Reflections on the Last 11 Months

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My last week of physical therapy is here.

It is crazy to think that I got injured almost a year ago. It has been a long almost 11-month journey mostly trying to figure out why such a small injury could bother so much for such a long time.

For me, it has been a shock to get injured. Most of the time, I have been calm and trying not to think much about it. Yes, I have had some break-down moments and have been negative about my recovery, as an injury is a mental challenge for any dancer, no matter how small it can be. To any athlete, really.

It has also been a year of almost doing nothing with my body. I have done many stretching and workout sessions, but they are still not part of my day-to-day. My body has changed during this whole year: gained weight, lost weight, lost muscle, recovered muscle, gained strength, felt weak…

And it was all because of little, tiny micro tears on my Peroneus Brevis Tendon. (I finally know what it was!!)

I feel like I can still write very passionately about it. I feel it is my responsibility to help any dancers out there, no matter if it about micro tears on a tendon like mine, or they have gone through complicated hip surgery.

Reflecting on my last year, I can say that I have learnt many new things about the human body, how dancers work against what is natural, and the correct way to doing those unnatural movements. These 11 months were a roller coaster of discoveries, from my anatomy to my mental strength, to ballet technique, and to even the different medical systems can work on different people.

The most important thing that happened to me and my injury journey has been finding the right place to be treated. I am not complaining about the first place I went to, nor blaming the first doctors and therapists that treated me of a non-successful recovery. I am just going to say that I went to a place for “normal humans’” recovery, not for athletes or dancers’ recovery. And this was the first lesson.

I took some time away (and actually travelled to another city) to go to the right treatment place. I had high and low expectations, but I did not want to lose the hope of total recovery. Turns out that making the sacrifice to immobilize my foot for almost four weeks, stay in another city for 6 weeks, and travelling back and forth has been worth it.

I am now starting to take ballet class, and I feel better than I have felt over the past 11 months. It is all because I went to see wonderful people that gave me wonderful tools specifically for my types of movement, demand, and activities.

I also decided that for my last weeks of physical therapy, I was going to take a break from Social Media. I feel like although they are a fantastic tool to share information, content, and ideas, it takes so much time from us. We keep infinitely scrolling, wasting the time we could spend doing something more productive.

I have been without intensively checking Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for three weeks now. It was hard to get out of the habit at first, and I found myself trying to find the apps on my phone for the first few days when I was bored or at the waiting room of my weekly therapy sessions, but I had no success on finding them as I deleted the apps. I replaced those bad, time-consuming habits little by little for new ones: reading, watching high-quality videos, and talking to the people I care most about.

I only allowed myself to check them once a week use it for work purposes. Now I can say that I feel like I have lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders, skipping that anxiety and pressure we feel when posting, scrolling, and checking likes. This has certainly help me liberate a bit of that mental pressure that this injury gave me.

Now, I plan to schedule specific times of the day for social media usage, especially because this blogging platform depends on social media to be seen. The rest of the time I am not attached to my phone, I will use it to fully concentrate on what I am doing at the present moment: dance, exercise, write, read…

In conclusion, I can say that yes, coming back from an injury (especially if it has taken TOO long to heal) is by no means easy, and it makes it harder when you have the wrong diagnosis at first. I feel it has taken forever, but now going back I can appreciate and be more thankful for the art form I practice and adore.

Little by little, I have been building my routine back. In these past two weeks, there have been some days where I do nothing and some days when I took barre and trained extra afterwards. I want to beat myself up for those days I did nothing, however, at the same time, I know that it will take me time to go back to a strong routine and that I have to celebrate those small victories (those days I get my butt off the bed and do something.)

I am glad I am taking the time to be more present, and to enjoy and suffer all good, average, and bad moments in our lives. What would you do to be more present to embrace your journey? Dancer or not?

I want to take this time to practice some gratitude:

For all those mental struggles that whisper me “You can’t make it,” thank you.

For all those moments where I have felt invincible, thank you.

For my phone to be pressuring me to check him ALL THE TIME, thank you.

For my now happy Peroneus Brevis Tendon that taught me the care you have to have for your body, even the smallest parts, thank you.

