DDP radio

Website 2.0…….. Liz 1.08.27.003.98

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I experienced series of unfortunate events recently, and the end result has been some weight gain. The weight gain could have been avoided, and while there are mitigating circumstances, I am choosing to avoid using those circumstances to excuse what has happened, and instead really learn from them so that I can be even better prepared for next time I encounter hurdles.

I wish!

A quick synopsis first: I came to DDP Yoga tipping the scales at 198 lbs. I quickly lost the weight and got down to 145 lbs and it then became time for the maintenance phase. Over the course of a year, my weight crept up by 10 lb. Then in the last month, I had a really bad cold that knocked me out of action for a couple of weeks. I was back in action for about a week before I cracked my rib, and I have been completely out of action ever since. Coupled with the holidays and my own shortcomings, the weight jumped by another 10 lbs, and that was all it took for me to do some real thinking about what has been going wrong, and I what I need to do to get back to where I should be!

Here’s What Happened:

1. Side-effects Of Medication.

In addition to many other things DDP Yoga enabled me to do, I was able to take up running. I achieved many things running (a full marathon, a wall of medals, a great sense of achievement), but I also achieved a nasty cluster of migraines which appear to have been caused by excessive exercise/electrolyte balance. I started taking amitriptyline which worked great for the migraines, but does have the nasty habit of making you gain weight. In addition to the straight-forward weight gain side-effect, the amitriptyline likely contributed to my gradual weight gain in a second way by increasing my resting and working heart rate. This increased heart rate gets interpreted by my heart rate monitor as more calories burned, thus allowing me to eat more that I probably should. Ideally, I would like to manage my electrolytes better and stop taking amitriptyline within the next year!

2. I’m Liz, And I’m A Compulsive Eater:

I am a food addict. There’s all sorts of interesting reasons as to why I ended up looking for love and fulfillment at the bottom of a candy wrapper, but the point is that I have no power over food. Other people can open a packet of gluten-free cookies, eat three with a cup of coffee, seal the packet up and put them back in the cabinet. I can’t. Stacey Morris can make any number of delicious 8 – 12 serving desserts, eat a single portion, and stick the rest in the fridge. I can’t. I am addicted to sugar and I am a compulsive over-eater, and in all likelihood I will have to actively keep that in check for the remainder of my life. In addition, the food supply is addictive by design. We are flooded with sugar and refined carbs that light up your brain in the same was cocaine does. It’s no accident that so many of us are overweight. While I adhered to the letter of the DDP Yoga nutrition program, I didn’t always adhere to the spirit. I replaced the Dairy and Gluten free junk I used to eat with all-natural, whole ingredient treats like raw, organic almond butter or Larabars, but I still ate way too much of it. I tricked myself into thinking I could have a packet of Larabars in the house, but the packet was always empty by the end of the day. A Larabar is great snack. A Larabar. One. Eight of them is not good for you and overloads your system with excess sugar, which gets turned into fat.

3. To Count Or Not To Count:

After a few month of maintaining, I decided to quit MyFitnessPal, and stick with healthy eating to maintain my weight. That has worked for a number of people such as Stacey Morris, but given my recent weight gain, both the slow crawl to 155, and the more recent rapid jump to 165, I think we can safely assume I need a more rigorous regimen. Between weight-gain from amitriptyline, my overeating and the effect of Leptin (thanks for nothing, Mother Nature), the lack of monitoring let small amounts of over-eating and self-denial creep in.

4. Not Sharing:

When I first started this journey, I shared every single fat-roll, failed forearm balance, or diet malfunction I had. That made the success all the more sweet, and it helped other people realize they could find success, even with personal shortcomings and minor failures and setbacks. However, since I became a nutritionist, a DDP Yoga instructor, and more visible within the DDP Yoga community, I found it harder and harder to share the weak moments and shortcomings. Who wants to take nutritional advice from a failure? This was of course a self-imposed hurdle. No one in the community would have judged me, and clients understand that fitness coaches and nutritionists are people too! The problem is that failure thrives in the dark. When I had the first episode of over-indulging, had I shared it, that would have been it. But I didn’t, and it became a weird mix of exciting and shameful. That triggers the next episode of over-eating, and the next, and the next. The other issue is that hiding your mistakes allows you to believe your own nonsense without reasoned input from your peers, such as “muscle weighs considerably more than fat” (it doesn’t).

