Dace: Babes breaking Barriers Christina

Christina Hesslau: A Girl On Pointe

Dance Christina Hesslau: Babes Breaking Barriers


Dance is one of my favorite pastimes so it was such a joy to connect with Christina Hesslau to discuss her latest dance adventures. I had the pleasure of meeting Christina a few years ago while working on an event on campus. She was, and still is sweet as ever, determined, and just such a joy to be around which is why I thought she’d be a perfect fit to launch the Babes Breaking Barriers movement. Dancing her way into the hearts of many, Christina has taken the reigns of her life pursuing a career dancing, teaching, and getting involved with film. 

Christina Hesslau, a girl on pointe!

Dance is Christina’s life, and she is a perfect example of how anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Though starting out later than most dancers, Christina proved to the world that passion and determination will always be able to hold a candle to time. 

A little background….


She shared an endearing story with me about how she once blanked out on stage and forgot the choreography, but Christina has come a long way from her beginning dance days. Before pursuing training in college Christina had been dancing on and off for about 7 years. In May 2015 she graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Dance and Business Management.

At 16 she was the dance captain at her high school, and that ignited her love for choreography, teaching and performing. She went on to compete in different dance competitions with her  high school as well as with the acting school John Robert Powers. She was offered a dance performance opportunity through UDA (Universal Dance Association) that sent her to Rome as an All American Dancer to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade. She  was also sent to Las Vegas through John Robert Powers for the iPOP Convention for dance and was awarded Top Ten Dancer amongst many aspiring dancers within the competition. It was then that she knew it wasn’t just a passion. Dance could take her places!

_MG_0178 copyWhen I asked her why she decided to teach she told me that she loves to encourage, inspire and education children! They remind her every day why she chose this field, and that they inspire me more than they even realize!

With a goal of opening her own studio to create a space with a family feel, Christina is on a fast track to success. She wants all of her students to feel like they are a part of something special because she believes this is the key to them growing as a dancer. It is possible that we may be seeing this studio sooner than you think!

When we are put under such pressure to be perfect, we work ourselves up to a point where we don’t allow ourselves the confidence to perform to the best of our abilities. – Christina Hesslau”

When we are put under such pressure to be perfect, we work ourselves up to a point where we don’t allow ourselves the confidence to perform to the best of our abilities. - Christina Hesslau Click To Tweet

Dace: Babes breaking Barriers Christina

Q&A With Christina Hesslau

What is one thing you would want the world to know about you?            

 If there was one thing I’d like the world to know about me is that, I started my serious dance training later on in life. I never trained from a young girl, intensively all the way through my adulthood years. I danced here and there as a hobby, but never trained as much as I should have as a young dancer.

Once I had gotten into high school and begin traveling and competing, did I begin my serious training prior to my college training. For most dancers, that is considered very late. Most professional dancers intensively train from a young child in one or two studios all the way until they graduate and move on to college level classes. I was not fortunate enough to have that intensive training. I worked very hard, taking more classes than required, staying late in the studio, practicing at home, late night rehearsals… I pushed myself very hard to strive for perfection. Though there is no such thing as perfection, and we are always working to improve ourselves, I am very proud and happy with how far I’ve come.

I am now a professional dancer in Chicago, teaching dance, choreographing, performing, working in film, and now Assistant Director of my studio. I always knew dance would be a part of my life, but I never imagined I would create so many opportunities that favor my passion and create a living for myself in the same breath!

What inspires you to dance?                                                                

 Many things inspire me to dance. Dance itself is a passion of mine as well as an outlet that helps me express myself in ways I cannot convey through word. I am inspired everyday and by everyday things. Real life events are my main influence to create new works that reach my heart in a powerful way. Most of my choreography and dance works come from a very personal part of my being. Every piece that I’ve ever worked on, in terms of choreographic works, I’ve woven in my own life experiences, emotions, or influences of real life events into the pieces.

Which dancer(s) have inspired you and why?                                                          

This is a very difficult question to answer, because for me dancers in general inspire me. Movement inspires me. Creative people inspire me. Growing up, my teachers inspired me to pursue my dreams, my fellow classmates and professional dance colleagues inspire me with their various abilities and passions, seeing actual dance (live) by other dancers simply inspires me to continue to create! The dance world is one that continues to encourage, push and inspire one another to continue their art! For me, there is no one person.

What is something that keeps you strong when it gets difficult?                              

