Learning to Love Yourself

I have been meaning to write about this topic for a long time. I was recently spurred to action by a conversation with a friend where we shared tales of how we speak to ourselves. If we are dealing with a friend who has fallen off the wagon or fallen short of a weight goal, we are supportive and constructive in our responses. When we are dealing with ourselves we are judgmental and cruel.

I have spoken to a lot of people about weight loss goals over the last few years, and one common misconception a lot of people seem to have is that meeting our weight goals will magically make us go from hating our bodies to loving our bodies. Not true. Being comfortable in your own skin is a skill that needs to be practiced from the very first day you start practicing portion control or a new exercise regime.

I am by no means an expert on being completely kind and loving to oneself, but I have come a long way from being a completely self-destructive bulimic (in large part thanks to DDP Yoga), so I thought I would share what has worked for me in the hopes it can help others to do the same.

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Early in my DDP Yoga journey, I stumbled up the story of the woman in this picture, Taryn Brumfitt. She is my hero. She loves her body before (when she was a fitness model) and she loves it after (with a “mom” body). She is a phenomenal role model for how we should treat ourselves.

Women can be especially prone to hating their bodies, and harboring negative thoughts about themselves. We should love everything about ourselves, and we have to actively and consciously work on undoing all the years of negativity we have had drummed into us from various sources in society.

I’m betting the majority of us who do DDP Yoga took it up because we wanted to lose weight. That’s great. It’s great to be on a healthy path and a journey of self-improvement. However, DDP Yoga is all about health, and a happy, positive view of ourselves is part of that health. It is not a good idea to wait to get to your weight goals and assume that self-acceptance will magically happen once you get there. It won’t. The journey to our weight goals and good health will be a lot smoother and more enjoyable if we feel comfortable in our own skin from the get-go.

I spent a long time hating myself and my body. During that time I thought of my body as a completely separate entity from myself, and I worked against it. By “worked against it” I mean I abused it with eating disorders, substance abuse, dangerous workout regimes, followed by a period of completely giving up, which led to an unhealthy sedentariness and overeating. Thanks to the lessons of DDP Yoga, and the supportive community I found with it, I finally started to think of my body as part of me. That led me to the realization that I needed to get to a place where I loved and appreciated my body. Having never done that before, it didn’t come naturally to me. I took a series of conscious and proactive steps toward accepting and loving myself. Here’s what I did, hope it helps:

Step 1: What don’t you hate?

Write down one thing you love about your body. Something that you really enjoy about it. And no passive aggressive frenemy bullshit like “I love how my ugly fat can be hidden with black clothes.” Something you actually enjoy about your body! Anytime you have a negative thought about your body, read that note of positivity, or say it out loud over and over until you have expelled the negative thought from your mind. Or just think about that part of your body, even when you’re not feeling bad about yourself. Go look at it in the mirror, or post a picture on Instagram. Over time, try to add more and more physical features into the mix.

Step 2: You’re Amazing

Continuing with this theme, think about how amazing your body is, and all the incredible things it has done for you. Take a few minutes to think about one amazing feat that your body did for you, and why you are grateful to your body for it! I’m amazed that my body allowed me to have a painless, natural childbirth. I’m also amazed it ran a marathon and up the Hancock building in spite of what my negative physical therapist predicted it would ever be able to do. Yes my body has stretch marks below my belly button, but it gave me a beautiful daughter, and allowed me to have a perfectly natural and painless birth of a 9 lb 7 oz baby who was born in under 20 minutes. Yes I have a pretty gross damaged vein on my right ankle, but that ankle is part of the legs that ran twenty-six point frickin’ two miles after only 1.5 hours of sleep!

It’s certainly important to love how your body looks. But it’s also really important not to lose track of all the other things your body does for you. Appearance is just one facet of our bodies’ worth. Our bodies are these amazing machines that have allowed us to every wonderful experience we have ever had, and have enabled us to achieve any success we have ever enjoyed. They have been our loyal companions, and the least we could do is take the time to appreciate the things they have done for us instead of calling them “fat” or “ugly.”

