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S'khai Tia's DNC challenge!

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My overall goal for the summer is to level up my dancer.


For this challenge, I have a few quests that will help me with my overall goal to be the best dancer I can be.


- Practice.  I will dance everyday for at least an hour.  I'm not going to set a specific style for this challenge.  It's just important that I work consistently on body awareness, coordination, control, and musicality.  I will video myself for at least part of this, so I can be more aware of my current technical challenges, and hopefully watch myself improve!


- Hydration.  I will drink a gallon of water everyday.  This will help with flexibility, surviving the heat, and discouraging the liquid calories.


- Nutrition.  I will plan out my meals every week and stick to the plan!  If I eat a snack, it will be a pre-approved snack off of a plate, and not a quick bite I steal while putting together a snack for my kid, or random bites of ingredients when I cook, or any of the other mindless calories I currently consume.


- Cross-training.  I'd like to commit to doing some other physical activities to supplement my dancing at least 6 days a week.  This may include stretching and conditioning work, bodyweight exercises, and running the 5K in July.




I'd also like to get my item level up on my FFXIV DNC to average 490!

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On 6/17/2020 at 8:09 AM, KB Girl said:

Ambitious and awesome! 

Thanks for the support!


On 6/17/2020 at 8:37 AM, Open Fracture said:

I can't dance.  Not at all.  But dancing for 1 hour a day seems like a tough goal especially doing 6X additional workouts a week.  Crush it!!

Dance means so many different things to different people that I think it's basically impossible to be unable to dance.  If you move any part of your body with intention and call it dance, it is dance.  Dance can be performative, introspective, communicative, social, or all of the above.  As for me, I have so much respect for social dancers because dancing with strangers unchoreographed utterly terrifies me.  I prefer practicing super technique driven dance forms, where I spend the first 30 mins just practicing transferring my weight between my feet with more awareness and coordination.  How is my balance affected by my knee bending or remaining straight?  What if I use my hamstrings more, or put more pressure in the third and fourth toes of my right foot, or rotate my hip open, or keep it closed?  At times it's more meditation than exercise.  Dance practice focuses me like nothing in my life ever has before.


The hardest part of dancing for me was starting.  I kept it a secret from my family for years because I was convinced they'd mock me.  I felt so incredibly insecure about it.  I thought of my lone dance recital 25 years before, and how I fell on my butt when my only job was to walk cross the stage and pick up a flower.  How my parents told me this story for years afterwards when we would go to my little sister's ballet recitals.  As they told it, that was the moment they knew I would never be a dancer.  So it wasn't until I was a few years out of college and living half a world away from my parents that I got up the nerve to take a dance class.  And it was super awkward!!  The class was advertised for beginners of any age, and it ended up being me and two middle school girls with approximately 5 more years of experience than me... I almost didn't come back because I felt like such a creepy old guy dancing next to young girls in tights.  But the teachers and the girls' parents were super friendly and encouraging, and somehow I stuck it out long enough to get over that initial discomfort and the feeling that I'm super terrible at this and should just give up now.  I'm still not a very strong dancer by many standards, but I'm better than I was yesterday.  And I've learned how to not compare myself to others, but to focus in on how I can learn how to use my body a bit more intentionally every day.


23 hours ago, Harriet said:

Welcome and happy dancing! 

Thank you!  I'm excited to be here.

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Ok!  Day 1 update:


So on Friday I fell on my back really hard.  I was climbing into a boat, and the seat was loose and slid out from under me, so I slammed hard into metal.  It's been a few days, and I still have incredible amounts of pain when I use my left psoas at all...  I'm icing pretty constantly, but I didn't want to totally fail on my first day of this challenge, so I did my best!



- Practice.  I spent 20 mins working on foot strengthening/ankle mobility exercises.  I used to do these every time I fed my son a bottle, but he's three now, so I haven't done these exercises consistently in 2.5 years!  My feet super cramped up doing what used to be a very reasonable quantity of reps, so note to self: do your foot exercises!  I did some Rajio Taiso (my favorite Japanese warmup that can scale to any level of physical ability) from a chair until I was warm and sweaty.  Then I went through my Latin routines and did just the arms for all of them.  I spent about 20 mins drilling my rumba arms, which I'm hideously uncoordinated at.


