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Disabled vet loses 140 pounds, inspires others through yoga

After years of disability and weight gain, Arthur Boorman was ready to give up. “I was at a point in my life where I fully expected to die,” Boorman told TODAY. “I was on a downward spiral.”Fifteen years ago, the retired military paratrooper was unable to walk unassisted. As he relied on canes and braces just to get around, his weight climbed to about 340 pounds and his health and emotion

After years of disability and weight gain, Arthur Boorman was ready to give up. 

“I was at a point in my life where I fully expected to die,” Boorman told TODAY. “I was on a downward spiral.”

Fifteen years ago, the retired military paratrooper was unable to walk unassisted. As he relied on canes and braces just to get around, his weight climbed to about 340 pounds and his health and emotional well-being plummeted. 

“There are many, many times that I was truly disgusted with what I had become,” he told TODAY's Kerry Sanders. “When furniture gives way underneath you, when you can’t do things that everybody else can do....”

Diets and exercise plans didn’t work. Boorman was having a hard time with simple things like standing up, and he couldn’t drive a car.

Then he found hope -- and in turn, spread hope to millions of others.

While searching the Internet for help with pain management, he found a yoga DVD from former professional wrestler "Diamond" Dallas Page and felt he could give it a try. He struggled at first but stuck with it, and dropped more than 140 pounds in 10 months. He also dropped his canes and braces, able to walk and even run on his own once more.

Boorman videotaped his journey to hold himself accountable, he told TODAY, “because I was afraid it wouldn’t work.” 

It did. Now he hopes the video, with more than 7 million hits on YouTube since April, will help others believe in themselves and accomplish their goals. 

“I’m hoping I inspired other people,” he told TODAY. “I don’t view what I did as impossible or extraordinary. I think that anyone can do what I did in any aspect of their life.”

Boorman credits Page with believing in him at a time when he thought exercise seemed impossible and when most other yoga instructors had turned him away.

“When I first saw the pictures of Arthur in the knee brace and the back brace and the wraparound canes, I thought, ‘Wow, I want to help that guy,’” Page told TODAY. 

Page says his DDP Yoga DVD is not traditional yoga but a “hybrid workout that incorporates some traditional yoga movements and adds dynamic resistance, active breathing techniques and power movements.”

The two became friends over the Internet, with Boorman updating Page on his progress and Page offering his encouragement.

“Did he have that discipline to actually do it? And he did,” Page said. “I was blown away by his results every month.”

The YouTube video introduces Boorman as a 47-year-old disabled Gulf War veteran who thought he would never walk again without help. 

He’s seen doing the yoga DVD, struggling to keep his balance, arms flailing and several times, he tumbles to the floor. But, he always got back up.

"Just because I can't do it today doesn't mean I'm not going to be able to do it someday," Boorman tells the camera after falling out of a headstand at one point.

Elsewhere in the video, he holds up his trousers several inches away from his waistline, saying that he’d lost so much weight that if he let go of the pants, they would drop. “I’m really pleased with this and I just want to share this everybody,” he says in the video.

His video closes with him thanking Page and showing side-by-side before and after pictures. One shows him standing with his canes, the other, looking long and lean in a headstand.

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