I have written pretty extensively on this website about what DDP Yoga has done for me in terms of weight loss, strength-building, flexibility, mastering poses, etc. etc. One facet of improvement that I haven’t been so forthcoming on is the improvement to my mental health, but I think it’s about time I document this in the hopes that it can help others.
From the age of 12 into my mid-twenties, I struggled with eating disorders, mostly bulimia. On a superficial level, I was bulimic in an effort to get to some ideal weight goal or body shape I had in my mind. Ironically, despite the purging of food, there was no overall reduction in weight. But as with all eating disorders, there’s an underlying control issue. The physical act of purging food was enjoyable on some really strange level and was a (wildly detrimental) way of venting. Just to be clear, I am not promoting bulimia as a stress-control method! What little relief comes from emptying your stomach contents is not worth the expense to your mental and physical health. Sadly, I lacked that insight as a 12-year-old and so I became an eating disorder statistic.
To this day, I am not sure why I developed an eating disorder. I don’t know if there was a clear-cut cause, or if it’s just “one of those things.” The reason I never nailed down the source of the problem is that I never went through any eating disorder-specific therapy or rehab. My parents sent me to a general psychologist when they found out I was having problems early in my teens, but I didn’t go for very long, probably because I wasn’t ready for counselling at that point. Instead of ever addressing any issues, I simply became more careful to hide my behaviour. Over the years, I wasn’t consistently bulimic; it was more of an on-off behaviour with me, so much so that I almost felt like an impostor referring to myself as bulimic, as if I were disrespecting the “real” bulimics who were more committed to it (this is probably a prime example of denial)! But I was 100% ON when it came to having the personality that would develop an eating disorder. I was completely dysmorphic in my body image, I had low self-esteem and I never addressed the underlying reasons for those problems.
Somewhere in my twenties, I just sort of stopped. For now apparent reason, I outgrew the behaviour of purging. Note, I didn’t say I outgrew the “binging and purging” habit, just the purging. I didn’t cease purging because of some break-through in therapy; there was no therapy. I just stopped sticking my fingers down my throat until food came up. I still had all the inner demons and issues that lead to the eating disorder. I certainly kept the binging part going, and continued through to my thirties with an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. Where I had previously exerted “control” over food, I now descended into a complete loss of control with food. The rest as they say, is history. I shot up to almost 200 lbs, and became unhealthy and depressed.
In both my controlling “binging and purging” and completely uncontrolled “overeating” phases, I had a negative body image, low self-esteem, unhealthy relationship with food, and other personality problems that come with those issues. I am focusing on the mental effects of eating disorders here, but I obviously suffered all the physical ailments that come with being either bulimic or an overeater too.
When I started DDP Yoga, I did so with purely physical goals in mind: pain reduction, weight loss, improved flexibility. I didn’t have any expectation that DDP Yoga would alleviate my depression, mainly because I didn’t know I was depressed – it’s surprisingly difficult to realise you are depressed in the middle of it, you only realise you were depressed after the fact. Similarly, I didn’t I expect DDP Yoga to fix my body image, my relationship with food, or any other mental health issue I landed on its doorstep with. Why would I? It wasn’t sold to me as a mechanism to do any of those things. I was sold a workout system that would help me lose weight and improve my strength, and that’s what I hoped it would do.
DDP Yoga certainly delivered on those promises! As I have written about (extensively) before, DDP Yoga got me to a healthy weight, with an athletic body fat percentage, and enabled me to achieve many feats of strength and flexibility that I had never dreamt of before. Through some combination of the cardio and strength-building from the DDP Yoga workouts, and the healthy eating from the DDP Yoga nutrition plan gave me a healthy, strong body.
But DDP Yoga did more than that. After reaching my goal weight, and maintaining that weight for a number of months, some thing really amazing happened. For the first time in my life, I stopped caring about my weight, or any physical measurements for that matter. I realised that I had made peace with my body. I now feel united with my body, where once it had been an enemy that I battled with, and I fought dirty. Now, I am motivated by a desire to make my body healthy and strong. I respect my body and I want to treat it as well as possible for my long term health. When I am trying to get something out of my body these days, it’s on the order of mastering a new Yoga pose, or completing a feat like a full marathon. I am not trying to bow to some societal pressure like getting a “thigh gap” or hitting some arbitrary number on a scale. In fact, because of marathon training, I recently gained a few pounds, and I was delighted, because I know that weight went on as muscle and it means I am getting strong enough to run a full marathon.
I am not at the summit of perfect mental health. I still struggle with overeating and sugar-addiction, but that is now purely a physical issue. What I mean by that is that I will eat my way to the bottom of a packet of gluten-free, vegan cookies because sugar is more physically addictive than heroine. But I am not eating my way there in some vain attempt to find love or fill some empty part within myself. I have love, and that love comes from within. I love myself and I love my body. I am happy and I want to continue to get strong, inside and out. I will address my sweet tooth in an effort to be healthy. But that’s all it is now: a garden-variety sweet tooth. I am no longer bulimic. I never again will be bulimic. Nor am I depressed, or unfulfilled, or suffering from body dysmorphia.
I don’t know what about DDP Yoga worked for me where other exercise systems, school counsellors or psychologists failed before. I know I have enjoyed the fact that DDP Yoga is fun, effective and challenging. I have felt so grateful for the fact that DDP is unique in how genuine he is, and how legitimately concerned he is with the health, well-being and success of those that do DDP Radio beyond just getting us to buy his program. I have certainly been honoured by receiving praise from DDP from shout-outs on DDP Yoga all the way to winning the DDP Yoga challenge, and the trust that has been placed in me as a representative of DDP Yoga. I know my physical goals were met because of the completeness of the DDP Yoga exercise and nutrition package, and from a connectedness to the community at teamDDPyoga.com. Somewhere in there is the magic that led me to exorcise my inner demons and fix my mental health once and for all, but I don’t know what specifically accomplished it. But it was accomplished. And for that, from the bottom of my increasingly strong heart, I will be forever grateful to DDP, Craig Aaron and everyone else who has made DDP Yoga what it is.