In the run up to Wednesday’s DDP Radio Episode in which yours truly will be on, Stacey Morris asked me to write a quick bio. Four MS Word pages later, she suggested I make a post out of it. Et voila!
The very first time I ever felt fat was when I was in my early teens. A group of my friends and I were hanging out the bedroom of a boy I was smitten with. I sat on the edge of his bed, and his bed-frame promptly snapped in two, leaving me sitting on the middle of his floor surrounded by shards of wood and humiliated. In retrospect, I wasn’t that heavy, and the cheap bed frame was probably going to break regardless of who sat on it, but at the time neither me nor my friends understood that. I remember everyone looking down at me like I was a worthless, fat, lump. Remembering the look on their faces still stings today as I type this. Worse still, the boy whose bed it was (remember, the one I was in love with), ran out of his room shouting – with a very tangible tone of disgust in his voice – “Dad! Liz sat on the bed and her big ass broke it!” His father was very nice, and made sure to say that the bed was old and had needed to be replaced, but he was the only one who was nice about it. Everyone else teased me for months after that, which paled in comparison to how I made myself feel about it, and how I let it shape how I saw my body. It was a truly soul-crushing experience.
All through my childhood, I wasn’t fat, but I was certainly the least thin girl. I was NEVER sporty; I didn’t do extra-curricular activities of any description. The only exercise thing I participated in was Sports Day at school (they made me), and to this day my parents laugh that I was always dead last in every race because I was waving at the spectators I knew, and making no effort to make it to the finish line. Food-wise, my parents always made dinner, but breakfast was a sugary cereal, lunch was a sandwich with chocolate and chips, my snacks were candy and junk foods, and I was showing signs of the overeating and lack of self-control that have plagued me to this day.
The Teen Years
At 12 years of age, I was somewhere around 170 lb and I remember LONGING to be somewhere around 150. Bit longing was all I ever did. I never did anything other than wishing it, because quite frankly, until I went to secondary/high school, I didn’t know you could! I thought your weight was luck of the draw, and I don’t know that it occurred to me that diet or exercise could be involved! I developed the normal teen insecurities; I hated my body and didn’t once feel confident about it until a few months ago. Since age 12, I have had a negative body image, and like most girls, did stupid and unhealthy things in an effort to lose weight, such as crash diets, unhealthy eating habits, and even taking up smoking! However, all that time I was overeating and indulging in terribly unhealthy food (basically, the complete opposite of the DDP Yoga nutrition plan) so my weight steadily climbed through my teens. I showed a general disrespect for my body, and my health was not on my list of priorities.
In college, I felt a little more comfortable in my own skin, so the silly diets went away, but I continued in my overeating and indulgent behaiours. I ate donuts, fatty sandwiches, ramen noodles as my most common food choices, but I had to walk 30 minutes to and from the bus, and I had the lovely metabolism that comes with being in your twenties, so I only got to about 180 lbs. I say that I did kickboxing and Tae Kwon Do, but realistically I never stuck with it consistently. I made it to class for a month or two at a time, and then I would make up excuses not to go. After my second year in college, I gave up martial arts completely and did zero physical activity.
After college, I moved to the US for grad school. This is when things changed for the worse. There were no more 30-minute walks to the bus because I could afford a car. I could also eat out at least 2-3 times a week, which I couldn’t afford in Ireland. I discovered places like Applebees, TGIs, and Chilis, drive-through fast food, processed food, large packages and portion sizes, and the wildly affordable junk food that had never been available to me before. I gained weight quickly!
To counteract this weight gain, my roommate who made equally poor dietary decisions and I started on-off relationships with The Firm, Tae Bo, Pilates, Weight Watchers, other diets/exercise programs, and after grad school Gaiam Yoga, P90X. As I have said before, I always went at it hard for a month (using my over-indulgent personality for good), and then promptly got injured or burned out.
The worst was The Firm, because a combination of its 16” step and weights on my shoulders destroyed my knees. I blamed myself by thinking I was getting hurt because I wasn’t getting the form right, so I kept at it on and off for a decade, racking up thousand of dollars in wasted money on all these programs. Each time I quit, I would replace the compulsive exercise with overeating. I have always had zero self-control with food, exercise, shopping etc., and I have had a hard time sticking with anything, be it diets, hobbies, anything really.
