success story

IMG_6583

Haydn Walden: The Body from Britain

Haydn was the first DDP Yoga community member I met in person, and is also one of my favourite people in the world!

IMG_6583

When I first met Haydn, we were both toward the end of the DDP Yoga instructor certification process at a time when there were only a handful of people in the certification program. We had been friends on Facebook for a while when I noticed he listed Bognor Regis as his hometown. I live in America, but my mother not only lives in the UK; she lives less than 5 miles from Bognor Regis!! The two towns are so close that I have run from her house to Bognor Regis on reasonably short training runs when visiting her. I sent a pm to Haydn asking if he actually lived there; I couldn’t believe what a crazy coincidence this was!10302106_10101288038632107_3137774677428002408_n

Before I knew it, we had arranged to meet while I was home for the holidays. That quickly evolved into us both filming our video submissions for the certification process together, and spending as much free time as I had while in the UK going out to coffee together.  By the end of the trip, Haydn, his wife Laura and I were friends for life.

Three-way Diamond Cutter

Since meeting Haydn in the UK, I have been able to enjoy two vacations with him at the DDP Yoga retreats in 2014 and 2015. Possibly my favourite of the retreat is our annual tradition of doing a freestyle, instructor-only workout together. This year, Haydn and I, together with Steve Doyle, took turns in kicking each others’ butts in a workout without any push-ups or supine poses.

I’m not the only Haydn fan in my family. My mother takes his class, and is such a huge fan of Haydn’s, that when she and I were driving to a DDP Yoga workshop in Illinois, she spent the entire car ride planning how she would praise Haydn when she met DDP. I had to gently remind her that she may want to mention another DDP Yoga instructor to him (rhymes with Schmirstborn!).

Aside from being a genuinely wonderful person, Haydn is also a true beacon of inspiration for the DDP Yoga community. Not only has he lost weight, healed physical injuries and improved his health with DDP Yoga, he has overcome massive obstacles. Haydn’s humility and grace really model how we should all tailor our expectations to our own situations, practice not comparing ourselves to others, and allow ourselves celebrate our victories even though they may not be big achievements to others.

I’m thrilled to share Haydn’s story, and to share a challenge Haydn and I are undertaking together.

THE INTERVIEW

What was your background with physical fitness and exercise?

In school I had a major dislike for any physical exercise. My P.E. teachers didn’t accept my dyspraxia as an issue to work with, and would force me to do humiliating activities, such as sticking me in the goal for class football because I couldn’t catch, kick, or run, so I was used as target practise for the others.

I started general gym workouts age 20, lifting weights and using the elliptical, to improve my physique. At 25, I was looking for a new path, I had lost a very close friend to smoking and alcohol (I was on the same route). I discovered a personal trainer who was a Muay Thai specialist as well as a general PT. Each week I would rock up to the gym and get my ass kicked all over the room for 90 minutes. Bit by the fighting bug, I wanted to turn semi professional and try my hand at in ring competition. Unfortunately, injury (a torn ACL) stopped that.

Taken at the time of Haydn’s injury. Smile courtesy of a concussion.

What exactly is Dyspraxia, and how does it affect DDP Yoga?

Dyspraxia affects the fine and/or gross motor coordination, things like handwriting, balance, hand eye coordination etc. For me it was always balance and hand eye coordination. I found lunges and single leg balance positions killer. DDP Yoga has improved my balance, my posture -dyspraxics have notoriously bad posture- and my mind focus. There is a video on YouTube of me holding the Roundhouse Kick position for a 70 count. That would never have happened before DDP Yoga.

How did you discover DDP Yoga?

In January 2013 Chris Jericho returned to the Royal Rumble after touring with his band Fozzy for six to eight months. This dude came back to the WWE in incredible shape and wrestled for over 40 minutes on his first night back. The next day people were tweeting him asking how he stayed in shape on tour, his answer……DDP Yoga! A few days later a friend of mine showed me this video of a veteran called Arthur*, I put the two together and ordered the package.

