Health

My Inspirations: Mary Callicoat, Certified DDP Yoga Instructor

I am concerned that if I start talking about the things I love and respect Mary, I’ll never stop.

I met Mary for the first time in person at a DDP Yoga workshop but we had been working together on the Hardship Fund prior to that. Mary is one of the most selfless people I have ever met, and is always the first person to volunteer for tasks we need to get done for the fund. On top of all the extra work she does for the Hardship fund, she also runs her own charity that grew out of her own story of triumph over terrible adversity. She took that drive and determination to the DDP Yoga instructor certification process, and blasted through the program at a record pace.

Mary has as amazing story to share and is a wonderful person. I am honored to call her a fellow DDP Yoga instructor, and lucky to call her a friend.

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How did you discover with DDP Yoga?

I think I have to back up to way before that point.  I was bullied nearly all of my life in school, and then married an abusive man. For the near entirety of my life, I was made to feel I was a nobody, not important enough to be cared about, and I was extremely shy.  I have never had good balance or coordination, had many back problems my entire life and just never found my niche so to speak. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome while in college, not long after my daughter was born. After my son was born, I went into a deep depression.  I would go in and out of that dark hole many times after that.  In 2009 I woke up with my ear stuck on my shoulder, unable to move my head at all.  In 2010, after seeing 3 neurologists, 2 chiropractors, a massage therapist and spending countless hours in physical therapy, I had a surgery to remove a badly herniated disc and fuse c3 and c4 in my neck together.  Afterwards, I could move my neck and arms, but still struggled with radiating pain down my arms, sharp pains in my neck and of course the low back pain was still there as always.  I had nearly no muscle tone in my arms, and would drop things all the time. Forget the little kids needing plasticware and sippy cups, mom dropped more than they did! There were no glass dishes in my house, because I broke them all!  In 2013, things took a much darker turn for the worse.  I was divorced and struggling to emotionally free myself from an abusive ex husband that was still in control of my life, even though he didn’t live with me anymore, I herniated 2 more discs in my neck, and began being plagued by some sort of painful, blistering rash that doctors still haven’t figured out.

Between the neurotin to block the radiating nerve pain down my arms and up my face, the antidepressants, the painkillers, the muscle relaxers and the extremely high doses of prednisone, I gained over 30 pounds that year, and I was already overweight.  My doctor looked at me in October and told me my cholesterol levels were through the roof and she would be waiting for a call telling her I had had a stroke or heart attack.

In December, 2013, I went to New Year Eve’s services at my church, and as we prayed the old year out and the new year in, I prayed for God to kill me or heal me.  I told Him if I were hit by a drunk driver on the way home and never woke up, that would be ok with me.  The night of either January 1 or 2, I sat down on the couch to go through my nightly ritual.  Eat until I fell asleep.  As some point, the TV woke me up, with a wrestler’s voice screaming (the TV was up loud!).

I saw DDP on there and watched what was left of the documercial.  I was too lazy to get up to find the remote to change the channel.  I tried really hard to forget about it the next day, but I couldn’t.  The next day, it was on again in the afternoon.  I sat and watched the whole thing.  Then I went online and tried to find every problem I could with the program.  And I found more of Arthur’s story, and Stacey’s story, and tons of blogs and vlogs and nothing negative.

I began to feel like maybe I could do this.  I didn’t want to stand on my head, didn’t want to be part of the ‘crazy’ people that I kept seeing online, but I did want to feel better.  I felt like this program might let me do that.  I have to add here that those people I once thought of as crazy are now closer to me than some of my actual family.  They are the support system that holds me together on my worst days and celebrates with me on my best.  And I think I have become one of the ‘crazy’ people I promised myself I would not become….

What were your original goals with DDP Yoga? 

My original goal was to just feel better.  I told myself I was not giving up my Pepsi, I was not going on some diet.  I was not giving up sugar or dairy.  I was already gluten free, I wasn’t doing anymore than that!  I told myself I was just doing this to help my back, nothing more, nothing less.  I was so unhealthy!  No gluten, so I considered myself to be healthier than most, in fact, when I had first gone gluten free due to an allergy, I had lost a bit of weight. But then, I found all the gluten free goodies and frozen foods and junk and gained it all back.  Due to my back and neck issues and no balance and coordination, I had no fitness levels either.  I was so clumsy when I first started!  I fell so often I would hide and lock the door when I did it so my teens wouldn’t see me and make fun of me.

