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about 2 years ago
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How a Dancer Preps for THON: 14 Days to Go

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With just two weeks to go until THON (eek!), it’s time to really get serious about any pre-THON prepping.

By this point, most dancers have been (or should have been) increasing time spent physically preparing to being on their feet for 46 hours. While getting more in shape is very important to try and make the weekend easier on yourself, staying mindful of what you’re putting into your body is equally crucial.

In the time since I found out that I would be dancing, I’ve received a bunch of advice from previous dancers on how to adjust your diet to best prepare for the weekend. The most frequent, and probably the most obvious, answer I received was to do the best you can to eliminate caffeine.

If your body is reliant on caffeine and you don’t make an effort to wane yourself off it, THON weekend is going to be all the more difficult because your body will be craving it. Believe it or not, it is possible to go into caffeine withdrawal. If you were just selected as an Independent Dancer  or you haven’t began to cut it out, now is the time to start. We may only have two weeks to go, but that doesn’t mean there’s not enough time to make a lifestyle change. Remember though, caffeine isn’t just found in coffee products. Chocolate contains about half the amount of caffeine as coffee, and while that may not seem like much, it adds up if you’re eating enough of it.

In addition to coffee, you may want to consider giving up drinking until THON is over. Alcohol tends to dehydrate the body, which is a bit counterintuitive if you’re trying to up water consumption to stay hydrated throughout the weekend. Also, unless you’re daylonging, a night of drinking is likely to interfere with your sleep schedule. Keeping a regular sleep schedule of about eight hours a night leading up to THON is highly recommended, so it’s probably best to forgo drinking until THON is done. Drinking has also been known to weaken the immune system, increasing the likelihood of getting an illness.

It is also very important to make sure you’re getting as many nutrients as possible through your diet. Remember the Food Pyramid from elementary school health classes? Meals should be as balanced as possible, and sadly, Wings Over and Grillers aren’t really conducive to a balanced diet.

For those who live on campus and are preparing to dance, challenging as it may seem, it is possible to stay healthy at the dining halls. As an RA in East, I’m a bit limited by not having a kitchen at my disposal. Because of this, one of my favorite places to eat is Fresh Express’s create your own stir fry option. This allows me to load up on vegetables and protein, just make sure to opt out of the heavy sauces.

Do your best to stick to meals and snacks that contain natural ingredients; they’re going to be best to keep you energized for THON weekend. Junk food and soda contain simple carbohydrates that do nothing for your body. Instead, get your carbs through whole wheat or whole grains breads and pastas. If you find yourself craving something sugary, go for fresh fruit instead.

If you’re unsure about how you should be eating, check out the Food Pyramid’s website! Also, THON provides a sample meal plan in the Dancer Registration Packet if you need any meal ideas.