Haydn getting to meet his idol at this year’s DDP Yoga retreat in Mexico

What was your physical status when you started DDP Yoga?

When I ordered DDP Yoga, I was close to 235lbs and injured. In 2010 at age 30, I tore my right ACL while training Muay Thai. I tried to keep up some kind of training regime, but since my cardio dropped and the intensity of workouts lessened my body started to break down. I had been harbouring a neck injury (bulging discs at C7 and T4), a bicep injury and my left leg started to deteriorate through compensation. I eventually stopped training, but kept up eating….a lot! By 2013, I was 235lbs, walking badly (some days with a stick), in pain and not well.

What were your original goals with DDP Yoga?

I wanted to see if this really worked…..if Arthur could do this, could I? All I wanted to do was to lose a little weight and not be in pain when walking and driving. The goals were realistic to me because I didn’t believe in myself at the start, so it was a day-by-day approach.

HaydnBAfront

How long did it take you to meet your goals?

My initial goals were met and blown out of the water; three weeks in I was down 20 lbs. I started the Phase II eating plan, which was a total game changer. Did I fail to meet any goals? Not at first, as I said it was a day-by-day approach. I was happy if I survived Energy and didn’t modify, or if I got through Below the Belt without a balance aid.

Are you still working on any goals?

……hahaha……I have a huge block with inversions. For two years, this dyspraxic boy has been trying to get upside down. I nailed Black Crow after 12 months, which is why I have it tattooed on my arm, but forearm balance or Psycho Push-ups are still not happening. It’s easy to get negative over this, as you know. But taking it day-by-day, and realising the little improvements is how I control it. I recently got some awesome help with the inversion positions from you (Liz) and Canada’s own Steve Doyle, while we were on the retreat together. I will be putting the advice into practise over the next few weeks.

#BlackCrowInAnUnusualPlace

What role did the Team DDP Yoga community play for you?

Well, as I said above, I received help on inversions from you and Steve. The whole team is an incredible family. I read stories that motivate me every single day, from seasoned DDP Yoga people and complete newbies. When you see someone like Nathan Munsell posting his videos each day, it makes you work harder. This family is built on respect and inspiration.

11774727_10155763205685411_1332730410_n

Who has been your biggest supporter?

So so many to mention! Laura, my wife, has pushed me harder than anyone. She knew my goal was to walk down the aisle at a comfortable weight and not limping. Laura will attend almost all of my classes, she was my guinea pig while learning my Level 1 certification and she is my rock when I struggle with food or inversions.

11539768_10155733162305411_6473485698453699722_n

My parents need a mention here too, they have always shown pride in all I have achieved due to the interesting start to life I had with dyspraxia. I will never forget my parents telling me that “it’s great you are doing the DDP Yoga thing, but remember it might just be a phase….” When they saw the difference it made to my posture and my walking, it’s not just a phase it’s a way of life.

What hurdles have you encountered along the way?

Physical hurdles came from the balance aspect of the workouts. I was not able to get deep in lunges for a long time. Punching while in a lunge would throw me off the mat. Further down the line Wrap and Burn and Black Crow became huge obstacles that I would spend time working through. I would do Fat Burner then put ten minutes of Wrap and Burn and Black Crow at the end. Also, Can Opener was a real git to get into; my hips were so messed up through a lifetime of bad posture and hypermobility that it used to hurt!

Flexibility by DDP Yoga

Food wise, I struggle with sugar! Gluten and dairy were easy to give up, but sugar will not go away. In fact I’m working on a new plan with you right now, so people can look forward to some insightful blogs from us both in the near future [see below].

How did you decide to pursue certification?