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Did you achieve those goals? 

Almost immediately I began seeing differences in the pain levels in my back and neck.  It got to the point I was doing energy every day just to ease the pain.  I started in January, and by March, I had cut out the Neurotin completely, and the muscle relaxers and pain killers were only as needed.  By April, the painkillers, muscle relaxers, cholesterol meds, and antidepressants were all gone.

Are there any other ways DDP Yoga has helped your life?

DDP Yoga has changed me in so many ways.  Like I said, I was so unhealthy.  As I began to feel better physically and started participating in the online world, I started changing the way I ate and started losing weight.  As I was able to do things I had never done before in my life, like touching my toes, have balance and coordination, I started to realize my mental state was changing as well.  When I first started, I hid in my bedroom with a locked door to keep the teens out.  I absolutely forbid them from telling their dad what I was doing.  Even though we were divorced, he was still a big loud voice in my head.  The last thing I needed was him making fun of me for trying DDP Yoga.  By November, I had gained so much confidence that I didn’t care anymore if he found out, and even set it up to make sure he would find out.  DDP Yoga gave me a confidence I have never had in my entire life.  The confidence to stand up for myself and for what I want out of life.

Did you experience any obstacles along the way?

I have dealt with little to no support from my teens, lots of jokes at mom’s expense were made when I first started.  I also have had some minor drama situations from my church family and have come to realize that not everyone ‘gets’ it. I have come to realize that everyone has their own battles to fight, and if, when and how they choose to fight that battle is their choice, not mine.  All I can do is be available to help when they ask for it.  I still struggle with a very bad, tight piriformis muscles that cause low back and hip pain. I sit for a living, and it shows!  Thankfully, I have an arsenal of moves from DDP Yoga that I know will help me feel better, I have a really great chiropractor and an amazing support system of DDP Yoga family members that keep me going on the days I don’t feel like hitting the mat.

What are your current goals with DDP Yoga? 

My biggest goal is the one I said I would never want to do…I want to stand on my head.  I want to do inversions so badly!   I still struggle with Black Crow, but someday, I want to be able to go from Black Crow to plank and I want to get a forearm stand.


What made you decide to pursue DDP Yoga certification? 

In the beginning, I never wanted to be an instructor.  Then in August, 2014, my best friend Annie and I went to Hammer’s Fitness for our first ever DDP YOGA workshop.  Afterwards, she made me say not YET to becoming an instructor, instead of never.  Even though I said not yet, I really wasn’t thinking about it, but she planted a seed.  In October, as I was finally standing up to the demons in my head and in my life that had bullied me for so long, I realized I needed to give back.  I felt called to give back.  To take DDP YOGA to those that needed it, to those that felt broken due to abuse.

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How did you find the certification process?

I loved the process.  It was hard, but I enjoyed the challenge.  I signed up the end of November, and planned on being done in April or May. I went back and started counting hours from August, but didn’t have all of them documented. I knew my job was going to keep my very busy for the month of March, so that was out for me.  Things lined up in ways I never expected them to, and I finished and was certified in February.

I loved the mentoring process, of course, I had some great ones!  Having those people I once thought of as ‘crazy’ now being so supportive and helping me through the process was extremely helpful.

What has being a certified instructor done for you?

My goal was to take DDP Yoga to those that felt broken due to abuse. When I started certification process, I began going to the local domestic violence shelter that helped counsel me and get me through the roughest parts of life after my divorce. I also started working with a residential therapeutic foster home for teenage girls.  I love it.  Seeing those people overcome adversities and seeing them achieve new things, the light in their eyes when they ‘get’ a move is extremely rewarding.

I have also begun teaching at a local Community Center, working with those that are broken not so much from abuse, but just from environmental and financial circumstances. I am a full time special education teacher for an online school.  I am currently still trying to find balance to be honest.  Some days, I finish teaching and run out the door to go teach DDP Yoga.

Balance is something I look forward to finding someday.

What’s next for you and DDP Yoga?

I am currently working with another agency to take DDP Yoga there, and I continue to look for other opportunities.   This summer, the goal is to gain a certification in nutrition, to be able to take even more into the those agencies where I teach DDP Yoga.

You’re a member of the Hardship Fund. How did you get involved with that?

I happened to be part of the initial conversation that started the Fund and was invited to be a part of the Fund by Liz Collins.  The experience has been so rewarding.  Especially to those that stick with it and keep in touch.  To see how much they have changed their lives is truly incredible.

