Adventures in Eating Clean: Impact on Health

Anyone who has been to a restaurant with me can tell you my diet is plain obnoxious. I’m vegan (don’t roll your eyes yet… there’s more). I don’t eat gluten. And not just gluten; I don’t eat any refined or processed grains*. I don’t eat sugar or sweeteners, artificial or otherwise. Obviously the veganism would cover dairy, but it bears repeating that I don’t eat any dairy. At least, I find myself repeating that to certain family members. And, all of this restriction is purely voluntary. I have not been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. I have been tested, and I definitely don’t have celiac disease. And, before you ask, I am not “orthorexic.**”

So why bother with such a restrictive diet? To maintain a reign of dominance over my friends and family with a Kobayashi Maru-like set of nutritional demands? As much as that may appeal to some, it’s not the (primary) motivation for me. After years of chronic pain in my knees, I rehabbed them with DDP Yoga, only to find out that my body is primed to attack itself and destroy all my connective tissue, which would put me back at square one with chronic knee pain. I have high Anti-RNP antibodies (normal folks have none), and I have low C3 and C4 complement protein levels (you want them high; low indicates they are being used up in autoimmune attacks). Coupled with a family history of autoimmune disorders, this could be worrisome. Nevertheless, I don’t have any symptoms or diagnosis of autoimmune disorders, but given the horrific side-effects associated with their treatment, I would rather avoid developing any. To do that, I went all-out on clean eating. I was already vegan and gluten-free, but so are Justin’s peanut butter cups.


Remember 1 tsp of sugar equals 4 grams

My allopathic rheumatologist (surprisingly) confirmed that clean eating -including a gluten-free diet- will help reduce or prevent symptoms. Together with Haydn Walden, I once and for all quit sugar between my first set of blood work and my recent set.

So, did it work? Check it out. I graphed the data, yo.

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My Anti-RNP antibodies went from 6.4 to 5.4. The normal range is less than 0.1, so I still have fifty-four times the level of the general population, but it’s moving in the right direction.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 7.53.11 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-04-24 at 7.52.49 PM.png

My C3 and C4 are also improving. Again, I am below the lower limit of normal, but I am getting closer. Qualitatively, I haven’t had any symptoms, and I have been working out with weights for 10 – 12 hours a week, so I have had plenty of chances to notice if any of my joints were operating at suboptimal efficiency.

Clean eating is definitely worth it when you consider the symptoms of autoimmune disease, and the side-effects of glucocorticoids. It is worth mentioning that some people will never avoid autoimmune disease, no matter how clean their diet; I do not condone blaming patient-blaming. It also goes without saying that unless you have access to parallel universes, it’s impossible to know if I ever would have developed an autoimmune condition if I hadn’t taken such drastic measures with my diet. But it’s a game of odds. I would liken it to wearing a seat-belt. Some people who don’t wear seat-belts will survive well into their 90s. Some people who do wear seat-belts will die in car crashes before they reach life-expectancy. But they are outliers, and when you look at the data across millions of people, you see that the behavior of seat-belt wearing is demonstrably safer.

So is clean eating.

For added accountability, I have made my food diary fully viewable to friends on MyFitnessPal (username: myDDPyogajourney)! I’m amazed at how I consistently fall below the recommended daily sugar intake. Before this challenge, I was always 75 – 100 grams OVER! 


*Or refined/processed foods for that matter.
**We’ve been through this; there’s no such thing



The Hardship Fund: How It Began

This morning, my DDP Yoga client let me know she was going to be about 30 minutes late. That gave me about an hour to sit down and put together my 10 Tips For Losing Weight post that I am working on.

However, as is my terrible habit, I checked Facebook before I got going. After seeing all my notifications, I wandered over to the DDP Yoga group. I stumbled onto a conversation in which someone had simply posted, “I wish i can afford ddp yoga.” I skimmed through the comments, which mostly centered around pointing the original poster in the direction of free yoga resources, or explaining that DDP Yoga can be purchased in installments.