Step 3: Eye of the Beholder

When we look at ourselves, we don’t look at the whole picture; we hone in on one specific feature, usually the one we like the least, and amplify the impact is has out of all proportion. When we look at other people, we look at the whole person. We still see their flaws but we see them in context. The person may have a crooked tooth or a pimple, but their attractive features outweigh their shortcomings.

Think about nice things have other people have said about your body or your looks? What do you get compliments on most frequently?

How do you take compliments? Do you allow your own self-esteem interfere with your ability to accept the praise, or do you thrive a little too much on it, as if you were trying to replace an internal sense of self worth with external accolades? What can you do to be more at ease with the nice sentiments people offer you?

Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, try to stand back and take in the whole picture. Not just one little blemish or unattractive feature. Also, try to look at the feature that elicited compliments from others and see what it was they saw.

This is an incredibly nerdy reference… We’re probably soulmates if you got it!

 Step 4: Seeking Own Worst Critic, Apply Within.

What thing(s) do you hate most about your body? What makes you shudder when you see it in the mirror, makes you change the clothing options you allow yourself, makes you hide it from other people’s view?

Rather than just reinforcing your feelings of self-loathing, try to really examine what exactly you feel about this feature. Anger, sadness, embarrassment? What exactly is about this feature that evokes this response? Remind yourself that your extra fat, loose skin, wrinkles, zits are just some of cells that make up your body, which in turn is only one part of the many things that make up you. Remind yourself of all the other things that make up you. Are you a great mom, do you excel in your career, are you an amazing cook, a great friend?

To gain some perspective, if you saw someone else with this “shortcoming”, would you think they should feel that way? Would you be as revolted if you saw it in someone else? (spoiler: the answer is no!) What would you tell someone else by way of advise about an issue they had with their body in order to give them some perspective, and to help them love their body as a whole, and to stop focusing on one minor flaw? Try to see yourself that same way, and to counsel yourself the way you would counsel someone else in your situation.

Please think of more ways to love everything about your body, even the things you dislike the most. When you are evaluating your own body, please remember that you are a much harsher judge of how you look that anyone else. In this article from the (ugh) Daily Mail, women consistently judge themselves as being heavier than they actually are in a silhouette test. You do this too!

And this Dove short film speaks for itself. Please watch it; it’s really powerful:

I hope this helps. If you think of anything else that could benefit those on a similar journey please let me know and I will add it it. Loving ourselves is an evolving journey and these are only the first steps. I am still on this path, and I will share more in the future as I learn more myself.

Inspirational, Eh? It’s Steve Doyle!

DDP Yoga Instructors in Mexico

DDP Yoga Instructors in Mexico

I first met Steve in Mexico, but we had worked together on the Hardship Fund for a long time before that. Steve is Canada’s first ever DDP Yoga instructor, a really important member of the Hardship Fund, and a generally amazing guy. Steve also happens to be in amazing shape, and through teaching both Karate and DDP Yoga he exemplifies a wonderful commitment to health and self-improvement. Steve is in such great physical condition that you would think he was always in great shape. That’s not the case, and his journey and insight will be of great benefit to anyone on the path to health and fitness.

You have been doing martial arts for a long time. What is your history with martial arts?

I’ve been doing the martial arts for years. I started in a style of Karate called Shorei Kan and trained that for around 3 years. I then took some Judo for a short time. After starting in Corrections I decided I needed to get back into the arts. I found Kyokushin Karate and have been training that for the last 20 years.

How do DDP Yoga and martial arts complement one another?

My style of Karate is a heavy contact style with very little protective gear. Injuries are imminent. A lot of traditional exercises are ballistic, including stretching. DDP Yoga is the ying to the yang of karate for me. DDP Yoga has allowed me to become more flexible and really strengthened my core. The balance is struck with the minimal impact and alignment that DDP Yoga gives vs the ballistic nature and high impact of Karate.

You’re in such amazing shape, it’s hard to imagine you any other way. Was this the case when you started DDP Yoga?

No unfortunately this wasn’t always the case. Before my twins were born I was 187lbs at 6.9% body fat. I was ripped. I then injured my back doing a heavy lift. My back has never been the same. I ate and drank a lot. Didn’t do much else. My job was mostly behind a desk at the prison. I continued to train Karate but basically gave up the fighting aspect. At my heaviest I was 230 lbs with a huge (in my eyes) gut. You can see in some of my “before” pictures.

