when working with me.
-Diet "check-ups": I go over your food journals to see what you are eating on a regular basis and what is working for you or areas that need improvement.
-Medical Nutrition Therapy (or "MNT): This is what separates dietitians from "nutritionists" "health coaches" and "health educators." Medical nutrition therapy is something only RDs are legally allowed to do (and medical doctors, but they don't have our training) going over complex medical diagnoses that have nutrition related care and intervention. This goes beyond "eat vegetables" that nutritionists can cover. This is also why RDs are only licensed in specific states like MDs are.
-Nutrition education: What does food do in the human body? This is the R.D.'s expertise. We study anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, metabolism, nutrition for specif diseases, and many other sciences involving the human body and food. This is what I studied in college for 7 years, plus a year of internship, and continue to learn about. I love helping people understand how proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and micro-nutrients interact in the body and keep it healthy.
-Individual needs: How many calories do you need? How does your exercise affect how much you need to eat? What proportion of carbohydrates/ protein/ fat do you need? What about supplements?
-Have an eating disorder?: This is my specialty area, figuring out what someone needs to be eating to recover. By working on slowly changing unhealthy habits, I strive to create a safe space using positive body-image talk, intuitive eating principles, and a mindset of health at every size, while educating on what is occurring in the body and mind while in the disordered behavioral mind-set.
-Contact with your other medical professionals: If allowed, I will work with your other health professionals to create a united team approach for your best health.
-Go over lab values: Bring lab results from your doctor and we can look at what might be going on and if there is nutritional deficiencies or medical dietary interventions (note: only RD/RDNs are qualified to make medical diet plans - "MNT").
-Meal outings/ snack challenges: Optional, but helpful for normalizing eating socially for those with restrictive eating.
-Referrals: To appropriate therapists, doctors, websites, apps, books, etc.
-Exercise planning: Though I don't actively train anymore, I use my experience as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, distance runner, and dancer to help you come up with an exercise plan, check form on moves, discern how much exercise you should be doing, and optimal nutrition for your sport.
-Weighing: Need to keep up with weights for your doctor or therapist? Need someone to keep track of weights (blind weighing) or keep you accountable?
-Safe plan for weight loss or gain as needed: Fad diets don't work! Safe rate of weight loss is up to 2#/week, and safe rate of gain is up to 4#/week. (Note: this is NOT a "weight loss" business, I take a weight neutral approach to letting your body figure out healthy weight based on appropriate eating and exercise.)
-Confidentiality: I use secure electronic medical records to keep your information confidential, and as with therapy, nothing you say will be shared unless you are going to harm others or yourself, or you give a release of information.
-Contact with family members: If under 18, or given release; I give parents piece-of-mind when students are away at college by giving updates on progress and health.
-I have a good relationship with local therapists, Cal Poly's Health Center, and other practitioners.
-Eating disorder training: I am working with a credentialed supervisor to get my "certified eating disorder registered dietitian" credential (iaedp.com), and continue to take opportunities for continuing education.
-Constant contact: I am available between sessions by e-mail/text to keep you on the path to success.
-Counseling skills: Motivational Interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, intuitive eating, and behavioral interventions.
Still have questions? Contact me!
(originally posted 9/2/2015. libbysfitnutrition.com)
I have this photo of myself in tap shoes
at the age of one.
My mother was a dancer, and I am so thankful she put me in dance lessons at an early age (I love you, Mom!). Though I had my "dance is boring" periods where
I would take time off (age 13-16, 19- basically 26),
after a while I would find myself depressed and yearning to move my body. As a child I took the usual combo classes (tap, Jazz, ballet, lyrical), as a teen
I attempted hip hop and break dance, and as a young adult I found ballroom, swing, and social salsa.
In college I taught beginning ballroom, competed in swing, and was eventually known for my dance ability at the University of Minnesota (never thought that would happen when I first got there!). After college, between working, starting a married life, and not having the funds, I fell out of dance. I don't have to tell the dancers out there that I felt something missing - not expressing myself through music fueled my depression. I wish I had figured that out quicker.
Pulling me back up, re-awakening my love of dance, was musical theatre. My first show since moving to CA, "A Chorus Line" kicked my butt with rehearsals from our amazing, but challenging, choreographer. I was hooked once again.
Getting back to studio dance as an adult was far harder than I expected it to be. I had once moved with ease, carrying myself proudly. Now I had an extra 30 lbs, and couldn't find my balance. It stung to think I had once been as good as the little teens literally pirouetting circles around me. Maybe ballet was not a good idea after all...
I am not ready to give up! My body has re-awakened, and I have found contemporary - my new love, allowing me to feel emotion in the music as I do in acting - and tap which I now have a real drive to excel at.
My message is for adults, and those who have stopped doing what they love: It is never too late to get back into doing what you are passionate about. Whether it is dance, sports, art, writing, or other passions, don't let age or time stop you!
I'm pulling for you!
"Dancer's dream with their feet."
P.S. I offer nutrition counseling for dancers!
Libby is a non-diet Registered Dietitian focusing on eating disorder treatment and prevention. She approaches health from the inclusive standpoint that any "body" can focus on health regardless of size. She is a ally in diversity.
Not Your Average Nutritionist, LLC
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Disclaimer: This website is for educational & informational purposes only,
it is not a substitute for medical or mental health advice or treatment.