Hi! I’m Danielle, and I’m new to this. So please bear with me.

Making my family's traditional meatball recipe at Christmas (no, that's not my kitchen, but I wish!).

Making my family’s traditional meatball recipe at Christmas (no, that’s not my kitchen, but I wish!).

I’m a chef,  a runner, and an only child from a big, Italian family. You’ll probably hear a lot about these things as you get to know me better. I LOVE to eat, and, thank God, I love to exercise. My love of food and eating has been life-long (I grew up in a restaurant), but that last part is new – like less than a year new. It’s not that I hated to exercise before. I’ve always been a pretty active person. But until last year, I rarely got excited about exercise. Then I was introduced to DanceFIT Studio, and everything started to change.

Before 2012 I was struggling to find an exercise routine that I could stick with, struggling to find a consistently healthy approach to eating, and struggling to lose the same 15 pounds that had been haunting me for years. When a good friend of mine found DanceFIT on Daily Candy we decided to give it a try. It was February, and I had just finished testing a lot of dessert recipes at work. (I’m a Test Cook for America’s Test Kitchen, which basically means I cook and eat almost all day, every day. More on this in future posts!) So, all those desserts had me feeling sluggish and gross, and had basically erased all the hard work I had done to get in shape for my cousin’s wedding the previous autumn. My fitness routine needed a shake-up, and boy did it get one! After my very first Zumba class at DanceFIT, I was hooked! The fun atmosphere, the great instructors, and the challenge of new classes (like BalletFIT – I’m not exactly built like a ballerina!) all had me coming back for more. When I heard about the 6FIT program – 6 weeks of team fitness and food challenges – I was intrigued. I like challenges! 6FIT seemed like an awesome new challenge for me. I had no idea how truly life-altering it would be! I met an amazing group of people who inspired me to improve my eating habits, get active on a daily basis, and generally live a healthier, more balanced life. For me, the various food challenges in 6FIT were a fun way to try on different eating habits, and they helped me figure out how to incorporate healthy habits into my life in sustainable ways.

6FIT also showed me how much fun I can have exercising. I completely gave up going to my old gym because I was having WAY more fun at DanceFIT. In the summer, a fellow 6FIT-er took me to a November Project workout (an early-morning outdoor workout tribe), and reignited my love of outdoor fitness.

Hiking and playing in the snow back home (Upstate NY).

Hiking and playing in the snow back home (Upstate NY).

I even started running again, and found that I really loved the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other – and then going faster! All of this combined to skyrocket my fitness to a place I never thought possible. I even started racing again, and ran a faster 5K and half-marathon last year than I ever thought I could. And I wouldn’t have done any of it without the spark that is DanceFIT. The people and the energy there opened me up to a world of fitness possibilities, and now I have tons of energy and I look forward to being active and getting sweaty every day! (Not to mention the huge boost I get from dancing in a room full of smiling faces.)

In 2012, I became stronger, leaner, and faster than ever before – without stepping foot back in a traditional gym! I’ve surpassed goals that have eluded me for so many years, reached goals I didn’t think I could reach, and now have goals I never even dreamed I could set. I still have more that I want to accomplish, and my goals are evolving all the time.

I am honored that I’ve been selected as a DanceFIT spokesperson, and I’m really excited for the start of the next 6FIT program (Monday, January 21). My goals this time around include reining in my sweet tooth, planning meals at home ahead of time, and dedicating extra time to stretching after my workouts (aka avoiding injuries). I’m looking forward to sharing the challenges and successes with a new 6FIT team – and with all of you.

Cheers!

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