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I started DDP Yoga almost immediately after my last serious back episode. I weighed in at 228(I think) and couldn’t put my socks on by myself because of the back pain. After years of abuse of karate my knees and hip were arthritic. It was everything I had in me to start going. Within 1 week I could feel the difference.

What was your introduction to DDP Yoga?

2 words. “Stupid back” A fellow karateka asked what was wrong and I told him that I had re injured my back. I was pointed toward the DDP Yoga website. I watched Arthur’s video and within 24 hours had ordered the Max Pac and had started energy.

What were your initial goals with Ddp yoga? How long did it take you to meet them?

My initial goals with DDP Yoga were simply to alleviate back pain. The more I trained the more my goals shifted. I started July 5th 2013, by the beginning of August my back pain had become dramatically reduced. Within 4 months I was basically pain free. I had a new lease on life.

What has been your biggest achievement with DDP Yoga?

Well this is a toss up. Becoming the First Certified Instructor in Canada and doing a psycho pushup. For most the instructor makes sense and for a few they understand the psycho push up. So let me try to explain. Becoming Canada’s first Certified Instructor is a huge deal for me. Very exciting and a very difficult challenge. Being one of the first 10 in the world (not really sure where I fall in lol) was an amazing experience with some amazing people.

 

Now as for the psycho push up, I’ve never been able to hold any kind of inversion in my life. I set a goal to do this particular inversion and started practicing. I worked diligently at it. Kicking up and falling down. Squishing my face in the mat and knocking furniture about. Doing all these slow burn push-ups I could feel the strength I needed developing in my arms and shoulders. I remember the day I hit it! I was overcome with joy! Man what a feeling. I can’t wait to hit my next big inversion and when I do, I’ll let you know. For now I’m keeping it under wraps.

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What unexpected things has DDP yoga brought to your life?

Wow, a handful of things here. With the heath returning I was able to get back to training Karate as opposed to just teaching Karate. I have gained friends, mentors, and inspirational people from around the world. I can’t wait to get back training with some of these awesome people.

I know you follow DDP’s liquid recommendations. What about the rest of the nutrition plan?

I approach the nutrition plan very much like Dallas’ talk of living life at 90%. I am basically Gluten and Dairy free. My biggest problem with food is I am a chronic overeater and would go back to that if not for using myfitnesspal to track my intake. As a matter of fact you (Liz) were one of my first friends on MyFitnessPal. My wife, Bettina, is one of my biggest supporters by making our meals within the limits that I set for myself. I still slip. I have the odd chocolate bar or small bag of plain chips. I still enjoy a beer or three or maybe a few more…I train very hard to enjoy my few excesses in life.

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The Liquid Diet

Have you encountered any hurdles along the way? How have you overcome them? Are there any hurdles you still cope with?

Most of my hurdles have been food related. I love to eat. I love pasta! We have been able to find some wonderful gluten free pasta so that has helped. As matter of fact I am eating some GF lasagna during this interview. Now it’s just about portion control. When I fall off the food wagon I mentally push that day into the past and reset the very next day. I don’t beat myself up about it. I use myfitnesspal to help track my intake and keep a good guideline for calories in and out. I think I will always struggle with my eating but am prepared to meet that. Just a matter of diligence.

You’re the first ever Canadian DDP Yoga instructor. How did you decide to pursue that goal? How did you meet that goal so quickly?

I think that becoming Certified was just a logical step. 15 years of instructing karate and helping people that way made it easy to try to help people regain their life through DDP Yoga. I couldn’t wait to show others why this is such a great program. I was training DDP Yoga 6 times a week when I applied for the Certification program. Completing that program was foremost in my mind and I attacked it. I worked hard at getting the routines down and trying to understand the flow of each. I trained very much in the style of training kata for Karate. Get the basic forms. Then apply the principles of:

  1. A) Timing and tempo of technique
  2. B) Breath control
  3. C) Points of power and stress

Using these fundamentals, the helpful hand and guidance of Yoga Doc and the others in the certification program, I think, really accelerated me to become Canada’s first DDP Yoga instructor.

What has being a DDP Yoga instructor meant to you? What classes are you teaching?

