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CELTICMELODY's Recent Blog Entries

Catching up! Solos to practice! Many recipes to enter!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I've been so busy lately (practicing for our Got Hips belly dance banquet, show, and masquerade ball) that I realized how backlogged I am with entering my recipes into the SparkPeople recipe book: sugar-free homemade "Jam" crockpot egg casserole, low-carb beef stew, low-carb (HCG friendly) beef or chicken curry, low carb meatballs, and "noodleless" lasagne (all of the guts of the lasagne and none of the noodles). So, I'm making a commitment to GET THIS DONE this weekend--along with practicing my solo and fixing my costume. For the first time EVER, I need to pad the bra of my belly dance costume so I don't fall out! I guess not ALL victories are measured by the scale! I'll git 'er done. I promise.


Photographer from Chi Trib came to belly dance class last night.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I take a beginner, intermediate, AND an advanced belly dance class (as well as pilates reformer) every week. At last night's class, there was a photographer there from the Chicago Tribune. She was there to take pictures for an interview the Tribune did with my teacher Raksanna for an article on belly dance.

I think everyone was at their best and really working hard. I know I was. Since lost 69 lbs (as of this morning), I find that I'm lighter on my feel. But, to get a good performance I need to work harder to channel MORE energy. So, I've been taking a level 1 beginners class and putting as much effort into that as possible. And, I think I'm seeing (and FEELING) results. I haven't felt this way since I was, well, a beginner.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAIVANNA 2/6/2011 12:55AM

    I teach Belly Dance class here but it's a small town and only get a few people from time to time.
I have TONS of people who want to come from surrounding towns but don't want to drive the 15 to 20 minutes to get here haha.
I used to drive half an hour to get to my classes. OH well.. in time right?

That's awesome though, that you guys made the paper. Keep up the good work and keep shimmying!

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ROSMAN65 1/16/2011 4:12PM

    That is exciting that the Trib was there. I tried an intro to Belly Dancing class once and was AMAZED at how much core and upper thigh work is involved. Sadly the classes are 90 minutes away and not feasible. Glad you are having fun!

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CELTICMELODY 1/14/2011 12:16PM

    Way cool! I'm a native Virginian. But, when we moved here to Chi town, I fell in love with it. Do give belly dace a go. I always say that, "Once you fall into the "blackhole that is belly dance" you won't look back! LOL

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DEVRIES51 1/14/2011 11:57AM

    My sister takes belly dance classes and loves it. I may have to give it a try. I see you are in the Chicago area, my hometown. I have to visit every once in awhile even though I have been gone more than 30 years.

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CELTICMELODY 1/14/2011 10:38AM

    It IS fun1 I love meeting people. And, I like the accountability of having class to go to or an upcoming performance that means I have to practice. Left to my own devices (like the treadmill LOL) no WAY would I exercise. A classmate of mine said, "Belly dance isn't excercise its prayer!" Love that

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SNUGGLY4U 1/14/2011 10:27AM

    Yay! Good for you! I love bellydancing. Haven't taken a course for years, but this really made me think I should start again. I remember how much I loved it!

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Every round leads to better and better habits

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I posted this in answer to fellow Spark Team member Ashley's question and decided to put it on my blog here as well.

For me following a restrictive diet for short periods of time has helped me see what food items I was overeating because suddenly they weren't on the menu! It was the one problem I had with other commercial diet programs that included breads and starches; when in came to starch of any form I was ADD. Call my "carb blind"

Two recent happenings got me thinking about diets and healthy eating lately.

One: a recent study (REALLY recent as in published in May 2010) showed that short term restrictive intense dieting lead to greater LONG TERM weight loss than gradual changes. This makes sense to me because for ME I just didn't SEE gradual changes. They didn't show on the scale. They didn't show in the mirror or in the way my clothes fit.

Two: Weight Watchers recently sent me an email with a coupon for their frozen meals. The email stated that the points value on most of their entrees was going up as a result of new changes to their new points system. Basically, fruits and veggies have no points. And, points values will now take into consideration overall nutritional value and nutrient density instead of just calories, fat, and fiber. For example, if white rice and brown rice have the same number of calories, the brown rice will have lower points because of its greater nutritional value.