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Here’s What I Am Going To Do:

1. Be Honest

I’m going to post my eating on MyFitnessPal every single day, regardless of what I eat. I am not going to be hiding my weight gain, my diet, my failures or successes any more. I will be much better about sharing either here, on YouTube or via Twitter. I will also be logging everything I eat, ill-advised or otherwise, in MyFitnessPal (no more mystery missing days!).

2. Be Mindful

I am going spend the next few months learning how to be more mindful about eating. These include but are not limited to: a brief meditation before eating any food (and more meditation in general), a large glass of water before food, all food on a plate, all plates at at table, no iPhones/computers while eating, fork down between bites. I will be implementing these bit-by-bit, and I am sure I will forget from time-to-time. That’s okay. This is a journey. I’ll be re-reading Mark Van Buren’s incredibly insightful book, Be Your Sh*tty Self to remind myself of the importance of mindfulness.

3. Stay Home

I have been eating take-out way too much recently. Even though I go to better restaurants than I did before, and keep within my vegan and GF food restrictions, eating at home will always be better where portion control, ingredient quality and calorie counting is concerned.

4. Be Consistent

I had been adjusting my food intake to match my calorie output. That worked for weight loss, but it didn’t work for healthy habit formation. My maintenance goal was about 1800 calories per day. If I ran for 30 minutes and burned 400 calories, that would allow me to eat 2200 calories (or an extra two Choco Boom Boom bars). Overtime, that turned into making exercise decisions based on knowing I had some Larabars at home that I may want to attack later, which in turn became a bad habit of overeating first and then exercising the excess of later. This ended up with me being used to having a huge calorie intake on a daily basis, and thus a rather quick weight gain as soon as I became sick or injured. I was talking with a friend who is also an overeater, but who has lost a lost a larger amount of weight than I did and has successfully kept the weight off. She eats roughly the same number of calories day in, day out regardless of what she has done for exercise. Obviously, when I am running full marathons, I may carb up in advance, but short of that, I will be following a more consistent approach with my diet.

5. Work With What’s Available

I routinely tell people who are experiencing injury to use the time to focus on nutrition. That’s great advice, so it boggles the mind as to why I typically use injury (or other impediment to exercise) as an excuse to fall off the nutritional wagon too! I am going to be side-lined for at least a couple of weeks with my stupid rib injury, so I will be using that time to really nail down good, healthy eating habits.

Here’s What I Am NOT Going To Do:

1. No reboots, Liz 2.0’s Or Do-overs

There’s only one me, there will only ever be one me. I don’t get to scrap the old one every time I make a mistake. I am stuck with myself for the rest of my life, and with all the scars, extra weight, and other reminders of where I have been and what I have done. And that’s a good thing. If I scrapped all the memories and lessons of my first time through the weight loss process, and pretended this was my day 1 again, I’d lose a massive opportunity to learn both what did work last time thought, and what didn’t worked. This is not a second weight loss journey. This is all part of my one and only weight loss journey.

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

2. No Taboos

I consider myself a gluten-free vegan, and avoiding foods that contain those things has become second nature to me. I am no longer tempted by Dairy Milk or Hershey’s, so that is not an issue. I am, however, struggling to be a sugar-free, gluten-free vegan, and I am extremely tempted to Choco Boom Boom bars, Larabars or Amy’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies! Instead of saying, “I will never eat gluten-free cookies again,” which invariably leads to me thinking of nothing but cookies, I instead will say, “I am avoiding them for now.” And when I reach my weight goal, I will buy a single Larabar rather than a bulk-purchase. For most people, the multipack is better value, because it costs less per bar, but that saving only works if you don’t eat the entire packet that day! In the meantime, I will be focusing on developing the habit of turning to cucumber, apples, celery or other whole foods for snack-time!

