The 3rd of July 2015 was the happiest day of my life, I was about to marry my fiancée and best friend. While I was cheerful on the outside, I felt sad and broken inside due to the way I looked. I grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome: a mild form of autism. Going through school was a challenge as I was a target for bullies who would mock me for having a support teacher in class. The one memory that I'll never be forget was during the time we studied John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, I was targeted due to my height and learning difficulty and walking down the corridor people would say “here comes Lenny” (a reference to a slow character in the book). Being overweight in school was another reason that students pick on me, I loved food a bit too much and my biggest enemy; soft drinks would be my go-to if something went wrong in my life.
So when I left school in 2002 and opted out of college as studying was not my strongest point. I weighed 266 pounds; I decided that I needed to do something so diet was top of my list. Running was something that I strived to do, but due my weight putting pressure on my knees; it just wasn't going to happen. So instead I took up walking for half an hour every day and this really helped me lose the weight and I reached the target I wanted at the time.
However life would become much challenging me for me as finding a job was another one of those things on the 'To Do' list along with diet and exercise. I succeeded in securing a job but my diet was slowly becoming a thing of the past. A night that will forever haunt me, while doing sit ups in my bedroom, I twisted my left knee severely and could not move out of bed for several days. My left leg slowly settled and while I could move around, my walking days was over as it would really hurt after a certain distance. It would be another few years until I finally got knee surgery; I was on the shelf; out of action for 2 weeks, complete with a bandaged knee.
In 2015 after the wedding I decided to try again and our home treadmill, which we’d bought some years before was gathering dust. I cleaned it down and put on my best trainers and gave it a shot. Years back I couldn't even run. This time the Running was better but I was easily out of breath and could hardly reach half a kilometre. I was never a fan of doing weights as I was worried about “doing them wrong” and causing an injury.
While I was walking on the treadmill, I always play music to motivate me, however one day I decided that I wanted to I listen to the latest 'Talk is Jericho' podcast hosted by one my favourite wrestlers Chris Jericho. Before he brought out his guest, he spoke about a programme known as DDPYoga that was created by ex WCW wrestler Diamond Dallas Page; he praised it and spoke highly about it, and how he could not do anything high impact due to back pain. At a time when he was advised to have back surgery, something he refused, he tried this new workout and sure enough it worked for him, I listened to everything within that small promotion that I became interested.
Luckily Jericho had a promo code to go with the programme. So I bought the Max Pack and waited anxiously for it to arrive to the UK. The package arrived and got the DVDs, a wall chart that showed images of the basic moves and booklet. I read the book and started with the breathing and Diamond Dozen. Practiced it a few times, I thought this could be what I've needed. I weighed myself before I got into my first month, while not my heaviest unlike leaving school, I weighed 238 pounds.
I started with the easy programmes, 'Energy' and 'Fat Burner'. The latter was the most challenging and while I had screamed at the TV sometimes, there was something that made me think; this programme is working for me, I was slowly becoming more agile and flexible, something that never happened to me when I walked long distances. When I went back to my job and people noticed that I was working a lot harder than ever and looking better than I had done for a long while.
The pounds were definitely starting to shift; the inches were getting smaller and I was getting more toned and stronger. I was getting back into some old pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn for years.
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3 months passed and each time was becoming easier for me and I gently eased into some more difficult sessions from Red Hot Core and (my personal Favourite) the Diamond Cutter (ironically named after DDP's Finishing move in WCW!).
I also found that DDP helped me centre myself, due to Asperger’s I do have severe mood swings and daily frustrations of coping in a world where daily interactions are confusing and stressful. DDPYoga helped release and focus my anger and feel calmer and more balanced, an unexpected but very welcome benefit.
I thought I would give running another try, so I put on my running gear and I said to myself, 'let's aim to run half a kilometre' Did it happen? Well not only I ran to my target as I intended, I ran a distance that I never dreamt of! 2.5k! It was fantastic for me, my knees were not hurting me, I didn’t experience muscle pain or cramp. This new lifestyle was my ticket to achieving bigger goals.
I dropped more weight thanks to the combination of Yoga, Running and Dietary changes which includes high protein, fruit, Vegetables and most importantly NO Soft drinks! An enemy that I had to tackle with strong willpower as I use to drink a 2 litre bottle a Day!
24th September 2016 was the day that I finally made it, I aimed to go for 4k, each time, I would aim for easy targets and sometimes I would challenge myself. So I had the playlist at the ready for my auditory senses and after 35 mins, I was still running and I don't usually look at the length I ran but I was intrigued as I would have started slowing down to catch my breath even when walking. When I checked on the machine, I was shocked to see that I ran a full 5k without once stopping! I was jumping for joy (I was off the treadmill by then!!) and I needed to tell somebody; I went on twitter and tweeted to DDPYoga and the guy that created the programme. Usually tweeting to big names doesn't guarantee a shout back however I got a tweet back from DDP
I knew that by doing this, my life was starting to change for the better. The Yoga is now part of my routine, as I've memorized 70% of the moves, I can listen to them via the MP3 player and perform the routines anywhere in the house. Meanwhile with the goal of running 5k was completed, I wanted to try to double the distance, it would take serious dedication. It wouldn't be for another year until I did the unthinkable, 19th June of 2017, I ran 10.50k in under 1 hour and 10 minutes. I never want to stop and my next goals are to master new moves with DDPYoga, such as a standing split and I would love to run 15 or even 20k, I think I can achieve the goals, I've just got to keep up the work, try my hardest and if I do fall, pick myself up and carry on.
Remember this: A Little Progress Each Day adds Up to Big Results. Don't wait for the Opportunity, Create it!