Lara Schlitter

Soon after Lara Schlitter started her career with the Louisville Ballet, she realized that she had taken meal preparation for granted. Her family had always eaten a healthy diet, but now she needed to cook for herself. Frequent calls to her Mom for advice and recipes provided the basics. Then she began to experiment with ways to fuel her long days of rehearsals and performances. Sharing her knowledge of healthy eating with others eventually led her to Purdue.

Age: 27
Hometown: Carlisle, Pennsylvania (now Lafayette, Indiana)
Year in School: Junior
Major: Dietetics
Career goal: Work in the community to spread awareness of health and nutrition
Current book reading: Marching Through Culpepper by Virginia Morton
One thing most people don’t know: Huge Fleetwood Mac fan

Becoming a dancer: After attending the Washington Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty at six years old, Lara knew she wanted to be a dancer. A year later she started training at one of the best ballet schools in the country, the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, which coincidentally was located in her hometown. Even as a child she had the attitude, “I have to work hard. I have to get better.”

Eating to dance: “I had to learn to eat smaller, but high energy meals throughout the day. It’s not comfortable to dance on a full stomach. I probably ate a salad every single day and lots of dried fruit.”

Change in eating habits: “I eat differently now from when I was dancing – bigger meals that are more filling. I’m not afraid of bread. I didn’t eat a lot of sandwiches growing up. I always had soup, salad, applesauce, or yogurt. Now I love bread. And bread doesn’t make you fat, like many are led to believe.”

Putting education to work: A summer internship with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) turned into a paid position at this state agency that provides vouchers for healthy food items to lower-income families. Lara works with clients to assess how they are doing on their food plans. She also promotes breastfeeding.

Staying fit: Most evenings you will find Lara exercising at the gym. She also takes dance lessons from the Lafayette Ballet on the weekends. “Staying active helps me to unwind after a hard day of work and school, and helps me to be more productive when studying afterward.”

Motivation to keep going: “I try to take things one day at a time. If I can just remain calm on Monday (my hardest day) and try to use my breaks productively, then I will reward myself by going to ballet class. That’s a huge motivator in my life. Hanging out with my friends on weekends is a reward as well.”

Advice to others: “Take a break. Who cares if the deadline is tomorrow? Just get up and take a 20-minute walk, even if it’s freezing cold outside. You’ll feel so much better.”

By Susan Ferringer