What DDP Yoga Really Means To Me

I have written pretty extensively on this website about what DDP Yoga has done for me in terms of weight loss, strength-building, flexibility, mastering poses, etc. etc. One facet of improvement that I haven’t been so forthcoming on is the improvement to my mental health, but I think it’s about time I document this in the hopes that it can help others.

From the age of 12 into my mid-twenties, I struggled with eating disorders, mostly bulimia. On a superficial level, I was bulimic in an effort to get to some ideal weight goal or body shape I had in my mind. Ironically, despite the purging of food, there was no overall reduction in weight. But as with all eating disorders, there’s an underlying control issue. The physical act of purging food was enjoyable on some really strange level and was a (wildly detrimental) way of venting. Just to be clear, I am not promoting bulimia as a stress-control method! What little relief comes from emptying your stomach contents is not worth the expense to your mental and physical health. Sadly, I lacked that insight as a 12-year-old and so I became an eating disorder statistic.

To this day, I am not sure why I developed an eating disorder. I don’t know if there was a clear-cut cause, or if it’s just “one of those things.” The reason I never nailed down the source of the problem is that I never went through any eating disorder-specific therapy or rehab. My parents sent me to a general psychologist when they found out I was having problems early in my teens, but I didn’t go for very long, probably because I wasn’t ready for counselling at that point. Instead of ever addressing any issues, I simply became more careful to hide my behaviour. Over the years, I wasn’t consistently bulimic; it was more of an on-off behaviour with me, so much so that I almost felt like an impostor referring to myself as bulimic, as if I were disrespecting the “real” bulimics who were more committed to it (this is probably a prime example of denial)! But I was 100% ON when it came to having the personality that would develop an eating disorder. I was completely dysmorphic in my body image, I had low self-esteem and I never addressed the underlying reasons for those problems.

Somewhere in my twenties, I just sort of stopped. For now apparent reason, I outgrew the behaviour of purging. Note, I didn’t say I outgrew the “binging and purging” habit, just the purging. I didn’t cease purging because of some break-through in therapy; there was no therapy. I just stopped sticking my fingers down my throat until food came up. I still had all the inner demons and issues that lead to the eating disorder. I certainly kept the binging part going, and continued through to my thirties with an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. Where I had previously exerted “control” over food, I now descended into a complete loss of control with food. The rest as they say, is history. I shot up to almost 200 lbs, and became unhealthy and depressed.

In both my controlling “binging and purging” and completely uncontrolled “overeating” phases, I had a negative body image, low self-esteem, unhealthy relationship with food, and other personality problems that come with those issues. I am focusing on the mental effects of eating disorders here, but I obviously suffered all the physical ailments that come with being either bulimic or an overeater too.

When I started DDP Yoga, I did so with purely physical goals in mind: pain reduction, weight loss, improved flexibility. I didn’t have any expectation that DDP Yoga would alleviate my depression, mainly because I didn’t know I was depressed – it’s surprisingly difficult to realise you are depressed in the middle of it, you only realise you were depressed after the fact. Similarly, I didn’t I expect DDP Yoga to fix my body image, my relationship with food, or any other mental health issue I landed on its doorstep with. Why would I? It wasn’t sold to me as a mechanism to do any of those things. I was sold a workout system that would help me lose weight and improve my strength, and that’s what I hoped it would do.

DDP Yoga certainly delivered on those promises! As I have written about (extensively) before, DDP Yoga got me to a healthy weight, with an athletic body fat percentage, and enabled me to achieve many feats of strength and flexibility that I had never dreamt of before. Through some combination of the cardio and strength-building from the DDP Yoga workouts, and the healthy eating from the DDP Yoga nutrition plan gave me a healthy, strong body.

