The Ultimate Guide to What DDP Yoga Could Do For You!

DDP Yoga has done so much for me that it’s hard to put it all in one post. So I am cheating and presenting an omnibus of posts instead! Click on a picture to see one of the many ways DDP Yoga can improve your life!

What will DDP Yoga do for you?

Fix your mental health?


Fix your physical health?


Fix your chronic pain?sore_knee

Fix Your Career?


Prevent future injuries and stiffness?


Make you drop an amazing amount of weight in 90 days?


Let you wear all the clothes in your wardrobe…


…or require you to buy a new one?


Give you a nice big novelty cheque?


Help you develop balance like never before?


Fix your skin?


Let you turn fitness into a career?


Let you find your passion for helping others?


Let you exceed your goals?


Earn a cool new tattoo?


Or improve your math skills?


(Okay, so it’s probably not going to help with your math skills!)


Maybe it will improve your motivation?

What do you want from DDP Yoga?

Shorts: Ink’d

I got a new tattoo! Actually, I modified a pre-existing tattoo. The old one was a kanji symbol that loosely translated to, “I was a moron when I was a teenager.”

The new one was designed for me by a very awesome TeamDDPyoga friend, Robert. The two diamonds represent the Double Black Diamond, and DDP Yoga in general. The banner represents the finish-line, that DDP Yoga helped me get to, and the 26.2 speaks for itself!


There’s Always Some Place to Go… Up! (or DDP for Runners, Pt2)

The mixture of The Firm, P90x, Tae Bo, and ill-advised attempts at running punctuating extensive periods of inactivity and unhealthy eating left me with such bad chronic knee pain that I couldn’t walking up the three steps outside my house without feeling like a rusty sabre was being driven through each kneecap. Sorry for the graphic description, but that’s how it felt.

Within the first 90 days of doing DDP Yoga, I was strong enough to run a 5K. Shortly after that I did a Warrior Dash, and after that I felt like my knees were strong enough to do a half-marathon. Throughout the training schedule, I experienced mild knee aches a couple of times, and I found that the Hip, Back and Knee Opener workout was way more effective than my Physical Therapy regimen in relieving that pain.

Last Saturday, after an 18-week program, I ran my first full marathon. While it was tough and at times painful, the one thing that didn’t hurt throughout the entire process was my knees. Not during the training. Not during the race. Not during the recovery. Not once. I think the reason I didn’t get any aches or pains this time around is that I had been doing DDP Yoga for over 9 months by the time I started the training program, and therefore had benefited from the increased flexibility and strength in my legs. Just to be clear, the fact that I was able to run a half-marathon after 6 months of DDP Yoga is a staggering achievement given I couldn’t walk or go up stairs without pain before DDP Yoga.

I was about 3 footsteps beyond the finish-line when people started asking me, “So, what’s next?” The 10% part of me wanted to scream back, “I just ran 26 point frickin’ two miles! What do you want from me???” or launch into a very sarcastic diatribe about how having fulfilled my destiny, I should just, having nothing left to live for, commit Seppuku. But the living life at 90% part of me remembered that there’s always some place to go.

There are a couple of options for kicking it up a notch from a marathon: ultra-marathon, triathlon, imitating Forrest Gump. While I never say never, I will #@$%& do a triathlon because the sight of me swimming is the water’s answer to a beached whale. Ultra-marathons are not off the list, but they are not coming up anytime soon. So what to do, what to do?

Then it occurred to me, after trailing behind a car with this bumper sticker (and some subsequent googling):

There is no better way to showcase how DDP has fixed my knees than to prove that I have gone from being someone who couldn’t walk up 3 steps to being someone who can run up  1,632 of them! Sadly, I missed the event by a month, so I will have to wait until April, 2015 to do this race, unless I find another tower run in Chicago (email me if you know of one!). In the meantime, I have a Tough Mudder, a Mudderella, a Warrior Dash, a Rugged Maniac, a Dirty Dash, a 10K, a Blacklight run, a Foam Glow race, a half and a full marathon to keep me entertained!