You have since started your own charity! Please tell us how that came about:

As I said, I really didn’t want to become an instructor in the beginning of my journey.  It was never a thought that entered my head.  It was only after Annie planted that first seed, and then when I began to really see how much I had changed in my own life that I realized how important DDP Yoga could be for someone that had a shattered spirit.

I was so broken in so many ways when I when I started this journey that I didn’t even know which way to turn.  I have used DDP Yoga and good nutrition to build my life into something new, and I wanted to help others do the same, thus, Building the Broken was born.  I donate my time, mats, heart rate monitors, blocks, yoga straps, and whatever else is needed to the agencies that serve those that have been in some way broken, either through abuse, bullying or other life circumstances.

Building the Broken is not yet a charity or nonprofit, as that takes time and money that I currently don’t have yet. (On a side note, if anyone out there wants to help out with this process, please contact me!) I am finally an official business, which is the first step in the process of becoming a non profit.

In the beginning, I fully planned on contacting agencies and having them tell me to contact them once I was done getting certified. However, it didn’t happen like that at all!  I contacted the first agency in early/mid December and they wanted me there the first of January.  I had no time to save money to buy mats as I originally planned.  I (not so bravely, but with encouragement of a few friends) sent out a Facebook post asking people for used mats.  I could not believe the response that I received.  Within just 15 minutes or so of posting, I had over 45 mats promised to be shipped to me.  I am so thankful for the DDP Yoga family that have generously supported me and Building the Broken by either shipping me mats, buying t-shirts from me, or donating financially.  Diamond Dallas Page even donated mats and 2 combo packs!

Where can people find you?

All of my class times, blogs, the few recipes I have and other information is at Building The Broken You can also follow me on Facebook!

Email Mary

3

Wish I Hadn’t Reddit

Oh internet, how you vex me! I just stumbled onto a “review” of DDP Yoga on Reddit, and as has been the case before, I can’t let this one go without a rebuttal.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. The reviewer, EtherBoo, complains that DDP Yoga is simultaneously not challenging enough and also too challenging (?!?).

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Schrödinger’s yoga? Oh, c’mon, that’s funny dammit!

1. Too Easy?

Let’s take the “not challenging enough” claim first. The reviewer’s background is as follows: he was 300+ lbs, before losing the weight (seriously, congrats!!!) via diet and cardio (Insanity followed by P90X), and found DDP Yoga after P90X left his body needing “a rest”. I could take the chance to detour into one of my rants about how Beach Body systems are universally high impact and injurious -the reviewer had to cut his Insanity attempts short on 3 occasions for injury- but I will try to stay on topic.

The reviewer writes that he jumped right into the Advanced schedule. However, he also claims that the program guide doesn’t advise going to the Diamond Dozen until Week 3, when it is in fact the very first workout on Day 1 of the Advanced Schedule.

Found it!

Found it!

That’s a major flaw in the reviewer’s argument, because going into DDP Yoga workouts without following this tutorial will rob you of the information needed to get the very most out of this workout program, regardless of your background in fitness. The reviewer said he was at an intermediate/advanced level but that doesn’t apply to DDP Yoga. The positions you need to learn and methods of holding poses in DDP Yoga are so unique, that anyone, whether it’s their first time working out, whether they can bench 300, run marathons every weekend, or have a decade of classical yoga under their belt, is at the beginner level when they start DDP Yoga. That’s why the phrase “check your ego” is one of the most commonly uttered in the DDPY community.

We’re all absolute beginners!

In particular Dynamic Resistance is not something you’re going to pick up on the fly. Despite the reviewer’s claim that he was not adequately informed that it was critical to get the Diamond Dozen down pat, you are told about this in multiple places throughout the email you receive when you buy the DVDs, on the new members page of TeamDDPYoga.com, in the program guide, and within the community.

Dynamic resistance replaces high impact movements to create a high cardio workout. Without perfecting that skill, someone at an intermediate/advanced level may not get a into their cardio zone in the shorter workouts (the Double Black Diamond will kick anyone’s ass, Dynamic Resistance or not). In contrast, when you have Dynamic Resistance down, even short workouts like Fat Burner can get you straight into your cardio zone. In fact, I can get into my cardio zone within a minute doing DDP Yoga moves.*

Let’s be clear. Dynamic Resistance is hard! I struggle with it to this day. As humans, we are built to expend as little energy as possible, so it takes a lot of practice to force yourself into the habit of turning that on its head. Dynamic Resistance is not something you will get down after a couple of workouts, which is why reviews like this one, and Adam Bluestein’s poorly researched piece are never going to fully describe the benefits of DDP Yoga. Like classical yoga, DDP Yoga will always be a “practice.”

