Progress photos, 10 months on

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On the DDP Yoga app you can upload photos in 6 different poses, so you can monitor your progress over the months. I’ve had a request to show the photos, to demonstrate how much difference DDPY has made to my flexibility – so here they are!

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My Fitness Journey – an update

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Last April I set off on a mission to finally rid myself off the 4+ stones of excess weight I’ve been carrying round for about 20 years, and to get fitter and healthier. I was eating better, reducing my alcohol intake and had started doing DDP Yoga (see my review here) and I vowed to update every week …but the last entry I did was on week 7, when I felt like I was getting stuck having lost 8 pounds. Every time I’ve dieted before I’ve plateaued at about half a stone, got bored, gone back to my usual habits and put on more weight than I lost. So anyone reading this blog would probably imagine that was the case this time too, hence no further posts … but no!

This time I persevered, ate better, did more exercise, joined Slimming World, changed jobs so I was more active every day …. and, ten months on, I’m delighted to have lost over three and a half stone, and dropped 3 dress sizes!

It’s not been easy – actually, it’s been easier than I expected, because (A) I absolutely adore DDP Yoga, and apart from Xmas week and a week when I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, I’ve done it 4-6 times a week,e very week. And (B) I really love the Slimming World way of dieting, and it seems to be working for me. Initially I was calorie counting but it was far too easy to cheat – I often estimated weights and it’s so easy to look at something and say “yeah that’s 100g!” when actually its three or four times more… The fact that you can eat so many things on the SW plan without having to weight them, and nothing is restricted, and it’s all about making choices (do I have crisps or wine? Or do I have one glass of wine of three gin and slims?) – that’s been a real lifesaver for me.

So I’m now at a very lovely 12 stone 12 pounds, down from a hideous 16 stone 6 when I started last year, and I’m wearing size 14 rather than an 18-20. I feel better in myself, my confidence is growing every day and I actually look in the mirror and like what I see!

There’s still some way to go. I’ve set my initial target at 11 stone but once I get there, I may lose a little more – oh, to weigh ten stone something! And I definitely want to be a size 14 at the biggest. It’s so lovely being able to shop in “normal” shops and not be restricted to the outsize departments!

So there you go … this stuff does work when you set your mind to it and stick with it.

Hopefully the photos below will show the difference!

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Three fat ladies in July 2015…        and us in January 2017, having lost seven dress sizes and                                                                     over seven stone between us!

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End of week 7 weigh in …

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And what a disappointment it was! This week I've been really focused on healthy eating, cutting down my alcohol intake quite dramatically, drinking plenty of water and keeping up with my exercise routine. I've been below 1400 calories every day (but not hugely below – so I don't think I'm under eating) and have been eating more fruit and veg, plus wholemeal bread rather than white. I've probably had about a third of the units of alcohol I was consuming – and so way fewer empty calories than usual. I've drunk at least a litre and usually 1.5 litres of water a day. I've done DPPY every day bar one. The only thing I've not really done this week is walking – a couple of days I've come close to my target but I've not found a way to fit it into the routine yet.

So a good week and one where I expected to see a good weight loss, at least two pounds. I FEEL thinner, I LOOK thinner so surely I must WEIGH thinner too?

Nope. The scales haven't moved at all. Not a single pound.

How very disappointing.

Ok it's time of the month so I'm hoping it's due to period-related water retention – I do tend to gain, so maybe next week I'll have a bumper weight loss. And the DDPY is toning me so it could be weight redistributing itself. I'll get out the tape measure later and see.

But I'm stil disappointed. This is the story of my life – I make an enthusiastic start, lose a few pounds (eight so far), carry on working hard and being good but quickly plateau. Then I get bored, get annoyed, give up the healthy lifestyle, eat and drink what I want – and put back on all the weight I've lost, and some.

But this time I am NOT going to do that. Mostly because I actually don't feel like it's been hard work. I've been eating well, and enjoying my food, and not denying myself things I want. I've been loving my exercise and can't see me stopping that, whatever. I've been feeling better for drinking less alcohol and more water – my skin is noticeably less dry and more clear.