3. No Labels, No Bullying

I am a little heavier than I would like to be. I feel healthier when I am leaner, and I struggle with feelings of regret for having given into food addiction and squandering the weight goals I achieved. However, this is temporary. I will regain my weight goals. In the meantime, I will not be defined by the extra weight I am carrying in my midsection. I don’t like how I look right now as much as I liked how I looked at 140 lbs, so instead of spending hours staring at the mirror and beating myself up for what I don’t like, I will choose not to look in the mirror. And when I do, I will actively force myself to be positive and focus on things I do like. Similarly, I will not call myself some of the horrific names I used to call myself, or bully myself for having weak moments or setbacks. I frequently explain to people that they should treat themselves as they would others. If your friend came to you, and said, “I feel awful, I broke my diet and demolished an entire pack of Oreos,” you wouldn’t tell her she’s a fat, worthless, pig, nor would you berate her at length for tripping up. No, aside from the fact that you would have to be a horrible, evil person to treat someone that way, you are also aware that it wouldn’t help anything. After being treated that way, your friend would end up in a shame-spiral and would probably end up overeating again to bury those feelings. The exact same thing happens when you treat yourself that way.

So that is my now, very public, setback and roadmap to getting back to where I was. I will update this post with my weight every week until I get to my target (below 147):

  • 12/01: 167 lbs
  • 12/08: 160 lbs

 

Hello Ladies… It’s Dave Orth!

Dave_MainIf you have spent any amount of time around Team DDP, you know exactly who Dave Orth is. He greets every single new member of Team DDP, helping them to get started on their journey with some great resources. He frequents the Team DDP chat rooms and Facebook groups giving out great information – if you missed his advice, fear not, we’re going to get some great tips from him in the form of a December Challenge (see below) – he’s a regular at retreats, workshops and all things DDP Yoga, and he’s a certified DDP Yoga instructor.

Dave is one of those incredibly humble and modest people, despite his amazing physique and seniority in Team DDP. It’s even more impressive when you learn about the journey he’s been on. To look at him, you would definitely think he has been in peak physical condition for his entire life. That is not the case…

Were you always into fitness?

I was more active as a kid as opposed to being into fitness. I played a lot of sports, hockey and basketball mainly which helped me to stay in shape and be lean. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started to get into fitness more seriously and started weight training.

How did you get into weight-lifting?

Well, as a teenager I started getting into weight-lifting due to always being very thin and lean and I was picked on as a kid from time to time. So when I was in my mid teens I started to lift weights on a more regular basis. My goals at that time were just to put on muscle and get stronger. It wasn’t until my late 20’s, early 30’s that I started taking my training more seriously. When I got into my 30’s my goal was to be big, bulking and strong. At one point my highest weight was 235 pounds.

Dave_3When you started weight-lifting and fitness, did you have any focus on nutrition?

When I really started weight-lifting seriously, I started to look at my nutrition a little bit but it wasn’t until my late 30’s when I really took a closer look at when I ate, what I ate and how I was eating much more seriously. I started to see how what I was eating directly impacted the success I had with my results in fitness.

I understand you have experienced some injuries.  Did the injuries impact your fitness regime?

Yes, absolutely. The impact that my heavy weight training had on my body was significant. Over time it really took a toll on my body and especially my joints. The injuries really caused me to not be able to be active where exercise was concerned because I was spending most of my time rehabbing and recovering from all my injuries. I had to change how much I was working out and how much I was able to do because of all the injuries I had suffered.

How did your fitness and weight-lifting affect your weight over the years?

The impact of my weight-lifting was sort of a roller coaster ride in a lot of respects. There were times I wanted to be very big and bulking and so I had to eat a lot to gain weight. Then when I was injured and unable to workout, I’d have to change all that to lower my weight. But there were many times I was not good where changing my eating habits were concerned, and I’d put on weight I did not wish to gain.