- Hydration.  I'm finishing my last pint of water as I type.




- Nutrition.  I planned out my meals for the week, went grocery shopping, pre-portioned out lunch for tomorrow, pre-cut some of the veggies for tomorrows dinner, and stuck with my plan for today!




- Cross-training.  So today was supposed to be my day for Bodyweight 5C.  I was able to do only the wall slides due to pain, but I did them!


This was not at all the start I hoped for, but I'm happy that I pushed through and did SOMETHING productive for my body, while (hopefully) not doing anything to exacerbate this injury.



Please let me feel better tomorrow!


Today's progress video is me doing Rajio Taiso from a chair.  This is about the extent of my range of motion at the moment... 

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11 hours ago, First Mate Davy said:

Those "stickers" in your post are amazing. 


Thank you!  I communicate best with stickers (=^_^=)ゞ


11 hours ago, First Mate Davy said:

I like how you're responding to the injury - taking care of it but still doing everything you can safely do exercise-wise. That's a great attitude to have. 


You posted this right when I was starting to enter a dark and angry mental place regarding my injury.  I can't tell you how much it helped to be reminded that I'm doing what I can do and that I shouldn't feel defeated.




31 minutes ago, Xena said:

Loved reading about how you got into dance! So sorry about your injury. Hope it heals quickly.


Thank you!

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Day 2!


My day started with a lot of anger and sadness over my injury.  I'm very sick of my back hurting...  this was compounded by the fact that I would have taken a ballet class today, if I wasn't pretty sure that it would break me.  There was a gentle movement dance class on the schedule that I tried to Zoom into instead, but no one showed up... not even the teacher!




My day got much better with a flexibility class I took in the afternoon.  A solid 45 mins of gentle stretching and learning what movements work and which don't at the moment.  I learned that if I get into it slowly, I can hold a normal plank without pain, but side planks are totally out.  I stretched out my shoulders and did my foot exercises.  I can also bend backwards with no pain, but forward bends must be taken cautiously and straight forward.  Absolutely no side bends for me.


Nutrition-wise I realized I was missing an ingredient for dinner, so I swapped the plan with tomorrow's dinner plan, and I'll run by the store tomorrow to rectify my inventory problem.  I did end up eating one unplanned snack today: a bowl of cottage cheese.


Hydration - I hit my water goal by 4pm today and had a pint of iced tea and one of cold brew.  I'm drinking seltzer now.  It's fluffing hot!




I finished my day with an hour of cha cha, with a particular focus on the arms and upper body.  Today's progress video is from tonight's cha cha routine.  I regularly get the correction that my shoulders are too high, and I definitely see that a bit in the video.  That's definitely a thing I'd like to work on this month.



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A few years ago I had a lower back injury that really frustrated me. I'm a distance runner and thought maybe I would have to give it up. The pain persisted for months...I could more-or-less keep running but I knew something wasn't right. Just as I was hitting a low point, someone on this site pointed out that sometimes back injuries just take a long time to heal. And it did. 100%.


So far, yours sounds like more of a short-term problem. Hopefully just a couple of days rather than months, but I mean to share the message of hope, not the specific timeline. Be gentle with yourself and keep doing what you can reasonably do.

Xena, Level 14+ Valkyrie Ranger

January 2017  December 2016

Oct/Nov 2016


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15 hours ago, Xena said:

A few years ago I had a lower back injury that really frustrated me. I'm a distance runner and thought maybe I would have to give it up. The pain persisted for months...I could more-or-less keep running but I knew something wasn't right. Just as I was hitting a low point, someone on this site pointed out that sometimes back injuries just take a long time to heal. And it did. 100%.


So far, yours sounds like more of a short-term problem. Hopefully just a couple of days rather than months, but I mean to share the message of hope, not the specific timeline. Be gentle with yourself and keep doing what you can reasonably do.


