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.

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: 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.

 


http://ddpyoga.com/elizabeth.html

Mar3

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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You2You7You5You4You 6

 

 

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!

Two in Seven Billion

Christina is an amazing person. She has come from a harrowing loss and depression, and gone on to own her life, reach her weight goals, inspire others, and become a very important member of teamDDPyoga.com, while also being a wonderful mother, wife and friend. It was both an honour and a shock to co-win the 2014 DDP Yoga Challenge with her. To be honest, I feel a little undeserving of being held up alongside her.

But the fun hasn’t stopped there. Christina and I found out a couple of weeks ago that we are the first ever female certified DDP Yoga instructors!!!

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T-shirt slogans: Slightly more reputable than Wikipedia.

In other words, I went from this:

How do you like the new advertising campaign?

to this:

To mark our joint achievements, I thought I would do what Christina and I do best: inject some humour into the situation.  On the DDP Yoga trailblazers Facebook group, we came up with a funny list of effects that training for the certification has on your life. Here it is:

  1. You can’t do the regular workouts without instinctively mirroring the movements AND/OR your sense of left and right is completely messed up now!
  2. You find yourself pulling your adductors together and squeezing your glutes while queuing at the store.
  3. You always go from Touchdown to Huddle Up when doing the regular workouts, instead of folding forward like you’re meant to.
  4. You totally thought it was “Hulk it OUT”…. oops!
  5. Your friends and family are sick of you referencing what you heard on DDP Radio, and you rebut their claims that you’ve “really drunk the Kool-Aid” by pointing out that Kool-Aid would never be allowed in Phase III.
  6. Waiting in a doctor’s office or an airport is torture… Look at all that open space where I could really get in a great DDP Yoga session!
  7. You feel genuine pity for any friend that speaks enthusiastically about a non-DDP Yoga exercise program. They just don’t know any better!
  8. You can’t make it through a single day without at least one Diamond Cutter thrown in for good measure, even on rest days.
  9. You have developed a new handshake, fingers spread wide and engaged!734516_10153583893430411_345874729_n
  10. If you see someone slouching, you have the urge to run them through entire ignition phase.
  11. (For Men) MsN has ruined missionary position!
  12. You know the words to every workout… backwards.
  13. You literally can’t wait to be really old! Lower target HR? Awwww yeaahh!
  14. You totally kicked ass doing your DDP Yoga today!

Okay, so maybe it’s only funny if you’re training to get certified.

If there’s one thing DDP Yoga it excels at, it’s having a sense of humour:

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Currently located on the mantlepiece by the big cheque!
Currently displayed on my mantlepiece by the big cheque!

 

This Is What It’s All About!

If you were wondering why I keep this blog, here it is:

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There is nothing more inspiring than knowing you have inspired those around you, especially when you’re inspiring them to start something that’s so positive and life-changing! I think DDP referred to it as the “Circle of Inspiration.” I’m so thankful for the ever-increasing number of Facebook friends that are joining me on this journey.

Tutorial: Making Collages with Fotor

When you start DDP Yoga, one of the things you are advised to do is take 6 pictures. Here is a collage of my (sad) Day 1 pictures:

Day1

I said “say” cheese… Not “eat” the cheese!

No matter how awful they look, it’s important to take them. Trust me, if you do everything that the DDP Yoga guide asks of you, these 6 pictures are going to get better faster than you would think. You don’t need to share the pictures on TeamDDP, or anywhere else for that matter, but take them and keep them so you can see how far you have come each 30 days (when you take a new set of the same 6 poses).

To get the most out of your pictures, I highly recommend making a collage out of the same pose from each 30 day period. It’s very hard to look at your Day 90 photos and see that you have changed, or made progress. But when you put your Day 90 pictures side-by-side with the corresponding pose from the previous days, you’ll see how amazingly you are doing!

All_Front

Going, going, gone!

