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Stephanie Gruver

In December of 2019 I wasn’t feeling well.  A persistent cough, fever, and body aches left me exhausted.  I was diagnosed with bronchitis and slept upright in a comfy chair for 3 weeks, trying to keep my lungs clear and not get pneumonia.


At nearly 6’2” tall – I was never a petite flower. But over the course of the last 15 years I’d gained over 65 pounds, ending up around 236 pounds. By the end of December, I’d recovered from the bronchitis and lost 6 pounds.  And I decided to change my life.


January came and I took out the DDP Yoga DVDs bought nearly 2 years before and started working out at home. I struggled. I couldn’t do half the moves, I fell over, I had to take breaks, and the dog looked at me like I was nuts. I used a chair as an aid to help me gain balance, and sometimes to just get up off the floor.  I stuck with it and got better at it, a little bit each day. I realized the reason I failed at going to the gym or exercise classes is I hate working out in front of other people, and with my hectic work schedule I needed something I could do at home.


I joined the DDPY group on FB and found like-minded people determined to change their lives.  I read their stories and realized I could do this.


By the end of January I fell into a rhythm.  Yoga first thing in the morning, more water and tea, less soda, diet of chicken, fish, rice, veggies, fruits, cheese, nuts, salads, etc.  Very little bread and processed foods.  Cut back on restaurant food and very little red meat.  I didn’t say “no” to soda or red meat – I just cut way back, maybe having red meat once a month vs. daily.  I stuck to my alcohol-and-smoke-free lifestyle (at least I had that going for me) and pushed forward. 


I lost my taste for chocolate, cookies, cake, etc. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it, and on the rare occasions I did – I realized all the sugar made me feel awful the next day.  I even shunned cake on my 48th birthday in February.


The Stay at Home order was issued in Minnesota in March and I was happy to actually stay at home.  Being a Realtor and constantly meeting people made COVID-19 a terrifying new obstacle to my business. I kept eating right, doing DDPY, and walking the dog daily.  By Day 45 of Stay at Home (May 11th) I was down to 196 pounds. 


Eventually I came to terms with how to manage my business with COVID-19 and slowly started working with clients again. I kept up my workouts and eating habits.  I started to actually interact with the DDPY FB group and got tremendous support.


By August, 2020 I had lost 64 pounds. A client of mine introduced me to Christi Williams of Grinkie Photography.  Christi specialized in doing pinup photos, with the help of a talented makeup artist named Lela Wright.  My husband thought it would be a great way to celebrate my healthy new lifestyle.  So at age 48 – back down to my college weight – I signed up for a photo session. 


Two hours of hair and makeup, 3 costume changes, and over 150 photos later – we came up with a group of photos I really loved.  The goal was to look like a 1940s movie star – Rita Hayworth is a favorite of mine – and Christi and Lela did not disappoint.


Christi mentioned everyone who came in for a photo session throughout the year was entered in the pinup calendar contest.  She picks a photo from your session and posts it on FB for people to vote on.  With the support of friends and family, and the DDPY group on FB – one of my photos was chosen for the 2021 Calendar.


As a woman in her 40s I was starting to give up on my health and my looks.  Happily married, running a successful business – taking better care of myself and my appearance seemed unimportant.  As I started doing yoga I realize how unhappy I was and how awful I was feeling mentally and physically.  I was doing a disservice to myself, and every woman in her 40s by not living up to my full potential.  I can now say “This is what 48 can look like!”


Thank you, Diamond Dallas Page and your team at DDPY – you helped me change my life.

After photo courtesy of and

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