I'm so glad your back healed.  Thank you for this message.  I certainly hope mine's a short-term problem.  I know it could be a lot worse... I'll do my best to take it easy.  It's a bit tough mentally to do it, when I know that summer is my time for dancing.  My kid's in summer camp and I don't have classes to teach, so I want to be dancing!!  ♬٩( ᐛ )و♬

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Day 3!


I'm feeling much better.  My back still hurts when I try to lift my legs or side bend, but I spend a lot of time exploring the range of motion that I DO have today, and feeling pretty lucky that I have as much as I do.


- Practice.  2 hours of ballet and an hour of Latin!  I really took it easy in ballet today.  There were some combinations I just marked lightly.  I managed a few solid double pirouette en dedans, which is pretty good for me!  I had a much harder time with en dehors, which is usually my stronger direction... but I was pretty happy! (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵). My grand battements were essentially degage height... but I'll take it!  Progress video taken from Latin practice.  I worked on paso today, and took it nice and slow.




- Nutrition.  Oof.  I did so much snacking today... It all started with a chocolate cake that my kid wanted to bake this morning... I limited the chocolate cake eating, but only by grabbing slightly healthier snacks...




- Hydration.  Did it!!


- Cross training.  Not today.  I had a run scheduled, but skipped it.  I should've walked a bit instead, but I didn't.

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Days 4, 5, and 6 have happened!!


Ballet is humbling.  My range of motion is very limited at the moment, but it is improving.

Wednesday: 2 hours of ballet

Thursday: 2 hours of ballet, 1 hour of latin

Friday: 2.5 hours of latin

I'm going to take it easy over the weekend, as I've very much been exceeding my original 1 hour a day goal.


I've been mostly following my meal plan, with a few days of switching things around.  I've not broken down and eaten any meals that weren't in my weekly plan, so that's good.  I do not have my snacking under control at the moment.


I've been coming in a pint or two short of my goal, the last two days, and drinking more iced coffee/iced tea.  I'd like to do better tomorrow.


I haven't gone on a single run or walk.  I've done a few pushups and some planks and that's the extent of it...  I missed the foam roller class I really wanted to take today.  I'm going to put it in my calendar and make a point of doing it next week.  Tomorrow I will dance less and make sure to fit in some flexibility/strength work.


If anyone cares about my progress videos, I didn't take one yesterday, but I have two from today.

Day 4 - Me testing my balance/range of motion ballet style

Day 6a - Rumba basic with counts

Day 6b - Mini Cha Cha combo with music

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Week 1 Report Card

Dance practice :  I'm giving myself an A+ on this one!  I got in 14 hours this week despite my injury.  I did an awesome job listening to my body and modifying as needed, and my back is well on the way to working normally.


Nutrition : B.  I had a huge delicious salad every day this week, which made me feel awesome for getting in my veggies and was perfectly refreshing for the hot weather.  I shuffled the dinners around, but generally stuck to the plan.  I had a bit of a snacking problem though... I failed to put my snacks on plates or eat them in a mindful way.  This upcoming week, I want to cut down on snacking, but at the very least, I want to be deliberate about it.


Hydration: C+ I met my goal 5 of 7 days.  And one day I didn't really get all that close.  I ate more random stuff on the day I didn't drink enough...


Cross training : F  I did 3 out of the 6 days I was aiming for.  This was largely due to lots of dancing, so I'm not going to be too upset by this.





Week 2 Day 1

- Dance:  I didn't dance at all!


- Nutrition: Yeah... failed at this one too.  I only planned the first week of meals and forgot I'm avoiding the grocery store on the weekends... ><;; I ended up eating out for lunch, but it was delicious!  I ate it slowly and savored every bite!

- Hydration; Yes!

- Cross training: Also YES!  This was my big win for the day.  I went on a hike with my family and did most of bodyweight 5C (I skipped the rings)




Week 2 Day 2

- Dance: I did an hour of Jive

- Nutrition: Planned, shopped, and had a delicious dinner!