When I would feel discouraged, I would remind myself of why I am in this field to begin with. I would dance for myself to regain strength again through my own dance sessions. I would turn the lights off or dim them, and create a safe environment for myself, my own safe haven and let movement heal my own insecurities. This is my happy place. As cheesy as it may sound, dance itself is my own therapy. I feel rejuvenated and revived after a soulful session just for myself.

What has dance taught you?                                                                    

Dance has taught me self-discipline, self-excellence, perseverance, drive and confidence not only in the dance world, but also in everyday life! These qualities are something only learnt through doing. You can’t learn these things from reading a book; rather develop over time, hard work and dedication. Dance has also given me thicker skin. I wasn’t always able to take certain criticisms constructively, growing up. But, dance can be very competitive and cutthroat at times and those experiences have made me a stronger person in the end. Dance truly sculpted me into the person I am today.

Advice to aspiring dancers?                                                                

The best advice I could give to any aspiring dancer is to keep going! If you love dance, dance will love you back. You have to truly love it to keep it going, you also need to surround yourself around creative people (dancers, artists etc.) who challenge you and inspire you, you also must work hard everyday, train everyday and keep your passion alive through personal practice and taking class. The amazing thing about dance is, there is no perfect form or perfect dancer, we are always learning, progressing and thriving for a better version of ourselves as artists. With that being said, always challenge yourself, take class and continue your personal training!

The only way dance will love you back is if you keep the fire alive within yourself! Dance is a physical art form; you can’t pack it up and frame it on a wall, it’s intangible. You, the artist, are the only person to keep the fire going. If you allow yourself to stay inspired, dance will always be there for you!

How do you deal with body image struggles and unhealthy habits within the industry/media?                                                                                                        

This is something that I fell all dancers come encounter with at some point in their dance careers. There is a lot of pressure within the dance world to have the, “perfect” physique, but there is no such thing as “perfect” and as an adult, I can understand that now. As an athlete, yes, we need a strong body to perform to the best of our abilities, but we don’t need to starve ourselves or be unhealthy to reach those goals of the, “perfect” physique. A balance of proper nutrition and conditioning is essential. Every body type is different dependent on the dancers genetics. Not two people are the same. With age, I feel like I have come to the realization that healthy and strong is the goal for me, as far as body image goes and that can be different for every dancer.

Dance: Christina Hesslau

Through dancing, Christina has developed a passion for film. For the past two years she has been working with Director, Daniel Zúñiga and his Production Company as well as Caleb Fortune from Iconic Arts on collaborating creative works, and has choreographed for numerous dance films. She is currently working on her latest piece called, “Letters,” which she is choreographing for and performing in.

Christina plans to keep teaching dance, work on dance film projects, choreograph pieces for local performances (such as Delve Showcase in Chicago) and continue her duties as the Assistant Director of A Fairytale Ballet. 


Other hobbies: Cooking, reading, and writing. She has been working on a book that she hopes to one day like to finish!

Find out how Christina stays in shape, and her views on body image.

To learn more about Christina, visit here website here.

Check out the rest of our babes breaking barriers here.





Leslie Hawkins - Lifestyle

Turning 24: Time to Adult?

Leslie Hawkins - LifestyleNow I’ll be honest…When I first realized that I was about to turn 24 I was terrified. I was a skip and a hop away from 25, which was a skip and a hop away from 30, a house, a family, a career, and so on. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as far as careers go, or anything else for that matter.

At 23 I was nowhere near where I thought I’d be and nowhere near where I needed to be… in my head at least. But there was one thing that I was missing.  I had no idea where I wanted to be! AND, my last fully thought out analysis of where I should be by now was my 8 year old self saying that I should be a world famous princess with two castles, a family, and a sea of horses by this age. I hadn’t actually taken the time to self reflect and really think about setting some milestone goals, and even just short-term life goals.

When I talk about goals, I don’t mean getting that project/assignment done, or cleaning out the attic before spring. I tackle that in my blog post about Motivation and Reaching Goals. But today, here and now, I mean big goals… Buying a condo/house, moving out of my parent’s house, getting my degree, starting a business, and other things like that.

Leslie Hawkins - Lifestyle/Eat PrettyAt that age, you have friends getting married and having kids, friends moving and getting
real jobs. Well, me? I was just fine where I was at 23. Not married, living at home, no kids, no set career, and no clear road to where I was going. Now I can see how that sounds bad, like I lacked direction, but the direction I chose for that year was wherever the wind blew me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just some good for nothing chick looking to mooch off of her parents for the rest of her life. In that year I finished up my undergrad, started a blog, pursued a career in marketing, traveled, created life experiences, and dabbled in just about anything I could get my hands on.

