Athlete Profile: Deb DaSilva

by Erin Weiss-Trainor, January 15th, 2009.
Deb, August 2006
Deb, August 2006
PN community member Deb DaSilva’s transformation journey began like so many
others: she found herself struggling with her appearance and struggling to get
into her clothes. Also like many others, Deb had been in this position before,
letting good habits slip and her weight steadily creep up. Deb knew something
had to give. She didn’t want to go back over and over. Changes had to happen.
She wanted to look better and feel healthier in 2007 – and make these changes
stick for good.
Deb started with what Precision Nutrition categorizes as Level 1 nutrition
habits: she focused on eating the right kinds of foods, in the right amounts, at
the right time. For Deb the biggest challenge and change was the carbohydrates.
She needed to kick her sugar habit and remove much of the starchy carbs from her
diet, so that she was eating frequent meals comprised mostly of proteins,
vegetables and fruits. She added several hours of exercise per week. These were
simple but significant changes.
From the beginning, Deb expected that “slow progress is good progress”. She
was patient and consistent. But despite sticking to her plan and doing a lot of
the right things, Deb found that she spent most of the year seesawing within a 5
lb range – mostly losing inches off her hips without any change to her
predominantly “apple” shape. In the latter half of 2007, she even switched up
her training to include free weights and high intensity interval training
without any luck. Deb suspected she carried more bone and muscle, as people
always thought she looked lighter than her actual weight of 172-177 lbs (around
78-79 kg), but with all the changes she had made, she found it hard to believe
that this was the best she could be.
September 2007
September 2007
Despite putting in a lot of effort, Deb still didn’t feel good about her
shape. But instead of getting discouraged, she made up her mind to change it.
She needed to find out why she carried weight where she did. Over the course of
the year, Deb did her own research and armed herself with information to make
the right changes.
The Internet can both help and hinder health information seeking. Access to
an endless number of articles often results in more confusion than direction.
It’s hard not to sample from the Internet buffet and question if what you’re
doing is right. It’s easy to be enticed into trying something new and different
and stray from your course. It’s tempting to blame the strategy.
This was not the case for Deb — and this is where her journey differs from
others. Her commitment to healthy habits over the year was consistent and solid.
The more she searched for answers for her plateau, the more her findings
confirmed she was doing the right things… but they also raised more questions.
Deb’s instincts told her that something was off. Why was it so hard to change
her body shape and weight?
Deb began to suspect that hormonal and metabolic issues were hampering her
body’s ability to burn fat and were preventing it from responding to strategies
that work for most other people. Deb sought out the services of Krista Schaus, a certified strength coach with Defining Edge
Fitness and PN’s Lean Eating Program. The concept of using Biosignature Analysis
to pinpoint where her body might be stuck made sense. It didn’t take long to
confirm that her intuition was right.
The results from the assessment provided the first clues about why Deb’s body
was clinging to its fat so stubbornly. It was a triple whammy for Deb: her
readings indicated she was highly cortisol sensitive, carbohydrate intolerant
and insulin resistant. As Deb outlined some of her past health- and
thyroid-related issues during her first meeting with Krista, Krista’s initial
thoughts were that Deb was going to be “one of the most challenging clients” she
had worked with — adding quickly, “hormonally, not personally”!
Krista immediately recommended that Deb see Dr. Hui, a world renowned doctor
in functional medicine, to dig deeper into the causes and potential solutions
for Deb’s thyroid and hormonal issues. While Deb endured the 4 month waiting
list to see Dr. Hui, Krista helped her implement some basic concepts she’d
learned from her mentors, Dr. John Berardi and Charles Poliquin:
  1. It’s often the simple things that hold people back. Are
    they eating too much in general or too much of a certain food? Are they
    exercising enough and with the appropriate intensity?
  2. Do not attempt too many changes at once. A few
    modifications at a time over the course of many months result in big changes.
These are thoughts summed up by the words of a mentor of different sort:
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
–Dr.
Seuss
With Krista’s direction, Deb added fish oils, digestive enzymes, and cortisol
modulators to her supplement regime. Deb also started working on Level 2
nutritional principles: eating appropriate portions of food relative to her
energy needs and goals, and being conscious of when she incorporated starchier
carbohydrates. This resulted in a diet higher in fats, except for in the morning
and post-workout when tolerance for starchy organic based carbs is improved. Deb
aimed for around 1500-1600 kcal per day, with the odd day of 2000 kcal.
August 2008
August 2008
By June 2008, only 5 months from her first meeting with Krista and one month
before her 40th birthday, Deb found herself down 17 lbs and 5% body fat. Deb had
set a year-end goal of 145 lbs at the beginning of the year, but now only 3 lbs
away, she was starting to plateau and was not seeing her body looking like she
thought it would with the weight loss. But the quick and positive results she
had gotten so far only reinforced her resolve to getting more answers and to
stay the course. Patience and consistency were key.
