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:

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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!

 

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!

Outbreak!

It’s “Check Your Ego” time in the lizddpyoga.com household. My toddler brought some cocktail of respiratory germs home with her from daycare; I’m presuming it’s a mixture of Ebola, Swine Flu, Tuberculosis, and possibly Anthrax.

Common hosts of deadly pathogens include monkeys, rats, ticks, toddlers…

At any rate, a couple of weeks ago, she lost her voice and had a cough, but wasn’t showing much else by way of symptoms. The week after that, my husband was stricken with the plague, and spent a couple of days huddled up under a blanket, complaining of his imminent death, and has had a cough ever since.

I thought my healthy eating and exercising regime would spare me from , but I was proven sorely wrong about a week-and-a-half ago when I realized I was starting to feel a little congested in my chest. “Sorely” is the operative word. After a couple of days of high fevers, chills and coughing so hard it looked like my lungs were trying to get out, I developed a sharp pain in my left floating ribs, particularly when I coughed.

It turns out I have pulled a muscle in my rib by coughing too hard. After some googling (damn you, high deductible insurance plan), all the sagely wisdom the internet offered was to ice it frequently, rest it until healed, and not to cough too often. Oh, gee, what great advice! If only I had thought of that before all the exciting coughing fun I have been choosing to engage in. In other words, I couldn’t control my coughing, so went on to torture my already damaged muscles.

As of a couple of days ago, I have -more or less- recovered from the chest infection enough that I could get back to my marathon training, from which I had to sit out ten days… TEN! I am able to run without too much pain, but most moves in DDP Yoga require serious modification, if they can be done at all. So, I am doing the shorter workouts, and doing all the Slow Burn Push-ups on my knees, skipping the Touchdown Side-bends, and mourning my inability to blast out a Double Black Diamond or a Level 1 Certification workout. I keep telling myself that in the long run, this is the sensible thing to do, and I’ll get more Diamond Cutter workouts in later if I wait now.

In the meantime, I am lifting weights to keep my muscle tone as good as I can, but it’s just not the same as owning a DDP Yoga workout:

Yeah, I wouldn't last a second in prison!

Yeah, I wouldn’t last a second in prison!

Guess I won’t be doing this for a while…. (Inspired by this clip)