My Secrets to Get Back into Shape

My Secrets to Get Back into Shape

*** I’ll admit it. I took the chocolate road to happiness this Fall/Winter. After a series of personal traumatic events, I let myself go and my buns of steel turned to buns of marshmallows. I stopped exercising and was breathless after a 15 second lap dance for my boyfriend. It was perfectly normal for me to eat a cupcake for breakfast. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I was out of control and completely out of shape.

The situation was dire – after all, just 6 months ago, I was referred to as a ‘fitness expert’. The writing was on the wall: it was time to put down the French fries and pick up my fitness routine. I was filled with classic delusions of grandeur:

My mind: “I’ll start where I left off: dancing 6 days a week.”
My body: “No comprendo.”

Six months ago, I used to be able to control 12 different abdominal muscles while bellydancing. Now, my mind is so disconnected from my body that we don’t even speak the same language.

After teaching my second class of the week, I hobbled off to my favorite gelato place. I ordered a triple scoop of stracciatella and plopped my sore ass down when it dawned on me:

The attitude I had that got me out of shape is the same attitude I need to possess in order to get back into shape.


Simply put: I enjoyed the journey that got me out of shape and if I am going to get fit, it needs to be a pleasurable experience, too.

With each spoonful of creamy goodness, it became even clearer. The process needed to be more feminine. While I packed on the pounds, I was nurturing, loving and gentle with myself. These are all aspects of feminity. I was soothing my broken heart and gave myself a break. I allowed myself to sleep in and not wake up early to teach classes. I gave myself permission to take a bubble bath on Saturday evenings instead of performing and I treated myself to many, many sweet treats. This approach was effective and soon my inner-strength returned.

Then when I decided to work on my outer-strength and lose weight, (I gained 25 lbs in 6 months) I chose the aggressive and strict method. These are masculine traits. I was hopelessly unrealistic and returned to my fitness schedule before my break. I used to dance 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. I’m a bellydancer – why was I suddenly acting like I was in the Marines? I nearly had to be carried out on a stretcher and ventilator after the first week that I returned to dancing. It wasn’t cute, Goddess-like and it certainly wasn’t going to work.

I revisited my favorite temple of sweetness and wrote what have become my secrets to getting back in shape.

1) Be feminine. Treat myself like a loving, doting, proud mother would. Relish in all the accomplishments and steps to improvement. None are too small for this Mama: “That’s so wonderful that you only ate one chocolate covered strawberry! I know you wanted more. I’m so proud of my baby girl!”
2) Avoid the masculine. Don’t punish myself with extreme cleanses, diets or exercise routines. I will feel deprived, judge myself mercilessly and likely fail quickly. End result: I will not feel good.
3) Make it pleasurable. I enjoyed the journey that got me out of shape, but not all things I enjoy are fattening and unhealthy. I wrote down all the things I liked: dancing, favorite dance moves (shimmies, snake hips), favorite songs, wearing costumes, wearing jewelry and sparkly things. I will put these things into my health and fitness routine so that I enjoy the journey.
4) Easy does it. I can’t emphasize this one enough: Girlfriend, check yourself before your wreck yourself! I took 6 months to get out of shape. I cannot start where I left off. It’s perfectly ok to dance for only 3 minutes to my favorite song and consider that my entire workout for the week.
5) Be positive. Focus on the things I am doing and not the things I am not. Whatever I feed grows and I choose to feed positivity and gratitude.
6) Make the re-connection. I know the power and euphoria that comes with the mind-body connection. When the time is right, I will feel it again. I trust that I will look forward to dancing once I have made this re-connection. I believe that I will want to put healthy food into my body once I have made this re-connection.

Two months after I wrote the above list, I have happily returned to my full fitness routine and I still eat a cupcake for breakfast from time to time.

***This blogpost is a semi-repost, though the story remains true as it was when originally posted in Nov 2010

20 comments (Add your own)

1. amie the warrior goddess wrote:
Positive thoughts and self talk are all that will be breathed/thought/spoken in my home, including the area where I do my daily workouts. I was never a running fan, so dragging myself out to the treadmill to trot and plod was not working for me, so I did not. Then, as the other workouts strengthened my cardio fitness and trimmed my Goddess frame, my mind started dreaming of running= not plodding about on a treadmill, but running through lush forests or in the dark of the sleeping neighborhood, panting breath providing the rhythm to the story that my mind created for each silent, dark house. I belly dance on my rest days, with you. I do ballet on those days as well. Thank you, for reminding me and hopefully everyone who reads your words that we are goddesses, soft of flesh and delicate of frame but wicked sharp of mind and indefinably strong of spirit.... you rock, always.