What to Get the Vegan Who Has Everything!

Cheese Bling!photo I ran a marathon this weekend! Yup. My little legs went twenty-six point two miles. I have been training for this for the past 18 weeks, and have run hundreds of miles of preparation for this event. The marathon I ran was the Kenosha Marathon. I had everything planned for the event: what I would wear, what gear I would bring, what time I would leave to ensure enough parking. I took my amitriptyline (migraine prevention) and zyrtec (dust mite allergy) earlier than usual so that I would fall asleep earlier in an effort to get plenty of sleep and get up at 5am! But as the kids say, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley.” Some mixture of stress, anticipation and I think my barista’s inability to remember than I said “decaf” lead to me being wide awake until 3:30am. A solid 1.5 hours of sleep later, the alarm went off and I was good to go.


If I only could have stored Nuun in the bags under my eyes, I would have been set!

The marathon started at 7:00am, and I set off in freezing cold weather. After about 3 miles the bones in my feet were aching. I don’t know if it was because I was simply exhausted or because the entire race was on paved roads, my least favorite form of running, but it continued until the end of the race. By about mile 10 I was mentally done. I wasn’t even halfway done, I was exhausted, my feet were aching, and I was reasonably close to the start line; it would have been easier to walk back than to run the rest of the race. Miles 16 through 19 were probably the worst. My pace started out at below 10 min/mile, and was now dropping to 11+ minutes. Thanks to the layout of the course, I wasn’t actually that far from the finish-line during these miles, so my options were to run for another 8 miles, or walk the one or two miles back to my car; a strategy my brain reminded me of continually. I stopped to drink water, and I stopped to use the potty, but other than that, I ran the entire thing.

It was really hard not to give into the desire to walk, especially given the fact that everyone around me was taking walking breaks. But I had promised myself that I was here to run – RUN – a marathon, and as grueling as it was turning out to be, I wasn’t going to half-ass it. Doing that would simply put me back at square one, and I spent most of miles 10 through 19 promising myself that I was never doing this again so this one had to count. I received a couple of supportive messages from my TeamDDP friends which I read numerous times when the urge to quit was at its peak. I also reminded myself that my friend, Robert, has helped design a tattoo I plan to put over an old one, and it would be a letdown to let his efforts go to waste. I also visualized how great it would be to finally put the 26.2 sticker I bought from Cafe Press on my car. Sadly, none of these thoughts lasted very long, so the bulk of my time was spent thinking, “I don’t want to be doing this.”

Once I hit mile 20, I was able to convince myself to ignore the first digit of every mile marker and pretend that I was just out for a 6-mile run. The sight of the 26th mile marker rivals the first time I saw my daughter for the most glorious sight I have ever seen. Once I rounded the final corner, I decided to sprint, and I punched it so fast through the finish line that I overtook four runners and my husband missed me passing him. I remember that the song, “Falling” by Haim was playing as I crossed the finish line. Finding the strength to sprint through the finish-line in spite of the exhaustion and pain I was feeling is one of the most empowering experiences I have ever felt in my life. Screen Shot 2014-05-04 at 11.32.58 PM I spent the drive home and the time it took to eat lunch promising myself that I was never, ever doing that again, and reminding myself that I needed to downgrade my registration for the Prarie State marathon in October to a half-marathon. I managed to ignore the pain in my feet enough to crash for a couple of hours, falling asleep to the inner monologue of, “I am never doing that again.” Despite all the pain and negativity I experienced during the run, after a few hours of sleep and a good meal, I started looking up shorter marathon training plans. I was inspired by an old friend from secondary school saying that he’ll never do one again, but hopes that I stick with it. I also started thinking that the Prairie State marathon is in much nicer settings, along trails I like to run, so I should consider doing one that I had a better chance of enjoying. It would be a pity to leave off on such a negative note. Besides, I it’s almost six months away which is plenty of time to work on my pace. By then time I went to bed that night, it was decided that I would do the full marathon in October. And that’s why runner’s are crazy! photo In the end, I have come to the conclusion that while it wasn’t fun, it was satisfying. And I proved that I have gone from begin someone who couldn’t run a yard after a full night’s sleep, to being someone who can dig deep and gut it out for twenty six miles after virtually no sleep. And I am someone who’s earned a kickass tattoo*!