For my Therapist and Doctor that helped me see the light, thank you.

For all those people, mum, family, friends, and mentor, that have been with me the last 11 months, thank you.

Finally Plant-Based! Here are the Benefits I Have Noticed + My Intolerances Test

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If you have followed me for a while, you might have noticed that I tried to become vegan about three years ago.

Turns out, that it did not work well. Mainly because I did not know how to organise my meals.

I first started with this interest of being vegan watching, you guessed, YouTube videos. My YouTube feed is currently based on ballet, veganism, minimalism, and British YouTubers. YouTube can be quite fun, and I can say it has impacted some aspects of my life. Plant-based eating is one of them.

I remember that after I did my research (not only on YouTube but watching documentaries and reading some articles), I got very excited and started to just not have meat or animal products in my meals. I even wrote a blog post (which I deleted later because my trials had failed), and was convinced that this was the food plan that would finally help me with that desired healthy I wanted as a dancer.

Of course, there are some controversies like the traditional :where do you get your protein to dance?” Well, you can ask many vegan doctors out there and they will for sure have an answer for you. Besides, There are so many dancers that are adopting this lifestyle like Lauren Lovette (New York City Ballet), and Juliette Burnett (former Principal Artist at Australian Ballet.)

I have been eating a plant-based (and gluten free) style for months now and, I can say that I have not felt as good. Of course, I have not danced much since I adopted the way of eating, but I am pretty sure I will feel stronger when I go back 100%.

Here are some of the benefits for my body:

  1. I do not feel the “need” of protein. When I left animal meats and completed my macronutrients with plants, I still felt satisfied and strong, but less heavy and with better digestion.

  2. I am enjoying the variety of things I can cook or buy. Vegan kitchen is based on experimentation, and while it is not ideal to do, attend vegan restaurants has become an adventure! There are so many out there now.

  3. I feel more satisfied with the foods I eat, and I do not crave as many snacks. I for sure snack through the day, as my ideal plan is to eat five times a day. But I am not thinking about food ALL. THE. TIME.

  4. My digestion is better. Although I never had bad digestion or any gut issues, I felt have less stomach heaviness and bloating.

  5. I have the same amount of energy (or even better) than before. While figuring out what foods are better, I for sure had some low-energy moments. But now, I have not felt a low-energy moment in months.

  6. I also took an intolerances test by pricking my finger, and I found some surprising results. I am intolerant to gluten, lactose, apples, carrots, barley, cane sugar, cantaloupes, bananas (I know, crazy!) and almonds (crazy too!) By eliminating these foods, I did not notice a difference until I took them again. Bloating and abnormal stomach activity happens as soon as I have these.

  7. I am not restricting anything from my diet. Plant-based eating is not restriction, but rather an opportunity to learn how to eat differently. I am eating full and varied plates, not skipping meals, and not counting calories.

  8. And of course, I have noticed a great balance with my body shape. As a dancer, I am always concerned with maintaining a healthy and strong shape. I am for sure less inflamed, less bloated. I feel like when I get back to dance I will be able to feel better with my body and be able to dance as strong as ever.

These are some of the best things I have noticed since adopting a lifestyle that does not include any meat, chicken, eggs, or fish. Plant-Based eating is a whole new world to which I am glad I am discovering. If you are plant-based, let me know how it had benefited you!

In future blog posts, I am planning to insert some of the background information I found to support my food plan. There are so many speeches, campaigns, articles, and videos out there that explain all the benefits of veganism, not only to our health but also to the environment and animal safety.

Would you try going animal-less?

Being Selfish?

Photo by Tino Prado. (During rehearsal at Tampa City Ballet.)

Photo by Tino Prado. (During rehearsal at Tampa City Ballet.)

When you grow up having lots of success as a dancer (and many important failures) you can, of course, have this sense of selfishness as your accomplishments grow bigger and bigger. However, an essential part of being a great dancer and having a good reputation in your career is the aspect of being humble.

Humbleness cannot miss within a dancer’s attitude towards her or his career. There are thousands of other young dancers out there that admire you, that look up to you, that wish to be like you. So, the way you are treating others and dealing with colleagues, artistic directors, and fans, impacts your image as a dancer immensely.