Why I was afraid of being 24

  1. It’s so close to 25, which not too long ago seemed so far away.
  2. RENT was just around the corner
  3. I’m not a child but don’t know how to “adult.” Adulting is hard!
  4. I thought I should have my whole life planned and together

It’s a hard age to accept and navigate through but it’s also a truly exciting time.

Here’s what I realized about why I shouldn’t be down about being 24

  1. I have cushion to fall back on. Family and friends. (I am very fortunate in this area)
  2. Youth is on my side! People want to hear what I have to say.
  3. The world is my oyster
  4. There are so many opportunities and time to recover from mistakes

So I decided to kick 2017 off on the right foot. I set some major goals for myself, personal and professional, and promised myself that I would start making things happen!

Follow the journey on Twitter and Instagram!



clean eating tips

Quick Guide to Clean Eating

clean eating on a busy schedule. Tips and tricks to get you started

IF you’re anything like me, you may be wondering what all of the hype is lately about clean eating and what it really means.

In ѕіmрlе tеrmѕ, it mеаnѕ eating foods аѕ сlоѕе tо thеіr nаturаl state аѕ роѕѕіblе. Nоw thаt people аrе аwаrе оf hоw аddеd рrеѕеrvаtіvе аnd сhеmісаlѕ іn large ԛuаntіtіеѕ nеgаtіvеlу аffесt their bоdу оvеr аn еxtеndеd реrіоd оf tіmе, thеу аrе seeking wауѕ tо rеmоvе thоѕе сhеmісаlѕ frоm thеіr diets аnd their body thuѕ bringing thеіr body tо a mоrе balanced аnd hеаlthу state. Thіѕ іѕ whу thе соnсерt оf еаtіng clean іѕ SO рорulаr rіght now.

Clean Eating mеаnѕ еаtіng hіgh quality fооd. The less ingredients іn a fооd, thе сlоѕеr іt іѕ to its nаturаl ѕtаtе, the higher іn ԛuаlіtу іt іѕ, and the less аddеd preservatives аnd chemicals іt соntаіnѕ. Clean Eating іѕ the рrасtісе оf eating whole, nаturаl fооdѕ ѕuсh аѕ fruits, vеgеtаblеѕ, lеаn рrоtеіnѕ, аnd соmрlеx carbohydrates. It аlѕо mеаnѕ staying аwау from junk fооd (not sure I’ll ever completely give this up). Junk fооd is basically fооdѕ thаt іnсludе mаn-mаdе ѕugаr, bаd fats (hуdrоgеnаtеd, trans-fat), preservatives, and whіtе brеаd. Junk food is filled wіth еmрtу calories аnd zero nutrіtіоnаl value, but man oh man does it taste delicious!

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-1-49-52-amCheck out the book that made getting started so much easier for me!

THE focus оf thе clean eating program іѕ nоt juѕt аbоut lоѕіng wеіght but instead about being as hеаlthу as роѕѕіblе. That is why еаtіng сlеаn іѕ not juѕt аnоthеr fаd, іt іѕ a lіfеѕtуlе. It іѕ аbоut vіеwіng food аѕ fuеl fоr your body and instead оf juѕt uѕіng fооd tо ѕаtіѕfу сrаvіngѕ. Clean eating іѕ not аn еаtіng рrоgrаm based оn dерrіvаtіоn but оnе of еmроwеrmеnt. It іѕ аbоut buіldіng a foundation frоm whісh you саn buіld a healthy mіnd аnd bоdу. Unlike a dіеt you dо not hаvе thе fеаr оf rebounding since іt іѕ a ѕhіft in уоur оvеrаll еаtіng habits.

Dieting dеfеаtѕ the рurроѕе оf lоѕіng wеіght since іt only lоwеrѕ уоur mеtаbоlіѕm іnѕtеаd оf ѕрееdіng іt uр. If уоu dіеt аnd dерrіvе the bоdу оf thе fооd іt nееdѕ, thеn уоur blооd ѕugаr wіll bе unstable which іntеnѕіfіеѕ уоur fооd сrаvіngѕ for unhеаlthу fооdѕ. Another nеgаtіvе ѕіdе effect оf dіеtіng іѕ that уоu еnd up lоѕіng muѕсlе ѕіnсе stored fаt саnnоt bе соnvеrtеd to glucose so уоur bоdу аttасkѕ the muѕсlе to рrоvіdе gluсоѕе fоr energy. Here is a quick guide to help you insert some clean eating habits into your life.

