learn-to-belly-dance.com

Belly Dance Technical Forum

Professional belly dance instructor on duty

Our Current Host is:
Delilah of Visionarydance.com

About this page:

Volunteer Instructors needed! The goal of this page is to rotate guest instructors from time to time to give different perspectives. If you are a qualified instructor and would like to be on duty as a guest instructor on this belly dance Question and Answer forum, please email: email address

Delilah, Visionary Belly Dancing
Delilah, Visionary Belly Dance
Delilah, of Visionary Dance, has volunteered to be our first host instructor for this question and answer column. She will do her best to sincerely answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

Note: All questions will go through a selection process before they are submitted to Delilah so she may not answer every question. There will be questions with answers added each month or so to this page.

Got a question?

Please submit your questions to:

Questions:

Last addition: December 2008

Will belly dancing help me lose weight?
— submitted by H.T.

Dear H.T.,

Belly dance is great exercise as long as you get off the couch and do it! Don’t just fantasize about some day doing it. All increased physical activity will get your metabolism moving, which helps you burn fuel. You’ll need to maintain an increased heart rate for 20 minutes. And you can bump your heart rate up and get a good workout by getting your arms and hands over your head and by sweating a bit.

Lucky for us, belly dancing is so fun and creative we easily can get lost in an album and dance around the living room for an hour or more before we know it. Many people quit and sit down, however, when the investment gets stronger. That usually happens right before a dancer reaches the place of most benefit. That’s why either a class, a programmed workout, a choreography or a disciplined practice regime is a good idea.

When I was a teenager, if I wasn’t on the swim team I had a tendency to put on weight. By age 20, I was working 6 nights a week, two to three shows (25-45 minutes each) a night. I could eat anything I wanted and my weight was easily maintained at 134 pounds. My body was pure, flexible muscle. That sure was a switch from when I was 13 to 18, when I always had to diet to keep my weight at a softer, less structured 140. During those performances I was a sweaty mess. I went through costumes fast with wear and tear. Sequins lost their luster and coins turned green and elastic lost it’s grip. I was an athlete, and proud of it. Yes! Belly dancing can be helpful for loosing and maintaining a desired weight.

In addition, after the birth of both my daughters, belly dance melted away the 50 extra pounds I was caring. Some women find it challenging to put the baby down for an hour uninterrupted and find the energy to work out. Get a babysitter. Make it a ritual priority for yourself. You deserve it! The benefits of a physical workout are psychological as well!

I will admit that without the nightly club performance to push me through those zones of physical endurance today, it’s not as easy to get the exercise I need. I am a live performance junky. That's where I really sweat. I teach many classes but don’t work up a sweat teaching beginners. I do yoga four days a week. I also do aerobics as additional physical activity when my belly dance schedule gets slow and I feel I need more.

Read question and answer #13: Is belly dance Aerobic? There is a great linked site on the page that offers information on dieting, fat burning, mental states as well as aerobic heart rates for getting and staying in shape

— Answer by Delilah


Know any good diets?
— submitted by H.T.

Dear H.T.,

First, I have to ask: How much weight do you want to loose, and why?

When a skinny 17-year-old comes in pulling at her skin and saying she’s fat , all other women in the room look back at her incredulously. How could our own pictures of ourselves get so messed up, we wonder?

I think people should be realistic. I used to be a hair dresser, and people would always bring in photos of hair styles that would never work for their hair. (Before I was a hair dresser, I did it, too.) They had no idea what was sitting right on top of their heads. So, their hair was curly; emphasizing it or going in a direction that they had a natural inclination for and being creative within that direction would be much more realistic. We should have more pride in our distinctions. Why do any of us want to look the way someone else already looks? Well, we often do, and that's a fact of life, I guess. It’s called envy, and I think it’s one of the 7 deadly sins.

We need to practice loving each other, and loving the differences between us.

“My beauty is your beauty and your beauty is mine
I cannot be beautiful alone.
I can only be beautiful in connection to your beauty.”

These were the words articulated in a 10 day belly dancing retreat program called “Embracing Aphrodite,” in Hawaii 2002 with Delilah and Lorraine Lafata. Do you know what those words mean? It’s about supporting each others differences and not deserting ourselves and each other for dumb commercial aims that try to undermine us all so we will buy their products.

We shall define beauty!

When you learn to love someone else's fat you’ll learn to love your own fat. Seriously. We won’t be so busy erasing the parts of ourselves we come to loathe for some trumped up reasoning. If we can get along and accept our curves, we will start to awaken dead parts of ourselves. When we are more fully alive and know more about who we are and the true texture of our hair, complexion and curves, we can make better and more informed decisions about the creative lives we can lead. Our body will be free to change in a way that suits us.

Still want a diet?

Well, I don’t blame anyone for wanting to loose a few pounds or to keep a few extra pounds. Where are you comfortable and for what purpose? This is the question.

• Sandra says “ I do yoga and my belly is in my way for certain positions. I know I could loose about 10 pounds and be many classes more agile.”. . . Go for it then!