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:10 PM

2. Tracy wrote:
beautiful goddess, thank you for baring your soul, you have helped so many with your bravery and honesty. You have given me the courage to write for the first time of my recent journey/experience.
Following long periods of difficult challenging situations I too had recently become so disconnected from my mind and body, as a yoga teacher i felt a complete fraud, the words that fell from my lips were no longer connected to my heart or mind, i felt so lost. No one was aware that underneath my external mascarade i had lost my very connection to the source, the vital thread that connects us to the universe. In a body that used to feel so open i had become trapped and unable to breathe, unable to apply the lessons i had learned and would suggest to others. In desperation i turned to antidepresants but this only fueled my downward spiral, ever more out of control I became a recluse and grew more anxious of being around people. (me?!) I had to take other pills to counter act the sideffects from the antidepresants, i was in such conflict.It reached a turning point when i realised that i was terrified of collecting my 8yr old from school that is when the lightening struck! What had happened to me?! The next day i stopped taking the pills (i am not suggesting that this is the right thing for everyone, but i knew it was for me) After 2 days it was although the clouds had cleared, my eyes were open and so was my heart. I took a deep breath and felt connected once more.
Light and love to all and know that you are never alone xxx

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:12 PM

3. Desideria wrote:
I have also slumped and gooofed off! since Summer to October I was involved in total kaos, drama and misery brought on by friends and Ex BF. I stopped working out, ate too much and was severely depressed. I became certfied as a Goddess instructor and decided enough was enough. I came along way from recovering cancer in 2009 , getting in shape and being who I am to NOT continue that journey. I went right back into my Practice, dancing and working out again. I also started my vegetarian diet, cleansings and better lifestyle once again back to me. You have been a inspiration to me along with other Goddesses Thank you

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:14 PM

4. Christina wrote:
I love this one Dolphina!! Even the best of us lose it every now and then. I love the idea of using the same attitude to get back into shape as the one that got you out of it. A friend on Twitter once said that after eating breakfast she was exhausted, and asked if anyone else felt the same way. My reply to her was, "I'm sometimes exhausted after ANY meal, I love food so much I think I overwhelm myself!!". Sometimes it really can be the things we love that can hurt AND heal us. :)

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:19 PM

5. Juliana Crouch wrote:
Dolphina, you are and forever will be an exceptional and beautiful goddess. I can not imagine the extra weight looked anything but lovely on you, but I know we feel our best when we are proud of our appearance. I'm sorry to hear you have been through some rough times, and retreating for a time and licking our wounds is nothing to feel bad about. I am so happy you had support and love sent to you in your time of need, for you have been there for many of us in our times of insecurity, crisis, and times when we needed to be reminded of the goddess within. Remember, you have changed many lives for the better with your spirit, drive and beauty. I miss you dearly. You are absolutely right to find the joy in life on your road to regaining your fitness, thats what you've given me time and again in my fitness life, after starting over after each baby. Bellydance, Burlesque and the others, not to mention champagne and strawberries keep our spirit going when we are daunted. Here I am expecting my third child, looking forward to the days of dancing and fine living ahead. I think of you often, and hope each time that you will reopen your Goddess Center and bring that wonderful community back to us. Never forget how wonderful you are!

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:23 PM

6. Angela Hoffmann wrote:
this brought me to tears...i treat myself worse than any other person i know...I promise to myself that i will be kind, encouraging and gentle with myself and give myself praise for my accomplishments, hugs and treats on those really bad days(non caloric ones mostly...but a piece of tiramisu or creme brulee might be needed on those worst days haha)...just like i would one of my darling 6 children..

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:24 PM

7. Angela Hoffmann wrote:
and interestingly enough...after my last baby..Jonathon who is 9 now..i lost weight effortlessly just by "playing" with belly dancing...your "Goddess work out" was the first DVD i bought...i remember how fun it was..and how i learned to love my body, even though it was huge and misshapen from recently having a brought me back to my beautiful woman that i had beaten and tucked away..worse than my abusive ex treated me...geesh this really had my brain whirling..tomorrow i am getting my Goddess DVD out and i am going to "play" myself back into shape..yes! THANK YOU!!! i just had my AHA moment here

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:25 PM

8. Patricia Casey wrote:
While I am not glad that you experienced personal loss I am moved that you openenly admitted to stopping your regular routine and gaining weight. I guess what I'm trying to say is I now see you as one of "us" and feel more empowered than ever before. Thank you for that.