- Hydration: I'm a bit behind.

- Cross training: YES!  So so much today.  I went on my 5K training run first thing this morning (took it about 80% speed as I took a week off).  I did the negative chin-ups that I skipped yesterday.  I rolled out and stretched.  And finished it all off by leveling up out of handstand pushups level 7.


Progress videos: 

So, I've been really having fun making these.  I didn't think I would, because watching myself makes me cringe, but it makes me dance at least 20 mins past the end of my practice or class, just recording myself.  I run through a routine or exercise quite a few times until it feels right.  I'm not going for perfect, and I know I have a lot I need to work on, but I like to try to record a decent run through.  So I turn on the camera and try until I feel like I did okay and can end on a high note.  However!  Saturday and today have been Jive... The thing with Jive is that while each run through I get the movement more into my body, I also get exhausted.  So a fair warning that these videos are gross and sweaty and I'm so tired I feel like I can barely stand, but I'm pushing for just... one... more... time... You've been warned.


Week 1 Day 7

Week 2 Day 2



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On 6/30/2020 at 7:37 PM, Xena said:

The jive videos are cool! And as a non-dancer, it's interesting to learn more about how much effort and pure athleticism goes into it.


Thank you!  I alternate between spending hours on a single step and just playing around with choreography.  Practicing one particular step over and over again is usually really slow going and challenges my balance and makes my muscles cramp after a while.  Working on choreography makes me sweaty and out of breath.  It's all super fun!!

\\\\٩( 'ω' )و ////

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Week 2 Days 3 and 4


I got an hour of work on a single samba step yesterday.  I didn't end up with a practice video.  I took some video notes (where I break down the step into tiny moments with explanation for my future self), but I'm assuming that's too boring to share.


Today I practiced some cha cha choreography for an hour!!!  It was so satisfyingly fun.  Here's the video!


I was pretty solid on my food goals!  I ended up in the kitchen about to snack several times, and each time decided I wasn't actually hungry and left without eating.  And then, one time I was in the office and realized that I was legitimately hungry, so I ate some greek yogurt (from a bowl!!) while NOT poking my phone or any other distracting thing.


I've been good on hydration also.


Crosstraining - I had a lighter day yesterday.  I did some handstand pushup practice and did my foot exercises.

Today I did my 5k interval training (I bumped up to the new intervals and was so so exhausted by the end... have to work on pacing better), followed along with the level 8/9 rings video from the other day (chinup negatives, dip negatives, knees to elbows), did some box jumps and 30 mins combined of stretching and planks.


Oof!  I did enough today to warrant two showers!  Feeling accomplished!


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Week 2 Days 5, 6, and 7


Thursday was my birthday!  It was a fun, pretty chill day.



I planned to eat some special don't eat very often foods, so that's what I did!  I had a cinnamon bun for breakfast, a burger (no bun) for lunch, and lobster and broccoli for dinner!  I had planned on making honey toast for my cake... but it didn't turn out.  So I'm going to try again sometime this upcoming week.


I got in some Cha Cha and Samba practice, did some push ups, and rolled out.


Friday I got in a run, a foam rolling/conditioning class, and had a private lesson with my Sensei in Japan over Zoom



Today I played on my rings a lot!  I did straight arm supports, assisted dips, dip negatives, assisted chin ups, chin up negatives, knees to elbow, and assisted one legged squats.  I attempted a bar hang or two, but am getting no where near my 45+ second goal...   I worked on my Gold rumba routine.  Who knows when I'll be competing again, or what level, but I've decided to relearn all my competition routines in case!


Week report card:

Practice - B I danced about 6/7 days

Nutrition - A- I did much better with snacking, and only ate what I planned to, but I did have a ton of sugar on my birthday.

Hydration - A- I was pretty good about this most days.  I only came up a little short once.

Cross-training - A I did at least a little of something every day this week!  A mix of the bodyweight workouts, pushups, hiking, running, and flexibility work.

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