Health

My Inspirations: Adam Meador

Time and time again, I meet people in the DDP Yoga community who are in such great shape, it’s impossible to imagine they were ever anything but lean and toned. I never cease to be amazed when they then tell me that they have lost massive amounts of weight with DDP Yoga. However, weight loss stories aren’t the only victories in this community. I recently learned the abbreviation NSV, meaning non-scale victory, and no one embodies that better than Adam Meador.

I first met Adam at a DDP Yoga workshop. He is very clearly lean, built and athletic. After speaking to him I learned that he had always been a runner and weight lifter, and had taken up DDP Yoga to get some more flexibility. This description fit well with the physique I was seeing before me. What didn’t fit with that image was him telling me that he had recently had major heart surgery. I couldn’t grasp that someone who had needed such a major operation was at a DDP Yoga workshop doing everything in beast mode and nailing it!

Adam’s story is amazingly inspiring, and he’s currently working towards becoming a DDP Yoga instructor. We’re really lucky to have him in the community, and he’s going to be able to reach even more people as a DDP Yoga instructor.

Knoxville workshop November 2014

Before you started DDP Yoga, what was your health/fitness level?

Before DDP Yoga, I would say that I was in good shape. I worked out anywhere from 3 to 5 times a week whether it be jogging or hitting the gym. I watched what I ate for the most part as well. I was always the guy getting a salad at lunch when others were getting burgers and fries.

How did you find out about DDP Yoga?

Being a wrestling fan, I knew that DDP had some sort of yoga program, but didn’t really know the specifics. I had a friend of mine mention that he’d tried it a few times and felt like it was a great workout. What sealed the deal for me was back in February 2013 when I saw the a picture of Jake “the Snake” Roberts and his amazing transformation. Of course after seeing that, I started my research and that led me to the Arthur video. The rest, as they say, was history.

What were your original goals?

Initially, my goal just wanted to try something different to get in shape. I had just turned 38 and was tired of the stress that lifting weights puts on your joints. Plus I had ZERO flexibility. I was a skinny guy who couldn’t even come close to touching his toes.

2e0f0903ac224d73910fe69e1114324e

How long did it take you to achieve those goals?

I literally started noticing results within the first couple of weeks. I felt fantastic both physically and mentally. After about 6 months into the program, I was able to do things I never thought possible. In a million years, I never thought I’d be able to do a Black Crow, but I did.

You had major surgery recently. What happened?

In November I got sick with what felt like a bad case of the flu (but is there really a good case of the flu?). However, no matter how much rest I got, how many antibiotics I took, it just wouldn’t go away. I was losing weight without any explanation and had zero energy. Fortunately I have a very smart wife (who’d just finished school to become a Respiratory Therapist) and she forced me to continue seeking medical treatment. I’d gone to the ER before with the symptoms, but that trip proved unsuccessful. After spiking a fever of 103 the following week, she forced me to go again.

Long story short, after many blood tests and an echocardiogram I was diagnosed with endocarditis, which is a bacterial infection of the heart’s valve. In my case, the bacterial growth, or “vegetation” as it’s called, was on my aortic valve. I checked into hospital on December 13th, 2013 for what was supposed to be a short stay, getting IV antibiotics to kill the infection. Unfortunately, the antibiotics weren’t doing the trick, as the bacteria was slowly destroying the valve.

On December 20th, 2013, I had open heart surgery to clean out the bacteria and replace the valve with a shiny new mechanical one (but you can imagine my disappointment when I woke up post-surgery and didn’t have the Iron Man arc reactor in my chest). After another week in the hospital (we celebrated Christmas on the hospital floor that year), I was discharged and finally able to come home. Additionally during this time, my dad had a stroke and was in the hospital for a few days. In fact, before I was transferred to the other hospital for my surgery, we were literally across the hall from each other.

December 2013

How did DDP Yoga fit into your recovery?

