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Aug. 22, 2022

How Cheryl ILOV cured incurable chronic pain and became a NINJA and black belt

Cheryl Ilov is a former chronic pain patient who was declared incurable by her medical team, which prompted her on a path of self-healing and earning her master's degree in physical therapy. Cheryl is also a second degree black belt in Ninpon Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja.

Cheryl Ilov is an author, speaker, dancer, martial artist, physical therapist, and lifelong learner.

She is a former chronic pain patient who was declared incurable by her medical team, which prompted her on a path of self-healing and earning her master's degree in physical therapy.

Cheryl is also a second degree black belt in Ninpon Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja.

She believes that there is an incredible amount of strength and power in each and every one of us, just waiting to be unleashed. 

In Cheryl's words: I published the award-winning and best-selling book, “Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond" in 2016. With over 20 years’ experience as a physical therapist in private practice, I have helped thousands of clients recover from pain and injuries by integrating the science of physical therapy with the art of movement. I believe that everyone can enjoy vibrant health and vitality, at every stage of life.   

I am also a second-degree black belt in an ancient Japanese martial art called Ninpo Tai Jutsu. From my own experience of beginning my training at the tender young age of 47 and becoming my teacher’s first female black belt 10 years later, I discovered that there is an incredible amount of strength and power in each and every one of us, just waiting to be unleashed. 

I recently published my second book, "The Reluctant Ninja: How A Middle-Aged Princess Became A Warrior Queen," which chronicles my crazy journey in the world of men and martial arts and is receiving rave reviews



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Welcome to between the before and after a podcast, about the stories that shape us, I'm your host coach Jon McLernon, and each episode, I bring you an inspiring guest with a moving story that shines a light on the power of the human spirit.

Alright welcome back.

I have to say this is a first for me and I've done over 70 episodes of this show but I have not yet interviewed a ninja let alone a warrior Queen so I am super excited to have Cheryl on the show today.

Cheryl how you doing?
I'm doing great.

How are you doing?
Coach John?
I am absolutely fantastic.

I'm gonna super good mood, because I was really excited for this interview today before we dive into your story because you do have quite the story.

You know, you didn't just start out as a badass Warrior.

A ninja, you know, there's a bit of a road to get there.

We're going to explore the story today.

But for those who are listening where you at right now, because I do see for those who are watching, there's a book behind Cheryl here, I believe it's titled The Reluctant ninja.

So how did you get or so?
What are you doing, currently I guess.

And what does that?
What does a reluctant ninja do in day-to-day Life currently?
Okay, well, that's a really interesting question.

So, basically, when I'm not, you know, trying to beat crime and hanging out at the dojo beating up bad guys.

I pretty much do what everybody else does, you know, right now, I'm thinking about what I'm gonna make for dinner tonight.

You know, I like to read, I like to hike, I like to dance, I'm a dancer.

So I do a lot of things in life and I'm also, I call myself a recovering physical therapist, because I'm a non-traditional PT and physical therapy was my second career, and I do love to advertise myself as a physical therapist.

Who hate sex Exercise and thinks that chocolate is food because it is.

Yes, I love that.

That's awesome.

You know and your where are you located?
I'm located in Denver Colorado.

So right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains mile, high city Beauty, I'm just a couple hours North.

If you drove straight North through Montana on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, and so we're connected by the same mountain range, as well as an internet connection.

So, absolutely, and it would be a lovely drive to Just me.

Yeah, I think I don't would you pass through Utah, get from Colorado.

Could you potentially go through Utah?
And some of those really cool orange, like rock formations and things, you know, I don't think so.

I think we would just go straight North and through like Wyoming Montana and what else I want.

Then I think I'd be right across the border, then to be across the border to Alberta where M and and Wyoming's famous for something rather.

There's only like two hundred thousand people live in Wyoming.

I think if I have it right?
Like as not, not all that.


But, you know, there's got to be something interesting to see there.

There is, is it?
Oh my gosh, I can't remember there is a mountain or a, where everybody goes to it.

This is at the Grand Tetons.

I think that probably something like that.

Well, you know, I'm thinking of like Grey Poupon, which is like a tea great.

No, that's a mustard and mustard.

There we go, sorry, I'm thinking of something else.

Clearly, I just took the most sick stick to my day job of like interviewing people.

Look try to connect food and geography.

So yeah.

So you became a ninja and you became a ninja later in life as well.

I certainly did.

I started my training at the tender young age of 47 and I like to tell people I did not go willingly because I did not and I call myself a ninja because I actually do study, the more art that I study is called nimpah taijutsu, the art of the Ninja so it's an ancient Japanese martial art, based Based on the art of the ninja and the samurai.