But DDP Yoga did more than that. After reaching my goal weight, and maintaining that weight for a number of months, some thing really amazing happened. For the first time in my life, I stopped caring about my weight, or any physical measurements for that matter. I realised that I had made peace with my body. I now feel united with my body, where once it had been an enemy that I battled with, and I fought dirty. Now, I am motivated by a desire to make my body healthy and strong. I respect my body and I want to treat it as well as possible for my long term health. When I am trying to get something out of my body these days, it’s on the order of mastering a new Yoga pose, or completing a feat like a full marathon. I am not trying to bow to some societal pressure like getting a “thigh gap” or hitting some arbitrary number on a scale. In fact, because of marathon training, I recently gained a few pounds, and I was delighted, because I know that weight went on as muscle and it means I am getting strong enough to run a full marathon.

I am not at the summit of perfect mental health. I still struggle with overeating and sugar-addiction, but that is now purely a physical issue. What I mean by that is that I will eat my way to the bottom of a packet of gluten-free, vegan cookies because sugar is more physically addictive than heroine. But I am not eating my way there in some vain attempt to find love or fill some empty part within myself. I have love, and that love comes from within. I love myself and I love my body. I am happy and I want to continue to get strong, inside and out. I will address my sweet tooth in an effort to be healthy. But that’s all it is now: a garden-variety sweet tooth. I am no longer bulimic. I never again will be bulimic. Nor am I depressed, or unfulfilled, or suffering from body dysmorphia.

I don’t know what about DDP Yoga worked for me where other exercise systems, school counsellors or psychologists failed before. I know I have enjoyed the fact that DDP Yoga is fun, effective and challenging. I have felt so grateful for the fact that DDP is unique in how genuine he is, and how legitimately concerned he is with the health, well-being and success of those that do DDP Radio beyond just getting us to buy his program. I have certainly been honoured by receiving praise from DDP from shout-outs on DDP Yoga all the way to winning the DDP Yoga challenge, and the trust that has been placed in me as a representative of DDP Yoga. I know my physical goals were met because of the completeness of the DDP Yoga exercise and nutrition package, and from a connectedness to the community at teamDDPyoga.com. Somewhere in there is the magic that led me to exorcise my inner demons and fix my mental health once and for all, but I don’t know what specifically accomplished it. But it was accomplished. And for that, from the bottom of my increasingly strong heart, I will be forever grateful to DDP, Craig Aaron and everyone else who has made DDP Yoga what it is.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Shorts: Breathe Easy!

As someone who used to smoke (sad but true), I am very interested in knowing what good I can do for my lungs*. I don’t eat much pomegrannet (blech!), pumpkin, or grapefruit, I do chow down on healthy amounts of the other items on this list!

*Recent research has shown that your cancer risk from smoking doesn’t return to that of someone who has never smoked until over a decade after you quit smoking! Sadly that means, I still have 5 or 6 years to wait it out!

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.

Fotor041512471

 

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.

mara

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:

monsanto_companies

More sugar-bashing:

Spoon_full_of_sugar

Eat Alkaline!

AlkCancer

 

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:

Fotor041512471

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!

 

I Quit!

In a previous post, I discussed my plan to phase out calorie counting, and phase in full adherence to the Phase III nutrition plan of the DDP Yoga guide. At the time of posting, I was about 45 days away from completing a full year of calorie counting on the MyFitnessPal app. I thought it would be nice to make it to a full calendar year of logging in every single single thing I ate and calorie I burned exercising, so I planned to use the remaining time as a transitional period. In other words, I would follow the DDP Yoga guide all day long ignoring the calorie counting, and then at the very end of the day, log in my calories and exercise to see how I had done.

Let’s call it an even 2000?

All was well with this plan on good days (you know, the ones where I am well rested and emotionally centered enough to ward off the over-eating demons). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was actually eating fewer calories under the new regime. The reason for that is pretty straightforward. When I am calorie counting, and otherwise have zero restrictions on your eating, I will eat to the very last calorie. I have, on more than one occasion, measured out 2/3 of a tablespoon of peanut butter because I had 70 calories left. I have also exercised more than initially planned because I had overeaten that day, and the overeating was enabled by knowing I had that exercising safety-net. In contrast, when you are eating by a plan, not conscious of how many calories you are consuming, and not eating up to the last free calorie at the end of the day in an orgy of peanut butter and carob chips, you don’t eat as many calories.