When I was 29. I got married. I was working for a really abusive boss when I was doing my postdoctoral work. During this period, I did a lot of comfort eating, which laid waste to what small achievements I had made in toning up for the wedding (at my best I was at 185 around this period). I took up yoga taught by a colleague’s wife, and it was wonderful, but I wasn’t losing weight doing it.; whatever calories I was burning were no match for my food intake (I had a steadfast belief that if you worked out, you could eat whatever you wanted). However, I found a love of yoga and I could tell yoga was capable of being a really tough form of exercise while being low impact.
When I was 31, I had my daughter. I had to go on an elimination diet to breastfeed, and I lost all the baby weight (229 back down to 185), within two weeks! HOWEVER, once she could handle dairy in my diet (around 3 months), I went nuts making up for lost time eating ice-cream… and other things, but mostly ice-cream. I let myself think that breastfeeding game me carte blanche for eating. It didn’t. I remember going to a doctor’s check up, and the nurse weighed me at 198 lbs. I tried P90X, but between all the injuries it caused me and the time-suck of trying to do 1/5 hours of exercise with a newborn, I couldn’t stick with it.
The worst period for my health, weight, and state of mind all was when my husband moved to Illinois for a new job a month ahead of us. I stayed behind for the month of January, 2013 to finish up work, and to deep clean our house to prepare it to go on the market. Each day, I was working full time, looking after my toddler, and then once she went to bed, cleaning the house until I went to sleep. I quickly ended up having zero time or energy to make food for myself, so every single day I ate Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast (two Boston Cremes with a large decaf with cream), take-out for one of the campus restaurants for lunch and either take-out Indian or Mexican for dinner. I also kept the house stocked with chocolate, cakes, and ice-cream for rewarding myself for all the housework I was doing.
Once I moved to IL, I was so fat that I couldn’t bear to let anyone, especially my husband, see my body. I also became really depressed, both because of my weight, and also because of how my poor health made me feel. I lashed out at people, again, especially my husband. For instance, I became upset and started blaming him for my getting fat. My “logic” was that I became fat because he didn’t make me feel special or beautiful enough. Obviously, I just didn’t want to admit it was my fault because I couldn’t fix it. I wasn’t taking enough care of myself for anyone to think I was beautiful, and even though my husband did somehow love me and think I was beautiful, I was too depressed to let that message in. So our marriage was doing great! On top of being depressed and bitter, I had such a heavy feeling of hopelessness about the situation. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking I just couldn’t fix this. I was too old and too injured.
Discovering DDP Yoga
Around this point, someone put up the Arthur video on Facebook, and I watched it and reacted to it like everyone, but it didn’t occur to me to think of myself making the same change. Along with many Facebook friends, I shared the video too, and at some point it occurred to me to look into what DDP Yoga actually was (Duh!). I still dawdled before buying it. Owing to my past experiences with exercise and diet systems, I spent a lot of time looking online for a BAD review of DDP Yoga but I couldn’t find one. I could find plenty for The Firm or P90X (and wished I’d looked when I was buying them). That is when I decided to buy DDP Yoga. I’ve said it before, the period of time I wasted between seeing the Arthur video and actually buying the DDP Yoga system is my only regret with DDP Yoga.
For a more detailed description of my first 90 days, please read this post!
On April 7th, 2013, I started DDP Yoga! My original Goals were to lose 20 lbs (192 to 172lb), stick with it for over a month, thus beating my previous record, and for my knees not hurt more than they did at that point (I couldn’t get up a flight of stairs without wincing in pain). Starting DDP Yoga my mindset was that if or when I failed that was it for me. In the big picture, I didn’t envision the weight coming off, running races, or sticking with it, but, as this was to be my last attempt at fixing myself, I decided to do everything little thing that the system wanted (joining TeamDDPyoga.com, using the heart rate monitor, doing the 6 pictures every 30 days, engaging*, etc). I also read somewhere DDP saying something along the lines of not wanting to ever hear someone say “I can’t do this” or “I’ll try to do this” but “I WILL do this” and “I CAN do this”. I wish I could find it, because I want to share it with everyone given the difference employing that mindset made for me.
I started out like a recovering addict, taking everything day-by-day, or within a workout I’d take it move-by-move. I’d repeat in my head over and over “I can do this” as I did a 3 count pushup, and ignore the remaining push-ups in that workout that I still had to do; I just focused on the push-up I was doing at that moment!
