New York Moment!

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

I’m back in New York and it’s so exciting. Things are starting to open up, the weather is gorgeous, and I’m able to visit with old friends. People are buzzing about, yellow cabs are flying by, and most of all, I’m thrilled to be dancing again.

Can you believe it?

Still Dancing In My 40s

This old body keeps chugging along. Many of you have asked how? How do I dance 4 hours a day in my 40s, how do I live in the basement attached to the studio, how do I keep up with New York City dance, and how have I danced for so long without hurting myself?

Well, I think you know the answer... Diet!
It has everything to do with my what fuel I put in my body most of the time.

What A Bad Diet Can Do

This is something I love to share with younger athletes, because I didn’t understand this in my college and young professional years. I thought I was invincible and could eat whatever I wanted as long as I stayed in physical shape. Unfortunately, my body began to feel muscle fatigue, joint pain, and migraines that were unbearable in my early 20s.

I woke up every morning feeling like I was 80 years old in this young body and I decided to put off finishing my Masters degree so that I could rush to New York and maybe have 5-10 good years of dancing before my career was over.

I loved New York, and I loved dancing professionally, but I suffered from aches and pains, heartburn, constipation, and depression that I think some of us believe are normal facts of life. It wasn’t until I had trouble getting pregnant that I knew something was very wrong.

How I Found My New Life

A friend of mine shared how to eat an ancestral, whole foods diet with enough protein and fat to support moving 8 hours a day, and my health came back to me. I found slowing down with yoga helped me balance my rigorous dancing, and to my surprise the migraines, heartburn, and depression disappeared. I started to lose weight and build muscle easier, and I became pregnant naturally without even trying.

It was incredible!

Finding Dance Again

As many of you know, I returned to dance professionally in 2018. I had given up 13 years earlier with the birth of my daughter, and we moved to the Bay Area in CA to raise a family. I visited New York with a dear friend of mine and happened upon an audition with my old dance company.

My choreographer was stunned that I could still move like the acrobat she saw so many years ago and asked me to perform on Broadway with them. It was a 5 week intense schedule and I was thrilled to be able to move that way without the aches and pains.

I called our show “Off Broadway” for a few months as I began pre-training in Redwood City. I couldn’t imagine the real deal was finally happening for me, but there we were at the New Victory Theater on 42nd street, right next door to Harry Potter.

The show was such a success, that my choreographer asked me to perform one last time with them last year in Norway at a special residency. All of my childhood dreams were being checked off in my 40s and I was amazed that my body could keep up. Unfortunately, COVID-19 took that dream away, and I know many of you lost your dreams that year as well.

We were paid for the residency and asked to submit a video, so here I am in NY, performing and filming to complete the project. I love this place with its grit and tough as nails charm. I'm in Brooklyn where I met my husband and had my first child; it's like a second home for me.

I’ll be able to share the video of my performance this time, whereas the New Victory did not allow filming. This will be a street performance debut of Hazmat for Open Culture, with feelings of anxiety, domesticity, quarantine, our familiar patterns broken, and the beautiful tapestry of our new normal.

Come See The Show

I welcome you to join us for the site specific evening performances July 9th and 10th on the corner of Sackett Street and 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY in front of the stunning graffiti.... and I promise to share as much as I can.

My Diet Routine

Since I mentioned it earlier, I’m sure some of you are wondering what my magic fuel is so here’s my special diet:

Every meal I try to eat:

  • 4oz complete protein or 20g protein which is critical for muscle repair.
  • 2 Tbsp high quality fat from whole food sources, never fried oils, vegetable oils, canola, or synthetic margarines. This is key for recovery from inflammation and muscle fatigue.
  • 2-3 cups of non-starchy vegetables. Check out our awesome guide for non-starchy and starchy forms on our social channels. This is what I use to carb load so that my muscles store enough glycogen to work out 4 hours a day and not crash midday.
  • 1/2 cup starchy vegetables, whole grains, or fruit so as not to overdo the sugar, but to give my microbiome plenty of fiber to ferment and help keep my immune system working for me.
  • Finally, I have something decadent for myself such as a few squares of dark chocolate, home made chai, or occasionally, it’s ice cream. Usually that's once a week as a super treat that makes me almost giddy, and I eat it with the meal so the sugar is balanced by the good stuff.

I try not to think about what I can’t have, but rather fill up on healthy fuel first, so that I’m satiated, and not starving for treats.

What about alcohol?

Yes, I splurge when I’m with friends, and training hard, but I try to stay hydrated and drink water after every drink. I’m a light weight, so I drink slow, and try to balance it with a big meal.

That’s my secret and it has worked for me for many years.

Try it!

See if you notice a difference in energy, and keep on dreaming, because you never know when your childhood dreams may come true.