Within 3 months of DDP Yoga I had fallen in love with workout and the way of life. In June 2013, we attended a DDP Yoga workshop in the UK. Meeting Dallas was a huge honour and I asked then if there would be any way of teaching this program, he explained the plan for the certification and told me to keep looking for the launch date. The certification launched on August 1st 2013 and I signed up that very day. My original plan was to be able to teach DDP Yoga to my friends; just to pass the certification was a goal beyond my wildest dreams.

Small Class

How long did the certification process take for you?

I passed the certification on 16th December 2013. I found the whole process a pleasant challenge, nothing was easy, but also nothing was unobtainable. I enjoyed pushing through my 100 hours of practise, most of which was taken up with learning the Level 1 workout. Becoming an instructor increased my fitness level, calling a workout and doing the workout at the same time can be challenging… especially if you don’t keep track of your heart rate throughout.

What has being an instructor done for you?

This has pushed me to a whole new place in life and in physical fitness. I have recently moved away from my old job in government music education to become a self-employed drum tutor and DDP Yoga instructor. For the first time in 12 years I am my own boss. I have met so many incredible students, and helped people achieve their goals no matter how small they may seem. This is very humbling.

DDP_BRENDA

How did you build your classes?

I started with one class at a local boxing gym. Through self motivation and social media, by September I had fourteen classes in five days. Due to a venue closing, I’m currently running eight classes and three one-on-one sessions each week. Classes sizes vary from six to fifteen people per class. The best part about teaching DDP Yoga for me is watching people take control of their lives, if I have a client that wants to gain flexibility so they can improve their running speed, or a 60+ year old who wants to be able play with her grandchild on the floor again, if they achieve that then I am over the moon. Not everybody wants to be able to hold a 60 count Black Crow, some people just want to feel good about themselves! That’s why I do what I do.

My mother will kill me if I don’t ask: who is your favourite student?

Hahahaha…..I have so many favourites…..all of them! It’s a real pleasure teaching my Over 60’s class (which includes your mother, Mary). These are ladies who want to regain flexibility and they are lovely to teach**. But I genuinely couldn’t pick a favourite from all of my classes! They all Rock!

Haydn's favourite is in the pink top!

Haydn’s favourite student is in the pink top!

What advice would you give to someone considering the certification process?

Do it! Own it! Listen to the advice your mentor gives you, listen to Yoga Doc, be open-minded and most of all take any information on board and store it!

What is next for you and DDP Yoga?

I want to build my classes and increase the knowledge of DDP Yoga in the UK. I’m keen to progress through the next Certification Levels as they are released.

Class Large (3)

Is there anything you continue to struggle with?

As I mentioned above, forearm balance is an ongoing struggle. I will overcome this with practise and using the advice given to me by you and Steve Doyle. It’s mind over matter! Sugar is my other struggle, again I touched on this earlier too, a change of work/life balance and staying focused will help with this, along with staying accountable to you.

HaydnSIDE

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

Teaching at the 2014 and 2015 retreats are easily my proudest moments. I feel privileged and honoured to have taught in Mexico in front of Diamond Dallas Page and other fellow instructors.

IMG_6244 copy

Toughest class of the retreat! Trust me!

What would you tell anyone considering DDP Yoga?

Don’t consider it any longer, just do it! Whatever you want to achieve DDP Yoga will help you get there.

Hayn_Garden

Where can we find you?

Facebook: Haydn Walden and Hi-energy Wellness
Twitter: @DDPYogaGB
Website: Hi-energy Wellness

THE CHALLENGE

As Haydn touched upon, both he and I struggle with sugar addiction. This year at the retreat, we discussed this issue and realized that we had the same pattern of cycling on and off the wagon. We decided to become accountability partners, and came up with a challenge whereby the second we stepped foot onto our respective countries of residence, we would abstain from all sugars and artificial sweeteners.

sugar

We have laid out the rules of our sugar free challenge, our personal motivations for quitting sugar, and a diary of our progress on this page. Check in to see how we’re doing… You may even catch us live-blogging!

