My friend Amy suggested that I write a post about my experience trying to keep up with the Body-for-LIFE Challenge while also rehearsing and performing at the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Madama Butterfly, so here goes.

This year, I have had the great good fortune to be able to make my money singing — and nothing else. That situation made this past summer very lean (and a little scary), but once September came around, I was happy to see my paycheck come in from the Opera Company. I had a small role in Madama Butterfly (I played Kate Pinkerton, the American wife), so my checks were larger than I am used to just being in the chorus, which makes the scariness of the summer a little more tolerable.

I only mention this because it means I’ve also had the flexibility in my schedule to work out every day, something that I may not have had time for a year or two ago. The Body-for-LIFE guidelines suggest working out 6 days a week, which is no easy feat if you’ve got to get up early, go to your day job, then go to rehearsal, and come home exhausted. My day job was opera rehearsals, and since my role was so small, I wasn’t even called to very many of those! So I eased into a morning workout routine that has served me well.

Being gone from the house for such a long time, especially around dinner time, does wreak havoc with one’s meal plans. I tried the best I could, bringing protein bars in my purse to help with hunger cravings and trying to buy healthy salads instead of fatty tuna melts (my kryptonite), but I’m sure that one of the reasons I didn’t lose weight nearly as quickly over the five weeks of rehearsing and performing Butterfly is that I didn’t eat quite as conscientiously as I would have otherwise.

What also didn’t help is that, as a principal artist, I was invited to receptions and dinners by the company (to meet donors, etc.), and of course there was food and wine at all these events. I think there may be something about being an actor that turns on this pig-out mentality in my head when free food is available. Perhaps subconsciously we actors think that this free meal might be our only meal of the day (and there have been times in my life when that has been the case!), so we might as well fill ourselves up. Either way, it was difficult for me to turn that sensor off in my brain, and I think there were a few days there where I ate way more than my allotted caloric intake.

My costume helped a little: I was wearing a very heavy skirt (it must have weighed about 30 pounds!), and my dressing room was on the third floor, so walking up and down the stairs in my costume helped burn at least a few of those calories. And even though I was starting to get too small for my jeans in the real world, my costume stayed on just fine…probably due to the fact that I was slowing my weight loss with all that free food!

Now I’m in rehearsals for Philadelphia Singers‘ season opening concert, Bach and Beyond. I’m back to rehearsing at night, but I still have my days free. That means I can stick to my routine of a workout first thing in the morning, followed by a protein shake for breakfast. I eat lunch at home, and, if I can, I also have an early dinner at home before I go to rehearsal. I really like Amy’s idea of making sure that I have at least one salad a day; it helps keep my fiber intake up, as well as being a low-fat, low-calorie meal choice. Plus, I really like salads.

Don’t think I’m sitting around doing nothing else during the day, though! I’m trying to run a business and learn music for a recital I’m doing in March (featuring works by Philadelphia composers Benjamin C.S. Boyle and Jeremy Gill), not to mention my ever-increasing work I’ve gotten myself into for The Crossing. I’m still as busy as ever.

Working Out and Singing
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