So that's, you know, woven all through our training and our art except it does focus more on the ninja than it does.

On the samurai, we pride ourselves on being The Peasants and, you know, hiding in the grass and all that kind of stuff hiding enroll in in plain sight, which is definitely not very Samurai.

Like it's more of a way of a ninja, right?
Like, what is the difference between a ninja and a samurai?
For those who might not know?
Because I mean, I think over here North American culture, we hear about Samurai Warriors.

But were they like a royal Regal class?
Yeah, they were more the elite and the upper upper class and basically the ninja were the peasants, they were, they were the farmers and they were just, you know, the, the grunt workers and the samurai would often times, raid The Villages of the ninja and the ninja, you know, they had no, no, no resources like those beautiful expensive, high-quality swords that the samurai had and the samurai used to love Love when they would get a new sword and they would test their blade out by going through the villages and kind of whack and people had the people's heads off to see how effective, you know, their swords were and they would raid The Villages often times and the ninja had to come up with ways of how to defend themselves.

And of course they didn't have fancy equipment.

They didn't have those really fantastic or any armor and and like they finest Quality Steel to make swords and things like that.

So you know like samurais, don't sound the samurai, don't sound like Nice people from what you're describing.

Well, you know, if you're a ninja they don't sound like nice people, you know?
But there's a lot of the rating and stuff, but they were highly respected and they were the ones that would protect, you know, like the upper echelon the emperor's, and the, you know, the people in power.

So they were kind of like their guards and their guardians.

But then, of course, you know, the, The Peasants were, pretty much free game for them or fair game.

So, what the peasants did?
They were farmers and they would use Use their tools that they already had their farm tools, and they would use those and play with different ways of how they could use them to defend themselves.

For example, they could be walking, you know, across their fields carrying buckets of water, and they would have this long stick across their back with buckets of water on each end, because that's was the way they would be able to carry more water at one time, right?
That same, if somebody started coming at you to attack you even with a sword, Off with the buckets, they would have a six-foot long stick, right?

And you could use that to hopefully it's like thick enough that maybe a sword couldn't cut through it.

And sort of like one swipe with that be similar to like, you know, I'm thinking that all the Ninja Turtles.

Um but like Donatello it is like bo staff.

Would that be something similar or I believe?
So yes we call it the Rickshaw Kobo because it's a six foot long bow staff and basically you know it wouldn't necessarily be so strong.

Wrong that a sword couldn't cut it but you would be able to create a six foot circle around yourself with twirling the stick and then doing strikes.

You have a fudge much farther reach with a 6-foot long, bow staff than the samurai would have with the three foot long sword.


So samurai sword, typically we built three feet long then.

Yes, yes.


Well there's this is fascinating.

Now if we're going to rewind the clock a little bit further, like, when you were a young girl, did you Dream of like becoming a ninja no I didn't even know what a ninja was.

Of course, when I was a little girl that was way before the days of the Ninja Turtles.


Um, you know, we did have superheroes, I didn't want to be any of those things.

I always wanted to be a princess or, you know, you know, a ballerina or something.

You know, I'm a girly girl.

I always was even from a very, very young age and, you know, you know, a ninja Naru know who would want to do that.

My father actually had had a black belt in karate.

I have four sisters so by the time my mom had daughter number four, I think that's when my dad started to take karate and probably for several reasons, one more way to get him out of the house and to learn some skills to help protect us and then he tried to get my sisters and I to go to the gym with him.

So we could learn a few techniques and there was no way that was going to happen.

None of us would go and we didn't so know that Martial arts was never on my radar.

It was never, I thought in my DNA, but somebody somewhere had other thoughts and other plans, right?

So did you get into any fights growing up?
Only with my sisters right?

And actually, I'm the num number three.

My father actually used to call us by number, you know, right, right.

It's like what's the point?
I'll just come by number because he kept getting our names tangled up.

And I think my oldest sister daughter number one, she and Guy.

When we were kids, we would just go at it.

Like, you wouldn't believe and it was the stupidest decision of my life because my sisters, both my two older sisters were very robust and healthy and, you know, I was a scrawny, tiny little thing.

I might, I was so little and so skinny, that my grandmother actually accused my mom of running out of food because that's, you know, she didn't feed me.

I was so tiny, but I was just that small, that my sister would tick me off.

She would just enraged.

So much.

I would just I remember running across the room and just like diving on top of her and be like a cat on a bear and it had about the same effect and we would just go at it on.

This was only when my parents were not home.