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:26 PM

9. Tammie Baughman wrote:
it's ok, we all slip sometimes, I had two surgeries (neck and spine) and would like to get back to your goddess workouts, but I wore out my VHS tapes, lol. You're a great inspiration!

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:26 PM

10. Catherine Ramirez wrote:
very inspiring....its important to be real with yourself and gentle aswell...we are often our own worst critics....I enjoy the dvds...

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:27 PM

11. Dorothy wrote:
Jeezum crow woman, you are BRILLIANT! Now,has anybody EVER couched getting back into shape in those terms? Not that I've seen. I am so NOT a "no-pain, no-gain" girl! My philosophy is "no-pain, no-pain, DUH!". I love thinking about fitness as a girly-feminine-nurturing act! Yes yes yes!!!

I can only imagine that those 6 months have brought you to a new understanding, and sharing that understanding is going to help a whole helluva lot of women -- as per usual for you!

And you know I'd love you if you were 400 pounds. I'm glad you're NOT because I want you around on the planet for a long time! Keep going!!

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:28 PM

12. Jennifer Hess wrote:
I can't believe it. I thought professional dancers and exercise instructors never gained weight. I just had my gall bladder removed two weeks ago, straight from the ER into the OR emergency surgery, very infected, lots of stones. After the first three days of not eating all I could do was eat stuff right of the box, boredom, pain meds, distraction... And I am also winded so easily. Thank you Dolphina so much for sharing your human side. Even if it is just for 3 minutes, it's a start. Nurture, nurture, nurture...who would have thought?

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:29 PM

13. Lori Rubenstein wrote:
Beautiful Dolphina!! This is incredibly inspiring and magically written. I love the feminine guide to getting in shape! Miss you!!!!!

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:30 PM

14. Kristine Halverson wrote:
Hi! So good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing about your recent progress. We were wondering where you were... Good to have you back. Yes, those damn cupcakes are addicting! Wish you the best and know that you are loved.

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:30 PM

15. Kristine Halverson wrote:
Hi! So good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing about your recent progress. We were wondering where you were... Good to have you back. Yes, those damn cupcakes are addicting! Wish you the best and know that you are loved.

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:32 PM

16. ashly white-hyndman wrote:
So I just wrote you this letter about how u stay so beautifully toned, asking about how u did it.. lol I hadn't read this first so sorry. But it is truly amazing to see how u truly are a woman and so inspirational! Thank you for everything

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:33 PM

17. STERLINDA wrote:
Dear Dolphina
You have always helped me to nurture my inner goddess---even if she doesn't look like everyone else's--she's mine and you've always encouraged me to "JUST GET OUT THERE AND SHAKE IT!" I've always appreciated that you've helped me to remember no matter what, it's all about being a girl. A woman. A goddess.

Know that you've always created a safe haven for all of us goddesses to get back to the essence of who we all are.

Know that even in your blues you're a bright shining light.

Know that sometimes we have to go through to get to the other side.

Know that you're on your way.

Much love to you,


Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:34 PM

18. Kimber wrote:
Thank you for sharing your story...I lost 40 pounds last year and let a broken heart send me spinning into oblivion...little did I know this spiral into hell would lead me to my step toward redemption. I have finally admitted I need help with depression and a binge eating disorder. I have found a wonderful support system including good doctors, good friends, and parents who are on my side!!! I gained back 40 pounds plus 20 in less than 9 months, so thank you for sharing the fact that even you, Dolphina, can pack on the pounds. I realize the more we share our stories, the more we realize we are NOT alone in our dark spaces! I wish every woman a beautiful and successful journey! Peace~Kimber

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:35 PM

19. Theresa817 wrote:
Such an inspirational story, thank you to all of you goddesses for sharing your strength, wisdom and knowledge. Today, I am going to choose to start loving myselg again.

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 3:36 PM

20. Jessi Jordan wrote:
Fantastic!!! I love it!

Mon, April 16, 2012 @ 6:24 PM

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