An additional benefit to making a collage out of your photos is that you can get feedback and praise from your fellow TeamDDPyoga-ers. This may sound like compliment fishing, but getting props for your progress is important positive feedback that will help motivate you and keep you on your journey to great health and positive living. It’s even more important to do this now as there are over 30,000 people on TeamDDPyoga from all corners of the globe. That’s great news, because it means there are 30,000 people looking to support you on your journey, but it also means that there are thousands of photos getting uploaded everyday, and your Day 1 photos can be separated from your Day 30 photos by hundreds of pages of photos. It will make it a lot easier for people to be inspired by your amazing progress if you present it in collages.

Below is a quick tutorial on how to turn this photo:

Day1_Front

and this one:

90 Day Front

into a collage like this:

Liz_Day1_Day90

(Sorry about how nasally I was; the plague was still lurking around our house when I made this!)

Eating Without a Safety Net

According to my MyFitnessPal newsfeed, I have now logged all that I have eaten for 315 days. That’s just over a month-and-half away from a year of meticulously, you might even say obsessively, recording every calorie in (food) and every calorie out (exercise).

As an overeater, calorie counting was an important first step in my journey to lose weight and move toward a healthy life. Prior to starting my DDP Yoga journey, I was mindlessly eating north of 4K calories a day, and weighed somewhere between 192 and 198 lbs. Before I could address any underlying food issues, I needed to rein in the sheer volume of food I was eating, and calorie counting was a great tool in that fight.

Okay, that’s breakfast taken care of!

However, calorie counting is not the only step in dealing with overeating issue. While I have come to accept a more manageable calorie load per day, and I have lost enough weight to be back in the healthy BMI range, I have fallen into some poor habits that to a certain extent have become enabled by the calorie counting.

There’s more to losing weight and getting healthy than simply eating less calories. The quality of food is important too. Over the past year, I have taught myself to eat, and over time even enjoy, more leafy greens and whole foods. In accordance with the DDP Yoga nutrition plan, I have gone gluten- and dairy-free, and I have been working towards full adherence to the Phase III plan. However, I have been terrified of abandoning the calorie counting, because I still have the overeating demon inside me.

All you need is a little concealer, and the right lighting…

I have come to realize that my calorie counting is, on some level, holding me back. Despite the fact that I, as a trained cell biologist, know all too well how important avoiding inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy and gluten is for long term health issues* such as cancer, chronic pain, and other terrible diseases, I haven’t fully committed to healthy eating. The problem is that when I am looking at Ritz crackers in the cabinet, the bag of Hershey’s Kisses, or some leftover quesadilla on my daughter’s plate, my initial thought is, “Oh, I shouldn’t eat that; it’s not vegan or gluten-free.” But then the overeater demon pipes up, “Well, I have enough calories left today. At least I’m not exceeding my daily allowance.” Guess who wins!

Graaaaaaains!

I realized I have stalled at this impasse. I am unwilling to quit calorie counting, because I am terrified of sliding backwards into some sort of overeating frenzy undoing all the great work I have done in losing weight, but I am also frustrated by my inability to truly commit to clean and healthy eating, and preparing for my long-term health. So, it’s time to take a leap of faith.

That faith comes in the form of Stacey Morris. She too struggled with overeating, but lost the weight, and more importantly, kept it off. She doesn’t religiously document all that she eats in an online journal. She doesn’t weight herself more than once a month. She has followed the DDP Yoga nutrition guide, and she has found long-term, sustainable health and weight loss. She is one of the wisest people I know, so the smartest thing I can think to do is to trust her judgment.

I want to make it to a full year of using MyFitnessPal, because, well, that would be cool! So, I plan to use the next month and a half as a transitional period. I will tote the DDP Yoga Guide around with me wherever I go, follow the DDP plan fully to the letter, and write down what I have eaten on paper, only logging it in the calories consumed and burned at the end of the day, and I will monitor my weight weekly to ensure that I am maintaining my current success. I hope that without the crutch of calorie counting, I will be motivated to eat cleanly and healthily.

Wish me luck!

