It's impossible not to take one look at ABT Principal Dancer Misty Copeland and think, WOW. There's a reason why she's a face of Under Armour:
Now, she's letting everyone in on how she gets her famous physique in Ballerina Body, her highly-anticipated fitness and nutrition guide, out today. In it, Misty details her lifelong journey to feeling confident in her body and forming healthy eating habits–from starting out eating glow-in-the-dark cheese squeezed out of a bottle as a child, to going through a donut binging phase as a young ballerina while struggling with body image, to deciding to give up meat altogether and finally nailing a nutrition regimen that left her fulfilled.
She also includes a wealth of practical tips and a 21-day meal plan with day-by-day menus and grocery lists. Also in the book–Misty's tips for meditation, visualizations, and a workout routine that offers floor moves that mimic barre exercises, stretching, posture-improving exercises, and actual moves from ballet.
Here, we break down what she calls her "perfect day" of meals and the best tips we've learned from the book:
Muffin or bagel slathered with scallion cream cheese and iced coffee
"I realized dietary discipline doesn't have to mean deprivation," Misty writes in the intro. One of the biggest takeaways from Misty's book is that you should not shy away from fat–in fact she has an entire chapter titled "The Magic of Fat." "Eating it, absorbing it, and burning it for energy," she writes, "Is the key to building the muscle and providing strength so important for ballerinas." Emphasizing fat like Omega-3s found in tuna, sardines, or her favorite, salmon (Misty is pescatarian), she says fat can fill you up, help you absorb more nutrition (like Vitamins A, D, and K), and fights inflammation, making you resistant to injury.
As for dairy (hello, cream cheese), Misty says it gives a "package of essential nutrients, especially calcium, which is a bone-building mineral that dancers need." When she was injured with six fractures, Misty claims dairy "played a significant role" in her diet for recovery.
Cashews and macadamia nuts, with dried pineapple and a few grapes
"Nuts have become my go-to snack. I keep a baggie or a small container of them in my purse and my locker at ABT's rehearsal studio because I've found that they satisfy my hunger and give me a quick spike of energy," she writes. She suggests a handful, or 1/8 of a cup.
Misty also writes a piece of fresh fruit is another go-to snack–her favorites are grapes, blueberries, and bananas. "At the start of my day, right after ballet class, and before I launch into seven hours of rehearsals, I'll grab a piece of fruit for an energy boost." She has two snacks daily. (Other favorites: 3-4 pieces of sushi, and a serving of cheese).
Spinach salad topped with pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries, light vinaigrette, 2-3 slices of avocado
Misty's Ballerina Body breaks down her nutrition philosophy into "Act 1" food (main ingredients and primary supplier of fats like animal protein and plant fats) and "Act 2" food (vegetables, fruits, starches, grains) you can mix and match. Her plan suggests always picking one of each for both lunch and dinner, making sure each plate has protein and carbs.
She calls this method "Meal Choreography" and explains, "Like ballet and our workout routine, which take a medley of steps and build from there in combination and complexity, you'll be able to mix and match a variety of foods to make sure you enjoy wheat you're eating and your taste buds don't get bored."
Grilled salmon, roasted onions, carrots, butternut squash seasoned with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. A glass of prosecco OR a peanut butter cookie.
For dinner, you should include one of each "Act 1" food and "Act 2" food, then add in a starch like brown rice or winter squashes. "Act 1" food, she writes, should be grilled, baked, poached, or broiled rather than fried. Because she's pescatarian, dinner usually revolves around fish. On giving up meat, Misty wrote, "I dove in headfirst, becoming a pescatarian overnight. I wouldn't necessarily recommend going cold turkey like I did. I had dreams of bacon and giant hamburgers for months! But I felt amazing. My energy level skyrocketed."
If she's eating out...
Misty loves Red Lobster. But, she stays mindful of what she's consuming, even when at a restaurant. "I like to go with options that don't have a ton of empty calories added to them. For instance, I'll order the crab legs and a garden salad. Go for clean–a piece of fish that isn't breaded or fried, a salad or vegetable, and quinoa, lentils, or couscous instead of rice," she explains.
Another major "do" of hers is to "eat mindfully," that is, eat slower to aid digestion. It "Allows you to really relish the flavors you're tasting, and can help you realize when you're truly full."
If she's traveling...
"I like to take along packaged food that I can rely on to give my body what it needs, especially if I'm heading overseas. I usually carry packets of plain oatmeal, packaged tuna, whole wheat crackers, and nuts."
Things to avoid...
Lastly, sugar, processed food, junk food, fast food, white flour, artificial sweeteners, and soda are among the things Misty steers clear from. She also suggests easing off salt and reaching for garlic, onions, and herbs, instead. Another big tip: don't eat to the point of being overstuffed. "It's okay to leave food on the plate," Misty assures.
Get Ballerina Body here.
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