As far as DDP Yoga and my recovery, I wasn’t able to put any pressure on my chest for 3 to 4 months post surgery. But as soon as I got the green light, I was back on the mat. However, I’d lost all of my flexibility and strength and forced to heavily modify. Additionally, having the heart monitor was crucial for me. But I feel like DDP Yoga helped me on the front end. I was in the best shape of my life before getting sick. Had I not been in condition, who knows what the outcome could have been. Aside from the physical challenges of recovery, there were also mental challenges. All of that hard work I’d put in to get into such great shape was now gone. I became very depressed. All I could really do was lie around and watch TV. Couple that with the fact the it was the middle of winter, so the dreary cold weather didn’t help my situation (neither did re-watching the entire Breaking Bad series in a month’s time). But there comes a point in time when you have to decide if you’re gonna sit around feeling sorry for yourself or you’re gonna do something about it. I remembered DDP’s mantra of living life at 90%. The health issue was over and done with. Now I had to decide how I was going to react to it and press forward.

Did the DDP Yoga community provide any support?

The support from the DDP Yoga community was outstanding. In fact, I remember laying in my hospital bed the day before surgery feeling pretty low. I was facing a long recovery and knew that I’d have to work my butt off to even get close to being where I was before (if at all). But as I was laying there, I got a tweet from DDP himself, wishing me luck and that the DDP Yoga family had my back. I can’t begin to tell what those few words did to my spirits. As cliche as it may sound, I felt a sense of calm. The outpouring of love and support from everyone in our ever-growing family continues to humble me. As a matter of fact, I saw Dallas back at a workshop in March of this year. The very first thing he did was give me a hug and ask how my heart was doing. To me, that shows that the love and support of the DDP Yoga family starts at the very top.

It took me almost a full year before I felt like I was close to my old self again. Now, I feel like a million bucks. I just turned 40 back in February and am probably in the best shape of my life (even after an open heart surgery). I learned that life is fragile and to make the most of my time here. It wasn’t until a few months after surgery that my wife let me know just how serious it was. Basically, I was a walking timebomb. At any point, the bacteria could started breaking off into pieces, thus causing a stroke, blood clot, etc. I could’ve dropped dead at any time. Therefore, I don’t get rattled over many things these days. As the old saying goes, I “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

What kind of support do you get from your family?

I couldn’t ask for a better support system. My wife and family have been behind me 110% of the way. She does the workouts and attends my classes when her schedule allows. She’s also great about researching gluten-free recipes for meals.

Christmas Day 2013

What stands out about DDP Yoga?

Nothing I’ve ever done really compares with DDP Yoga. I’d always been a runner, but after tearing both meniscus in one knee a few years back (while cutting the grass of all things), jogging became more difficult. Lately I’ve incorporated some light jogging back into my schedule as I find it’s good for just clearing my head.

What stands out the most is that ANYONE can do this, no matter your level of fitness. And if you stick with the workouts and the nutrition, you WILL see results a lot quicker than you might think.

Did you experience any other obstacles along your DDP Yoga journey?

I think my biggest obstacle is sometimes myself and knowing when to listen to my body. I like to push myself, but sometimes I need to know when to dial it back a notch.

Is there anything you still struggle with?

Probably the main thing I struggle with is the nutrition. And it’s not the typical struggle of “eating bad”. Due to having a mechanical heart valve, my blood has to remain thin to avoid clotting on the valve. Therefore, I have to take blood thinners for the rest of my life. This means I have to monitor my intake of Vitamin K. What’s full of Vitamin K? All of the great greens that are a big part of the nutrition we follow. I can have them, but it has to be on a pretty limited basis.

What are your current goals with DDP Yoga?

Just to become a better student. Though I’ve been actively practicing DDP Yoga for over 2 years now, I feel that there is still so much more for me to learn.

March 2015

What made you pursue DDP Yoga certification?

I’m very passionate about it and want to share that passion with other people. It was a goal of mine before my health issues. But after all that, it became a mission. I hope my story can help just one person know that they came overcome anything, no how insurmountable it may seem. I made my final submissions to Doc a few days ago. Pending approval of those, all that’s left is taking/passing the final exam. It’s so close I can taste it!

What do you hope to do once you are certified?

I hope to continue teaching Saturday classes at my church while also looking for other places in my area who are interested in hosting workouts. After my DDP Yoga certification, I’d like to pursue a nutrition certification.

May 16 2015 class

What would you say to someone considering DDP Yoga?

I would tell them to research all of the amazing stories of people who have done the program with mind-blowing success. That’s the beauty of DDP Yoga. People at all levels of fitness can do this. As the man himself says “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”.

Where can we find you?

Facebook – facebook.com/adam.meador
Twitter – @AdrockTN
Instagram – @AdrockTN (also)
Email – ameador@comcast.net

I’m currently looking to set up a website and Facebook page once I’m officially certified. Be on the lookout for RISE UP FITNESS!!!