But I can talk more about being humble in a different post. Today, I would like to focus on the aspect of treating yourself, rather than when you are treating others.

Yes, all dancers (and people that have a big image for being an artist, athlete, or celebrity) need to have lots of humbleness as part of themselves; but how do these people get to where they are?

I think one of their “secrets” is that they are also a bit selfish.

Focusing on yourself 50, 60, or even 70% of the time, I think, can guarantee lots of good things, even when it is time to treat others. And this does not only apply to dancers but for non-dancers as well. Focusing on your body, your mental health, and your processes and routines, has a bigger impact than what you think.

On this 2019, I would like to stop focusing on others and start focusing on myself and my progress. As selfish as this might sound.

Haven’t you heard the phrase: “Love yourself first”?

The past year, I have been focusing on “what they will think” or “if I don’t send this email then such and such person will not have this.” I completely went off of thinking “how do I feel today,” “what do I need to do to feel better,” or “what do I have to do to improve this.”

I certainly think that, now at this crucial time of recovery, I just need to turn the focus to myself, my health, my ankle rehabilitation, and my technique recovery and improvement. Yes, the majority of the time dancers have to be humble, but there are times when it is crucial to stay selfish.

This is something I did not specifically mention in my 2018 Reflections, 2019 Goals post, but it is an aspect I would not only like to keep during 2019 but rather during my whole career (both dance and writing.)

Let’s see where this bit of selfishness takes me.

Time to recover!

Reflecting on 2018

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Every year is a lesson. And for me, 2018 was a roller coaster of emotions that gave me so many wake up calls.

It was definitely not a good year for me career-wise and health-wise, but I do want to reflect in both the positives and the negatives of 2018. I had so many hopes in December of 2017 and the fact that I could not make much happen made me really think about how I would like to accomplish things from now on.

Now that I am 21, “new year resolutions” are more desirable as I become an adult, just like any other people my age. But I do not want to be one fo those people that fail with their unrealistic list. I would like to have certain goals, with defined steps on how to accomplish them.

First, we need to reflect on this past year. 2018 happened so fast, and with more reason, I am able to remember almost everything I did this year. I am happy to share this with you, so you could maybe be inspired to do the same and hopefully not failing by mid-January.

While writing these, I realised that I actually have more positives points than negative, even though I consider 2018 to be one of the hardest years.

How was my 2018?

Here are the major things that I accomplished during the year, with which I can reflect on and continue developing through 2019:

  • In the few months before I got injured, I got to improve my technique and accomplish ballet variations I have never been able to achieve before, such as the Lilac Fairy.

  • I learned how to move differently, having my first performances of contemporary dance and modern ballet, both in a short ensemble piece and a full-length performance.

  • I got to develop my acting skills performing as “Carabosse” in The Sleeping Beauty, a role I never imagined myself portraying.

  • I simplified my life through minimalism. I decluttered most of my closet and donated lots of stuff. I can say that if I move again, I will be able to fit everything in a few suitcases or boxes.

  • I finally got to understand some of the best ways I can nourish my body. I decided to finally turned to a plat-based way of eating, and it is definitely the best for my digestive system and energy levels.

  • I launched my podcast, “Beyond the Corps,” which is definitely a project I love pursuing.

  • The idea of expanding the domain “Beyond the Corps” surged a few weeks ago, and I cannot wait to keep creating more and more content for the ballet and dance community.

  • I developed extra business skills while working for the company behind the scenes. Now I know that even the smallest of companies have a long, delicate process to make a performance happen.

What was the negative?

Well, here are the things that went a bit off…

  • Of course, the biggest unfortunate event of 2018 was my tendon injury. I had a small tear on my Peroneus Brevis tendon, since April, and it happened during petite allegro in ballet class. I stopped for four months, went back onstage (just contemporary dance), and fell back again to feeling bad. Then, I had a cast for three and a half weeks. Now that it is off, I will start a patient process of physical therapy once again at the beginning of 2019.

  • Because of the injury, it has been exactly nine months since I have been on pointe.