I just need to find the missing link. Maybe it's walking – I'm going to make a concerted effort to hit my (admittedly measly) target of 7000 steps a day over the next week, and try and incorporate a daily walk into my routine, and gradually increase the steps and see what happens. Doesn't help that I work from home so have no commute, no chance to walk to the bus stop or station or park the car further away from the office than usual. But I'll do what I can to increase the steps.

And I'll try and keep positive. I know how easy it is for me to fall off the wagon when it comes to my weight. I need to reinforce the benefits and keep going, no matter how disappointing the results.

Onwards and upwards!

 

Review: DDP Yoga

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ddpSo here’s my review of DDP Yoga, the transformational fitness workout devised by American wrestler Diamond Dallas Page. We met DDP at Wrestlecon in Dallas, Texas this April, and until then I’d never heard of DDP Yoga … and why should I? I’m not a yoga person, I’m not an exercise person, stuff like that passes me by. But my son had heard about it (I’ll try and find the video Dan had seen that inspired him) and he mentioned it to DDP, and we chatted a bit. And while we were in America I saw lots of very large people, and I looked at the photos of me and didn’t see what I liked there, and I decided to take a look at the DDP Yoga thing when we came home.

DDP – the guy behind DDP Yoga

Dallas Page created DDP Yoga when he had lots of wrestling injuries and wanted to get back into the ring. The story goes that his wife was a yoga fan and suggested he give it a go but he thought it was a mumsy thing and not for guys – but eventually he tried it, and discovered that there was a way he could use yoga to rehabilitate and recover his body and improve his fitness. He’s since used the system with over 40 other wrestlers and other sports people, and also discovered that it’s actually really really good for weight loss – and that it can be used by people whose weight would otherwise rule out physical activity.

Inspirational stories

The DDP Yoga website itself is inspiring. There are lots of success stories, both from sports people and from “normal” guys and girls, and they are well worth watching. And if you find yourself thinking that the stories are fabricated – well, many of the people he’s worked with actually appear in the fitness videos, as proof that it works! Of course it’s not just a case of doing a bit of yoga now and then; it requires dedication and lots of hard work, and a total change of diet to achieve the best results – but even 7 weeks in I am really feeling the benefits, and I haven’t even looked at the nutrition section of the programme!

Most people who have heard of DDP Yoga talk about Arthur Boorman – an army veteran whose body was trashed, and who turned things around completely using DDP Yoga. It’s a truly inspiring video and well worth watching – and you can do so here. But the one that really got me was the story of Jared. In fact, I came across this video of YouTuber Boogie2988 reacting to Jared’s story, and I have a feeling this may be the video that Dan was talking about, so we’ll go with this one. Get the tissues ready…

So what is DDP Yoga?

DDP Yoga is not like your usual yoga (or as Dallas Page says, “It ain’t your mama’s yoga!”). Instead, it takes many classic yoga poses and adds dynamic resistance to them – so you use your body’s own strength to increase resistance, which helps to heal, strengthen and tone muscle. And because DDP Yoga increases the blood flow to the muscles it also increases the heart rate – so it gives you a really good cardio workout. But here’s the great thing – every cardio exercise I’ve done before, like running and cycling and fitness classes, has involved lots of impact movement, jumping up and down, etc. And when you’re overweight and have arthritic knees it hurts, and it’s uncomfortable, and when you’ve got lots of flab the last thing you want to do is bounce it around. But with DDP Yoga, you can increase your heart rate, and thus burn calories, by standing still! And boy, does it make me sweat!  Just by engaging the muscles in the legs, butt, back, arms you can see your heart rate increase – so it’s suitable for people who have mobility problems as well as those who just don’t enjoy high impact exercise.

Another great thing about DDP Yoga is that throughout the videos Dallas Page encourages you to “make the workout your own”. One of the things that puts me off other exercise programmes is the assumption that I will be able to do everything, because I feel useless if I can’t. That kind of attitude just puts me off and I’m not likely to even make the effort. However, Dallas understands that not everyone is able to do every move straight away. Every exercise has modifications – different ways you can do it – and throughout the ethos is to do something  – that you are better doing something than nothing and if you do that something every day you’ll get fitter and stronger and more flexible and eventually you’ll be able to do the full workout. There’s no body shaming, no fitness shaming involved – just encouragement to make the workout your own and get moving.

