At the age of four, Alexandra (Alex) Doyscher began to dance to fulfil the creative passion within her. When she was eight, she started attending a competitive dance school in Saskatoon which she attended until she graduated high school. Alex then moved to New York on a scholarship where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in Business. During her time in New York, Alex had the chance to travel and dance in India, Europe and Central America. These were exciting times but upon completion of her degree she made the decision to return home to Saskatoon and has since discovered new passions in food and photography.
In this episode, Alex discusses how the stress of the dance world created in her an unhealthy obsession with body image and food. Although she did not see a prevalence of eating disorders in her world, she did struggle with a dysfunctional food relationship, later on seeing the spectrum of disordered eating. When Alex was younger, she did not have issues with weight and because of this she notes she did not develop good eating habits. However, the transition to university was difficult. Alex was homesick, was transitioning to a new type of dance and the “freshman 15” became a reality. Being surrounded by dancers, who dressed in tights and body suits, Alex started putting internal pressure on herself. She did not feel happy with her body and started making extreme food choices. “Yoyo” dieting became an issue and food lost its pleasure. Eventually Alex did recognize her stress cycle and started new food habits, which included focusing on putting good food into her body and focusing less on what food she was taking out of her diet.
Alex also shares with the listeners about the struggle of leaving competitive dance while at her peak. Although she didn’t fully recognize why she wanted to go home after university, she recognizes now that she was starting to see that the day to day struggle of the dance world was overwhelming and was taking the joy out of her creative expression. Upon moving home, she got her Pilates certification, which led her into rehab work. However, she continued to struggle as she felt she was disappointing people by quitting dance, so she began training again and attended some auditions. This caused her to once again struggle with body image and weight. Ultimately, she came to understand she had made the right decision for herself by quitting and that her self-worth was not dependent on an audience and what people were saying about her.
About this time, Alex was also rediscovering her creative outlet in cooking. Sitting down and eating as a family was a big deal in her home. For their family, food was about bringing people together and was a way to celebrate the beauty of relationship. She started a food blog, lionalandhetta.com, named after her grandparents who owned a family farm, where farm to table eating was the normal course of life. Her food blog has now led her into a new passion for photography and styling. Alex shares that her focus now is on getting enjoyment and happiness from what she does, versus always focusing on reaching her full potential.
“Passion does not always meet calling”- Alex’s story touches on so many pieces of pressures faced by individuals or athletes. The joy of dance was lost in the struggles with body image, food and Alex was no longer dancing for herself. Such a powerful story of how finding your calling may lead you away from expectations.
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