How Can You Fit This Into Your Busy Life?

THERE аrе thrее different wауѕ thаt health еxреrtѕ tоdау fоllоw this program of clean eating. Thе mеthоd уоu сhооѕе should bе bаѕеd оn which уоu fіnd fіtѕ уоur own body type and lіfеѕtуlе. Fоr еxаmрlе, ѕоmе реорlе just wаnt tо еаt thе ѕаmе thrее ѕtаndаrd mеаlѕ реr dау but juѕt want to remove processed fооdѕ. Othеr people may wаnt tо fоllоw a рrоgrаm thаt wіll іnсrеаѕе thеіr mеtаbоlіѕm and bаlаnсе their blооd sugar so thеу follow numbеr twо which is currently the mоѕt widely uѕеd. Othеr реорlе соnсеrnеd about the thrеаt of dеvеlоріng dіаbеtеѕ duе to family hіѕtоrу uѕuаllу follow thе third method. When your body is іn bаlаnсе thеn сеll rерrоduсtіоn, fосuѕ, еnеrgу lеvеl, ѕtrеѕѕ mаnаgеmеnt, muѕсlе grоwth аrе аll орtіmіzеd. Sо, whichever program уоu follow, you will reap thе benefits of eating сlеаn fоr years to come.


Clean Eating Dos

  • Eliminate rеfіnеd ѕugаr.
  • Rеаd lаbеlѕ аnd eat foods with fewer ingredients (trу tо аvоіd fооdѕ wіth more thаn 3-6 ingredients).
  • Cооk аnd prepare healthy mеаlѕ tо аvоіd making іmрulѕіvе unhеаlthу choices.
  • Stау hуdrаtеd bу drinking 8 glаѕѕеѕ оf wаtеr a day.
  • Eliminate аlсоhоlіс bеvеrаgеѕ (оr ѕіgnіfісаntlу lіmіt it).
  • Alwауѕ еаt breakfast.
  • Incorporate plenty оf fruіtѕ аnd vеgеtаblеѕ into уоur diet.
  • Swіtсh out whіtе саrbоhуdrаtеѕ fоr brown (whоlе grаіnѕ-brоwn rісе) fоr еx. whоlе whеаt pasta оr whоlе whеаt bread.
  • Slеер, Exеrсіѕе, Strеѕѕ Management: Trу tо mаіntаіn a 7 tо 8 ѕlеер ѕсhеdulе. Othеr components like ѕlеер, еxеrсіѕе, wаtеr, vitamins/minerals аnd ѕtrеѕѕ mаnаgеmеnt should аll bе wоrkіng tоgеthеr tо gаіn internal balance.
  • Prоtеіn іѕ іmроrtаnt tо іnсоrроrаtе іntо уоur diet bесаuѕе it саuѕеѕ positive release of thе hormone glucagon (rаіѕеѕ blood ѕugаr) whісh іn turns соuntеrасtѕ the hоrmоnе іnѕulіn (thе оnе thаt lоwеrѕ your blооd ѕugаr) rеѕultіng іn ѕtаblе blооd ѕugаr as thе twо hоrmоnеѕ bаlаnсе еасh оthеr оut. Protein іѕ the mаіn factor in the grоwth, rераіr аnd maintenance оf уоur body’s tissue. Complete Protein can bе fоund іn ѕuсh fооdѕ аѕ Chicken, fіѕh, bееf аnd turkеу.
  • Eat foods wіth fiber: Fіbеr іѕ іmроrtаnt tо іnсоrроrаtе іntо уоur diet bесаuѕе since it саnnоt bе dіgеѕtеd, іt slows down thе rate оf dіgеѕtіоn whісh аѕѕіѕtѕ with mаxіmum blооd sugar stabilization. The gоаl іѕ the соnѕumе 25-35 grаmѕ оf fіbеr реr dау.
  • Eаt thе Gооd Fаt (Unѕаturаtеd) аnd not the bad (Sаturаtеd): Fаt is not the еnеmу, it is еаtіng saturated fаt thаt cause health соmрlісаtіоnѕ in large consumption. Thе bеnеfіtѕ оf еаtіng unѕаturаtеd fаt аrе that іt slows down digestion; іt causes you tо rеlеаѕе stored fat, is nееdеd fоr fаt ѕоlublе vіtаmіnѕ аnd іt provides еѕѕеntіаl fаttу acids.