What do you get for your money?

So let’s unpack DDP and see what you get. It comes in two versions – DVDs and the digital product. (Actually, I think you can also sign up for MP3s but I can’t really see how anyone could do this from audio only, as it really helps to see the moves.) I decided to get the online digital subscription, partly because I wanted instant access but also because wanted to do my workouts upstairs in our enormous bedroom, but we don’t have a DVD player there, and having the digital version means I can take my iPad upstairs. I’ve even used my phone with workouts I know well, though the screen is a bit small if you’re unsure about the moves.

You can subscribe to the digital subscription for one month, three months or a year. I went for the three month option; at $40 dollars (£28) it didn’t break the bank and it would give me long enough to give it a proper go. After the three months are up it’ll bill me for $12.99 (about £9) a month.Included in the digital version is access via tablet, smartphone and computer, all the workout videos plus new updates, food videos, plus a PDF version of the programme guide. Alternatively you can buy the DVDs for a one off payment and you also get a printed copy of the programme guide and a poster of the “Diamond Dozen”, the key moves.

There are loads of workouts included, from “Beginner Beginner” to “Extreme”, and if you wanted to you could just dive in wherever. However, there’s also a recommended programme that takes you through each stage over 13 weeks, introducing you to the moves and workouts gradually so you can build your strength and ability, and that’s what I chose to do.

However, before you begin, the programme recommends that you take a few initial measurements. After all, if you don’t know what your starting point is, you won’t know how far you’ve come! So you’re advised to put in measurements – arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves – and your weight, and also to take photos in six different positions, so you can see the difference DDP Yoga is making to you.

Once you’ve done that you’re ready to go! Ah … except for one more thing, which is optional but recommended, and that’s a heart monitor. See, the dynamic resistance fat-burning part of DDP Yoga is based on you working out in an optimum heart rate zone, where your body burns calories without working you so hard you’re in danger of combusting. Yes, you can do DDP Yoga without a heart monitor but it’s much better using one, as you can hook it up to the app and see on screen where you are, and then engage or disengage depending on whether or not you are “in the zone” – shown in green on screen. Originally I thought my Fitbit HR Charge would work with it but sadly it doesn’t sync with the app, so I have bought a Wahoo Tickr chest monitor, which I can recommend. I’d also recommend you get a yoga mat to exercise on, as it can be quite tough on the knees otherwise!

Get with the programme

SupportedLungeSpaceShuttle_1So now we are ready to start, and the programme begins with the Diamond Dozen, which introduces you to the 12 key moves used throughout the workouts. This first video is quite slow paced, but that’s good as it means you can get to grips with the moves without any pressure. Dallas Page takes you through each move in turn, showing you various modifications that you can try if you’re not quite able to do the complete move. For example, during Runner’s Lunge and Supported Lunge I wasn’t able to do the exercise “properly” at first, because it really hurt my arthritic knee, so I tried the modified version, which just meant dropping to my knee. I was able to do the rest of the exercise and within a week I was doing Runner’s Lunge fully, because my body had already strengthened! The video looks quite tame but don’t be fooled – it had me drenched in sweat, simply because I was engaging muscles I hadn’t engaged in a long time, and that in turn got my heart racing. There are also individual videos for each move so if you’re stuck on anything, you can try just that one instead of having to do the whole lot.

The programme default is for three workouts a week, starting with two run throughs of the Diamond Dozen before moving onto the Energy workout. This is the first time you’ll be combining moves, moving from Cat Lift to Cat Arch to Down Dog to Safety Zone, and fortunately it’s done at such a pace that I found it reasonably easy to keep up, even though the moves were still pretty new to me. After a few times I found I didn’t need to watch the screen; when Dallas says Runner’s Lunge or Superstar I know what I’m meant to be doing.