We are going to do this challenge for at least 60 days (the length of time it takes to rewire your brain), but hopefully longer.

*The Arthur:

** He can’t possibly be referring to the same woman I taught to knit! 

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!!!

My Inspirations: Kristin Pasquill, Certified DDP Yoga Instructor

Update: Kristin was the subject of the first interview of people who inspire me that I published. Since then, she has gone on to become a certified DDP Yoga instructor, only adding to her overall awesomeness. I caught up with her to find out what she’s doing now that she’s an instructor and updated the interview: 

Kristin_RIpped!

I set up this blog to help others be inspired the way I have been inspired. Part of that is sharing my story, which I have done over, and over, and over…. You guys must be getting sick of hearing about me now; I know I am getting sick of typing about me! Other ways to inspire include sharing motivational posts about DDP Yoga, nutritional information, and the occasional bit of yoga humor.

But one inspiration I somehow overlooked sharing until now is the stories of people around me in the TeamDDP community who inspire me. Seeing their success, their grit, their motivation continues to motivate me everyday. After all, it was a the achievements of a certain Team DDP member that prompted me to give DDP Yoga a try in the first place. There have been numerous times when I just lack the energy to get on the mat, but then I hop onto teamddpyoga.com or one of the DDP Yoga Facebook groups, and when I see members of Team DDP overcoming obstacles, achieving a goal they’ve struggling with for a long time, or even posting about the workout they did that evening,  I find the inspiration I need.

I want to promote the people who inspire me most so that they can inspire others too.

I am kicking off this series with a BANG! I have chosen to present an awesome success story, and coupled it with a challenge for the month of October.

Kristin came to my attention recently when her transformation story appeared at TeamDDP, and she became more active in various groups. In particular, I noticed that Kristin has the most amazing biceps I have ever seen so I reached out to her to ask how she got them. It turns out that in addition to packing some pretty impressive guns, she’s also a really nice person.

LP06

The Interview

You look like someone who has been lean and athletic all their lives. Has that been the case?

Thanks but not at all! I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve fluctuated between chubby and down right hefty, but lean and athletic were never words to describe me until I discovered DDP Yoga.

How did you discover DDP Yoga?

A friend of mine introduced me to the program. He came over for a visit after not seeing him for months and looked so good! I asked him what miracle diet he was on and he replied with DDP Yoga. He left that night and I immediately started my research. Found Arthur’s video, cried for a while, and started my journey just a few days later.

What shape were you in when you first started the program?

Unhealthy, sad, over weight… just about every negative adjective you can think of. I had my daughter 10 months before starting the program and in those 10 months of her life I managed to gain 70+ pounds. I struggled with depression and had poor eating habits. I was a mess to say the least!KP01

What was your first few weeks with DDP like?

I have to admit, my first few weeks were rough and honestly thought about quitting. I did nothing but The Diamond Dozen for a couple of months. It took me a while to learn the moves, using my yoga blocks and getting into safety zone more than I was actually doing the moves. It was hard. But I kept at it and the more I practiced, the easier it got. And here I am now with my yoga blocks collecting dust on the shelf!

How have you changed since starting DDP Yoga?

I have said this before many times and to Mr. Page himself: this program literally saved my life. I’ve struggled with my health and weight related issues my entire life. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and arthritis as a teenager, spending a lot of time in physical therapy and taking medication for pain. My doctors always told me if I got my weight under control, the pain wouldn’t be as severe, I just could never get it under control until starting this program. And at one point my weight was so severe my doctors were talking Diabetes.Today I am medication free and the healthiest I’ve ever been. So when I say DDP Yoga saved my life, I truly mean it!

KP02

You’re a huge success story. What parts of the program worked best for you?

Thank you kindly! It is still crazy to hear that and to see my story on the website as a success. It’s hard to decide what’s worked best for me because it has all worked so well! I will say, I love Strength Builder and Stand Up. Two things I never thought I would have- strength and balance. And those two workouts in particular have really helped me out a lot.

