Shorts: Friday Funnies

This is definitely me:

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See for yourself:

This video is 30 minutes of me planking and caterwauling. However, the audio is muted…Sorry! There is talk of an elusive clip with the original audio in tact. If you want to see it you can pm me for it. I will only let people I know and trust have the link because it’s pretty horrific! Actually, I may not let anyone see it; it’s that bad!

My butt lifts a little toward the end, though not to the extent that it appears.. my little handheld camera was on the ground and pointed up so it’s exaggerated. Keep in mind that as my arms are straight up and down the entire time, for me to keep my hands at the top of the mat, and my feet at the back, I would have to have monstrously long torso to also be in down dog, and not plank!

The Perfect Imperfection

Here’s what I looked like a year ago.

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I am adamant that people should love themselves and their bodies at all points along their journey, not just when they reach their goals. However, loving that body was hard! I had chronic knee pain, I felt heavy and sluggish and I was depressed.

After a year of DDP Yoga, here is what my body looks like:

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My arms are ripped for the first time in my life ever; they have gone from being the body part I covered in the hottest weather to being the part I love ogling in the mirror. My once chronically sore knees ran a half-marathon and are training for a full. And my midsection is beast mode strong. It looks great and my core strength allows me to do all manner of yoga moves.

However, there’s one feature on my mid-section that’s not so perfect. From my belly down is covered in stretch marks. They are mostly white now, but when stretched out, I look like a burn victim. Also, when it’s cold, they go red. I’m like a Harry Potter for wintery temperatures… lamest super power ever!

My initial instinct was to cover up my stretch marks from even myself, and focus on the more aesthetically pleasing parts of my body. But in keeping with my lectures to others about loving all the good and bad of themselves, I reminded myself to think about where I got my stretch marks. I have a beautiful and brilliant three-year-old daughter. My love for her is so profound, it erases any vanity or body issues I may have. I would choose having my entire body covered in stretch marks as long as I got to be her mother.

But the stretch marks also represent my strength and determination. When I was pregnant, the thought of a hospital birth terrified me. All the needles, drugs, medical staff making decisions about me and my body, and completely losing control over my birthing experience kept me up at night. I have heard horror stories of doctors “pitting to distress” so they can then order a c-section and get home on time (for more information, I highly recommend this book). To capture some control of what would happen, I wrote a lengthy birth plan, and practiced for a natural birth, but I knew the birth plan was unlikely to be read, and as this was my first child, I had no idea how natural labor would go.

I’m going to cut a long story short here, and just say that my wonderful, strong body took control of the situation for me by giving me an unplanned homebirth, thus avoiding all the things I was worried about. I was able to control myself, my breathing, and my body to have such a painless labor, that we didn’t realise how far along I was. The active labor lasted 20 minutes, and I delivered a 9 lb 7 oz child at home with nothing but a doula, my husband and my own strength of will.

So every time I look at my stretch marks, I don’t see ugly scars. I am reminded of my wonderful daughter, and I am also reminded that I am a f%$&ing warrior with the strength to do anything I set my mind to!

One Year Later

Today marks the first full year of my DDP Yoga journey.

This time last year, I looked into the mirror, and this is what was looking back at me.

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My knees where in chronic pain, I overweight, and I was depressed. I had no energy. Every movement felt heavy and painful. I had spent my twenties trying every diet plan and exercise system you could name, and the picture above was the sum total of those efforts. Now, I was in my thirties. My metabolism was slower, and I had a child to look after. If I couldn’t get the body and health-level I wanted in my twenties when everything was working in my favour, I certainly wasn’t going to get it now. The depression wasn’t restricted to my body image; it seeped out into my marriage, my self-confidence, my enthusiasm for anything.

On April 7th, 2013, after viewing the Arthur video for the umpteenth time, I placed my order for the max pack and joined TeamDDPyoga.com. I did the Diamond Dozen that day, took my 6 pictures, and went shopping for a heart rate monitor. And I haven’t looked back since.

In the past year (and I know I am going to leave many things out):

  • I lost over 50 lbs (8 dress sizes and 2 ring sizes)
  • I became the co-first female DDP Yoga Level 1 Instructor with Christina Russell
  • I won the DDP Yoga Challenge with Christina
  • I ran a half-marathon, two obstacle races, and several other 5 and 10Ks
  • Mastered dozens of “impossible” poses
  • Met DDP!
  • Changed careers and became a DDP Yoga Instructor

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But that list doesn’t scratch the surface of what DDP Yoga has done for me. I have happiness and confidence both within myself and in the things I do like never before. I am a better mother and wife, because I am not held back by depression, and I can run around with my daughter (or do DDP Yoga together) because I feel light and free from knee pain.