Here’s a little taster of what one of the early programmes, Energy, is all about. (Actually the one I do is Energy 2.0, but this is the earlier version.)

The programme progresses gradually by adding more challenging workouts. The first time I did Fat Burner, with all its Squat Thrusts, I thought I was going to die! But the next time I did it, it was much easier, and by the 3rd and 4th time I was finding I could squat pretty low without killing myself. Today I did my first Red Hot Core workout, which is only 15 minutes long but really focuses on the stomach muscles, and I’m aching now – but I know next time will be easier, and I might not even need to do all the modifications!

So far the workouts have all been quite short – 30-40 minutes, which is great as I can fit one in before I start work. As you move on the idea is to start combining workouts to build it up to an hour at a time, or to do a couple a day, and that feels doable to me.

The programme is in 13 week blocks, taking you through beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, and you can customise it totally. For example, my “core” days are always Monday, Wednesday and Friday as that works best for me, but sometimes the programme switches to a Saturday, so I just edit it to suit me. You can, of course, always add in extra workouts whenever you want, and most weeks now I do at least 5 or 6 workouts a week. There’s also a good mix of workouts, from a 10 minute “Wake Up” session of gentle stretching to more hardcore ones that focus on specific areas.

Why I love DDP Yoga

Something I haven’t mentioned yet is how fun I find DDP Yoga. Yep, FUN! I never thought I’d say that about something like this! I’m not really an exercise fan and even with the odd thing I enjoy, like aquafit, I have to force myself to go, but I actually wake up looking forward to my DDP Yoga workout, and at weekends I find myself itching to do some and often come up partway through the day to do a session. I’m not sure what it is about it that I enjoy – Dallas Page is growly and shouty (as you’d expect from a WWE wrestler!) but also engaging and supportive – and he makes me laugh. I also love that the people in the videos aren’t fitness models but REAL people (including Arthur and Jared) who have succeeded with DDPY. The workouts are challenging but achievable, and I feel a real buzz when I finish. And though I’m only in Week 7 I can already see a difference in me physically, I feel fitter and more flexible and every time I do the workouts I can tell I’m squatting lower or holding firmer or bending further. And that development inspires me to go further and further.

I also find it helps my state of mind – while this isn’t traditional yoga and so doesn’t put you in a meditative state, I do find that if I’m in a bad mood or worried about something, DDPY lifts my mood and takes my mind off my problems. It’s also helping my breathing as there’s a lot of focusing on breathing in the exercises, and I find I’m breathing more deeply now.

I haven’t even mentioned the nutrition programme that’s included with DDP Yoga, have I? Mostly because I haven’t actually tried it yet. Again it’s in three stages, and I guess I’m more or less doing the first level, which is to cut out processed foods and start eating “real” food. The later levels begin to cut out dairy and gluten and that’s not for me right now – but if I get to a stage where I stop seeing results with DDP Yoga and my current healthy eating plan, I’ll definitely look at it more deeply.

So there is my review of DDP Yoga. For the first time in my life I’m actually exercising regularly – daily – and really enjoying it, and on Week 7 I’ve already lost 8lbs and 15 inches, which is a really good start. If you’ve tried it, I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with it – and do leave a comment if you have any questions!

http://ddpyoga.com/

Healthy Living Regime … The Reboot!

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At 18, size 10-12, 9.5 stone

At 18, size 10-12, 9.5 stone

OK so I have had a weight problem for most of my adult life, that much is obvious. When I fell pregnant with my daughter, back in 1993, I was 9.5 stone and a size 10-12. After I had Katie I went up to about 12 stone, size 14, and then after I had Dan I had post natal depression which I ate my way out of – ballooning over the months to a size 16-18. Every now and then I decide to do something about my weight and manage to lose half a stone, but then I get stuck, get fed up and put on 10 pounds – and so the pattern has continued, for the last 18 years, leaving me at somewhere between an 18 and 22, depedning on the brand of clothes.