What is your proudest achievement with DDP Yoga?

In the beginning I thought it would be to lose the weight. And while that’s something I am very proud of, getting my health under control has been my proudest achievement. I have always been unhealthy, even as a child. I love food and always will, but growing up I made poor choices with food. Lots of processed junk and fast food. DDP Yoga and the eating program have taught me so much. I can still eat plenty and stay healthy! And my body is thanking me for it. I no longer have to worry about weight related issues with my fibromyalgia and arthritis. Diabetes scares are a thing in the past. And that’s a beautiful thing!

KP05

Is there anything you still struggle with?

I would like to think I’m pretty alright with most of the moves, but to this day I struggle with Wrap and Burn. I actually used to skip that move a lot of times. But luckily there’s a great group of people on our Facebook group that had the brilliant suggestion of using a towel so that’s what I do now! Hopefully I’ll get rid of the towel one day… baby steps :)

You’re a Mom; how does that impact doing DDP Yoga? 

I am! A proud mother of 2. My son started kindergarten this year but before that, both of my kids were at home with me the majority of the day. And even when both of them were home, doing my DDP Yoga was still very doable. I either waited until their nap time so I could have complete “me time” or just do it when they’re awake! They crawl under me like a bridge in Down Dog from time to time, but that doesn’t stop me. :)

KP04

At one point after having my son, I spent a lot of time at the gym. And while I had success with it, I was hurting constantly and not getting near the results I’ve got with DDP Yoga. Not to mention I would have to find someone to watch my son so I could drive all the way across town to get to the gym. It just wasn’t doable for me. I’ve also tried other at home workouts that required a lot of room moving around and that’s a bit difficult with kids. I love that I can get an amazing workout even in a small space. All I need is my yoga mat!

What advice would you give to someone considering the program or starting out?

DO IT. Just do it!  Coming from someone that’s pretty much tried it all, just try it. Try it and stick with it. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

How have people around you, either online or in person, taken your transformation?

It’s been pretty crazy! A positive crazy I mean. I get the majority of support from the wonderful people I’ve “met” online through teamddpyoga.com and the awesome Facebook groups. Without them I’m not sure if I would have as much success as I’ve had. In person from friends and family, I’ve got a lot of positive feedback. The best has been my parents and relatives telling me how proud they are of me. Gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside!

How have you taken to the role of inspiring others? I am in awe sometimes. Never in a million years did I think I would ever inspire anyone. I have received countless messages and emails from people I don’t even know telling me I’ve inspired them to start the program or stick with it. It’s an amazing, hard to believe feeling that I am truly grateful for.

You have the most amazing biceps any of us have ever seen… Tell us your secrets!

Haha thank you so much! No secrets really. I typically do some kind of DDP workout 5-6 days a week. The slow burn pushups have really helped tone my arms up. I also have started what I’ve dubbed Bathtub Pushups, although you honestly could do them just about anywhere. I started the habit of every time I went into my bathroom of doing a rep of 10 pushups. And by the time the day is over, a lot of times I’ve done 100+ pushups! Clearly I spend a lot of time in the bathroom lol. But they have really helped a lot I think. I have never been a fan of push ups, but the strength I’ve gained with DDP Yoga and only doing 10 at a time have really made them doable and fun!

KP03

What made you decide to pursue DDP Yoga certification?

I feel like becoming certified was the best way for me to give back. DDP Yoga truly helped change and save my life. The least I could do is share the wealth! When I joined the groups online, I started to realize there are not too many people involved with DDP Yoga in the South and really felt with certification, I could help spread the word. I want to show others they can change their lives exactly how I did!

How did you find the certification process? 