  • For the first time, I got to experience a period off-dance. While this time is great for reflecting on the art form itself and look at it differently, it was definitely an emotional roller coaster. Frustration and anxiety dominate the mind, and I crave to dance every day.

  • Of course, some personal issues can be listed here, but I am going to save that for my personal journal instead of posting them online.

On this 2019…

I am planning this to be a year in which, as selfish as it sounds, I focus on myself. At this time of my “young adult” life, I am craving many things such as a successful jump-start of a bigger professional career, independence, and financial stability. However, I am clear that I cannot achieve any of these aspects if I don’t focus on myself first.

Here are my simple priorities for the year:

  • Injury Recovery (How? By correctly implementing my physical therapy exercises as well as being patient when coming back to ballet class.)

  • Keeping on a healthy food plan (How? By keeping a healthy food shopping list, cooking at home, and not restricting myself to certain foods.)

  • Have a consistent conditional exercise routine that aids my ankle and overall technique (How? By scheduling certain times of the day in which I dedicate to accomplishing these types of exercises. I am going to schedule at least one hour a day, five days a week for these exercises.)

  • Have an organised writing and content schedule (How? Trough scheduling exact times during the day/week to dedicate solely to Claudia’s Journal and Beyond the Corps.)

  • Keeping on simplifying my life through minimalism and intentional living (How? By consistently reviewing my processions, my routines, my relationships, and decluttering what is not necessary.)

  • Spend less time on social media (How? By scheduling certain times on the day to scroll and post on social media.)

  • Read at least a chapter of a book a day in order to read more books this year (How? I will certainly make time in the day to read at least a chapter, especially at night, where I should exchange time on my phone for time with a book.)

Well there you go. My reflections on 2018 and my intentions for 2019. What are yours?

I hope that everyone has a fantastic start of the New Year, no matter how you celebrate it. Try to journal or write down your intentions for next year. Don’t make them as impossible resolutions, but rather, like I said, as goals you can accomplish with their specific ways on how to achieve them.

Happy New Year!

Injury Update: A Cast?

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I have had a cast for the last three weeks.

You may be asking, why do I have a cast NOW, if the injury happened in April and I was supposed to be back dancing?

Well, it is indeed a long story. But this cast has not stopped me to think about bringing new things to the internet, create new content, and plan exciting things I hope will be successful for my platform and career.

After dancing back on stage this past October, I started feeling like I will take a risk and start jumping again. My plan was to start with little jumps in class after the performance season was over at the end of the month. However, after we danced at the last venue, my foot started to feel not as safe anymore. The pain was coming back during certain movements, and the bottom of my arch was also starting to bother (beginnings of plantar fasciitis.)

Then, I traveled to New York City for five days (NYC vlog coming soon on my YouTube Channel!), and naturally, took classes at Steps. This was the moment where I realised I needed a second opinion, this time from a good sports doctor. Once I landed in Tampa, I called a doctor I knew will have a specific answer for what is happening.

I was terrified to imagine myself having an ankle surgery to repair the tendon, but I wanted to do everything I could to feel better and be as healthy as I could do what I love the most.

On November 26th, the doctor told me that everything on the MRI was good, no signs of tears but lots of inflammation. There were signs of fluids around the injured area as well. He then asked me, how long was I in a boot? or a cast? And then I proceeded to say that my foot was never immobilised since the injury happened.

His recommendation? A cast for three weeks for the foot to heal properly. After that, we will see what the next steps in Physical Therapy will be.

I am traveling this Friday to Miami to get the cast removed, and a future blog post will come with the next steps.

I can definitely say that being with a cast and walking with crutches is indeed no fun, and taking a shower has been the biggest challenge so far during these three weeks. What I wish the most is that the foot heals properly now, and I will not care about anything else until I feel safe and healthy to dance.

For those dancers out there that are in the same or a worse situation, the best thing I can recommend is that you have patience. Injuries are part of our package of being a dancer, and they are common. We are all humans, and we cannot expect our body to work perfectly all the times.

Take care of your body, as it is your only instrument as a dancer. And we only get one for life.