It’s an opportunity to help those that may not find Karate to be for them. It allows me help more people and develop myself more. The satisfaction I get when I see the joy on someones face when they complete their first full 3 count push up when a few months earlier they couldn’t hold plank for a count of 9 is amazing. Seeing people exceed their own expectations is the greatest gift to me.One of my longest students Heidi can now out plank me and she now inspires me to work harder. It becomes a symbiotic relationship Instructors challenging students then the students challenging the Instructors. It’s an amazing ride and I cant wait for the next new person to walk through my door and experience this.

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I teach 4 nights week 1 hour classes. I have amazing students and am slowly growing. I’m almost scared of when this all goes crazy and the numbers grow exponentially. Scary and exciting at the same time and am really looking forward to it.

You’re a key member of the Hardship fund. How did you get involved? What do you get out of it?

As you know, I was there the night the Hardship Fund came into existence. What an amazing night of kinship and love. I made my own donation to help buy a DVD set. I was then asked if I would like to help oversee the administration of the funds. I accepted and since then we have never looked back. I think to date we have had applications exceeding 102. I am very excited to continue to be a part of this grassroots program.

The program through the administration side and donation side allow me to help someone who may be struggling financially but has the desire and drive to change their life. It allows me to pay it forward by helping those people and allowing them when giving the chance to pay it forward themselves.

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What’s next for you?

Next for me in DDP Yoga is getting certified for Level 2. I’m also looking forward for when the app comes out this year. Exciting times. I’m also looking at opening my own studio to teach Karate and DDP Yoga. There’s nothing like having your own space.

I really want to continue to train hard and hopefully I can inspire someone to change their life.

If you're not familiar with Black Crow, let me assure you, this is crazy difficult!

If you’re not familiar with Black Crow, let me assure you, this is crazy difficult!

What would you say to someone who is considering DDP Yoga?

I would say “Try it, you’ll be surprised because I sure was” I follow that up explaining that I’ve been a gym rat, I used to run, I’ve been an athlete most of my life until my injuries brought that to an end. I explain how DDP Yoga has allowed me to pursue those goals again. I’ve been thinking I would like to do the Tough Mudder before I turn 51.

Before and After

 

 

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.

Dave_4

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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4 Half Marathons in a Month… Goldilocks Style!

Having bombarded Facebook, Twitter and other places online, I promise this is the last time I will mention this: PLEASE consider donating to the JDRF here. This is one of the few, perhaps only, charities that supports Type 1 Diabetes research and patient support. All other charities and funding goes to Type 2 Diabetes, which dwarfs Type 1 research. This is particularly tragic or unfair as Type 1 Diabetes is not preventable, nor is it treatable by simple diet and lifestyle changes, so research is the only way it can be dealt with. I would love to raise $10 for every mile I ran, but honestly I don’t care if you donate via my JustGiving page; I just want money to get to the JDRF. It’s a really important cause!Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 12.15.42 PM

A few months ago, I pledged to run a half marathon every Saturday in October in order to collect money for Type 1 Diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes). I picked this charity in honor of my late Uncle and a friend from secondary school, as well as numerous other friends and acquaintances who live with this condition. Although the races have come and gone, it’s not too late to donate: click here for more information! My initial goal had been to get one race in under 2 hours, but thanks to a hip injury from running in August, I had the opportunity to check my ego, and actually heed DDP’s advice to do all exercise in your heart rate zone, not just DDP Yoga. I switched my 2-hour goal to trying to do at least one race entirely in my heart rate zone. Here’s a recap of the races, and the comedy of errors that they amounted to:

