To secret to be slender

Good health and maintaining an ideal bodyweight are important to all of us, but those who perform on stage must give particular attention to keeping their bodies in harmony. In addition to numerous professional distinctions, ballerina Henriett Tunyogi has won the competition held in London in the spirit of "Femininity, beauty, life philosophy."


The specialists of the system (quite well-known in England) founded on acupuncture and Chinese remedies are mindful not only of good appearance, but also of how committed one is to a healthy lifestyle. We spoke with Henriett about the challenges and the secret to being slender.

- As was indicated in the description of the competition, the jury of specialists was interested in the life philosophy of the contestants. What ideas did you share with them?

- When I spoke on stage I told them that in my view health is first and foremost spiritual health, as it is today a commonly recognized fact that in many cases there are spiritual causes for sicknesses. In addition, I emphasized the importance of inner balance, which is indispensable if we wish to live at peace with ourselves. The others spoke almost without exception about physical health, somehow forgetting the spiritual side. I think it was appealing to the jury that I chose this viewpoint.

- If your appearance did not itself reflect that you endeavor to live in accordance with this you clearly would not have seemed credible in their eyes. What do you do so that your body and soul remain harmonious?

- As a ballerina I always had to pay attention to my body. Because of my metabolism I am not inclined to put on weight, so I never had to resort to austere measures. This however does not mean that I do not have to do anything to remain healthy, keep myself in good shape and be able to perform satisfactorily.
In order to give my system only the best, I always strive to eat fresh fruit in accordance with the season. I endeavor to eat only organic foods and, if possible, I myself prepare the various courses. It is for this reason that I go to restaurants as infrequently as possible, because you only really know what is in your food when you prepare it yourself.
For a time I also took care to separate carbohydrates from protein, and this approach to nourishment gave me tremendous energy. I wasn't drowsy in the afternoons, I was fresh mentally and my memory improved noticeably. When I feel like I need a little rejuvenation I adopt this approach.

- How does your husband, pianist and conductor Tamás Vásáry, respond to this organic diet?

- He is very grateful to me for ushering this in at home, because before he didn't eat so selectively, and ever since I began putting together our diet he has felt numerous positive changes. Earlier for instance he had problems with his joints, but ever since he began eating more healthily and harmful deposits from preservatives and various additives stopped forming in his system he no longer complains of this. The fact that he eats healthy foods is noticeable in his ability to work and perform, he does his work with youthful exuberance and without tiring.

- Are there foods that you have eliminated from your diet?

- In practice we eat everything that we eat before, but I take care that the foods we choose be free of harmful ingredients. One can make delicious pastries with various fruits, and although I cook with brown flour I otherwise make stewed vegetable dishes the same as any other housewife would. Our repertoire in the culinary arts is broad, the change can be observed only in the basic ingredients we use. There are many people who think, for example, that if someone is a vegetarian then he must suffer through dreadfully dull and tasteless meals, though in fact the exact opposite of this is true. The customary dishes aren't tasty because they are made with meat, it is rather the vegetables and the clever use of spices that make them flavorful.

- Does the preparation of foods that are free of harmful ingredients create more work in the kitchen?

- By now, no, but it's true that earlier it required a bit more attention. I had to learn from experience where I could find the best ingredients, and I needed time to read about all of this, as well as to learn how these healthy ingredients can be used.
For instance, if one makes the thickening for stewed vegetables with whole ground flour it may turn out a bit watery, white flour "sticks" better, but it doesn't contain the components useful for the human system that make it worthwhile to use brown four. And the taste is still excellent with whole ground flour, and it's much healthier, and for those who want to lose weight it is certainly advisable to switch.

- In spite of the fact that, given your profession, physical activity is part of your everyday, do you also pursue sports in order to stay in good shape?

- Physical activity plays an extremely important role in my life, I insist on it even if I am on vacation - true, this doesn't happen often. When I am engaged in some kind of sport my energies free up, and motion creates balance within me. In addition to physical rejuvenation it gives me mental freshness, even if I simply take a long walk. If time permits, I become immersed in yoga, I go swimming, and I do Pilates, something without which I cannot imagine my everyday life.
This form of motion creates an awareness of the body that we cannot reach by any other means. If we familiarize ourselves with our own strengths and weak points, then with Pilates we can build a body that is entirely healthy. For this reason it would be my heart's desire to teach it to everyone.
Before I came across it my back hurt on occasion, and my chiropractor suggested that I try it. As I began to immerse myself in it and feel the very beneficial changes in my own body, I realized that the fact that my back had hurt had turned out to be one of the best things that had ever happened in my life, because it was thanks to this that I had come to learn about this fantastic technique. It has a positive influence on both body and soul. No matter how tired I may be I do not allow myself to be dissuaded from a bit of physical activity, and a mere half-hour of this exercise fills me with strength.
I believe it is not sufficient, when it comes to caring for the body, simply to brush our teeth several times a day and dress neatly. Rather, we have to attend to the body with regular physical activity. Those who do not engage in any kind of sport age much more quickly than those who remain spry, and they suffer ailments of the joints and problems moving much earlier.

- Although ballet - at least seen from the outside - consists of light, ethereal motions, does it nevertheless place burdens on the body?

- Alas, ballet makes considerable demands on the body, even placing unhealthy demands on dancers. It is precisely for this reason that I am so glad that Pilates became a regular part of my life, because if I feel that I have pulled something I can put it in order with the appropriate series of motions. We all know that ballet demands that the leg be held turned outwards, which can by no means be considered a healthy stance, but it is one of the cornerstones of Pilates that it works the body into symmetry, which is particularly important in my case because I so often have to turn to the outside. It would be worthwhile for those who work sitting to do Pilates as well, because it devotes serious attention to moving the muscles of the back and waist, and for those who spend their weekdays in stressful situations it would constitute an opportunity for genuine relaxation.

Viki Bagaméri
ELIXÍR July 2007
Translation by Thomas Cooper

Henriett's message: It's true that I have never been in the habit of dieting, but I have read a great deal about proper nutrition and I have devoted considerable attention to the different kinds of signs that my system sends after I have eaten certain foods. I think most of those who are overweight are so because they eat more than their system desires - after awhile they eat simply because the food tastes good and not because they are still hungry. While it is fashionable at the moment to be very slim and one sees only stick-thin models on the fashion runway, I nevertheless think that we do not all need to strive to lose pounds. The most important thing is that we be happy with ourselves as we are. In my opinion it is far more impressive to radiate contentment and self-confidence than to lose the pounds that others call surplus and exude weariness and bitterness. Just think for a moment how many beautiful women there are who - as they are so "haggard" - it is hardly pleasant to look at, while a few plumper women glow with such vigor and cheerfulness that we never even think to ask what size they wear.