Back to my observations on MY diet which involved short term calorie restriction and adding back in healthy foods during phases 3 & 4:

I've said before that every round has been different for me. Between rounds 2 & 3, I lost 7 lbs. I should mention that I waited 16 weeks between rounds 2 & 3.

Part of the reason was probably because I was training for the Queen of Raks Sharqi belly dance competition in July and was dancing every day. But, then, I was dancing every day fat too. SO, maybe not. During phase 4 this time, I added back in eggs,healthy fats, pork, full fat dairy, and yes, the occasional french fry. I did manage to kick my 12-pack a day Diet Pepsi habit. (No that is not an exaggeration.)

I am now in round 3 phase 4. My weight has bounced within 4 lbs of my LIW (from 2 lbs under to 1.8 lbs over.) I have not had to do a steak day.

What I DID have to do, however, is be increasingly more careful about eating breads, sweets and carby cr@p foods. I eat a roll now and I wear it for a week. It just isn't WORTH it to me! I think the closer one gets to thier end goal, the more diligent they need to be about eating healthy foods in phase 4 and maintenance. That certainly has been true for me.

That said, I think it is ALWAYS a good idea to incorporate healthy foods at every meal. So, here is what I do. Some of it based on my Drs' advise - some based on my own research.

#1) Drink 8-12 ounces of water 30 minutes before each meal. Especially since I'm over 40. Recent research says that water does indeed help quell the appetite in those over 40. For the younger crowd, not so much.

#2) Have a bowl of veggie laden soup 15 minutes before lunch and dinner. The soup has a serving of fat in it also to help quell hunger.

#3) Eat on a salad plate. Make sure that ALL meals have at least 1/2 veggies. Yes even breakfast.)

#4) No breads, starches or sweets with snacks. All snacks I have include either fruit or veggies and a small amount of protein.

When I have enough protein, veggies, and fruit, I really don't want the sweets or breads. And, I actually prefer water or tea over Diet Sodas now.

It's been a process and I didn't do all these things with every phase 4 round. They were added one by one although I did follow phase 2and 3 to the letter!

A year ago, doing phase 2 through the holidays would have been unthinkable. Now? Not so much!! :)

A note: I ended phase 2 with a LIW of 143.2. Today, I was 144.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CELTICMELODY 12/8/2010 5:13PM

    Thanks Wendy!
I like to roast a big pan of veggies and then add them to chicken broth on the stove top. I will either stir in a little garlic oil or heavy cream or garnish w/ nitrate free bacon for the fat.

The studies that I read attributed the appetite being turned off to the fat not just the water in the veggies and soup. That said, it went on to say that it didn't take much fat - a tsp of oil or a tablespoon of cream would be more than plenty. emoticon

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WINE4GIRL 12/8/2010 5:07PM

    All great tips. I am a bread freak (former baker, even!) and I can't imagine life without breads. So now, I incorporate healthier choices. Good for you on making it to this point! I've heard for years about drinking water before a meal. But the soup sounds great too. Thanks for the tips!
Good luck on the continuation of your journey!

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When others are counting on you, take care of yourself first.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Last January, I had ballooned back up to 208. As of this morning, I am 151.8 lbs. I feel better and have more energy. Little did I know that I was going to need it.

6 weeks ago, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. They caught it early, operated right away, and, thankfully, believe they got it all--although he will still under go 6 weeks of radiation as a preventitive. Although, the radiation will be very low dose, it will still make him tired. (He's going to have treatment 5 days a week for 6 weeks.)

Had this happened a year ago, I would not have had the energy to pick up the slack. Friends (both local, facebook AND Sparkpeople friends) have been very supportive and helpful, and I thank you all.

I am reminded of the spiel they give you on the airplane that says to put your mask on before your children. The airlines say this because they know, in the event of an emergency, if you pass out first, your child will be in trouble. They are counting on you to be able to help them. Although, putting your mask on first seems to go against every protective instinct. I was always taught others first, then yourself.