I also feel like I can do anything now. In the run up to starting DDP Yoga, I was working for an extremely abusive boss who spent his time telling me I couldn’t do anything right, and I spent the years I worked with him internalising that criticism and extending it to anything I thought about trying. Now, I walk into job interviews or any new challenge with my head held high knowing that I am smart, strong and capable.

I feel healthy, light and strong. I have met my weight goals, but more importantly, I have learned to stop caring about weight (that statement is a HUGE achievement coming from someone who had an eating disorder – bulimia in case you’re curious- from age 12 into her twenties). I am now more interested in achieving feats of strength like running a full marathon, or nailing Forearm Balance. My low weight is merely a side-effect of my healthy lifestyle now.

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DDP Yoga has given me the gift of connection through everyone at TeamDDPYoga.com, and I know that my success, as well as the assurance I have that I won’t fall off the wagon in the future comes from all the love and support I receive from my friends there.

DDP Yoga has given me so much. It was the best decision I ever made.

Thank you DDP, Craig Aaron, and everyone at TeamDDP xoxo

 

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Shorts: Food Stuff!

Here are some of my favourite posts from my Facebook Page. It seems like gloom and doom, but the last post is some good news!

Mmmm… butylated hydroxytolune

I’m not a fan of any added sweetener, artificial or “natural” (the quotation marks are for sweeteners like Stevia, which is still highly processed and alters your body chemistry). If you need a sweet kick, grab an apple or some strawberries. That way you’re getting some vitamins and minerals, and the sugar release is controlled by the fiber!

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Don’t buy these:

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More sugar-bashing:

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Eat Alkaline!

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Cut the eggs:

But don’t go nuts!

 

Shorts: Leptin… Because Mother Nature Hates Us!

A summary: your body wants to be the weight you start out at. If you lose weight, your body is going to work against you to get back to its starting weight, even though you be healthier now. It does this through Leptin. If Leptin levels drop, which they do when you lose weight, your metabolism slows (calories hit you harder) and your appetite will be stimulated.

This doesn’t mean you will fail! But you need to watch out for pitfalls. Pay attention if you start to experience the urge to snack or night time cravings, or a desire to eat unhealthy foods. Commit to a high-fiber, plant-based, whole foods, gluten-free diet, and keep an eye on your overall calorie intake (without becoming a compulsive calorie-counter).

But don’t worry! It has been shown that meat intake positively associates with weight gain, and that this association persists AFTER adjusting for total energy intake. Accordingly, a decrease in meat consumption improves weight management. Eating 250 gram meat/day gives a 422 gram gain extra compared to a diet with the same number of calories but less meat!

 

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death: a Synopsis

This is a fantastic video from NutritionFacts.org. This is an amazing website, and a reliable source of information about nutrition (expect a LOT more from this site).

In case you don’t have time to watch this, here’s the major points (comment below if you want the peer-reviewed article PMID for any of these points):

-The cholesterol from eating just one egg a day decreases life expectancy as much as smoking FIVE cigarettes a day!
-Fibre from 1 cup of oatmeal or a handful of nuts every day is as protective as 4 hours of jogging per week.
-The intake of cholesterol in animal products gives the shortest life expectancy, intake of fibre from plants gives the longest.
-The cholesterol levels of 50% of Heart Attack victims was within “normal” levels, i.e. the advise for “normal” is too high.
-A blood cholesterol level of 150mg/dl is the average for vegan diet, and cause full cessation of atherosclerotic plaques.
-Anti-cholesterol drugs increase memory loss, confusion and development of diabetes.

-All cancer rates are lower in vegans.
-Poultry consumption is the worst for cancer, 50gr chicken breast/day triples cancer risk.
-Heme iron in meat increases colorectal cancer risk.
-Vegan blood dramatically less hospitable to cancer growth.
-Cancer-promoting IgF1 levels drop after 11 days of vegan diet, Cancer-preventing IgF1-BP levels go up.
-Vegan men have higher testosterone levels!
-Profoundly lower Breast Cancer risk in postmenopausal women on vegan diet.