2. Too Hard?

On to the “too challenging” complaint. The author figured that a couple of weeks of the advanced schedule would be all he needed to jump straight into the Extreme Psycho Workout. It didn’t work out so well, and so he complained that nothing in the Combo Pack workouts prepared him for the advanced moves in the Extreme Psycho. If only there were some sort of resource that would help you out in that respect:

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I’ll be up all night trying to figure this one out…

Aside from the tutorial specifically intended for the Extreme Psycho, the preceding workouts do in fact prepare you for it. The increased flexibility will help you with the banana splits, Red Hot Core will help you prepare for forearm balance, the progression of 3, 5, and 10 count push-ups will help you build to Psycho Push-ups.

And you are not going to get everything first go… you’re not meant to! In contrast to Mr. Boo’s claim that DDP Yoga is not ideal for someone looking to build their yoga DVD library, DDP Yoga is something that will keep advanced yogis busy for a long time. As we say in DDP Yoga, “There’s always some place to go!”

3. Now For My Nitpicks!

a) The reviewer makes the claim that the Extreme workouts were clearly an after-thought. I love when people declare something to be true merely on the grounds that they thought it. Having studied DDP Yoga for quite a long time, I can now see the progression, and it appears to me that the Extreme Workouts are aimed at the certain percentage of the DDP Yoga community who are advanced in their DDP Yoga skills, looking to kick it up a notch, and want to get down and dirty. It’s filmed with a more gritty feel, and with more advanced students to incorporate that sense. This is a nitpick, because even if EtherBoo is correct, they are fantastic workouts, and continue to challenge me to this day.

b) The author speaks of swan dives and reverse swan dives as if they were the second coming of spinal rehab. They’re not. They are certainly good for lower back strength, but his assertion that doing more of them would replace the Diamond Cutter is ridiculous. It would make it more like traditional yoga, but as we will discuss below that is not what DDP wants to do! Also, it shows a profound lack of understanding of the anatomy of yoga. The Diamond Cutter works to stretch and lengthen the spine. Reverse swan dives strengthen lower back muscles. Not interchangeable. Also, reverse swan dives aren’t absent from DDP Yoga! I can actually hear DDP saying “back flat, arms stretched out like wings” in my head. This highlights the gripe I have with Messers Boo and Bluestein: you need more than a fleeting familiarity with a program to write an informed review!

c) The author totally confuses the point of DDP Yoga and who its target audience is. He is definitely under the impression that DDP Yoga is aimed at the practitioners of classical yoga, and that DDP is trying to compete with more established names in that genre such as Iyengar or home DVD names as Yee, Kest or (ugh) Tony Horton. The fact that he (repetitively) throws P90X in as evidence of his familiarity with classical yoga, and therefore proof of his ability to compare DDP Yoga to classical yoga makes me hang my head in shame.

P90X Yoga is trying to compete in the classical yoga field. Tony Horton takes regular yoga and teaches it badly (in Yoga-X he has you go straight into a deep hamstring stretch with zero warm up, and Yoga-X3 is just a mess with zero flow, modifications or focus on form). The author throws down his trump card by saying “P90X2 Yoga has a yogi who’s been practicing for 15 years!” Fascinating. DDP Yoga has a two main yogis, one (DDP) that has been practicing for 16 years and another (Yoga-Doc Craig Aaron) that has been practicing for 27 years, and they have both been developing the program together from Day 1, not just breezing in for the second set of DVDs (such as P90X2)! Q.E.D.

You like risking unnecessary injury….?

The reviewer makes the assumption -and therefore delivers as fact- that DDP is “a small fish in a very large pond,” and has renamed all the yoga moves funny things like Touchdown, Catcher, Deadman and Woman, Showstoppers, and (my favourite) HPS as a gimmick to stand out from the crowd. I get it, after immersing yourself in Beach Body products for a number of years, all you see is gimmicks! But that’s not what’s happening here.