I found out about certification by browsing through the website. I saw powerful women like you and Christina that have been such an inspiration to me and it got me thinking about getting certified myself. In the beginning, it seemed like such an unreachable goal. I have had issues with social anxiety and public speaking since I was a kid, so the thought of teaching a class was downright terrifying! But if there’s anything DDP Yoga has taught me, it’s you can do whatever you set your mind to (with lots and lots of baby steps!) So I started small. I taught myself classes just looking in the mirror and speaking out loud (as funny as that sounds it actually helped a LOT!). From there, I slowly worked my way to teaching online classes. It took a while to get comfortable, but the more I worked at it the better I got! And towards the end of my certification, I started to teach a small group in person and finally proved to myself that I could do it. It took me 6 months and a lot of hard work but it’s been one of the most rewarding goals I have ever made  for myself!

What has being certified done for you?

Certification has been yet another life changer for me through this amazing program. It has shown me that even the ridiculously far away goals are reachable and has given me confidence in myself I have never had. I am now teaching classes. In fact, I just had my very first class a few days ago! It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait for my next class!

KristinTEACH

What is next for you?

It’s funny, when I initially started the program my goal was to lose 30 pounds. I met that goal and then another. And another, and another, until here I am now 100 pounds lighter and the healthiest I’ve ever been. DDP Yoga has taught me the sky is the limit. To believe in myself and anything is possible. I definitely want to continue teaching and eventually add some more classes to my schedule!

Where can people find you?

I’m always on Facebook! You can find me through my direct page or Southern Style Yoga for updates/class schedules.

I teach every Wednesday evening at 6:30 at the Semmes Community Center in Semmes, AL and will hopefully be serving the Mobile area soon!

The Challenge

And now the challenge. We all want arms like Kristin’s, right? So let’s do what she does. For the month of October June (let’s do it again!!!), anytime you are in the bathroom, do 10 inclined pushups. I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks now and I am definitely seeing a change! I have added my own rule in: if for whatever reason I can’t do the push-ups (running late, not wanting my HR up at 3am), I do 10 full push-ups later. Here’s Kristin to show how it’s done!

BANG!

KP07

My Inspirations: Christina Russell, Certified DDP Yoga Instructor

Around TeamDDPYoga, Christina barely needs an introduction. She started DDP Yoga around the same time I did, and after meeting in a TeamDDPYoga.com group, we realized we had numerous things in common. Other members of Team DDP Yoga came to the same realization and, after making a few videos together, we became known as the Hardcore sisters. This was our first real collaboration, and still my favourite (Christina’s husband totally steals the show, “Am I in a Lamaze class?” love it!)

Since then, Christina has gone on to work for DDP Yoga and can be seen at workshops, online and at the new performance center in her role as a certified DDP Yoga instructor and nutritionist. I can’t wait to see Christina in Mexico, but until then this interview will give me my much needed HCS fix!

 

2 Years Before After copy (1)

How did you discover DDP Yoga?

After losing my baby in utero at 20 weeks, I fell into a state of depression, loss, and anxiety. After months of unhappiness my 2 year old little boy looked up at me and told me to, “Smile Mommy”. It was that exact moment that I knew I had to get back my life. I had gained 50 pounds the sadness that I felt wasn’t just affecting me – it was affecting my entire family!

Thankfully my husband is a die-hard wrestling fan. He was surfing wrestling promo videos on YouTube and he came across Arthur Boorman’s video. He practically forced me to watch it, as I was sure he was going to show me yet another wrestling clip, but instead, it was the most moving and inspirational video I have ever seen! That video instantly gave me hope and within 5 minutes, I had already placed my order for the DDP YOGA Max Pack.

What were your original goals with DDP Yoga?

When I started DDP YOGA, I had put on 50 pounds and was making horrible food choices. My goal was to lose the weight to improve my health and my body image and get back to eating healthier.

Did you achieve those goals?

