Shorts: Forearm and Scorpion Update

I was recently inspired to spend more time working on Forearm Balance and Scorpion pose. I haven’t posted in a while, but I have been working on it sporadically.

I am definitely getting close. I also feel okay about not getting it overnight. If you do a Google image search for “Most Difficult Yoga Pose,” you will pull up a page full of Black Crow (already nailed), Eka Pada Kundiyasana and Eight Angle Pose (check and check), Firefly (easy-peasy), Dragonfly (getting there), and dozens of pictures of Forearm/Scorpion Pose.

It’s really not the end of the world that I haven’t nailed down one of the “Most Difficult” yoga poses in under a year of trying. In fact, it would be the end of the world if I did! I plan to practice DDP Yoga for the rest of my life, and having challenges to work toward keeps me motivated. If I mastered all the most challenging poses too quickly, I’d risk having nowhere else to go*.

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* There’s always someplace to go! 

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!

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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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!

 

Shorts: Be Your Own Cheerleader!


The DDP Yoga Facebook Page posted my success story today! What an honor. Here’s the link, and some other self-adulation. Why all the non-humble bragging? Because it’s important to always be proud of what you accomplish. You’ve worked hard, and showing off your result may inspire someone else to make positive changes in their own life.

 


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My BMI before DDP Yoga was somewhere between 27.4 and 28.6!

meFlexibility from DDP Yoga!

And reminders of how great you are!

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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!

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.

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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!