• Lyn says she likes that she has fuller boobs when she's 15 pounds heavier. . . By all means, enjoy them!

• Debbie says she doesn’t want to loose or gain weight. She just wants to stay where she is and wants to be mindful. So, she diets a few days out of the month or does a seasonal cleansing diet.

• “ I’ve never worried about my weight but I gotta loose the pounds I gained when I was pregnant.” Says Pam. Be patient and increase your exercise. Know that breast feeding requires a lot of calories. You may loose weight faster at this time, but if you loose too fast, you’ll loose your milk. Relax, eat the right things and enjoy the closeness with your baby.

Okay. I’m going to go on record and say, like everyone else, check with your physician before going on a diet. But if all you are trying to do is loose 10-20 pounds, who calls a doctor? People should check with a physician about their regular bad eating practices then too. People should learn about nutrition and use common sense and intuition about how the things they eat affect them. I think the answers are different for different people, but I guarantee you everyone needs to stay away from carbs and sugars if they have a weight problem. Never believe anyone that tells you pasta is good for you. Stay away from fruit juices and eat actual fruit instead. The fast-food and prepared-food industries are not good for us weight-conscious people. We hear that obesity is an epidemic in America. It’s not hard to understand. We are all on the run, reaching for prepared foods. It’s very frustrating because our food is overloaded with so much unnecessary sugar. Just yesterday, I bought regular cottage cheese and noticed that it had sugar in it! What for?

I’ve tried plenty of diets. I have never fallen into any anorexic tendencies, however, I have known people who have and it’s a very serious disorder where a person can't stop starving them selves. This problem needs to be treated by specialized doctors and therapists. These problems crop up when a person collapses beneath the extraordinary pressures of a deep personal psychological burden or the simple pressures that have been put upon women by commercial society in regard to beauty (see: Reviving Ophelia through Belly Dance in Alexandra's Belly Dance Library, from Visionary Belly Dancing). A person’s view of reality, self image, and self esteem can fall apart, in deep need of repair. Even young men are falling into the mind trap of anorexia these days.*

When I was a teen, my favorite diet was the Lincoln Clinic diet. I would cart plastic containers of spinach, tomatoes, grapefruits and hard boiled eggs to school in a brown bag. It worked and I felt like I was in control of my own body. Later, my aerobic teacher handed me the same diet – some 20 years later. She swore by it, as she had lost over 100 pounds using this diet, 2 weeks on and 1 week off, before she began studying to be an aerobics teacher. The combination and determination to loose weight and exercise changed her life by leaps and bounds.

When I was about 16, my mother joined Weight Watchers and I would go on the teens’ diet plan. It taught me a great deal about the amount of carbs I could expect to eat per day and maintain a well-rounded nutritional assortment of foods. This was a very positive experience in my life.

Some time ago in my 20's, I did go on the Atkins Diet for a week at a time and would lose weight fast when I got out a few pounds off coarse, however, back then I would never recommend it to anyone trying to drop several classes of weight because it didn’t seem like a grounded idea to me. But, I have seen people loose many classes of weight with it and their life opened up to them in amazing ways. I have two thoughts on this diet: yes, it sounds a bit extreme, but so is living with an extra 130 pounds you don’t need endangering your health and self esteem. When I look at Doctor Atkins current diet plan, I see it’s changed a bit and doesn’t seem so radical. He’s really made it more palatable to more health-conscious thinking people. It’ll never sit well with a vegetarian, I’m afraid.

Another simple diet plan is to reduce the size of all meals. Cut the sugar and carbs and be sure you eat breakfast to jump-start your metabolism for the day. Eat open-face sandwich with one piece of bread instead of two. Maybe oatmeal one day, egg the next. Eat salads and fish for dinner.

Try Slim fast for two meals and a regular dinner. It can work if you don’t forget to eat one complete meal or cave in to your cravings at the end of the day. Lots of men seem to like this diet.

Food allergies can be common scenarios related to weight problems. Wheat and corn seem to be huge culprits, but they are also carbohydrates so staying away from them is a safe bet for dieters. If all you do is drop wheat and sugar from your diet religiously, you will loose weight. It’ll make a difference whether you are really allergic to them or not. Then add to that the elimination of dairy for the lactose Intolerant. I don't think this is especially easy to adhere to, but I know people who have lost alot of excess weight by doing this. Being a vegetarian is not a for sure way of loosing weight because it still depends on how much sugar, starch, and carbohydrates you take in.

Try a cleansing diet of raw foods and enemas to get things moving. Be sure you seek some professional advise on the best regime for you.

One of the really frustrating challenges to dieting and keeping your weight down are our convenience foods. They are absolutely culprits to our demise.

Do not trigger regurgitation! This is called "bulimia" and it’s another mental disorder and often goes hand in hand with "anorexia novosa". You need to seek help. Also, the temptation for speed, diet pills and other stimulants and appetite suppressants can be very dangerous! The toll on your life is too much to pay! See a therapist.

* Anorexia was first diagnosed in the 1700s and most likely occurred even before. Certainly today it is on the increase.

— Answer by Delilah

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