October 4th, Run for the Hills: Not enough sleep

When I ran a full marathon back in May, it ended up being a a grueling endurance test thanks to a distractible barrista at a popular coffee chain that shall remain nameless. Let’s call it Schmarbucks. Thanks to their inability to hear the word “decaf”, I ended up getting 1.5 hours of sleep before heading out for a 26.2 mile run. Shame on me, the day before my first October half marathon I went back to Schmarbucks and ordered a venti decaf Americano with an extra espresso shot. They got 3 of the 4 parts of that order correct. I felt shaky about an hour after drinking it, and pulled the empty cup out of the trash only to find that they decaf box hadn’t been checked. I took some Zzzquil before bed, and then again at 3am when I still wasn’t asleep. I spent the next 3 hours tossing and turning, playing Words with Friends with my European friends, and, most importantly, not sleeping. At 6am, my alarm went off, so I got out of bed, and after precisely zero minutes of sleep, I got in the car and headed to Moraine. Halfway through the race, the Zzzquil finally decided to kick in, and there were a couple of miles where I struggled to keep my eyes open. I have never taken heroin, but I am reasonably sure you get the same high as you get at the turnaround point in a race when you realize you aren’t in dead last place. I somehow made it to the end, where the organizers were cheering people to the finish line and encouraging us to sprint. I had been planning to forgo sprinting the last stretch but there enthusiasm was so infectious I couldn’t resist. On my way home, I bought a Scharmbucks (I can’t stay mad) so I didn’t fall asleep in my car. My husband found me later that day asleep in bed cuddling my venti coffee cup… yes, I have a problem.

Time: 2:21:48.2

October 11th, Prairie State: Too much sleep, too little water

Having proven that I can run a half marathon with no sleep I decided to never, ever test that theory again. The day before the Prairie State half-marathon I didn’t drink any coffee, decaf or otherwise, nor did I trust anyone else to prepare hot drinks for me. Instead, I stuck to camomile tea that I prepared myself. Nevertheless I was nervous about waking up on time as I am not a morning person. It would be particularly embarrassing to miss any of these races as I had made such a big deal about doing them. My husband has dealt with enough of my pre-race jitters that he gets so scared of making noise that he can’t get to sleep, which resulted in him getting in and out of bed a few times as I was trying to get to sleep. Editing out the part of the story that doesn’t reflect well on me, my husband ended up sleeping in the guest room and I was so mad I didn’t get asleep until about 2am. I had my alarm set for 6:30 am which left plenty of time to get dressed, eat breakfast and hydrate properly, drive to the satellite parking, take a shuttle to the race site and warm-up properly in time for the 8am start time. Waking up at 7:38am, which is what actually happened, did not leave me enough time to do all those things. Instead, I woke up, saw the time, screamed the F-word, jumped out of bed and ran straight to the car grabbing whatever clothing and race bibs I could as I passed them, drove in a semi-legal fashion to the satellite parking while getting dressed, ran barefoot to the shuttle where I finished getting dressed (discovering that I had not brought any socks) and spent a very stressful 10 minutes comparing how long Google Maps thought it would get to the race to how long I had left before the start of the race. When the bus finally got to the race grounds, I sprinted off the bus and straight into the start chute as one of the last runners to enter the race, and just kept going for another 13.1 miles. Having not eaten or drunk anything, the first couple of miles before I hit a water station were the worst, but once I got some water I was good. Between the lack of food and the adrenaline-fueled start, my heart rate was a mess so I gave up on trying to stay in my zone but it was a fun race, and it was nice to get back to the first half marathon I ever did.

Time 2:25:15.0

October 18th, Des Plaines River Trail: Too much water

I managed to get just about the correct amount of sleep before the Des Plaines River Trail race, and arrived to the start site at a good time to warm-up before the race. The weather was pretty cold, but tolerable until about 3 minutes before the start of the race when it started raining that very light, cold rain that feels like hundreds of tiny razors. Luckily, the vast majority of the race had tree cover, and it was the most beautiful race course I have ever seen. The trail was lined with whatever type of tree it is (yes, I got my degree from a botany department, can’t you tell?) that has large, bright yellow leaves, and the trail was a carpet of yellow, orange and red leaves. It was like running through a painting. I saw a number of runners taking photos as they ran, which is quite unusual for a race. I didn’t stop running when I took a photo, hence the blurriness. 1614535_10101413629616767_5520314335472699528_oAt the 7 mile mark we found where all the rain that had been falling went when we encountered and underpass with 6 – 8″ of standing water. Some braver runners ran straight through it, but I did the math on how much I didn’t want to run for an additional 6 miles with cold, wet feet, and joined the other runners who climbed along the pile of rocks along the side. This was my favorite race of the month, and between the beautiful scenery and really friendly organizers I will definitely be running this one again.

Time: ??