Day 0 Front and Side
I remember taking my pictures and thinking I hadn’t changed much until I saw them side-by-side. I was blown away by how I had changed. My weight had steadily dropped over the first 30 days. I feel like every time I stepped on the scale, I was lighter than I had been before. And I was starting to believe that perhaps it wasn’t too late for me. Perhaps my fatalist belief that I would fail was wrong.
I had to re-edit my goals on my TeamDDPyoga.com profile because I had met my weight goal. I ran a Warrior Dash so my knees were obviously doing a lot better. I went gluten-free and fully dairy-free (i.e. vegan), despite having initially scoffed at the idea and deciding I would NEVER do so! I am very happy I did. The reduction in inflammation meant I had better knees and skin!
I met my new weight goals! In addition to literally slaughtering all my original goals, over the first 90 days, the list of things I learned how to do grew and grew!
- Side Plank 3
- Road Warrior 3
- Black Crow
- Slow Burn Push-ups
- Normal Push-ups
- Wrap & Burn
- Bird of Paradise
- Firefly Pose
- Black Crow
- Side Crow
- Eight Angle Pose
- Eka Pada Koundinyasana I
- Forearm Balance
- Flying Pigeon Pose
- A Sub 10-minute Mile (running)
The best thing from my 90th day was getting a phone call from DDP. When he told me who he was, I replied, “Oh My God!” I corrected myself and said “Hi”, but in retrospect, I think I got it right the first time!
After the First 90 Days
The biggest achievement for my knees was running a half marathon (remember, I had initially hoped that DDP Yoga wouldn’t cause any further damage to my knees. Instead, it fixed them!). It’s worth noting that I started the half-marathon training AFTER I had met all my goals, so running did not contribute to my weight loss. I did the Hal Higdon plan, which calls for Stretch days, Strength days, and Cross Training. DDP Yoga was my choice for ALL of those days, because it satisfies each of them. In the last week before the race and the week after it, I did the Extreme Hip, Back and Knee Opener Workout exclusively. For my future running goals, I’m signed up for the Wisconsin Full Marathon in May.
I finished the half-marathon like this because DDP Yoga is the reason I could do this!
These days, I am training to get certified as a DDP Yoga Instructor, and I am still plugging away at forearm balance as well as other poses. Ultimately, I would like to transition into a career with DDP Yoga, perhaps as a personal trainer, or some other way of helping people, which I thought I would get out of science but it didn’t!
I am so inspired by the TeamDDPyoga people who branch out (Ben Miller’s Donate My Weight, Christina Russell’s Cookbook etc), but I lack that creativity. However, what I lack in creativity, I more than make up for in passion and puritanical faith in DDP Yoga. There are people who equal my passion and belief in DDP Yoga, but no one exceeds it! That’s why I am so driven to help others find their way to this system, and I want to find new and better ways to do that. I already have my 2-year-old asking to do the “Diamond Cudder” at least a few times a day. My husband is my Everest in the conversion efforts, though I am forcing him to be my “student” for my certification training.
My biggest motivation is supporting others around TeamDDPYoga, or via email. I also love promoting the endeavours of my teammates on Facebook or Twitter because the community feeling in TeamDDPyoga is one of my favourite things about DDP Yoga. I also love Arthur Boorman’s philosophy of never meeting all your goals, because if you’re not moving forward, you’re sliding backwards. But like DDP says, there’s always some place to go, so I am not short on goals to work toward.
DDP Yoga let me meet my weight goals, fixed my knees, and gave me the passion to stick with something for over 6 months and counting. It also gave me the ability to love my body and to feel pride in myself. My health is better than it has ever been before, and I have a confidence in myself I have never had before.
The most remarkable thing about DDP Yoga has been not only the amount of weight I have lost, but the fact that I have kept it off. The other most remarkable thing is that I still have enthusiasm for the system. Actually, the most remarkable thing is that I, for the very first time in my life, have muscle tone in my arms. Okay, there’s a lot of most remarkable things where DDP Yoga is concerned!
* I mention “engaging” because when I researched the workouts, I knew I could totally engage my body to raise my heart rate and lose weight, but once I got the DVDs in my hands, I started feeling self-doubt and wondering if I would stick with it, or fall back into half-assing the workouts like I had in the past.