Back in 2012 I started yet another healthy living regime, this time under the watchful eye of Helen Yarnold of Your Happy Size. I was at my absolute heaviest – 16 stone 10 pounds – and I was determined. This time I was not dieting but making sensible decisions about what to eat (and drink – I think beer and wine is actually a far bigger problem for me than food) and increasing my exercise, including walking, swimming and aquafit in the routine. Over six months I lost a massive 18 pounds. Then Christmas happened, I got a bit stuck, I stopped working with Helen (and I can’t even remember why!) and gradually the weight crept back on…

Summer 2014, around 16 stone and size 20-22- not my heaviest, and certainly not my most flattering look!

Summer 2014, around 16 stone and size 20-22- not my heaviest, but certainly not my most flattering look!

Since then I’ve done some calorie counting and some Slimming World and some gym and some swimming and each time I’ve managed to lose half a stone, then got stuck, got bored and put on ten pounds…. So when this latest (and last!!) healthy living regime began I was back at 16 stone (224 pounds), fat and unhappy.

But then we went to America for Wrestlemania, and I was shocked by how big people were there, and I resolved to get fitter myself, and I met Diamond Dallas Page, and I had a look at his DDP Yoga …. and I really do believe I am on a permanent healthy living regime now!

The first big change is that I’ve finally discovered an exercise I can do every day that I LOVE! Yes, I really enjoy Aquafit but it’s not something you can just get up and do in the morning. But for the last seven weeks I’ve been doing DDP Yoga at least 3 and usually 6 days a week and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet! Review of DDP Yoga coming soon.

beer-422138_640The second change is I’ve decided to address my attitude to alcohol. Now I wouldn’t say I have a problem with drink – but alcohol has definitely become a part of life that I need to work on. For years now we’ve been in the habit of going to the pub two or three times a week and having two or three pints, and then coming home and sharing a bottle of wine, and probably having a bottle on at least one other day too. And when I sat down and worked out the alcohol units and calories I was consuming, I was shocked. You’re talking 35-40 units a week at least, and around 3000 calories….. Which is not healthy by any standards! (I should ahve known I had a problem when I had some surgery a couple of years ago and was hedging the answers when the nurse asked me about my alcohol intake…) So I started by ditching the beer and switching to gin and slimline tonic, which reduces the figures to 25-30 units and 1600 calories … but that’s still too much. The problem is I like having a glass of wine, I like going to the pub – so Steve and I have now made an agreement that we will either  go to the pub or  have wine at home – but not both on the same night. And so far that’s working out well … and in terms of units and calories it puts it at around 14 units and 700 empty calories a week, which is much better!

I’m trying to drink more water – at least 1.5 litres a day. That’s a struggle – I drink a lot when I’m doing DDPY but then forget for the rest of the day. But I’m working on it.

And of course I’m making sensible decisions with food too. I originally started following Slimming World principles (though not going to the groups) but I found I was underestimating syn values so that probably wasn’t the best way to go. I also find it hard to monitor portion sizes with Slimming World – so I end up eating tonnes of “free” foods like pasta. So now I’ve reverted to calorie counting using My Fitness Pal, and so far that’s going well. It means nothing is a “syn” and if I want a bag of crisps in the pub I can have one …. so long as I have the calories spare. I’ve set the limit at 1300 calories a day but because of the exercise I’m doing I could actually have a few more, and I do at weekends generally – but I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.
scale-403585_640So how is it going so far? Well, I’m 6.5 weeks into it – next weigh in comes on Friday. But as of last Friday I’d lost 8lbs, which didn’t feel like a huge amount to me. But better than that, I have lost 15 inches from my calves, thighs, hips, waist and chest and this is huge news – in fact, I can actually see the difference in my hips and I have a waist again! And it’s made me realise that the figure on the scales is actually not the whole picture… the DDP Yoga is turning fat to muscle and as that’s denser it weighs more…

I really wish I’d started blogging in my first week, with my first experience of DDP Yoga, but I didn’t get round to it – but from here on I’m going to try and update every Friday, and we’ll see where it goes!