October 25th, Monster Dash: Just right

The good folks at Schmarbucks once again tried to thwart my efforts to sleep before a race, but luckily, I drank the coffee early enough in the morning that most had been metabolized before bedtime, and the remainder was dealt with by my Zyrtec. During the relatively short bout of insomnia I had that night I realized that the stressful part about this challenge wasn’t doing the races; it was overcoming my disordered sleep patterns and getting to them on time. The morning of the race, I drove out to Chicago and painted my face to look like a Zombie with a mullet wig (a nod to my desire to see Eugene from Walking Dead be dispatched by some hungry zombies post haste). Most people had made some effort to dress up, and the race was a lot of fun, despite being run by the jerks at Team Ortho (long story)! The course started at Avery field and went 6.5 miles south along Lake Michigan which was beautiful. It was a little daunting on the way back seeing the Hancock Building which now looked as if it were about 6″ tall, and realizing we had to more-or-less run all the way back to it. It turned out that the Komen Foundation had a charity walk at the same time, and a lot of Monster Dash runners accidentally took water from their aid station. Luckily, of all charities, we don’t need to feel to bad about stealing their water! I did learn a valuable lesson during the race: if you plan to run in a wig, go ahead a splurge on a high quality one. Otherwise, the second your sweat hits the $10 wig you found on Amazon, you’re going to spend the remainder of the race feeling like you have lice! As this was the last race of the season, I decided to dispense with paying attention to my heart rate and go for pace instead. I got the first 10 miles in under 10 min/mile, and the last 3 miles were a little slower, but overall I was happy to get closer to my pre-injury pace. I had parked in a structure, and on the way back to my car I scared the tar out of a rather large bodybuilder as  I was coming out of an elevator. Once I convinced him I wasn’t actually undead, we had a good laugh about it.

Time: 2:11:27

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I was meant to bookmark the month with a Spartan Sprint but my immune system had other ideas, so I typed this up instead. For my future goals, I am going to try and register for the 2015 Hustle Up The Hancock race tomorrow morning. I have been really looking forward to this, so I hope I get a place. I want to run a full marathon (I’m thinking the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon in August) and to do the Racine 70.3 ironman next year…. stay tuned!

My Inspirations: Hey Girl, it’s Craig Funk

Craig Funk is the owner and trainer of Funk Fitness, the newest certified DDP Yoga instructor, host of multiple (amazing) DDP Yoga workshops, and has amazing strength and physique.

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I first met Craig at his 2013 DDP Yoga workshop. Obviously I noticed his amazing physique and strength, especially when he did Psycho Push-ups in the middle of the workout. Craig is one of those fitness moguls that are in such amazing shape, and holds themselves with such confidence that you can’t imagine that they were every any other way. I was bowled over to learn that was not the case with Craig. It’s beyond inspiring to see how far Craig has journeyed, and really important for people to read that it’s possible to go from being and overweight, bullied kid to being a successful, popular, modern-day Adonis.

Q: You have one of the most amazing physiques I have ever seen. Have you always been into sports and fitness?

A: I actually was very overweight as a kid. I was close to 250 pounds my sophomore year of high school. I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when I was 15 years old because I was getting bullied at school on a daily basis. From there I started wrestling at age 16 and then got into Kettlebells half way through the season. MMA kinda took over after high school and by the age of 19 I stepped into the cage. I never really played any other kinds of sports. I’ve always been into combat sports where it’s a you versus the other guy. Ya know, the stuff that typically takes 2 balls.

Q: What do you attribute your physique to?

A: Kettlebells and DDP YOGA. I also do a lot of calisthenic work. Mix that in with grappling and sparring, plus a day or two of circuit training, and you’re gonna build somethin’! DDP YOGA 10 Second Push Ups play a huge part ;)

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Q: You’re the owner of Funk Fitness. How and when did you get to be a successful gym owner?

A: I was about 22 years old. It started off very small. One day I decided that Funk Fitness would be a pretty cool name, since everyone knew my family for working out so much. There wasn’t a lesson plan for a business or how to start a gym. I just kinda did what I thought was the right thing to do and offered to people the things that I believe in for health and fitness. To this day I’ve done zero advertising and have gone 100% on word of mouth. But as the gym grew, I decided to contact the guys I knew who had successful dojos and gyms. Taking advice and changing things accordingly from them and my lovely fiancee. But as of today the bills are paid and members are happy! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Q: In addition to being a gym owner, you’re also an MMA fighter. How did you start training for that, and how does that fit into your DDP Yoga and Kettlebell regime?