Her appointment with Dr. Hui came at the right time and turned out to be
another breakthrough in her journey. Deb learned that for women, low levels of
progesterone can impede T3-T4 conversion for the thyroid and inhibit the
metabolic rate, and she’d had a lifetime of low progesterone levels. With
treatment options to reset both hormone levels and thyroid function, and regular
Biosignature assessments to track her progress, Deb was back to feeling
optimistic about reaching her remaining fitness goals. She could now see herself
at 135 lbs and with the body she has always wanted. Her personal outlook on her
shape and size was changing once again.
When Deb’s thyroid antibodies blood test turned up high, Dr. Hui suggested
food allergy testing to rule out food sensitivities and their possible negative
effect on Deb’s thyroid. Interestingly, Deb’s instincts also told her that her
unchanging carb tolerance was tied to a specific food item. Even though her
girth measurements kept going down with each assessment, Deb’s subscapular
reading (shown to correlate well with carbohydrate tolerance) over the course of
the past 7 months was unchanged. Suspecting wheat or sugar to be the culprit,
Deb was shocked to find that the result of the allergy testing revealed a very
high intolerance to dairy. Her consumption of dairy products, including whey
protein, was negatively impacting body composition and thyroid function.
This critical piece of information led Deb to further refine her food
choices, leading to her current nutrition plan. Mornings still include carbs,
but these are now wheat free, with some hard boiled eggs, black coffee and some
nut butters. At work, the mid-morning snack is usually a protein shake (rice
protein) with some green food supplements, and lunch is usually a fish salad
(salmon or sardines) on spinach leaves with some red pepper. For dinner, Deb
generally has a meat protein with a large side of vegetables.
One of the secrets to her dinners is that Deb can “stir-fry anything!”
Whether chicken, turkey sausage or seafood mixed in with some vegetables, the
stir-fry format makes a quick and easy dinner that barely takes any time and is
easy to clean up. Deb is still making changes and plans to eliminate eggs, as
they are something she is somewhat intolerant to as well. But just 3 weeks after
eliminating dairy foods (including whey protein) Deb’s weight started to drop
again and she has been seeing visible and consistent changes in leanness ever
since.
December 2008
December 2008
Just after Christmas in 2007, Deb weighed 167.6 lbs (76 kg). 13 months later,
in January 2009, she’s at 141 lbs (64 kg), 26 pounds (12 kg) lighter. A year
ago, she would have never predicted that she would have so many answers to her
tough questions. But Deb just kept sticking to her instincts, kept pressing for
answers, and seeking those answers from the right people. Her decision to see
Krista changed everything — it changed her body and her mind.
Although the physiological issues have been challenging, it’s been the
psychological issues — Deb’s perception of her body — that has been the biggest
hurdle. Deb often sees herself as much larger than others see her and has
trouble seeing past the problem areas. This has made it harder for Deb to see
the improvement in her physical shape, and it’s affected how she feels others
perceive and relate to her. Constant support from Krista, family, coworkers and
the PN members on the forums have helped her get through this mental battle, and
allowed her to start seeing the smaller Deb.
In all the information Deb has gleaned this past year, the most revealing
piece has been that she is worth the attention she’s given herself. The
improvements Deb’s been able to make to her physical and mental health are well
worth the extra time, money and effort invested to get the right foods and
supplements, the right equipment, and the right support and information.
One year ago, Deb thought she would be stuck forever with an unshapely body
and unanswered questions. Without Krista or Dr. Hui, Deb doesn’t feel she could
have discovered the path to understanding how her body best functions. “They
have helped me see what could be done and set my feet in the right direction.
They have been the key to getting the answers that intuitively make sense to
me.”
From Krista’s perspective Deb’s success has come from the fact that she has
been “independent with her own health care and yet not been afraid to look for
experienced guides along the way when she found herself ‘stuck’ ”. Coupled with
her tenacity for taking the right steps in due time, Deb finds herself at a new
starting point, and in a new direction on her journey to the shape she aspires
to. And whatever curves in the road lie ahead, Deb possesses the secret to her
own success.
“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right
time.”
–Arnold H. Glasgow

About dkpilates

Pilates Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Personnel trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Don teaches Contemporary and the Authentic forms of Pilates, in the later 90's, Don began his study of Yoga. His study of Yoga includes the Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram, and Astanga disciplines. His other areas of interest in fitness include Martial Arts, Spin, Boot Camp Training, and Weight Training. Don has extensive training and certifications from AFFA, IDEA, MadDog, B-Fit and Polestar. Don Continues his of Pilates education with Michelle Larson in Santa Fe New Mexico. His personal philosophy related to fitness is to aid students in a personalized balance of strength, stamina and flexibility. He is dedicated to design a program specifically for his students independent of the season of their life to create functional movement and help them reach their fitness goals.
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