-Total meat consumption is associated with weight gain.
-AFTER CONTROLLING FOR CALORIES, decrease in meat consumption improves weight management.
-250 gr. meat/day gives a 422 gr gain extra compared to a diet with the same number of calories but less meat!
- Meat intake positively associates with weight gain, and this associate persists AFTER adjusting for total energy intake!

-Suicide and depression can be prevented with a plant based diet.
-After 2 weeks of a plant-based diet, mood scores improve.
-Vegetable intake improves teenage depression, social anxiety disorder, PMS, etc.
-Plants contain serotonin and dopamine which help to improve mood, relieve depression.

Take home message: drop the animal products, eat more plants!

Mis-Vegucated… Or How Not to Change Your Diet!

On the advice of a friend, I recently watched the documentary Vegucated. It was sold to me as follows: “Oh, you liked Forks Over Knives? Well, you’re going to love Vegucated!” Wrong!

Vegucated follows the adventures of Marisa Miller Wolfson, a dedicated vegan, who attempts to convert three unlikely subjects (the manly man, the busy single mom, and the Peruvian college student) to a vegan diet over the course of a 6-week period. The subjects’ weights and blood works are recorded at the beginning of the experiment, and then again at the end, similar to before-and-after results seen in my beloved  Forks Over Knives.

However, while Forks Over Knives promises you the benefits of weight loss, cancer prevention/remission, and healthier blood test results in exchange for committing to a whole-food, vegan diet devoid of refined and processed fats, sugars or grains, Miller Wolfson believes you can achieve these results with any vegan diet. On day one of her how-to-be-a-healthy-vegan lesson, she takes her subjects to the grocery shop and shows them all the things you can still eat on a vegan diet. Evidently, you can eat your way to losing weight with a shopping cat full of Earth Balance (hydrogenated fatty acids), Teddy Grahams, Double Stuff Oreos, Aunt Jemima’s pancake mix and a tub Duncan Hynes’ frosting.

Just needs some frosting!

Ms. Miller Wolfson is motivated by an environmental and humanitarian agenda (as evidenced by the trip to the vegan shoe store later in the documentary). In contrast, Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn promote their diet on the basis of peer-reviewed nutritional science. Accordingly, after a 6-week period, the changes to her subjects health were mediocre. Yes, they lost some weight; meat consumption is known to correlate with weight gain. But they weight loss and blood work numbers paled in comparison to those in the Forks Over Knives subjects.

Yes, the vegan version of any diet is healthier than its non-vegan counterpart. For instance, if you took a McDonalds Happy Meal, and replaced the patties with an equivalent caloric amount of lentil burgers, and replaced the cheese and mystery sauce with veggie slices and “veganaisse”, it’s going to be a healthier meal. But I said health-IER. Not healthy!

Veganism or vegetarianism in and of themselves are not healthy, low-fat or low calories diets. Trust me.

Here’s the sexy, healthy physique I achieved with a strictly vegetarian diet, with no other restrictions:

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Mmmmm, meaty!

The simple fact is that any restrictive diet as a weight loss vehicle (veganism, the Atkins diet, only eating white foods, or not white foods, etc.) rely upon the restriction making it difficult for you to consume the same number of calories that you had been able to previously. The problem is that over time you will find ways to eat new calories as you discover vegan cheesecakes, or low-carb chocolate, or white sugar!

Reducing your animal product intake to the point of veganism is certainly part of a journey to weight loss and good health, but it has to be accompanied with a transition to whole, organic foods, and some focus on a total calories consumed. For more information, check out the DDP Yoga Nutrition Guide!

I would love to live in Ms. Miller Wolfson’s reality where I could eat my way through a tower of Double-Stuff Oreo’s held together with large globs of Duncan Hyne’s frosting. I really wish I did. But I don’t. So a blender full of Kale, Salad Greens, Flaxseed and Apple was my lunch today!

 

Paying It Forward

I wanted to put out a call to people looking for advice or help. I am thrilled when friends and strangers alike contact me for support, or questions about DDP Yoga, or weight loss issues in general. I am always willing to answer, so I wanted to make it clear that it is in no way bothering me to contact me.

I was welcomed with open arms to teamDDPyoga.com, and any requests I put out there were happily answered by people there, so I feel honoured to do the same for others.

I look forward to helping you!