A: I’ve actually backed off MMA and decided to sit on the smart side of the cage. The outside! haha I do a lot of coaching now. I still do my best to get in to train with as many professional fighters as I can to know I still got what it takes.
Q: I believe you suffered a pretty serious back injury. How did that happen? Was that before or after you started DDP Yoga? How did you recover from that?

A: Yes, I was stacked on top of my head from another MMA fighter and then driven down with my bodyweight and his at the same time. Something cracked and popped in my lower back. I went about 2 years living in unbearable pain and noticing my hips and knees were paying the price too. I then found DDP YOGA and never went back. I followed the eating guidelines and lowered the inflammation in my body, and did DDP YOGA up to 3x a day! I’m 100% pain free!

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Q: How and when did you discover DDP Yoga? What were you hoping to get out of it when you began?

A: I woke up at 5:45am on a Saturday morning. Getting ready to head to the the airport to go on a cruise with my now future wife, I sat on the couch and saw a video advertised on Facebook. It was Arthur’s video (the extended cut). When I saw that Diamond Dallas Page was the creator of this program, it instantly caught my attention. I told myself that the moment I returned home, I would buy his program. I did, I ordered on a Monday night, the program came by Thursday. I started Friday morning and I never went back. I was praying for a miracle to stop the lower back, hip, and knee pain. And thanks to DDP YOGA, I got just that! This is a miracle program that is not a fad, and will be alive and well for a very long time. I will never stop!

Q: What have you gotten out of DDP Yoga that you didn’t get from your other exercise forms?

A: Functionality! More flexibility and 100% pain free lifestyle. From sitting in a hunting blind, going on a long car ride, practicing martial arts, being active with my kid, I am 100% pain free!! If I felt any better, I’d be dangerous!

Q: You’ve hosted one or two popular DDP Yoga workshops. How did you get involved in organizing those events? What was your favourite part of that?

A: 4 actually! I had such a belief in what this program can do for people, I absolutely had to get in touch with DDP himself and set this up for people in my home town and state to get a chance to train with the man who literally created a program that changed and gave me my life back!

Q: You’re training for your DDP certification. How has that experience compared to your experience of teaching other fitness classes?

A: I am now officially the 1st DDP YOGA Instructor in Michigan! Knowing how to teach a class and being comfortable talking to large groups of people really helps! But DDP YOGA is it’s own animal! This is one of my favorite classes to teach at the gym! Such great energy!!

Q: What’s next for you? How are you going to integrate your DDP Yoga certification into the current classes at Funk Fitness?

A: I’ve already started working with a core group of guys who really needed this program. I worked with them through my entire certification, and they have really spread the word and every time I teach a class, there is a new to several new faces! This isn’t just a fad workout, it’s a lifestyle! Word travels fast, especially when you see results like this program can provide when you put in the work!

Q: Back to you! What is your proudest achievement?

A: Honestly, Being awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. I also have 3 goals on a piece of paper that I look at every day. 1. Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 2. Black Belt in American Karate. 3. DDP YOGA Instructor. DDP YOGA has played a huge part in my life, because without it, I wouldn’t be able to do any kind of training at all! I will spend the rest of my life spreading the knowledge and promoting this program to those in need. I 100% believe in this system!

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Q: Is there anything you still struggle with?

A: My goal in DDP YOGA is to get my foot up and leg completely straight in the standing leg lift. I am 100% more flexible, but that is something I am working on and I will get to! Never Stop Pushing.

Q: What would you say to anyone considering DDP Yoga?

A: Without question, without hesitation, without a doubt in my mind, I will always say this is a miracle program. There is nothing else like it on the planet. It is going to be around forever. This is an absolutely amazing lifestyle and I could not stronger recommend that you get involved in DDP YOGA!

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Q: Where can we find you?

A: Funk Fitness in Brighton Michigan! Check our gym out on Facebook! If you’re in Michigan, stop in for a DDPYOGA workout sometime! I have people that come from hours away just to feel the love and positive energy inside the walls of Funk Fitness. Everyone is welcome!!

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