In 4 months I lost 50 pounds by doing DDP YOGA 3-5 times/week and by cutting out processed foods, soda, and sugar. It was incredible and I felt amazing. It was then that I found out I had a severe intolerance to gluten and dropped both gluten and most cow-dairy from my diet which resulted in a total weight loss of 60 pounds by the end of month 5! Not only did I started at a size 18 and end up at a size 6, I also became happy again and regained my confidence.

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

I feel like DDP YOGA has been a catalyst for so many changes in my life. The biggest change is that it helped me find my real passion – and that is helping other people take back their health! During my transformation, I really fell in love with healthy food and decided to go back to school and get certified in nutrition. This knowledge coupled with the DDP YOGA workout program helped me take people’s health to the next level (including my own).

Did you experience any obstacles along the way?

I have had a few minor hurdles throughout my journey, but I didn’t let any of it stand in the way of owning my life. My biggest help through it all was the support of my family and the team DDP YOGA community.

IMG_0518 (1)

What are your current goals with DDP Yoga?

I am always trying to better my practice for myself and for my students.

What made you decide to pursue DDP Yoga certification?

I decided to become a DDP YOGA instructor because I felt it was the next step in my journey. I saw what it could do for me and I knew that if I could do it, so many others could too.

Getting certified in DDP YOGA is no joke! It’s not a weekend workshop certification course – it’s a 120+ hour program that is designed to teach you the who, what and why’s behind the workouts. You don’t just learn one workout – you learn a solid foundation of 13 moves, why breathing is so important, modifications for all fitness levels and what muscle groups are being used. The best word I can use to describe it is ‘THOROUGH’.

I had been doing the workouts for 7 months when I enrolled and it took me another 3 months to complete it. I worked day and night on the program sometimes doing 2 workouts each day because I really wanted this. It was challenging, but this was the start of my new life and I wanted to kick it off with a bang!

What has being certified done for you?

I’ve been teaching classes for over a year now and I love it! My students challenge me just as much as I challenge them and it’s an amazing feeling to be a positive change in their lives. In October 2014, I officially started working for DDP YOGA and ever since our relocation to Atlanta I alternate teaching daily to gear up for our grand opening of the DDP YOGA Performance Center where I’ll not only be running the center, but I’ll also be a lead instructor.

IMG_3864 (1)

You’re also an employee of DDP Yoga now! How did that come about?

Working for the company that helped change your life is nothing short of INCREDIBLE! If you would have told me just over 2 years ago that I would lose 60+ pounds, become an instructor and start working for DDP YOGA I would have thought you were crazy. It really is a dream come true and all the work we are putting into the Performance Center is just going to take that dream to new heights beyond my imagination!

What’s next for you and DDP Yoga?

My current goal is to get the DDP YOGA Performance Center ready to go for our Grand Opening. I want the PC to be a place of inspiration and a place where we can change lives every single day.

On a personal level, my mom and I are getting ready to launch our next cookbook,’The Gluten-Free Mom-to-Be Cookbook’, and my ‘30 Days to a New You’ ebook should be coming out very soon!

Where can people find you?

If you’re looking for gluten-free recipes, food product reviews and healthy living ideas you can find me at BodyRebooted.com. I’m also very accessible on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter: @BodyRebooted or you can send me an email at christina@bodyrebooted.com

 

Teaching 4 (1)

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

What a Shame!

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on social media recently, namely the public shaming of people who don’t seem to know what they’re doing at the gym.

This was the first clip of this I saw:

And then I saw this Vine that follows the same format:

I am currently employed as a group fitness instructor, and have access to a full gym. While I frequently use the cardio room and free-weights, I rarely if ever venture into the weight room. Everyone in there is built like Craig Funk* clearly knows what they are doing, and despite being a fitness professional, I still have the same fear of looking like an idiot that I had the first time I entered a gym.