Health Living Regime Week 25 results

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Realised that I haven’t updated my Healthy Living Regime here for weeks …. probably because I seem to have been stuck for weeks! The last time I wrote was on week 14 and I was thrilled that I’d lost 15lbs – over a stone!! Well I lost another couple of pounds in the following fortnight and then got stuck at 17lbs. I put on a pound, lost a pound, put on two, lost one, put on one, lost two, stayed the same ….. Aaargh! Very frustrating because apart from a couple of weeks when I intentionally didn’t calorie count I was still doing aquafit a couple of times a week, still calorie counting.

Anyway, last week was week 25 and when I got on the scales this morning I was chuffed to see I lost another 2lbs bringing the overall total to 18. Great news for me – I finally feel like I’m past a stumbling block and hopefully that will inspire me to lose another couple of pounds before Xmas. OK I was hoping for a pound a week, and I’ve fallen behind – but it’s still going in the right direction! My clothes are definitely looser (I’ve started having to wear a belt on my favourite jeans) and people who haven’t seen me for a while have commented, unprompted, on my weight loss, which is wonderful!

So the plan is this. I want to bring my total weight loss to at least 20lbs by the 24th December. Then I’ll ease off for a couple of weeks to get through Xmas and my birthday – though I’ll still be reasonably sensible. Then it’s back to the full on healthy living regime on 7th January, with a goal of losing 36lbs between then and my summer holiday in August – that’s 1.125lbs a week, and eminently doable if I just put my mind to it!

Healthy Living regime week 14

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Still following the healthy lifestyle regime and its going really well. Week 12 wasn’t fab as I put on a pound – but that week involved a trip to Thorpe Park and pizza, a trip to the Harry Potter Studios and curry and a three course lunch to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday, so it’s no wonder really ( though I did think all the walking would have helped – but maybe it did, maybe I’d have put more on without it!)

Week 13 saw no loss, no gain. It was an emotional week as I took Katie to university in Sussex and felt somewhat bereft and consumed vast quantities of alcohol to numb the emptiness!

Week 14 and I am back on track. Two pounds lost, whoopee!! That means I have lost 15 pounds in total – I can now officially say I’ve lost over a stone! Continue reading

Healthy Living regime – week 11 results

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OK so I’ve not been very good at updating this part of the blog – but that doesn’t mean I’ve been neglecting the new healthy lifestyle. In fact the opposite is true. Following Helen Yarnold of 12-14 Fitness‘s advice I’ve been eating less, exercising more and … da daaaaaaaaa … after just 11 weeks I have lost 14 pounds – yes, that’s a whole stone!

This is the first time in my life I’ve ever managed to lose a stone. I’ve tried Weightwatchers, Slimming World, calorie counting, other crazy and not so crazy diet plans and I’ve always lost the first half stone fairly easily, but then got stuck, got bored, gone back to “normal” eating and put on 10 pounds. I think all those diets have just made me feel I was missing out in some way, which meant they weren’t sustainable for more than a few weeks.

This time round it seems to be working. On Helen’s advice Continue reading

Healthy Living regime – week 5 results

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And so it all grinds to a halt …. One of the reasons I am as big as I am is that every time I diet I lose half a stone fairly easily but then get stuck. I get stuck for two or three weeks and then get frustrated, bored and fed up. I start eating normally again and then put on 10lbs – all the weight I lost plus some. And that has been the story of my life for the last 20 years – lose half a stone, put on ten pounds, lose half a stone, put on ten pounds – and my weight has crept up and up and up.

So last week I was celebrating losing 8lbs over four weeks and looking forward to doing some exercise with my daughter. This week I did Continue reading

Healthy Living regime – week 4 results

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Another good week – in fact an excellent week. Steve cooked but chose all the recipes from the BBC Good Food healthy section so I’ve eaten really well and also done more exercise – four decent walks and a 500m swim (the first time I’ve swum properly in ages – amazed I managed 20 lengths but really enjoyed it). Katie (my daughter) is also on a keep fit mission so we have decided to join the local leisure centre on their 6 week special offer price and go swimming and to some of the classes together.

Anyway, end result was a massive 3lb loss, bringing my total weight loss over the last 4 weeks to 8lbs  – go me!