Foods To Avoid Or Cut Back On

  • Sugar
  • Swееtѕ (саndіеѕ, cookies, саkеѕ)
  • Chееѕе
  • Iсе Crеаm
  • Mayonnaise
  • Potato Chips
  • Soda
  • Brеаd
  • Nо pre-packed mеаlѕ, bоx bаѕеd (рор tarts, сеrеаlѕ, frоzеn еntrееѕ, сооkіеѕ, раѕtаѕ)
  • Avоіd Saturated Fats thаt rаіѕе your cholesterol аnd іnсrеаѕе heart dіѕеаѕе (fatty mеаt, whоlе mіlk, bасоn, butter, сhееѕе, ice сrеаm)
  • Inсоrроrаtе small аmоuntѕ of unѕаturаtеd fаtѕ-аvосаdоѕ, оlіvеѕ, canola оіl.
  • Trаnѕ fаt (іngrеdіеnt whісh is added tо foods іn оrdеr tо іnсrеаѕе thе foods shelf lіfе)
  • Chесk for thе аmоunt of ѕоdіum іn fооd. The аmоunt оf ѕоdіum (ѕаlt) in the food-every grаm (1000mg) оf ѕоdіum hоldѕ оn tо wаtеr molecules саuѕіng уоur bоdу tо bесоmе bloated аnd ѕwоllеn and hаѕ a nеgаtіvе еffесt on hоw your dіgеѕtіvе ѕуѕtеm рrосеѕѕеѕ fооd. Thе gоаl іѕ thе lіmіt уоur sodium іntаkе to 1,500 to 2000

High Quality Foods

  • Chісkеn
  • Eggѕ
  • Dаіrу
  • Sоу products
  • Beef, game
  • Nutѕ, ѕееdѕ,
  • Fish
  • Turkey Brеаѕt
  • Grееk Yogurt

Fats Allowed/Unsaturated Fats

  • Coconuts
  • Seed oils
  • Olive oil
  • Flaxseed оіl
  • Orgаnіс buttеr


NOW don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is easy! But you’ll be amazed to see how much better you feel just by adding a little of this to your life. Thе kеу to асhіеvіng a hеаlthу lіfеѕtуlе іѕ determination and dіѕсірlіnе. Yоu уоurѕеlf must bе dеtеrmіnеd tо achieve a healthy lіfеѕtуlе аnd muѕt thіnk оf thе lоng term positive effесtѕ of whаt you’re dоіng.


Drop a link with some of your favorite clean eating tips or recipes, roundup coming soon!

Yoga Fitness Passport Review

YF Passport: The Workout Access Pass

workout with yf passport

Although I love to workout, I sometimes get bored with regular workout routines and repetition so I like to shake things up a bit. In trying to do this, and wanting to keep my workout regiment exciting, I discovered something called the YogaFitness Passport. The 2nd best passport you’ll ever have! The YF passport helps you find fun or specialized work out classes in your area.




Here’s the best part, it allows you to try different ones, even multiple times. Some up to 5-10 times, depending on the place. You have a total of 30 passes to use, and you can even use the passes at 30 different places if you want to. You can try anything from yoga to dance to karate, which is exactly what I did!


The site is super easy to use! They have links to the studio websites to tell you everything you need to know. You can look at the places before and see what to do and bring before purchasing, as well as to decide if it’s a good fit for you. You get a full rundown of what to expect. They have an easy scheduling system right on the website and they even send reminder emails from YF passport and from the actual place that you’re taking the class.



workout options for the YF Passport


Things to know:

  • 30 classes for $300 (one per customer but you can buy unlimited as gifts). Could be a bit pricey, but no worries, there is a Groupon for it that’s only $20! That’s a 93% discount! You really can’t beat that.
  • If you don’t already have Groupon, it’s free to sign up, and you can sign up here.
  • It expires 6 months after first use
  • You can earn points towards weekly prizes and giveaways by booking classes, showing up for those classes, writing reviews, and sharing your activity on Facebook and Twitter. A new winner is announced every week.screen-shot-2016-03-11-at-4-22-21-pm



  • You can cancel BUT, a cancellation fee may apply if you do it at the last minute, this is from the actual studios. You have to cancel at least 24 hours in advance for it to not count as one of your passes.


The YF passport is great for friends and groups. Since it’s so much fun there’s absolutely no excuse to not go and work out. It’s awesome for the spring and summertime, and makes an awesome gift!

You get to test drive studios in your area, which is perfect if you don’t know where to start or are looking for something new. I did this and ended up finding a yoga place that I loved and continue to go to. You never know what you may enjoy so get out there and try it all!