Untitled 2

Coming Soon

* I have to wait until next week to get it, I am running a Tough Mudder on Saturday, and it’s not a great idea to jump into dirty water with new ink! And running a Tough Mudder a week after a marathon? That’s DDP Yoga strong! 

DDP Yoga for Runners

Running Road Warrior!

Running Road Warrior Pose!

I’m about to finish the eighth week of my Marathon training program. As you might expect, there’s a lot of running involved, which meant I had to sacrifice some of the time-slots in which I would normally do DDP Yoga. I’m still getting in about three DDP Yoga sessions a week because DDP Yoga fits into a running schedule like no other workout could! My marathon schedule calls for both strength and cross training. For strength training, DDP Yoga works my legs, my core and my upper body better than any other form of exercise I have tried*; this is the first time in my life I have ever had toned arms. It improves my balance, my leg strength and my core strength, all of which contribute to a better performance on race day. It works my muscles in completely different ways to how they are worked when I run, which a recent article from Runner’s World explains that I am lowering my chance of sustaining new injuries.

For cross training, it is advised that I engage in a high cardio exercise that allows you to use slightly different muscles but shouldn’t include activities requiring sideways movements because you raise your risk of injury. Oh, and it’s meant to be something you enjoy too. Well, here’s the rub. I don’t like exercise. You don’t soar to 198 lbs when you have a healthy enjoyment of sports and fitness! Also, I am injury prone! My family does not have good genes for knees; gentle gusts of wind have been known to take out our ACLs. So, that’s pretty much any form of cardio eliminated. Except for DDP Yoga. It’s high cardio (I spend at least 60% of a workout in my fat-burning zone), it’s zero impact (no jerking movement to injure me), and I love doing it. I am continually motivated by new challenges, connection to people in TeamDDP, and the support from everyone all the way from new members to DDP himself.

Another huge benefit of DDP Yoga is the stretching. In addition to giving you a high cardio, zero impact, strength-building workout, DDP Yoga has Sports therapy built into it. I, like many injury-prone runners, am  meant to stretch out after running but it’s sooooo boring. Thanks to all my recent running, and my somewhat lackluster relationship with post-run stretches and a recent bout of sickness, I found myself as stiff as a board a few weeks ago. I knew exactly what was needed! I did a killer Hip, Back, and Knee Opener workout, and my flexibility returned overnight. Because I have been doing DDP Yoga, especially the HBKO workout, regularly since I started the marathon training program, I have had no knee pain so far. Even if you didn’t invest in the Max Pack, every single DDP Yoga workout has stretches and rehab moves that will keep you limber and pain-free. Twisted-lunge, Figure 4 stretch and Can Opener hit those pesky IT bands; Supported Lunge gets your hip flexors; Ignition, Touchdown and Diamond Cutter strengthen those oft weak adductors; Triangle gets your groin and hips; Down Dog gets the hamstrings; etc. etc.


Flexibility, DDP Yoga Style

So there you have it, DDP Yoga is for Runners. And it’s not just for people who are already runners. It’s what you use for making new runners! Arthur Boorman, Marv White, Me. Without even googling or browsing through TeamDDP, there’s three people I was able to list off the top of my head who physically couldn’t run at all before DDP Yoga. Arthur Boorman couldn’t walk without crutches and braces before DDP Yoga, never mind taking a jaunty trot through the park. Marv White couldn’t run ten yards without severe foot pain before DDP Yoga, but has since completed numerous 5-8K races, and will run a 10K in March. As for me? Let me put it this way, there were three concrete steps outside our old house. Every evening when I came home and got out of my car, I would get to the steps, pause, take a deep breath, and brace for searing knee pain. Going up a single step made it feel like a samurai sword was being driven through my kneecap. Since starting DDP Yoga, I’ve completed a half-marathon, and I am training for a full marathon in May.