I added my two cents, pointing the poster in the direction of Do Yoga With Me, a fantastic online yoga resource. While classical yoga isn’t my thing, I love that this website features full-length, high-quality videos with certified yoga instructors as well as short tutorials for certain poses. I sometimes use their videos when I want to stretch or meditate but don’t need the heavy cardio of DDP Yoga (usually because I have just done my DDP Yoga!)

After I posted, I read a couple more comments and noticed that someone had suggested chipping in and buying the set. Shortly after that, another person bought the Max Pack outright! There were a lot of people congratulating the generosity, as well as others still replying to the original post. In amongst them, a lady named Maria posted, “I wanted to get the program too but finances won’t even allow me to split the payments up. It’s my luck I suppose. Lol. I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention. Good luck on your journey sweetie. Love ya”

So, a flash of excitement came across me and I posted, “Did we all see Maria’s post, wanna make this a two-fer?” Within seconds, I had replies pledging money, so I pitched in with 3 other people and collected money to my PayPal, and purchased the Max Pack for her. The fact that we bought 2 Max Packs for people was already exciting enough, but then someone posted about a man they knew who could benefit from a similar act of kindness, and minutes later, we heard about another lady who would be helped immensely by DDP Yoga, but couldn’t afford it. Within minutes I was able to collect the funds for 2 more Max Packs, and after pestering people to send me the pertinent mailing info, I ordered the DVDs for them. I ended up paying the shipping on all the orders, but it was a small price to pay for knowing the positive impact that is currently winging its way to deserving people.

The whole thing was a shining example of what DDP Yoga is, and the kind of people who are in TeamDDP. We are a family, and we think nothing of helping one another. DDP Yoga has taught us that we need to support one another, and that we will all be more successful when we band together and take care of each other. Those lessons have obviously be well-learnt, because when we are confronted with someone who needs support, be it in the form of financial assistance, advice, compassion, or any other resource that person needs. It’s not even a question, it’s as involuntary a reaction in us as having your knee swing up when the doctor bangs it with that little triangular hammer!

The people who received the DVDs were more grateful than I could have anticipated. This conversation epitomizes the reaction of our new teammates:

Recipient: I’m so overwhelmed about all this. Y’all didn’t have to do it.
Me: Yeah, we did… That’s what teamDDP is all about. Welcome to the family!
Recipient: Thanks sweetie!!
And the generosity spread beyond the 4 initial Max Packs.  I found out that a heart rate monitor had been purchased for Maria by another member, and someone else bought a DVD player for another user. In addition, I wandered away from the computer for a couple of hours and came back to find I had more donations. I solicited a few this morning, and we have ordered a fifth Max Pack for a young mother and her husband. But why stop there?
l realized that the thread was beginning to get lost as people posted new things to the group’s timeline. I really wanted to sustain the momentum we had found, but a Facebook group’s thread wasn’t the way to do it. The phrase “Hardship Fund” popped into my head almost instantly, and I set up a separate page for it. I was able to recruit four other members of teamDDPyoga (Christina Russell, Steve Doyle, Mary Callicoat and Graham O’Quinn) to work with me in running the Hardship Fund: collecting donations, finding people who need help, and distributing DDP Yoga Max Packs. We are collecting donations for people who need the positive impact of DDP Yoga, but who can’t afford it. The donations will be used for DVD purchases, and sending USPS labels to those who want to ship old HRMs or other equipments to deserving recipients.
I am so proud to be a member of TeamDDP. The meaning of team keeps growing and becoming more and more awesome, and I am being made a better person in so many different ways, most I which I never would have dreamt of when I was placing my order for my very own Max Pack!
In response to this momentum, I posted that we are dispensing with Throwback Thursday. Looking backwards is anathema to DDP Yoga. We are the group that coined the phrase ABMF: Always Be Moving Forward. Well, now it has evolved: ABPF. Always be paying it forward: