‘You’ll never guess who I’m speaking to on Linked In?’
And that was the beginning of the conversation that would change my life.
It was only shortly after my brother Jimmy had been diagnosed with leukaemia. The diagnosis came just twelve days before his 34th birthday. Fit, strong, healthy, he was a daily gym-goer, a sporty public services lecturer and a huge wrestling fan since he was a little kid. And now he was about to begin the battle of his life.
I did not have a clue who or what DDP was so the opening conversation meant nothing to me. Jimmy went on to explain that DDP stood for Diamond Dallas Page, an American wrestler. Ah, that would explain why I didn’t have a clue what he was on about then. And truth be told, I had absolutely no interest in the story. But once Jim started talking wrestling…
My moment of truth
Like I said, this conversation only happened shortly after Jimmy was diagnosed. At the time we were frightened and upset but had options to hold onto. One of the options was that I could be tested as a stem cell donor. I did some Googling (not recommended really, as there’s so much conflicting info about everything, but you know how it is…), and a few articles I found stated that even if I were found to be a match I could not be a stem cell donor if I were obese.
I was heftily obese.
Now, to set the record straight, the information proved to be incorrect but we didn’t find that out for a while. At that moment though, it was the kick I needed to sort myself out once and for all. If I could help my brother in any way I wanted to be able to and being overweight was not going to stop me. This was the fuel I needed to light my fire and my mind was made up: I was not going to be fat and unhealthy any longer. But before embarking on a crash diet or turning to acupuncture for weight loss, I decided to take my brother’s advice.
Diamond Dallas Who?
So he continued with the story. DDP started wrestling fairly late in life, not stepping into a wrestling ring until the grand old age of 35. He became pretty successful – I think something like a champion or something along those lines. He ranked quite highly in the world of lycra-clad hefty guys jumping in a ring, I guess. I suppose I could Google some facts but unless you’re really interested in wrestling you probably don’t want to know.
If you have already heard of Diamond Dallas Page then you don’t need me to tell you anything about him as I’ll probably have it wrong anyway. If you’re reading this after clicking on the title you are probably just here to find out how to lose weight and whether I genuinely did find something that worked. If you do want to know about Diamond Dallas Page you could click here. If you want to know how someone I had never heard of doing something I had (have) absolutely no interested in ended up changing my life, read on.
So what is DDP Yoga if it’s not yoga?
Dallas decided to try traditional yoga as he had nothing left to lose. His wrestling career seemingly over and his body crippled in pain, he soon discovered that some elements of yoga combined with rehabilitation techniques, old-school calisthenics, traditional workout principles and dynamic resistance resulted in an effective workout programme that not only had the effect of getting you fit (even after injury as Dallas himself discovered), but early feedback also suggested that the fitness system also helped people to lose weight. Bonus!
Dallas developed the programme for people who ‘wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga’ and named it YRG – Yoga for Regular Guys. The combined techniques give you a total body and cardio workout with low impact. Apparently it was supposed to be really effective if you were terribly overweight, couldn’t do high impact workouts or had limited mobility.
And you can lose weight.
Then we found Arthur
Jimmy’s enthusiasm and endorsement of DDP Yoga was worth looking into but I didn’t want to shell out a load of dollars for a set of DVDs (plus the shipping costs) for something that a) would just be some screamy shouty ex-wrestler guy I’d never heard of yelling at me through a screen and b) a workout that didn’t work like it claimed to.
So I decided to do my own research and found a video that was truly something else.
Cue Arthur Boorman, a paratrooper that left the military after he became injured. Over the next few years Arthur’s weight increased so much that he couldn’t walk without the help of canes.
My word, that man was our new instant hero! Here was proof that if you think you can do something and really commit to it, then you will achieve it.
And I had to lose weight.
Okay, we’re in!
What bang do you get for your buck?
All the packs come with a programme guide which is a 50 page A4 booklet containing all the written information you need on the workouts, a nutrition guide and lots of motivation. There’s also space for you to complete a food journal as well as a workout journal which helps you to keep a record of what you eat and when you work out. Keeping accountable to yourself is key, so tracking the two factors you need to, diet and exercise, are what will keep you informed as to what you’re doing right… or wrong.
DVDs 1 and 2 contain six workouts as well as taking you through some breathing exercises.
DVDs 3 and 4 contain a further five workouts plus the Red Hot Core workout that you will find on the first two discs (having it on each disc is handy as Mike and I add that workout onto any other workout we do. It saves the hassle of fiddling changing between different discs).
DVDs 5 and 6 are labelled ‘EXTREME’. These contain an intro, breathing techniques, a couple of tutorials and some tough old workouts.
Each pack also comes with a poster displaying the Diamond Dozen moves – all 13 of them.
And so we begin
We ordered the discs on November 30th 2015 and considering they were being shipped to the UK all the way from the US they arrived shortly after on December 8th. I remember the date because we wrote it on the calendar. We wanted to see just how effective this workout was, if at all.
The first workout on the discs was a run-through of the Diamond Dozen. These are the 13 key moves of the DDP Yoga Fitness System. Here is where you get to grips with what’s to come and the whole concept of combining yoga moves (with completely different names) with dynamic resistance.
That’s where you use your opposing muscles to work against each other in order to create a resistance that burns fat and sculpt muscle.
Look, hold your hands out straight in front of you, palms facing each other. Now, stiffen your arms as tightly as you can and try to simultaneously push your palms together whilst keeping them apart. Your arms should be trembling and your heart rate will be rising – and there’s no impact whatsoever involved. That’s pretty much it.
What you see above is 4-year-old Bel demonstrating the Diamond Cutter. She totally owns it.
Oh. My. God.
That first workout nearly killed us. Yes, it was just getting to grips with the moves of the Diamond Dozen but Mike and I were both sweating like pigs running a marathon along the equator.
We realised two things:
1) We were even more unfit than we thought
2) This was a challenge we could rise to
As you’ll remember me saying earlier, one of my concerns was that this would be some screamy shouty ex-wrestler guy I’d never heard of yelling at me through a screen. Remember, I didn’t have a clue who Diamond Dallas Page was, what he was like or what he did. I didn’t want the floatiness and fairyness of traditional yoga which was something that originally put me off trying it, but I equally did not want to be screamed at by some red-faced muscle mountain of a man. If this was a system I would be using for months I needed to be able to at least tolerate the person on the screen. And I’m really fussy about who and what I tolerate (hence why I can’t be bothered to watch much TV – too many people annoy me).
I had nothing to worry about.
Diamond Dallas Page actually came across as a nice guy. No-nonsense and motivational yet extremely aware that there would be people of various fitness levels and ability using his system. There’s none of the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality there, but there is a definite encouragement that you can go further, or you can step it back. It’s your own pace.
Or, as Dallas puts it, make it your own.
This was something we could stick to… and we have.
How long did it take me to lose 60lbs?
I began DDP Yoga on December 8th 2015. By the end of December 2016 I had lost 60lbs and dropped from a UK size 18 to a UK size 10.
That makes it a year.
We started off doing one workout a day, then increased it to two a day by adding the Red Hot Core workout to any other workout we would be doing. I also threw in a ten minute session on the cross trainer.
The plan was going well.
But life doesn’t always go to plan, does it?
I could definitely have reached that 60lb goal sooner – I lost 42lbs of that total within the first three months of starting DDPY. My story was featured on the DDP Yoga website itself after they spotted something I had tweeted!
However, you have to bear into account the curve ball that life threw us last year.
By the time I had lost my first 42lbs in March 2016, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Remember that this was only four months after my brother, my only sibling, was diagnosed with leukaemia. Suddenly our world was turned upside down and with my brother undergoing treatment himself and with nobody else to support Dad, life became a series of hospital appointments and a rollercoaster to hell and back. I was spending days at a time away from home, travelling back and forth to accompany Dad to appointments and treatments whilst Mike held the fort here. The daily workouts gave way to whenever I could fit them in and following a nutritional diet was reduced to grabbing what I could from vending machines whenever I could, along with copious amounts of coffee.
My Dad was hopeful for three years more. He passed away in June, just three months after his diagnosis was confirmed.
After Dad died I got back to my workouts. It proved to be a valuable way to keep focussed on something positive, something for me, rather than plunging too deeply into grief that was at times unbearable.
Then came another curve ball.
At the beginning of September, Jimmy, who had been in remission, discovered that his cancer had returned.
Jimmy had been my biggest cheerleader in my quest to lose weight. He was the one who had introduced me to DDP Yoga. He was the one who believed I could do it. Hell, he even made me get up and coach his friend through Ignition (one of the DDPY moves, not the song), from the middle of his CCU room.
Jimmy died on November 15th 2016, ten days before his 35th birthday.
I still hear his words.
‘I’m so proud of you, Sis.’
Keeping going, no matter what
Not being able to continue daily workouts didn’t do any harm as long as I remained committed long term. Not being able to do a workout for two or three or four days did not give me the excuse to quit completely.
It didn’t because I didn’t allow myself to.
Before he died Jimmy had told me how, when our grandad died, he went to the pub and got hammered. That, he said, didn’t do anything for him except make him feel worse. When our nan died a few years later he pounded the gym and took all his emotion out there.
I got it.
Even when the bad stuff in life got in the way I maintained the weight loss I had already achieved and would go back to working out whenever I could. Don’t get me wrong, some days I really did not feel like working out at all. I would quite happily have sat on the sofa eating a tube of Pringles instead but I made a commitment to myself. I needed to get fit and healthy. After watching cancer cannibalise my two closest family members I needed to ensure that I looked after myself, not take my body for granted.
I owed it to myself to get fit and healthy once and for all.
DDP Yoga kept me going, even during my darkest days, both physically and mentally. Between the DVDs and also the app which has been comprehensively developed during the last twelve months, accessing the workouts was easy. Between easy accessibility and a range of workout lengths to suit available time I have, there really hasn’t been any excuse that I could give not to do at least one, most days of the week. Also, Dallas’s motivational talks that you can access on the app have picked me up at times when I’ve felt so very, very low, and given me the strength to keep going forward even when I didn’t feel like moving at all.
What we like about DDP Yoga… and what we don’t
When Mike and I first experienced the positive effects of the DDP Yoga workout with a downward trend on the scales we could not believe how we had not heard of it here in the UK before.
‘How does nobody know about this?’ Mike kept repeating.
If it wasn’t for Jimmy we wouldn’t have been any the wiser.
Earlier this evening we sat down to put together the pros and cons of the programme. Neither of us could come up with anything we didn’t like. We tried to, we really did, because we didn’t want to appear sycophantic and creepy but the truth is that, for two people who actually dislike quite a lot about quite a lot, we could not think of any negatives at all.
The stuff we liked? Yeah, there’s lots…
You can work through at your own pace. There’s no pressure to push harder or ‘to the limits’ or half kill yourself in the process. Do whatever you can as far as you feel comfortable with, adapt if you need to and ‘make it your own’. Dallas says so.
It’s a total body workout
And you can feel it.
It’s low/no impact
Sure, there are a few leaps here and there but if you don’t fancy popping into a plank you can step back instead. Make it your own, remember? Which is great if you aren’t that fit/mobile/healthy/confident.
No equipment needed
Just get yourself a yoga mat (it’s worth investing a little more in a thicker yoga mat for both comfort and longevity), and the DVDs or the app and off you go. You can also invest in a yoga brick which will help you keep your balance during poses as you get started) and I would recommend a good pair of loose yoga pants as opposed to track suit bottoms as they will feel lighter to work out in. There’s no other equipment taking up valuable space in your home.
You don’t need much space to work out in
As well as the lack of equipment, you don’t need much space to do the workouts either.
You can do it anywhere
When Jimmy was in remission he couldn’t go to the gym because he was still wary of infection. He would take his yoga mat to the park and do some DDP Yoga moves there instead.
The kids love it
They seriously love it. And they’re pretty good at it! And it’s good for them. Win/win.
It isn’t polished
I really loved the fact that the workouts were unpolished and real. There were real people of various abilities, physique and at a range of fitness levels. As Dallas would keep reiterating, none were professional fitness models but ordinary people like you and me. I liked that sometimes someone might lose their footing or find a move a little taxing, not in a spiteful way but quite reassuringly that yes, they are real people doing a real workout in a real way. Like me.
I like Dallas
Not screamy shouty but motivational and encouraging. And he’s quite funny at times too. Plus his programme helped me lose 60lbs. Although I actually need to take credit for doing it because if I didn’t I’d still be fat…
There are a variety of workouts to choose from
Choose a total body workout or focus on a certain area.
And there’s a workout to fit whatever time you have available
There’s really no excuse whether you have 15 minutes or an hour. You can do something.
I did the workouts.
I stuck to the programme.
I lost the weight.
We’ve been doing DDP Yoga for just over a year now and this is the longest I have stuck to anything like this by a long shot. That I am still committed to the programme to me demonstrates how much I enjoy it even after all this time. You have to remember, I’m not just doing it once or twice a week but I do two workouts daily at least five times a week. That’s a lot of Diamond Dallas Page and a lot of DDPY to put up with if you didn’t like it.
Also, I want to clarify that this is a review written because so many people have asked about my weight loss. I have not been paid to write this review, it is not sponsored and I paid for everything myself. I want to share it (and in so much detail, as you’ve noticed if you’re still reading this in one sitting), because this is a workout programme I actually love doing and 100% believe in. I have been approached to endorse other workout programmes but this is the one I have done, this is the one that helped me lose weight and this is the one I would recommend in a heartbeat.
If you’re going to give anything a try, make it DDP Yoga.