Run, Fat Girl, Run!

It’s Marathon time again! My training program for the 2015 Prairie State Marathon started today and I am so excited.

I ran my first full marathon in May last year. See, I have a tattoo to prove it:

tatt

A little prideful, perhaps?

And a sticker on my car:

photo

Okay, I’ll admit that’s pretty obnoxious…

I started out the training at about 145 lbs and finished the marathon tipping the scales at 162 lbs. Despite (erroneous) claims that I lost weight running, I managed to gain just under 20 lbs while running an estimated 422 miles (plus the actual 26.2 of the race). What the….???

It turns out, this isn’t an isolated incident. The phenomenon of packing on the old el-bees while preparing for a long distance race is well-documented. Like many others, I had no clue about this while developing a love of distance running, and promptly fell into many of the pitfalls. I have since done my reading and learned a lot about the physiology of exercise and hunger. This Run Haven article sums up some of the reasons.

I have a friend who disproves this rule, but it’s very true for me and my bulky quads!

While it is true that I was building more muscle and that my body was storing more glycogen, for people like me who battle a food addiction, reason #3, eating too many calories, was definitely the main culprit. During the marathon training, I allowed myself to “carb-up” the night before long runs. Then, after each long run I would experience intense hunger, and I would allow myself to indulge on the grounds that I had burned a tonne of calories. Yes, I had burned a tonne of calories, but probably not as many as those two massive, carby meals (heaping orders of pilau rice from my favourite restaurant) flanking the long runs were providing.

Compounding the issue was the fact that this training program land smack in the middle of my ill-fated departure from using MyFitnessPal to track calories. So those calculations about how much I could eat versus how many calories I was burning involved a lot of very generous “eye-balling.” Translation: more calories were going in than were coming out.

Another issue is heart rate and hormones. As I mentioned above, people close to me seem confused when I try to explain that DDP Yoga was responsible for my weight loss, and running wasn’t. In DDP Yoga, we are told early and often to use a heart rate monitor, and to back off if we go above our fat-burning zone. This keeps us efficiently burning fat and calories, and more importantly, doing so at a rate that goes under the radar of our appetite control centers in our brains.

Running, on the other hand, blasts your heart rate into your high aerobic zone, and (if you are not athletic as was the case when I was training for my first marathon), right into your anaerobic zone. Your brain detects this activity and responds with a massive appetite surge causing you to eat way more than you burned. To make matters even worse, as I learned recently, long periods of moderate or intense cardio cause a huge dump of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone causes every calorie you take to be absorbed and stored at maximum efficiency (i.e. guess who’s gaining some weight!).

Don't even get me started on leptin!

Don’t even get me started on leptin!

That’s why cardio exercises like DDP Yoga, walking or light/short jogging that keep you in your fat-burning zone, and strength-building workouts (such as DDP yoga) that help you gain lots of metabolism-boosting muscle are great for weight loss. They don’t trigger huge hunger bouts and leave you with metabolisms geared toward fat storage. That’s not to say running is bad for you. It isn’t. It has a lot of benefits, but you need to know what you’re dealing with, and prepare accordingly.

This has been alarmingly accurate on occasion!

And that’s what I plan to do this time around. First, I am back on the MyFitnessPal wagon, so my calories are going to be carefully monitored. Second, I won’t allow my training program to minimize other programs that are beneficial to weight management such as DDP Yoga and other strength-building workouts. And third, I will be focusing on eating healthy, whole, plant-based foods (no large orders of refined white rice from the Indian restaurant*!). But most importantly, I’ll be having fun. There’s no greater feeling than accomplishing something as huge as a marathon, and putting on 20 lbs didn’t detract from that feeling in the slightest last time. It’s important to care about your body, but it’s more important to remember the number on the scale isn’t everything.

*except maybe the day of the actual race!

P.S. It’s not okay to call anyone “fat,” the title of this article is a play on the only okay movie, “Run, Fat Boy, Run!” 

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.

20140927_153210

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.

PhotoGrid_1415662731302
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.

20150105_191530

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 (?!?).

2000px-Schrodingers_cat.svg

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:

DDP-Yoga-Extreme-Disc-1

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.

photocreditbodyimagemovementfacebook
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

FF_Logo_JPG

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).

FatMuscle

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