Another massive, yet completely unforeseen benefit of this plan, is the reduction in sugar in my diet. According to MyFitnessPal, I am meant to aim for 67 grams of sugar or less per day. However, despite my best efforts and the the fact that I was coming in under my calorie allowance, my sugar intake was comically excessive. In the month of November, I didn’t come in under my sugar allowance once. In fact, I consumed an excess of 3,521 grams of sugar. That means I ate 5,598 grams of sugar that month. That’s 45 sugar cubes a day! A day! That’s a lot of cancer-causing inflammation in someone who conned herself into thinking she was eating clean. In contrast, since I have started transitioning over to the non-calorie counting plan, on the good days (the ones where I didn’t give into temptation), I have actually come in under my daily sugar limit. I scrolled through several months worth of records of the previous regime and didn’t find a single day without excess sugar consumed!

Would you like some coffee with that?

You may remember a couple of paragraphs that I carefully added the operative “on good days” phrase. That’s because I wasn’t awash in a surplus of uneaten calories and sugar grams. On certain days, I had “slips”. In other words, I ate things that contained dairy, gluten, GMOs and lots of empty calories. Or I ate two or three servings instead of the prescribed one. On those days, after I made one of the aforementioned poor decisions, I would often tote up how many calories I had eaten at that point, and in essence, spend the remainder of the day on the previous calorie-counting plan. The concern here is that I am not really “transitioning” in that I am still availing of the calorie-counting safety net when I eat bad foods. In fact, I am still allowing the calorie-counting to enable these poor decisions.

As it stood, I was at an impasse; my desire to commit fully to the Phase III eating plan was at odds with my desire to make it to a full year of calorie counting. Luckily, kismet had the temerity to do what I could not. One evening, I got into bed, and was logging in my calories for the day when I saw the following status: “Liz has logged in for 5 days in a row.” Five? FIVE?? I should have been up to three-hundred-and-forty days by that point! I realized that I must have logged in after midnight five days prior, and therefore hit the metaphorical reset button on how consecutive many days I had logged in. As I am not willing to extend the transitional period by a further three-hundred-and-sixty-five days, I call it quits and dove straight in to the Phase III plan.

This is what a Google Image search of “Kismet” yielded. Yeah, I don’t get it either!

I am now officially and exclusively on the Phase III plan now! No calorie counting. Not throughout the day, not at the end of the day. None. That’s not to say that I haven’t had slips, but when I do, I don’t allow one slip to set the tone for the rest of the day. In fact, without the safety net of calorie counting, I have been forced to really examine those errors and see what series of events led to them. I have also found some inner strength in this eating plan. Yesterday, I was at Target to buy some clothes for my daughter. I was feeling a little hungry, specifically for chocolate. So, we headed to the junk food aisle. I looked at all the ingredients of the dark chocolate bars. However, all of them had some form of dairy, or ingredients that I couldn’t be sure weren’t dairy and gluten. In the past, I would have thought, “Close enough,” or given myself points for effort. But yesterday, I felt like sticking to the guidelines was now the only thing standing between me and reverting to the 198 lb mass I was before starting DDP Yoga, so I walked away empty handed. This won’t be the last time I face temptation, and there’s every chance that I won’t always be so successful in warding if off. But yesterday was a real sea change. I felt stronger and more resolved to eat healthily.

Mmmm, health food!

Shorts: Got Milk? No!

There are many good reasons to ditch dairy. Here are just a few:

Got milk

 

And then there’s this:

http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/08/how-much-pus-is-there-in-milk/

Warning, it gets pretty gross!

“So how much pus is there in a glass of milk? Not much. A million cells per spoonful sounds like a lot, but pus is really concentrated. According to my calculations* based on USDA data released last month, the average cup of milk in the United States would not be expected to contain more than a single drop of pus.”

Uh, huh. That would be the same amount of pus as someone popping one pimple into your milk before you drank it. Certainly, that would be “not much” pus, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt you, but the thought of it would make me throw up uncontrollably nonetheless… I guess I am just fussy!