Balance, Positivity, (Self) Love
Sitting at the beautiful Limewood House in the New Forest I feel a world away from the rush of London and the daily stress that comes under a list of to-do’s. I’m down in the countryside partnering with PANDORA, a jewellery brand that in itself makes me reflect on my early teens and the charm bracelet I shared with my best friend. I’m sitting here now with a bracelet on that makes me reflect in a very different way. The collaboration is for PANDORA’s ESSENCE Collection, a collection with charms that symbolise different feelings, values and achievements. I also filmed a campaign video with them that represents the balance charm, one that I feel rather connected to both literally and figuratively. The video shows 6 key movements from my Ballet Blast method that creates a balanced ballerina body. In thinking how I wanted to showcase this essence, I also knew I needed to write about the others I connected with, that together have all been at the core of my health and wellness journey. These charms and values are Balance, Positivity and (Self) Love.
To talk about the beginning of my wellness journey, I’m rewinding you back to my student ballerina days, about the time I remember ‘breaking up’ from my then best friend and having to remove my oh-so beloved bracelet. My early teens were a real game changer, they taught me lifelong lessons I’ll always look back to. As a dancer, I’d grown up rather quickly and at just 14 was living up in London, training in the ballet studio around eight hours a day. Accelerating my childhood was my choice, with the dream to be a professional ballet dancer the constant focus of my life. Around this age, my ballet peers started to introduce me to the negative side of the ballet world, and with that the expectations of my body changed and I became incredibly conscious of everything I ate. The next few years were a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Whilst I looked like the stereotypical skinny ballerina with far more opportunities and parts thrown upon me, I was weak, exhausted, and pretty miserable. I had no confidence, and relied upon my body image for everything.
It was years later that I had the time out to truly listen to my body and understand that I needed to change how I looked after it. I started cooking, which I don’t have to tell you I adored, and slowly but surely I saw the benefits that proper nutrition had on my body. I gained the strength to stand on my own two feet and confidently say I didn’t want to conform to the ballet mould – I wanted to be free of parameters and just do me. At this time I still wholeheartedly wanted to be a professional ballet dancer, just on my own terms.
From the second I accepted myself, my outlook on life completely changed and so did my opportunities. I became the food editor of Hip &Healthy, launched my own blog, was signed by a top literary agent and had my first cookbook come out with Penguin Random House. It was an utter whirlwind.
It was a year after the publication of my first cookbook that I decided I wanted to pursue a different career from ballet. I’d struggled with an injury for six years, and knew from the happiness I received running Naturally Sassy that I was worth more than the injury cycle gave me. I stopped training and diverted my love of movement into a brand new exercise method, Ballet Blast, which I’ve been working on ever since.
These years are hard to condense into a quick blog post, but show the essence and journey behind both my Naturally Sassy and Ballet Blast brand. I started in a very negative, unconfident, extreme place and found my health through accepting and loving myself, striving to see the positive in every situation, and finding my own unique life/health/food/work balance.
Coming back to the present, I’m sitting crossed legged in Limewood’s beautiful Herb Garden where I filmed my ballet blast routine. A final thought leads me to question what my wellness concept truly is, and after writing this post it’s clear to me it is much less about the physical but the mental. A good friend of mine often says that if you look after the insides first, the outsides will look after themselves – and it’s true. You can’t truly reap the benefits of health if you sip your green juice with restriction, enter your yoga class with self-loathing or sit in your meditation class without a glimmer of positive thinking.
So with that in mind, I’m going to pop my workout clothes on film an exercise video before slipping my black jumpsuit on to enjoy a cheeky cocktail. Life is all about balance.
Photographer: Alx Daniels