* Did I mention I’m a crazed hypochondriac too? All the more reason to fully commit to a healthy lifestyle! 

DDP Yoga – Now with Extra Inspiration!

One of the greatest gifts DDP Yoga has given me is inspiration. I have tried a number of workout systems and diets, but in the absence of any inspiring role models or inspiring confidence in myself, the second things got rough, I got going… back to the couch.

Like many people at teamddpyoga.com, my journey started with the Arthur video, but I was also extremely inspired by Stacey’s story too. Like me, she is a woman and an over-eater, but unlike me, she had kept the weight off for four years. Her story was instrumental in convincing me to try DDP Yoga, having myself never kept a single pound off for longer than a week or two.

Cut to today, the most inspiring thing to me is to inspire those around me. When DDP was presenting me with my oversized cheque for the DDP Yoga Challenge, one important point he made to the crowd was that none of the winners of this challenge were in it for the money! I can attest to that sentiment, and take it one further. I wasn’t even in it to win at all. I had a blog before the competition, so it made sense to throw my name in the hat the ring. But once I had entered, I didn’t think about it again. I mentally generated a list of names of people I assumed would win ahead of me  that exceeded the three winner’s slots available, and therefore assumed I was mathematically excluded. As I already had my blog, I just kept blogging as per usual. This may explain some of the bafflingly long time that elapsed between DDP announcing I had won, and me actually figuring out what was happening!

In lieu of any real effort to win a competition, my motivation to keep blogging was my ever-growing passion for DDP Yoga. I had stumbled into this amazing program: a celebrity exercise workout that was actually invented by said celebrity, rather than just sticking his name on a pre-existing product. A celebrity who genuinely cared about the people who participated in the program, instead of sitting on a beach cashing royalty cheques in exchange for selling his name. And more to the point, a workout program that delivered staggering results. If anyone has bought into program after program that doesn’t work, it’s me. In fact, prior to DDP Yoga, I had a 100% failure rate with workout and exercise systems I had tried before.

I started blogging because I assumed that the majority of people are still helplessly mired in the frustration of spending large amounts of money on systems that used dishonest before and after photos, disingenuous celebrity endorsements, and other shady tactics, and the ensuing guilt and self-loathing that comes with failing to get any results from that investment. I wanted to do whatever I could to help people find DDP Yoga, because I knew from experience that it is the real deal. DDP spends massive amounts of his time helping people who have already bought in. Access to teamDDPyoga.com is free. And the before and after pictures on the transformation page are user-submitted (I should know). And, oh yeah, it works!! This blog was my best idea for getting the message out to as many people as I could.

Whatever inspiration I have put out there has already come back to me tenfold. It makes my day when friends contact me on Facebook asking about DDP Yoga, and dozens have done so. The funniest example occurred on my homeward journey from the DDP Yoga workshop in Wixom. I was sitting at the airport, with a comically large cheque under one arm and my yoga mat under the other. I jumped onto a wifi network and found a message from a primary school friend asking, “I’m curious about the yoga that you mentioned before… Is it something you’d recommend?” Um, yeah!

New Friends

I have had so many friends ask about my experience and success, that I have generated a word document with FAQs and basic info to hand out. The fact that so many of my friends have now joined me on this journey is nothing short of a blessing. It’s crazy to think despite being the person who was 2 lbs away from the 200 mark less than a year ago, I am now enough of an authority that others are taking my advice about health and weight loss. In less than a year, I have gone from wincing in pain going up a flight of three steps to having an ex-roommate tell me that she’s doing a half-marathon this year because she was inspired by my completing one. It’s also such an amazing motivation to keep on my own journey knowing that I have other people watching my progress, and feeling that I have a responsibility to those I have sold on it. That feeling has definitely gotten me on the mat during those less motivated days!

If you feel you need a little extra inspiration to lose weight, gain health and flexibility, and find an amazing sense of achievement, look no further!

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 teamDDPyoga.com
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 teamDDPyoga.com 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