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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

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Lindsay may look ballet beautiful, but she's in deep, deep pain.
Lindsay may look ballet beautiful, but she's in deep, deep pain.

Ballet Beautiful

Ballet dancers are masochists.

I know this for a fact after experiencing two weeks straight of Mary Helen Bowers’ "Ballet Beautiful" DVDs. I am sent fitness DVDs to experience and possibly review all the time and this duo of videos was no different, except that masquerading in the guise of "pretty ballerina" filmed in billowy white light and set to a repetitive piano concerto, "Ballet Beautiful" is in reality, the most grueling, punishing, torturous set of calisthenics I’ve ever attempted.

Bowers was a dancer for the New York City Ballet for 10 years, but is perhaps best known for training Natalie Portman for "Black Swan." Portman has always been slim, but her transformation for this film showcases her personal discipline and the fact that Bowers obviously knows what she is doing.

For two weeks, I rotated between the hour-long "Classic Workout" (divided into semi-more tolerable 10-minute segments) and the (what seemed much longer than an) hour long "Blast" made up of 15-minute, teeth-gritting sessions. The first three days I was driven by adrenaline and being obsessed with gazing at the stunningly, exquisitely gorgeous Bowers who seems to be executing each move with the greatest of ease. Her tiny, yet elegantly well-muscled body covered by only the slightest sheath of a leotard inspired me to drive forward through each second of muscle-burning punishment. But, after three days, I dreaded her cheerful voice and endless counting of eight reps for four sets.

Still, I persevered. I made it through 14 days straight – at which time I was promised I would see results. Did I? Other than feeling tighter (or really sore,) I didn’t look any different or drop any pounds. (From my experience, I do believe "feeling different" is "results." I personally think it takes longer than two weeks to experience real results from any exercise program. I like to give at least six weeks for the body to catch up to the physical program being inflicted upon it.) They only recommend usi…

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Let's split it!
Let's split it!

Let's split it

Breaking bread with family and friends is really important to me. You know from reading my previous posts that getting time around the table enjoying a good, home-cooked meal is a priority. But, hey, I love going out to eat, too.

There’s been a lot of travel in our family since March, which means the fridge is more of a barren cavern than stocked with it’s usual bounty of healthy fare. So, by default and out of admitted laziness, we’ve been enjoying more meals "out," than are typical for us.

So, how are we avoiding the major ouch in our pocketbook and around our waistlines? Well, we’re splitting entrees.

Inspired by my mother-in-law and her beau, who always practice this money-and-calorie-saving dining-out style, we’ve been challenging ourselves to find something on the menu that we can agree on and share. This can be something of an adventure and exercise in marital compromise, but we’ve been making it happen.

We’ve even tired splitting our cocktails, which for a lightweight like me is perfect.

The reality is that restaurant food portions are often scaled for two or more. So, after getting over the initial feeling of being deprived of our very own, full plate of restaurant yumminess, we are realizing that splitting a meal leaves our appetites perfectly satisfied and never overstuffed. Which is really the healthiest way to consume food! Don’t chow until you are stuffed, but only until you are almost full.

That way there is room for digestion! For those watching what they eat, sharing an entrée is a great way to keep tabs on portion size and overall calorie intake.

More than that, it puts a smile of accomplishment on our faces when the bill arrives.

Sharing a meal saves a ton of money – even at fancy, upscale establishments that charge a fee to share an entree. Often, at steak houses, they will charge a small "split plate" fee, but serve an entire plate of sides to both diners. For us – that’s perfect! I can have a few bites of the prime cut …

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