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Did you have a mentally healthy approach to weight-lifting and body image at that time?

I would have to say I’ve struggled with body image issues over the years and so at times I didn’t necessarily have the best approach from a mental health point of view. I think I always felt I’d never achieve the results I was looking for to where I would feel comfortable with myself when I looked in the mirror.

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How and when did you discover DDP Yoga?

I discovered DDP Yoga in the Fall of 2011. I had started weight training earlier that year after 4 years away from any serious weight training due to my injuries. I felt like I was in pretty good shape at the time and had finally found a good balance with my weight training….that’s when I found myself injured once again. This caused me to start physical therapy to try to recover from an injured shoulder and leg. However, after 3 months with very little improvement I became very frustrated with my physical therapy and decided I might need to find a different way to heal from my injuries. I had gained about 25 pounds due to not being able to workout which really impacted how I felt about myself. That’s when I started to look into Yoga and came across DDP Yoga on Twitter. I started DDP Yoga with some trepidation as I had never done any form of Yoga before. My initial goal was to lose the weight that I had gained while rehabbing my injuries and improve my strength and flexibility at the same time. At first I was surprised just how out of shape and had very little flexibility; I hadn’t realized how out of shape I was and how I lacked any flexibility at all. But what I also realized was that it was a great workout that really challenged me in ev every way possible. I found that not only was I getting stronger and more flexible but that my injuries were healing much faster than I had ever expected.

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What has DDP Yoga enabled you to do that other workouts didn’t?

The DDP Yoga workouts enabled me to lose the weight I had gained through injury, as well as significantly increasing my strength and flexibility, and at the same time I get a great workout. I can definitely say without question that DDP Yoga has helped me with all of the injuries I’ve suffered through heavy weight lifting, including my shoulders, leg and low back. The workouts have improved my strength overall which I can say has prevented me from any further injuries.

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What have you achieved with DDP Yoga? What are your future goals?

Wow, that’s a tough question, there are so many things I can say I’ve achieved through DDP Yoga. I was able to lose the weight I wanted to and have kept it off for the almost 3 years I’ve been doing the workouts. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about nutrition, and how what I put into my body directly affects the results I get, in contrast to my previous fitness regimen where I had little knowledge about nutrition, which probably contributed to frequent injuries I suffered. I’ve gained a lot of friends in the DDP Yoga community that has really helped me to be able to focus and stay on track with my workouts. I recently became a certified DDP Yoga instructor which was a huge accomplishment for me. I also completed my first half marathon recently which is something I never thought possible due to some of the injuries I’ve had prior to DDP Yoga. One of the most significant achievements was an improvement in my mental image of my body, where I now work with it and not against it and I feel my overall body image is very positive compared to how I looked at myself in the past. My future goals now that I’m certified is to inspire others to become healthy through DDP Yoga and to assist people as much as possible through my experiences with my DDP Yoga journey.

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I know you have had some surgeries. How did that impact your ability to DDP Yoga?

I have had a couple setbacks during my journey with DDP Yoga. Over the past 2 years I’ve needed to have an umbilical hernia repaired twice in my abdomen. This caused me to not be able to workout for 2 months with the first surgery and 3 months when I had the second surgery. There were definitely setbacks due to those surgeries…I gained weight from not being able to workout but I gained 20 pounds after my second surgery which really impacted my mental state in a negative way. I was also limited in what I could do with the workouts initially due to the need to protect my core from any strenuous activity. It took some time before I was able to get past the mental hurdle where I was no longer holding back from pushing myself during the workouts. I was able to overcome these setbacks by discussing my fears with other people in the Team DDP Yoga community as well as easing my way back into the workouts gradually and building my strength back which directly impacted my confidence levels and allowed me to feel comfortable enough to get back to a normal routine again.

