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Life Lessons

Favorite Headshot EditMs. Carrie Bohlmann, Co-Owner and Founder of VPA, happens to be a certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She shares her knowledge with her dancers and one of the ways she does this is through "Life Lessons". Each Life Lesson introduced will include information on one or two aspects of holistic wellness.

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Protein Power

Posted January 2019

Protein Pic 2

The holidays are over so it's time to get a handle on our food nutrition! Start eating more fruits and veggies, stay consistent with your multi-vitamin and make sure you are getting enough protein. Here is an old article I wrote a while back for some tips on getting enough protein when you are on the go!

Protein Power by Carrie Bohlmann

Relaxation More Important Than Ever

Posted December 2018

Today more than ever, we are witnessing a very stressed-out society, including kids. Technology is keeping us moving at a faster pace and in order to keep up we need strategies. We need extra help reducing our constant stress if we don't want to get sick down the road.

When we have something truly dangerous happen, we have two options: we can fight or we can run away. This is known as the "fight or flight" response. This reponse was necessary for the survival of our ancestors who lived in a time of extreme and physical threats. In this day and age we have different threats, so "fight or flight" is still necessary; however, our bodies are percieving the psychological arousal of the fast pace we have become accustomed to as constant danger.

Here is the problem with constant stress. The human body's response to prolonged stress is inflammation which can cause disease and pain eventually. Our bodies sense this constant, busy pace of life as a threat and the response is that the sympathetic nervous system takes over, too often.

Allow me to break this down further for you. Part of our nervous system, called the autonomic nervous system, is broken down into two branch systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

1) The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones trigger our bodies to produce energy fast and our hearts to pump more, sending blood to our limbs and brain for the "fight or flight" response to stressful situations. Examples that trigger the sympathetic nervous system are the blue light we get from our devices and the psychological stress we have when we need to perform at our best, such as when we have to give a public speech or do well on a test.

2) The parasympathetic nervous system happens when we are calm. It brings more blood to the digestive system and allows us to "rest and digest". We can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system voluntarily by turning off our devices or getting an app that removes blue light from our devices at night. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system calms us down.

Another way to calm ourselves down is through diaphragmatic breathing (deep slow breathing). There is a nerve called the vagus nerve that runs through the diaphragm that is stimulated when we do diaphragmatic breathing. When we stimulate the vagus nerve, there is an impulse that sends a message to the brain that "everything is ok", which then stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Not only will we feel more calm, but we will be able to absorb nutrients from our food more efficiently. Remember, when we are stressed, our blood moves away from our digestive system and into our limbs for "fight or flight" and vice-versa when we are calm.

How to do diaphragmatic breathing:

1) Sit or lie down comfortably with your hands on your belly.
2) Inhale slowly for 5 seconds allowing the belly to rise.
3) Exhale slowly for 5 seconds allowing the belly to fall.
4) Hold for 3 seconds at the bottom of the breath.
5) Repeat for at least 5 full breaths (in and out = full breath)

This type of breathing can be done anywhere and any time. I have seen this technique help people relax from anxiety and panic attacks. I have shared this technique with students to use at school just before a test or public speech.

Practice this on a daily basis and you will be allowing your body to become less inflamed and more calm and focused. Give it a shot and discover the magic of such a simple technique as diaphragmatic breathing!

Added Sugar

Posted November 2018

This month our topic is a big one...ADDED SUGAR! Dancers you will be quizzed on this so please pay attention to this Life Lesson...especially bolded words below.

Dancers are you often super tired when you come to dance class? Could it be what you are eating that is causing you to feel so tired? Could it be the type of carbohydrates you are eating? Did you know that all sugar, both natural and added are considered carbohydrates?

Eating too many added sugars, like from soda, processed juices or sweets, gives you quick energy or a “sugar high” which is quickly gone, leaving you feeling sluggish. How will you perfect your grand jete or pirouettes when you are sluggish in class? 

Sugar comes naturally to us from fruits, veggies and dairy products. Natural sugars are much healthier than the simple sugars found in "added sugar". Higher glycemic fruit and veggies have higher natural sugar; however, they pack in nutrients and while they are good for a quick burst of energy, lower glycemic (lower sugar) fruits and veggies are best to eat throughout the day so that you can maintain steady blood sugar and have more energy, for longer periods of time. Check out Harvard's Glycemic Index samples to get an idea on which foods have higher or lower glycemic levels.

Dancers, I recommend trying to limit or eliminate added sugar if you can; however, I realize we sometimes need to indulge. If you do need to indulge and eat processed foods with added sugar, I don't recommend the United State Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recommendation which is 10% of daily caloric intake, which to me, seems high at 200 calories or 50 grams for a 2000 calorie diet! That's equivalent to 12 teaspoons of table sugar per day!

If you must have added sugar, I recommend following the American Heart Association's (AHA) recommendation of no more than about 100 calories or 25 grams of added sugar for women and children (equivalent to 6 teaspoons of table sugar) or 150 calories or 36 grams of added sugar for men (equivalent to 9 teaspoons of table sugar).

Don't forget that the new food label will tell you what the added sugar is for any processed foods!

For more information, read the AHA's Sugar Article.

Try to cut your added sugar down and see how you feel in dance class and rehearsal! I guarantee you, your teachers and choreographers will appreciate the increased focus and attention!





Parents, is your dancer taking a good multi-vitamin? If not, I have great recommendations on high quality supplements and vitamins for your dancer. If you are interested, please contact me at carriebewhole@gmail.com.

Past 2018-2019 Handouts