Product of DDP Yoga

Always look for the authentic “Product of DDP Yoga” seal! 

I can never properly express the gratitude I have for DDP, Yoga-Doc and DDP Yoga. They took chronic pain that was so severe and frequent that it caused depression, and turned it into the gift of finishing a half-marathon and the ability to dream of running a full marathon. It doesn’t cover it, but Thank You.

* and I have tried them all! 


It’s “Check Your Ego” time in the 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)


No Excuses 1: What Worked and What Didn’t Work

I’m baaaaack!

I spent the past month in the British Aisles, splitting my time between the UK and Ireland where each of my parents live. I posted previously about the various and sundry concerns I had about spending that much time away from home, and the impact it could have on my weight loss and fitness achievements. To prevent this from happening, I devised a 10-point battle plan to avoid letting things getting out of control. In this post I am going to review what did work, and what didn’t.

Most of the points in my battle plan pertained to diet rather than exercise for a couple of reasons. First, your weight is 90% diet and 10% exercise. Second, I am an over-eater. My weakness lies in my ability to control myself at the pantry. I am far less concerned about my ability to exercise while I am abroad than I am about my ability to eat clean when I am around all the junk foods and treats that make me feel at home. And I was right to have that approach; where exercise was concerned, I nailed it. Where food was concerned, I didn’t do so great.

1. Priming my family about my diet
This was a mixed bag. On the one hand, lots of concessions were made for me with regards helping me have the ingredients I needed and cook them, and allowing space or time in the kitchen to make my meals. On the other hand, I had to put up with a fair amount of ridicule which was tedious. I also was tempted to eat bad food with lines like “One won’t hurt”, “It’s the holidays”, or “You look great, let yourself have a reward,” and I sadly fell for these lines. It started out as just having a gluten-free AND vegan treat, but that evolved into having a gluten-free OR vegan treat, which in turn became eating the entire package of gluten-free treats, and finally ended up with me eating crappy junk food like Pringles or Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. For the first three weeks, I was within my calorie allowance, and on the last week, I was over, which I justified (rationalized) as being okay because my calorie intake over the whole month broke even. I’ll expand on this below, but for now, I will spoil the surprise and say that this logic didn’t work!

2. Traveling with measuring cups/using MyFitnessPal
This was a great idea! I was able to know how much I was eating and make sure I was within my limits. However, there’s a “BUT”. Giving yourself a calorie limit, and measuring your food is great, and as per the laws of thermodynamics, will keep you at your weight so long as you are honest and accurate when logging your calories. BUT it does not mean you are eating healthily, nor does it mean your diet is sustainable. Toward the third week of my trip, I had an epiphany. I realized I had taken my DDP Yoga nutrition plan and over the course of the holiday converted it to a Weight Watchers plan; i.e. eat whatever unhealthy crap you want, just stop when you hit 2K calories. The problem with this is that I am a Doctor of Biology, and I know better than most how cancer and other diseases can thrive in this diet, and the evolutionary reasons behind it being unsustainable, especially if you are an over-eater like me. And presto, by the third and fourth weeks, I was lying to MyFitnessPal, and underestimating the amount of junk food I had eaten so that it looked as though I was within my calorie limits.

3. Visually reminding myself of my achievements
This worked well when I had to social engagements. Right before we left the house for drinks parties or get-togethers, despite the fact that I was in full make-up and wearing high heels and and a dress, I would drop to the floor and knock out some slow burn push-ups. Then I would do some DR punches, rows and curls. This allowed my body to be in peak condition so that people I hadn’t seen in a while would see how well I had done. The compliments I received and looking in the mirror before I left the house were good reminders of how great it feels to be strong and healthy, and helped curb the temptation to eat the various bowls of chips and finger-foods I had to spend the evening sitting in front of.