Obviously you have come back from your surgeries and setbacks… Twice! You now have some of the most ripped abs in all of DDP Yoga. Tell us your secrets:

One of the most important tips is going to be nutrition. You need to lower your overall body fat for your abs to show through. You really need to watch what you’re putting into your body because otherwise you’ll be spinning your wheels. When doing Red Hot Core you really want to focus on the contraction in the movements. This will allow you to get the most out of that workout and really build your core strength. While I didn’t do any other routines for my abs…your core is being workout throughout all of the other DDP Yoga workouts and the same focus should be given to contracting the muscles in your core during any of the ab movements in the workouts. I would not recommend doing Red Hot Core everyday because you’re working your core with all the workouts. I try to do Red Hot Core 3 days a week, and I do it after my DDP Yoga workouts. But keep in mind that we’re all built different and we don’t always get the same results. So it’s important to change your routine up from time to time to see if you get better results.

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P.S. We didn’t even talk about his guns…

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DDP Yoga Is Everywhere… And It Delivers!

One of Diamond Dallas Page’s favorite sayings is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” He has a hour-long motivational talk dedicated to the concept!

Normally, as a scholar of DDP Yoga, I am very adherent to this philosophy, but a recent article from Men’s Journal completely derailed that effort. Adam Bluestein wrote a piece called, “DDP Yoga Is Everywhere, But Does It Deliver?“.

Were I to have written an article with that title, the main body would have read as follows:

Yes.

Granted, it wouldn’t earn me much if I were paid per word. But what it lacked in financial gain, it would have made up in accuracy.

Mr Bluestein, on the other hand, didn’t let economically worthless ideas like accuracy stand in his way of smearing words onto a page. I’m not going to be exhaustive, but I will rebut the most egregious arguments he makes:

The promised cardio- and fat-burning benefits are less certain. A 2006 study found that performing vigorous ashtanga-style yoga only increased heart rate by about 30 beats per minute over resting, comparable to walking, but nowhere near running, swimming, or spinning.

A 2006 study of Ashtanga yoga? Interesting factoid if we were actually talking about Ashtanga yoga. A wildly misleading point to make when you’re talking about DDP Yoga. It would be comparable to saying,  “Jeremy Clarkson says that the Ford F150 is the worst vehicle he’s ever driven, so that proves Cadillac CTS is a shoddy piece of junk.” Different products, different manufacturers.

I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Bluestein (okay, so I got into a brief fight with him on Twitter, but we’re twisting facts to fit our narratives now, right?), and asked him if he had actually tried DDP Yoga, given the article read as if he hadn’t.

“Yes I’ve done it and think it’s a great workout, as I said.”

he replied, adding:

Not saying there’s no cardio benefit. Depends how hard you’re working…”

Hmm, seems he softened his views about the cardio potential since declaring:

Don’t rely on it as a stand-alone cardio… routine.

Rather than talking in circles, I decided to switch gears to the Ashtanga v. DDP Yoga issue.  I showed him data I produced demonstrating the difference between Ashtanga/Power Yoga, and DDP Yoga:

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Time_In_Zone

I didn’t get a reply to that one. But then I remembered that someone who compared scientific data from a study of one branch of yoga to a completely unrelated hybrid yoga probably doesn’t have the scientific literacy required to read graphed data. So, I set up my laptop in the closet of my yoga room, and gave a live demonstration:

I didn’t get any replies to that one as of yet. While we wait for Mr. Bluestein to publicly and without reservation admit that he was, in fact, wrong to use Ashtanga data to dispute the merits of DDP Yoga, I will move to my next point of contention.

In both the article and our interview/Twitter fight, he held firm to the “it’s nowhere near as good as running” argument, asserting that it would only raise your heart rate by 30 bpm over resting. Really? Here’s my heart rate monitor data from a 1 hour DDP Yoga workout (including warm-up and cool-down), and a 4.5 mile run I went on (excluding cool-down).