DDP isn’t interested in selling DDP Yoga to classical yoga practitioners. Attend any of his workshops and you will hear him tell the history of DDP Yoga. He talks about how he wanted to bring DDP Yoga to the people who “wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga.” He has done amazing work both with the troops, and with professional wrestlers to that end. DDP isn’t trying to stand out in the crowd… he’s in a different building! The funny names are just one part of an overall approach to make DDP Yoga accessible to those who are put off by the inaccessible elements of classical yoga.

That being said, DDP Yoga is universally beneficial, even to those who have practiced classical yoga. From the sounds of things, I have a much stronger background in classical yoga than EtherBoo. However, because DDP Yoga incorporates Dynamic Resistance, sports rehab and old school strength building, I was able to get a lot more out of it than I ever did in classical yoga classes: rehabbing the joints Beach Body et al. bust up, building strength (can you hold a plank for 30 minutes, EtherBoo??) and in calories burned. As DDP always says, “It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga!” And it’s not trying to be!

I love memes!

d) A similar “this isn’t classical yoga” point can be made about breathing. Yes, in certain moves in classical yoga nose breathing is appropriate (as pointed out by the author). However, in power moves, a more Pilates-like mouth breathing is more suitable. The author again confuses DDP Yoga as classical yoga and criticizes the lack of focus on nasal breathing. This isn’t classical yoga. We don’t just hold static poses for long periods of time and slowly move from one pose to the next. This is a high cardio workout. Learning to perfect diaphragm breathing, which DDP hammers home in a separate tutorial and in the intro of every workout is going to help the body efficiently utilize oxygen to get through each position and build strength and cardio endurance for this type of workout.

Don’t get me wrong, my hat is off to EtherBoo. I tried to lose weight with the Beach Body catalogue, but just couldn’t. I couldn’t stay on the wagon with the repetitive injuries and ended up gaining weight. EtherBoo, on the other hand, plowed through, although ultimately found those programs unsustainable. I was luckier; I found DDP Yoga at the start of what ended up being my successful weight loss journey, and found it to be accessible as a beginner, sustainable** throughout and beyond my weight loss journey, and challenging now that I am at an advanced level of fitness.

*I consider myself to be at an advanced level of cardio fitness (full marathon and multiple half-marathons completed, workout 1 – 2 hours a day, multiple fitness certifications, active DDP Yoga instructor, etc. etc.) 

**No injuries!

Note: after publishing, a Team DDP Yoga member pointed out the irony of taking issue with DDP’s renaming of standard moves when Tony Horton does the exact same thing!  (Thanks Lyn M.)

DDP-ing up the Hancock

Before DDP Yoga​, walking up the 2 concrete steps outside my old house was agony (it felt like rusty machetes were being driven through my kneecaps). Every night, I got out of my car, walked to the steps and paused as I mentally psyched myself to go up the steps. I walked up every flight of stairs one foot at a time (right foot up a step, left foot up to meet it, right foot up the next step, and so on). My pessimistic physical therapist* predicted that I may always have pain associated with going up or down stairs.

This February (less than two years of DDP Yoga under my belt), I ran up 1,632 steps in the Hancock Building with no issues at all. In fact, I came in the top 1/3 of people running the full climb. And of course, I finished out the day with my favourite workout, the DDP Yoga Hip, Back and Knee Opener!

 

Steps

 

* The same physical therapist who said I wouldn’t be able to run more than a mile without doing intensive, torturous, biweekly physical therapy for at least 1.5 y. I quit the physical therapy, and ran a FULL marathon in under that 1.5 year time frame thanks to DDP Yoga (no torture required!!)

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.

Website 2.0…….. Liz 1.08.27.003.98

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

I wish!

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

Here’s What Happened:

1. Side-effects Of Medication.

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

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

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

3. To Count Or Not To Count:

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

4. Not Sharing:

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

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Here’s What I Am Going To Do:

1. Be Honest

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

2. Be Mindful

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

3. Stay Home

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

4. Be Consistent

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

5. Work With What’s Available

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

Here’s What I Am NOT Going To Do:

1. No reboots, Liz 2.0’s Or Do-overs

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

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

2. No Taboos

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

3. No Labels, No Bullying

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

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

  • 12/01: 167 lbs
  • 12/08: 160 lbs

 

Hello Ladies… It’s Dave Orth!

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

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

Were you always into fitness?

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

How did you get into weight-lifting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How and when did you discover DDP Yoga?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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