4. Dropping a few pounds before the vacation
Here’s the logic on this one: I got down to 142 lbs, and wanted to keep at 145lbs. That way, if I put on 3 lbs, it was okay. This was a stupid idea. First, when you are 142 lbs, you want to stay at 142 lbs regardless of whether it was only meant to be a “temporary” weight loss. Also, as an over-eater  I do not do well in situations where I can “let myself go”; letting myself go in the past led to me reaching 198 lbs! The proof of this logic failing me is in the fact that I weighed in at 147 lbs when I got home. Like I have written before, humans always underestimate how much they are eating, and are evolutionarily driven to eat all the high-calories foods they encounter.

5. Planning to do a toxin cleanse when I got back to the US
This was related in logic to the previous point. The last time I did a cleanse, I dropped a few pounds so the idea was to know that cleansing was an option if I gained a couple of pounds. And boy did I need it. Aside from being 2 lbs over the buffered allowance, I was just bloated and gross when I got home. My skin is not as good as it was before I travelled and I had some inflammation in my knees associated with eating crap. While a cleanse is always nice, especially at the start of the year, this part of my plan was bad because it mentally gave me carte blanche to eat crap and gain weight. It is – obviously – healthier and more sensible to not have so many toxins in your system that they need to be cleansed out and not to have your weight yo-yo.

6. Looking ahead to new goals
This was a great idea, and was the one point more-or-less dedicated to exercise. My goals were to get certified as a DDP Yoga Instructor, and to run a Marathon in 2014. For the former, I – remarkably – met another aspiring Level 1 instructor in Bognor Regis, England and we met up to train together a couple of times. For our first training session, we did his Diamond Dozen workout. As an aside, he submitted that workout along with his other materials while I was there, and found out he had become the first certified DDP Yoga instructor in the UK (way to go, Haydn)! The second workout we did together was my Level 1 and Diamond Dozen workouts back-to-back. Knowing that we were going to film those workouts compelled me to practice every evening before we did it. My Marathon training started on the 29th of December, so I went on a number of runs to make sure my stamina didn’t drop. In fact I was so committed to running that I went for a 3 mile run the first day I was in Ireland in an effort to keep myself up and avoid jetlag having being up all night on the plane. It worked! All-in-all I did yoga 12 times and ran 11 times, with only 3 rest days (including travel days).

7. Staying in touch with
This worked pretty well. Sparky send me a message asking how things were going. My first draft read, “All is great, thanks for checking.” But as I read it, I was forced to examine the veracity of that statement. That caused me to rewrite my reply, and send him a more long-winded version where I explained that I had lapsed into less than GF and DF diet. While writing to him, I examine my eating in general and realized that as much as my eating abroad had nothing to do with the Phase III DDP Yoga nutrition plan, my diet at home was not as committed to the Phase III plan as I was allowing myself to believe. I came to the decision that 2014 was going to be the year I truly committed to my long term health. I essentially tabled all my other resolution plans in favour of making the Phase III happen without any excuses or bogus excuses (I don’t have to obey the no fruit after noon because I am vegan).

Another less tangible but equally important effect had on me occurred when I nearly made a very bad decision. I had decided to commit to Phase III when I got home, but it wasn’t going to be possible while I was traveling. It occurred to me that there was just too much temptation and jetlag, and that I only had a week left, so I should just give up on all calorie counting, or any component of the DDP Yoga nutrition plan, and spend the week eating whatever I felt like eating. After all, how much weight could I possibly put on in a week. Then I thought back to Slim with his ABMF mantra, and what Arthur would say about sliding back like this, or how Ben Miller would view letting one slip justify coming off the wagon for the rest of the week. And it worked. I didn’t give up. I committed to keep trying. That’s not to say there weren’t anymore slips. Far from it. This was the week I ended up over my calorie allowance so the slips came harder and faster. But I didn’t give up.  I kept calorie counting, trying to be vegan and gluten-free, and doing my DDP Yoga. Knowing that there’s a community of people who have invested time and energy in me, who would be disappointed if I disappeared or completely reverted, who in some cases look up to me or are in the community because of my story, stopped me from giving up. I kept looking forward, even when I was sliding backwards.