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Granted, the running is a little higher (136 bpm v. 157 bpm), but it’s a far cry from the NINETY-EIGHT BEATS PER MINUTE at which Mr. Bluestein believes I would max out doing DDP Yoga. Like I said, I stopped my HRM during the cool-down, so the two cardio forms may be even closer than I show here. In addition, I like to sprint the last half-mile of a run. This drives my heart rate up to about 180 bpm (and thus the overall average heart rate too). Tougher cardio? Sure. Healthier? Absolutely not. DDP Yoga teaches us to get from resting into our fat-burning zones, but also, not to exceed it. DDP likens this to driving in the red. You’ll certainly get there faster, but there’s a good chance you’ll be junking that car before too long. And unlike a car, you can’t simply junk your cardiopulmonary system and buy a new one.

I’ll close this rebuttal with a little history lesson. Another point of contention that cropped up over this article was whether or not DDP Yoga promises ripped abs and shredded bodies, or massive weight loss. First, the quotes Mr. Bluestein used came from the program guide that comes with the DVDs, so that isn’t really a marketing device (you already own the DVDs if you’re reading that guide*). Second, the actual quotes he’s referencing are:

Ripped abs require a Red Hot Core workout!

Commit to three times a week and you won’t believe the results! Kick it up to four or five times a week and you’re on your way to that highly energetic, jacked, stacked, and shredded body that you’ve always wanted!

Make sure to take a look at the Nutrition Guide and learn how to complement your fitness routine with a simple weight loss plan that will maximize your results.

Certainly, it took Mr. Bluestein’s patented information-twisting skills to interpret these quotes as a claim of being a total fitness solution. But the really bizarre part of this argument was everyone leaping to DDP Yoga’s defense by pointing out that these weren’t marketing tools employed by DDP Yoga, and that DDP Yoga had not historically been designed to be a weight loss system. In fact, the most successful weight loss story associated with DDP Yoga, Arthur Boorman, didn’t take up DDP Yoga to lose weight; he tried it to relieve back pain. The weight loss was just a happy surprise.

But whether or not DDP intended to create a phenomenal weight loss system doesn’t negate the fact that he did create a phenomenal weight loss system. His original goal for DDP Yoga cannot detract from Stacey, Arthur, Terri, Doug, Kevin, Christina or my weight loss, nor that of all the other people at the DDP Yoga Transformation page that have lost 100s and 100s of pounds.

The same goes for getting ripped muscles and crazy washboard abs. I don’t understand why everyone leapt to pointing out that DDP Yoga didn’t directly make these claims rather than pointing out that it actually DELIVERS on those claims (whether or not they were made). I could draw your attention to  Stacy, Sparky and Motown on the Transformation page. I could also invite you to come gaze at pictures of Chad’s abs with me for a couple of hours. But every workout system has carefully selected examples of success stories they present as proof of their delivering on promises. Granted DDP Yoga has more examples of success stories than all the other systems put together, and those pictures are user-submitted (not the usual photoshopped smoke and mirrors), but DDP Yoga also has infinite numbers of people who aren’t on the transformation page who also have amazing results.

I put out a request for Before & After pictures of people who are not featured success stories on the DDP Yoga Facebook group, and here is what I got in under 24 hours:

Ed

Ed

Robert

Robert

Roger

Roger

David

David

Sharon

Sharon

Ashley

Ashley

Nicole

Nicole

Christina

Christina

Travis

Travis

I’d say these people think that DDP Yoga delivers, wouldn’t you, Mr. Bluestein?

Of course, this wouldn’t be a lizDDPyoga post without a little shameless self-promotion, so I will throw my (admittedly Transformation page-documented) results into the mix too:

Liz

Liz

Because I am trying to live at 90% as DDP teaches, I will end on a positive note. If you want to read a well-written and accurate review of DDP Yoga at the Men’s Journal website, I highly recommend you read this one!

* a distinction that completely eluded Mr. Bluestein.

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?

Bulimia

Fix your physical health?

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Fix your chronic pain?sore_knee

Fix Your Career?

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Prevent future injuries and stiffness?

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

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Let you wear all the clothes in your wardrobe…

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…or require you to buy a new one?

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Give you a nice big novelty cheque?

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Help you develop balance like never before?

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Fix your skin?

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Let you turn fitness into a career?

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Let you find your passion for helping others?