Gyms are fantastic places to get strong, healthy and lean, but if you have never been in one before they are also truly terrifying places. I have been the overweight, frumpy girl who clearly doesn’t belong in the gym. I have tried to make it look like I know what I am doing to all the lean, toned gym-bodies while I secretly have no idea what body part any of the equipment is meant to work. I have tried to avoid eye-contact and push through the embarrassment and fear of judgement as I try to lose weight and get healthy. I have spent entire visits to the gym worrying if everyone around me is laughing at me, judging me, or simply wishing I’d take my doesn’t-belong-here overweight self off the stair-climber and back to drive-thru fast food restaurant where it clearly belongs. And I have let those fears keep me from coming back.

I doubt I’m alone. I am sure most people entering the gym for the first time are worried everyone around them is laughing at them and judging them.

These YouTube and Vine clips prove them right.

Yes, it’s definitely funny when we see someone doing something wrong, but it’s also mean-spirited. While we may have the impulse to laugh, it may behoove us to take a second to remember that none of us walked into a gym the first time knowing how all the equipment worked. We either had a friend show us, the benefit of solid self-esteem to get past the initial hiccups and gym fails, and most importantly the good fortune to have started our fitness journeys before this new trend of online gym-shaming began.

While we may not be able to control the impulse to chuckle internally, we can definitely rise above the impulse to publicly humiliate someone online.

I could have finished that last sentence as follows: “…. someone online, especially someone who is trying to improve themselves.” That brings me to the flip-side of the mean-spirited gym-shaming, which is its positive discrimination counterpart. You’ve probably seen a lot of these sorts of posts online:

While I have massive respect for anyone who is trying to improve their lives with good health, especially when they face the level of disrespect overweight people suffer in this society, I am at odds with the overall messaging here.

Yes, if we see this person on a bicycle we should support and encourage them. But does that mean if we see them sitting on a couch with a box of cookies, we’re entitled to mock and denigrate them at will?

Maybe they aren’t trying to better themselves in the specific way we want them to (i.e. by losing weight and exercising), but maybe that person is bettering themselves by studying hard to finish a college degree. Maybe they are supporting their family. Maybe they foster children, or spend every free minute volunteering at a soup kitchen or a no-kill cat shelter. Maybe they are looking after a dying relative, or maybe they take care of an elderly neighbor they barely know. We should support and encourage people we meet whether or not they are focused on they self-improvements we think they should be prioritizing, and whether or not they are at the weight or health level we expect them to be.

In fact who are we to deem someone worthy of basic respect? Maybe they are making no improvements to themselves or meaningful contributions to society at all. That person is still a human being, which means they are worthy of respect and kindness regardless of any other consideration. It also means we are all equal, and no one person has the authority to judge the worth of another human being else based on their health, weight or activity level.

Respect isn’t something that should have to be earned. It should be the default.

And this brings me to Team DDP Yoga. Having been deterred from previous fitness and weight loss efforts by the ridicule of others, whether perceived or actual, I finally found an amazing community of people who truly support and care about one another. Team DDP is unique in that everyone wants the best for one another. People are allowed to fall off the wagon, make bad choices or hit the various hurdles we all encounter during a self-improvement project without fear of judgement or mockery, and when they’re ready to get back on the wagon, everyone is ready to give them a hand up. It’s the only place on earth where you can share your successes without any fear of cattiness or jealousy. It’s the only fitness community where you can ask for help without feeling stupid or embarrassed. Everyone is on your team, willing to help you out with anything you’re struggling with, and rooting for you every step of the way.

I can say without reservation that I never would have met with my goals without the support of all the friends and teammates I met at Team DDP. I never would have stuck with fitness for longer than a month (my previous personal best) without Team DDP. I never would have improved as a person without Team DDP.

If you’re looking for a healthy and supportive environment to get healthy, Team DDP is the most supportive and encouraging community you’re ever going to find. After all, it’s the “Best Support System on the Planet!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 11.54.49 PM

* While Craig Funk has the most amazing physique, he is also an amazing, caring person too. He’s a true ambassador of TeamDDPyoga! 

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