8. Paying it Forward
I signed on to Ben Miller’s holiday Donate Your Weight challenge. I decided to put my own spin on it to give myself some accountability. I will donate 1 lb of food for every lb I had lost at the start of the holidays. I weighed in officially at 145 lbs the morning of our outbound flight so that is 47 lbs of food guaranteed to the food bank.  The accountability twist I put on it was that for every pound I gained over the holiday, I would donate two pounds. I weighted in at 147 lbs upon my return, so that brings the total to 51 lbs. Did this challenge actually prevent me shovelling family-sized bars of chocolate into my face? No. The problem is that I don’t harbour any ill-will towards the needy, and I have zero problem pulling money out of my pocket to feed my fellow human beings as I hope they would me, so the “threat” of having to do so proved to be a mediocre deterrent against my overeating. Nevertheless, the challenge is a good and important thing to do. I plan to do the exact same thing next year and so should you!

9. Making my Own Food
I make my own food as often as possible, whether at home or abroad. Doing so allows me to control what I eat and how much of it I eat. Telling a potential dinner host that I am vegan, gluten-free and calorie controlled tends to be all I need to say to have someone agree to let me cater for myself! My family and friends were more than happy to let me make my own food. The problem with my eating when I was away, therefore, had nothing to do with what others were feeding me. The problem was what I was feeding myself. As I have mentioned, it was a bad mix of being an over-eater combined with a lot of self delusion about my adherence to Phase III.

10. Lying!
I planned to tell anyone who challenged me on aspects of my diet that I was allergic to whatever it was that I was being enticed to consume. In actuality, this peer-pressure style of temptation never occurred. Instead, my diet was ridiculed and undermined in other ways, so I will need to think of plans to combat the problems I actually encountered for next time. Always be moving forward!

The trip abroad really allowed me to focus on where I am going wrong. The problem is that I was making excuses and assumptions, and deluding myself. Now that I am home, I have just done a three-day cleanse, and tomorrow morning will be the first day of Phase 3. I took the DDP Yoga guide with me to the store so that I wouldn’t just assume what I was buying was in keeping with the program, wrote out a meal plan and shopped for it. As per DDP’s advice, I logged in what I will eat tomorrow in advance. As per the advice I read in my doctor’s office, I will eat more-or-less the same thing for a week at a time. And I will not give myself any free passes or make any lame excuses.

2014 will be the year of No Excuses! I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season, and that you will join me on this year’s journey!

2014: The Year of NO EXCUSES

Return of the Happy Dance

I have never, ever done a pull-up in my life. Not in gym class, not during the many opportunities I had during my P90X days, never. Pull-ups are my Everest, the M. Bison (now that’s a timely reference!) of things I “know” I can’t do. I randomly* decided to try one this evening after my run (hence the sweat).
Thanks DDP!

*The long form of that story is that I had just done 4 miles for my half-marathon training program. I was planning to do the DDP Yoga Energy or Fat Burner that I usually do as the stretch and strengthen part of the program, but I was too tired (I’m bereft of calories thanks to my decision to do the Dr. Oz Toxin Cleanse). I read the Hal Higdon training site to see exactly what he meant by “Stretch and Strengthen”, and it said “some” pull-ups or push-ups. Score! I can get home free with about five minutes of work instead of twenty-five! Reading the word “pull-ups” gave me a flash of inspiration to dig out my poor pull-up bar and see if I could actually do one, given DDP Yoga has allowed me to do so many things that were out of my reach for the 33 years prior to starting DDPY!