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Let you exceed your goals?

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Earn a cool new tattoo?

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Or improve your math skills?

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(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?

FODMAPS, Gluten, Nocebos, My Upper Arms, Knees, and Toes!

The haters of gluten-free living have been having a great month!

First, everyone reveled in showing those of us who have self-diagnosed as gluten-intolerant the following Jimmy Kimmel video:

Following the logic of this piece, if you don’t know what a carcinogen is, you would be immune to the cancer-causing effects of asbestos or plutonium! Ignorance truly would be bliss!! For the record, I DO know what gluten is (a composite protein of gliadin and glutenin that makes up the endosperm of grains in the family Triticeae, including wheat, barley, rye, and spelt).

A reason for the spike in gluten intolerance, and the rising numbers of people who choose to live gluten free may result form the fact that modern grains have been bred with much larger endosperms containing higher levels of gluten, and, thanks to the Farm Deal, we are being inundated with gluten in baked good, salad dressing, soy sauce, toothpaste and lipstick! I remember a woman who worked at the animal facility in grad school telling me that anyone who works there long enough will develop allergies to animal dander. In other words, anyone -ANYONE- who is exposed to artificially high levels of a potential allergen will develop an allergy to it. And when it comes to gluten, we are all that “anyone”. We are exposed to levels of gluten not seen in nature that we are just not meant to be consuming.

Gliadin

Glutenin

Also this week, the media picked up on a publication where it was shown that “gluten intolerance” may actually result from FODMAPS or “nocebos*.” In a nutshell, a scientist who had previously shown that non-celiac gluten insensitivity is responsible for certain digestive issues redesigned the study and determined that Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols, or FODMAPs may be the real culprit. I’m a little science-d out having worked overtime this weekend, so I’ll let wikipedia elaborate on what a FODMAP actually is.

The media jumped all over this report, and in its sadly characteristic modus operandi, distilled the report down into a simplistic talking point without doing any actual journalism, or having someone who understands science explain the study to them in the  monosyllabic words to which they appear to be restricted. First, I do want to reject the point that a lot of my friends on the gluten-is-evil team are saying. This study was well-designed, independently executed and properly peer-reviewed. It was not influenced by “Big Flour”.

However, there are still a couple of things to note about this study, or any scientific study you read. First, Professor Gibson is not the only person studying Gluten. The media has decided that his original paper showing gluten-sensitivity was the only paper ever demonstrating this phenomenon. It isn’t. Here’s a paper that Christina of BodyRebooted posted a couple of months ago. In this study the authors demonstrate that non-celiac subjects develop an immune response to gliadin (a component of gluten). In other words, these people were sensitive to, or intolerant of, gluten.

Another thing to note is that Professor Gibson’s study only looked at a specific set of issues related to gluten insensitivity, specifically digestive issues. He did not examine other issues such as skin health, inflammation-related pain, or longterm outcomes such as obesity, cancer, or autoimmune issues. And nor should he have. No one study can ever be expected to examine every single aspect of a complicated issue like gluten insensitivity. But the fact remains that if he didn’t look for these issues, he can’t make the claim that gluten doesn’t cause them. And to be fair to Professor Gibson, as a good scientist, he hasn’t been making these claims; it’s the media that has been overreaching and misinterpreting his data.

Journalists ≠ Scientists!

When we are trained in science, we are taught to scoff at people who say things like. “Well, I smoked my entire life/never wore a seatbelt/was spanked by my parents/never paid attention in science class, and I turned out fine,” because this is anecdotal evidence, and can be wildly unreliable. A good example of this is Winston Churchill, who smoked cigars every day and lived until he was 90. Based on that evidence you may think that you can smoke your way to longevity. However, if you look at a sample of 100 smokers, or 1000 smokers, or 1,000,000 smokers, you will see that the projected life expectancy for smokers is actually quite poor.

Your new Health Guru!