In order to help my husband get healthy, I need to be physically and mentally healthy myself. He's been very supportive of my weight loss and has been my biggest cheerleader.

I'm happy to be able to give back!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WINE4GIRL 9/7/2010 6:39PM

    I hate what you and your hubs are going through, but I am so glad you are able to really be there for him!


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CELTICMELODY 9/7/2010 5:53PM

    Thank you ma'am.

Actually, my husband's cancer is highly treatable and was caught early. He's in really good spirits.

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    I am sorry to hear about your husband and I am very sympathetic to your plight - keep going chicka! you are doing excellent!

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Totally Blown Away - Randa Kamal & Faten Salama!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Totally Blown Away – Workshop with Faten Salama & Randa Kamel

Yes, I had attended workshops in my local town of Chicago. Raksanna always brings in top notch talent from all over the world for her students and the local community to broaden there knowledge of middle eastern dance. But, this was the first time I was going to a workshop in another city…WITH MY TEACHER.
I had no idea what to expect. I wanted exposure to folkloric aspects of the dance as well as oriental. And, I wanted a chance to study from teachers that had such an impact on my own teacher.

I was totally blown away!

After a gala performance Friday night featuring top dancers from around the United States including our very own Raksanna AND the past winners of the Queen of Raks Sharqi competition, Saturday opened with Faten Salama teaching in the morning: How to work with a live band. She took us through a typical performance starting with an entrance with veil and working through the taksim. The one thing she kept emphasizing was that the music was in charge and, with a live band firing us up, it certainly felt that way.
Randa Kamel followed in the afternoon with classical oriental dance choreographed to a modern song. The folkloric aspects of Raqs Sharqi were apparent throughout the choreography. I kept telling myself, “You WILL finish this dance and you WILL NOT embarrass your teacher!” Half way through the choreography, Faten had those of us in the front switch with those in the back. It was at that point that Randa had us perform an arabesque followed by a turn that some girls around me did not recognize. “What was that? What did she do?” I heard a gal behind me say. “Oh, that’s a turn from Reda!” I found myself saying.

I then realized that those of us who have the good fortune to study with Raksanna really ARE getting good training. And, I realized how truly fortunate we are. I told her, “Deep down I knew how special what we have is but, I didn’t KNOW! Understand?” She said that yes, she DID understand.
Raksanna trains her dancers in the Egyptian style dance and is committed to excellence. More importantly, she has the respect of other Egyptian artists and continues to bring that passion for the art form and the commitment to excellence to her students through offering workshops with artists equally as dedicated to preserving middle eastern dance.

To that end, she has several upcoming workshops for me to look forward to:
April 17th, she has Amani from Atlanta coming to present the difference in Iraqi and Saudi Khaleegy styles and tasty Cairo combinations. In May, Faten Salama comes to Chicago to offer her Al-Massrweya! An intensive 18-hour certificate program in Egyptian belly dance aimed at the intermediate/advanced dancer. Finally, for ChicagoRaks this year, she is bringing in Momo Kadous who will teach a range on choreographies from Saidi stick to drum solo culminating in a Gala performance.

So even if I CAN’T travel to another town for a workshop, there will still be many exciting opportunities to broaden my dance horizons right here in Chicago.

One thing Faten Salama said was that now EVERYONE is accessable where by years ago you definately did have to travel, often overseas, to study with top- notch middle eastern trained teachers. Now, workshops are EVERYWHERE and with resources available over the internet, fairly easy to find.

You can search the MECDA website for teachers, bookmark their websites, and get on their email lists to be apprised of upcoming events. There is also shira.net, Zagarheet Magazine, The Guilded Serpent and other resources to get information on upcoming workshops.

AND, don't overlook our very own Spark People. Ask your fellow Sparkling Belly dancers where to look and they will tell you what they know.

Belly dance has been a crucial part of my weight loss journey. I think it is important to help spread the love of this beautiful artform and support dancers in need of teachers.


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