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Cha Cha Change

Columbus ballroom studio transforming bodies and lives “I’ve always been a very active person,” Cindi Parker confessed. An equestrian and a tennis player, the Dayton-based allergy practice manager still weighed more than she wanted to, and struggled with arthritis. Then, her two sons got married within a few months of each other, Parker and her [...]
Laura Dachenbach



Columbus ballroom studio transforming bodies and lives

“I’ve always been a very active person,” Cindi Parker confessed. An equestrian and a tennis player, the Dayton-based allergy practice manager still weighed more than she wanted to, and struggled with arthritis.

Then, her two sons got married within a few months of each other, Parker and her husband decided to learn to dance—ballroom dance. They weren’t going to look like fools dancing at the receptions. Parker’s husband enjoyed the introduction, but stuck with golf, his primary love. But she had two revelations during her first lesson:

First, she wasn’t as good a dancer as she thought. And second, she wanted to get better. Much better.

“I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. I thought I looked okay. You know, you dance with your friends in college. You do Zumba classes, so you think you can do stuff, and I think I was a pretty big hot mess on the floor,” Parker laughed. “But I loved it. It was so fun.”

Four years later, Parker found herself driving from Dayton to Columbus twice a week to take ballroom dance lessons at Danceville, USA in the Short North. She’s dropped from a size 12 to a size 6, is managing the arthritis that previously interfered with her tennis game, and despite being an already charismatic person, Parker has also discovered a new sense of self-assurance.

Danceville USA-11

“Mentally, I feel like I’m more confident than I was. Dancing teaches you to hold yourself a certain way; you move with more grace.Keith Michael, the owner of Danceville USA and Parker’s dance instructor, described Parker as “a soccer mom” when she began dancing. “Just your typical mom—she dressed nice, but nothing too flashy. You would never look at her and think that she was heavy. But as she started dancing, she kept losing weight. And as she kept losing weight, she became more and more stylish and started caring more about herself, which is always so awesome to see in a student.”

In the mirrored environment of her dance studio, Parker discovered that dance not only gave her a way to be active but also gave her a new way (literally) to look at herself.

“I think you do lose weight from dancing, but I have become very health-conscious from dancing,” Parker explained. “You do want to be able to move. Your body needs to flow, and it’s a lot easier to do that when you’re healthy than when you’re not.”

Not everyone who begins their ballroom dance adventure does so to lose weight, but for those who do set that goal, Danceville instructors will choose up-tempo, high-energy dances. They also encourage balanced eating and dance practice outside the lessons, integrating the healthy activity into the dancer’s lifestyle.

“If someone comes in off the street and they’re overweight, we’re not going to jump into that right away. If they express an interest in losing weight, then we’ll help them with that,” says Michael.

And for those like Parker who have a taste for winning, ballroom dancing offers a competitive aspect. Michael serves as her dance partner in the various pro-am ballroom dance competitions around the country.

“I am a competitive person,” says Parker. “When I couldn’t do tennis anymore with my arthritis, [dance] kind of provided that competitive outlet. It’s like any other sport that you do. You want to move up [to] higher and higher levels of competition.”

“She’s getting better and better all the time,” said Michael. “There’s a dance competition at the Ritz-Carlton [in New Orleans] called Southern States DanceSport, and she won last year. We’re hoping to go back and win again.”

Although successful competitors, Parker and Michael admit that a touch of vanity is also an ingredient in dance motivation. Dancing is elegant. Dancing is an excuse to clean up. Dancing makes people feel… well, pretty.

“You’re coming for a dance lesson. You get dressed up,” says Michael. “You don’t come to your dance lesson in sweatpants and a sweatshirt. You come into your dance lesson, and everyone says, ‘Wow, you look so great. You’re so pretty. Oh my god, I love your hair.’ So you want to keep bettering yourself.”

It’s an ongoing cycle of self-improvement, and for Parker, whose dancing morphed from an activity into an identity, that cycle is going to continue for quite a while.