That said, here’s my N=1 anecdotal evidence:

When I came to DDP Yoga, I was absolutely certain that I would never give up gluten. I was firmly in the you-either-have-celiac-disease-or-you-don’t camp, and I knew for a fact that I was not allergic to it, and that it wasn’t causing any of the lifelong issues I had. In fact, it had never been suggested to me that gluten could cause anything other than digestive problems, so its role in skin problems and my chronic knee pain wasn’t even on my radar. In other words, there definitely weren’t any psychosomatic effects (or “nocebos”) in my case.

I cut gluten during the course of my weight loss simply as a calorie-controlling mechanism, and I wasn’t expecting anything else in terms of benefits to my health. I have written about the benefits to my knee pain before, so I will be brief here. Cutting gluten prevented a large amount of knee pain that I had suffered with for years. Doing DDP Yoga certainly had a role in resolving this issue, but I have noticed that when I accidentally consume gluten or dairy, I have flair-ups of pain. I often don’t find out that I had consumed gluten until after the pain happens, and I retroactively investigate why it happened, so we can eliminate “nocebos” as the cause.

More recently, I had a amazing revelation of the power of GF living. For my entire life, I have had nasty, scaly, dry red bumps down the back of my upper arms and on my legs. I have tried everything to get rid of them. On the (lazy) advice of a doctor, I spent months at a time religiously moisturizing them. I tried exfoliating, I tried wrapping them at night, I tried old wives’ tales. Everything. And nothing worked so I just gave up trying. I completely gave up on trying to get rid of them over a decade ago. The other day, I was working on my computer, and crossed my arms as I thought about what I wanted to type. In doing so, I felt the skin on the back of my arms, and realized that it was completely soft and smooth! I couldn’t’ believe it. Some light Googling lead me to learn that gluten may cause dry scaly issues. This is yet another example of GF living resolving an issue that I didn’t even know gluten was causing! I have also written about the role of gluten in another skin issue here.

Photo on 5-19-14 at 8.46 AM

The bruise by my elbow is from running the Tough Mudder… DDP Yoga turned me into a M%^&*# F&^%$in’ Monster! But the rest is baby smooth!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t close by saying that as a scientist, I fully understand that FODMAPs may be responsible for the issues I had with both my skin and my knees (as well as digestive issues and weight, which I had but didn’t elaborate on in this piece). By excluding gluten from my diet, I will inadvertently remove FODMAPs from my diet too, and therefore experience the benefits of a FODMAP-free diet through GF living. If that is the case, great! I will continue to live GF, and I will continue to be healthy. I honestly don’t care which specific molecule was causing dry skin, chronic knee pain, acne, overweight and bloating/gas. I have found a healthy, whole-food diet through the DDP Yoga plan, and I am NEVER going back!

In all reality, humans are a heterogeneous bunch, and the answer may be “all of the above”. Some people may have celiac-based gluten intolerance, whereas others may have non-celiac sensitivity. Others still may be allergic to FODMAPs, and some people may have no issues with gluten or FODMAPs. I know this doesn’t fit the simplistic, one-size-fits-all talking points the media likes to use, but you shouldn’t be getting your scientific information from a journalist anymore than you should be expecting a professor of archeology to keep you up to speed on current world events!

I will make one last plug for the gluten-is-evil theory, and why I think gluten, and not FODMAPs, were responsible for my particular issues. The first time I went vegan back in 2009 (pre-DDP Yoga), I loved making Gluten Sausages. The main ingredient in these sausages is pure gluten, so we can eliminate FODMAPs as the culprit. I would make batches of 6 – 12 sausages at a time, and they never lasted very long. While they were delicious, over time I started noticing that if I ate them for more than 2 days in a row (which I often did), I became severely constipated for up to two weeks at a time and, well, this T-shirt explains the rest…

TMI, Darling!

 

Okay, so there was nothing in this piece about my toes. I just liked that song as a kid!

 
*This is an obnoxious neologism. We already had a term for this phenomenon; it’s called a psychosomatic response. And while you’re at it, take back “Aha moments” Oprah; the correct word for this is “epiphany”!
** Yeah, Dairy is bad too!