“I plan on dancing literally until I’m six feet under,” she said.

Danceville, USA will hold a beginner Cha Cha class on April 10. For more, visit

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: 30 Day Challenges

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC



@DietBetch, a popular Instagram account with over 213k followers, tends to post memes that subtly poking fun at our diet culture. But recently, I was disappointed to see a post about a "30 Day Challenge" that reinforces the unhealthy, fad diet-obsessed world we live in.

This "30 Day Challenge" prohibits participants from consuming foods that many people often associate with being “unhealthy” like soda, candy, and doughnuts.

As a dietitian, I’m not going to disagree that the foods listed do tend to be higher in nutrients of concerns—like added sugars and salt, and overall calories—but, I absolutely believe they can be part of a balanced diet.

By completely removing foods from the diet with a 30 Day Challenge like this, one will simply think, “No…for this month." This purge-style challenge won't teach healthy sustainable eating habits like intuitive eating or portion control.

Take-away: Instead of tagging a friend for a restrictive diet challenge that doesn’t set either of you up for long-term success, try implementing a small sustainable change. Maybe instead of going out for fast food every day of the workweek with a friend, you both could try packing once a week and share recipes and meal ideas!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: “His” vs “Her” portions

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC



It’s not uncommon to scroll through Instagram and see beautiful plates of food labeled “his” and “hers.” Typically the “his” plate is larger in all portions of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

But, this depiction of portioning is inaccurate and can be damaging to the way women satisfy their hunger.

Gender does not determine the quantity of food people “should” eat. From a science perspective, there are so many variables that affect metabolic rates that are not specific to sex, such as amount of muscle mass, fat mass, location of these deposits, physical activity, and more. 

For example, a very active, self-identified woman with high lean body mass can have significantly higher maintenance caloric needs compared to a more sedentary male identifying person.

Take-away: Don’t let social media tell you that gender determines the amount you deserve to eat. Listen to your body and your hunger cues. Fuel your body for what you need!

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Late night eats at Steak ‘n’ Shake

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC



Waist trainers, crash diets, colon cleanses—all things touted as the next miracle solution for weight loss. With the help of our new Registered Dietitian columnist, we’ll sort out the truth from the trash when it comes to health trends on your social media feeds, and provide healthy, sustainable alternatives for those to-good-to-be-true fixes. Welcome to Truth or Trend.

Steak ‘n’ Shake; a long-standing staple for a greasy, late night bite to eat. While "Eat This, Not That!" calls their signature items “two of the most precarious foods on the planet” on Instagram, is their fear mongering all it claims to be? Stick with me as I explore the truth behind a post by the account comparing the healthiness of two popular menu items: a Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries v. Portobello and a Swiss Steakburger.

First, the nutrition information provided for the two options shown in the post is inaccurate (click here to see more). Additionally, the caption claims most shakes are more than 500 calories and most salad options are 600 calories or less which is an incorrect generalization.

And while the Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries is the lower-calorie option like "Eat This, Not That!" says, what the post doesn’t account for are some other important nutrient factors that set the two options apart.

The Single Steakburger with Thin 'n Crispy Fries combination has 1380 mg sodium, which is 60% of the maximum recommended daily intake (2300 mg) in one meal, compared to just 890 in the Portobello and Swiss burger. The “Not this” option also boasts a higher protein content of 29 g compared to 17 g in the combination and about half the carbohydrates at 36 g v. 62 g.


There are pros and cons to each of the menu items here, so saying to “Eat this, not that” is painting broad strokes. If you’re a patron of fast food chains, remember to review and weigh all the nutritional facts before making a decision about which one is "healthier." Or, if you’re out for a special late night treat, choose the option that is going to satisfy you!

Becca is an Ohio native and University of Cincinnati graduate who works as a traveling consultant dietitian, currently living in Juneau, Alaska. She owns Centum Cento Fitness LLC, a company dedicated to using evidenced-based practice to help empower clients to build sustainable and healthy lifestyles through nutrition and fitness.Follow Becca on Instagram!

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