And what it was?
She deliberately trying to enrage you oh yeah, yeah, yeah, of course.

And how many years older is she oh my gosh.

Let me think three and a half years, okay?
And have.


And so and so much, much bigger.

And then my second older sister who's only for 18 months older than me, she would just watch and she would kind of follow us around the house.

As we were beating each other up, screaming and tearing into each other, and I'd be crying.

Oh, we have terrible.

But yeah.

That's so I guess.

I learned how to fight that way.

I don't know, but it wasn't very Artful.

It was right.

You don't write it and it wasn't very effective.


It was just sort of the tenacious kind of scrappiness, you know?
Yeah, yeah.

So getting it on high school, you still didn't have dreams of being a ninja.

So what was your intention?
Out of high school.

Yeah, I think I wanted to be a little bit.

I don't want to say a ski bum because, you know, I knew that I was going to be working.

I was when I graduated high school went straight into college.

Got a degree in a medical profession.

Respiratory therapy.

And I was skiing.

My dad taught us how to ski.

I was nine years old, my two older sisters.

Didn't really take to it the way that I did, but there was something about skiing that I absolutely loved.

I wasn't a dancer at the time.

I'm but, you know, it was to me.

I was dancing in the snow, okay?
Which is kind of crazy to say that because I'm from Western Pennsylvania.

Originally, if anybody listening if you've ever skied in the East and especially in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania or the hills, you are skiing on bulletproof ice so you're really not dancing on the snow.

Your kind of sliding down on the ice but you do learn how to carve carve your turns.

So you just have some some some kind of control.

Just like out of control in a sheer, she device and exactly.


And it's not like the nice powder that you get out here in the west coast.


Right, right.


So, you kind of want to be a ski bum and you were a respiratory therapist and you're also a physical therapist as well.

Did that come afterwards that came much much later.

Once I graduated college, I moved out here to Colorado with my one of my college roommates.

She was originally Lee from Cleveland we were in our last two years of college.

We were actually in a very large teaching Hospital in the middle of Pittsburgh.

And you know, you don't think of Pittsburgh being fun.

I know it's an oxymoron but Pittsburgh is a really fun city.

It was even a fun city back then.

That was 1976 278.

So I'm dating myself, but, you know, fantastic bars and discos and shopping and restaurants and The Nightlife was fantastic.

And fortunately, there was a man involved.

that he and I had been dating and we were dating kind of seriously and when I realized how serious he was getting It really got a little bit dicey for me and yeah, I was up.

Oh and one time we're having a conversation I was getting this Vibe like oh I think he's thinking, you know, the big.


Right right.


And I was a senior in college and I even kind of asked him I said, hey, you know, if you have any plans that include me, you might want to fill me in on it and tell me about it.

And he still haha giggled and he wouldn't say anything.

And finally, I said, look I want a career, I'm going to work full-time, you know, want to do this.

I want to do that and he got a really confused.

Look on his face and he said, well, well who's going to look after the kids?
And I thought thank you for saying that.

So he had my yes, my entire life is planned out and I broke up with him right away but he wouldn't take no for an answer and kept, you know, trying to get back together.

And finally, it's like, you know what, I think it's time.

Made a just leave and find my own way, you know, see who I really am and my girlfriend.

You like I said, she was from Cleveland, she didn't want to go back to Cleveland.

Go figure, she didn't want to stay in Pittsburgh, go figure.

And I said, hey, Berta, why don't we just go to Denver, right engine said, okay, so, it's like two or three days.

After graduating college, the ink was still wet.

On our diploma.

We packed up my 1974, Ford Maverick, and we drove across the country to Denver Colorado.


So we're both still here?


And that's just a couple of years later.

Yeah, yeah.

Just just two, just two years later.

Did you ever did you ever have any contact with this x again after you left?
I'm because he didn't have the internet back then so I do we did not but this is of this than wow.

What a loaded question is more details to the story of the Ninja here?
Yeah gets a it gets a really kind of crazy and really kind of weird.

Yeah we kind of reconnected.

33 years later and it was 2010.

It was the very end of 2010 and you know, I had my own physical therapy office and my parents had been sick that entire year.

So I had been flying back and forth from Denver to Pittsburgh and back home again so I can help them out and blah, blah, blah, long story short, they were both dying of the same illness at the same time.

They both have leukemia was very, very weird and strange so that last year of their lives Well, they were playing this really weird game of end stage.

Leukemia poker, it was weird.

So my mother passed away on November 8th and my father passed and I stayed even, you know, after my mom died to help him and he passed away 19 days later.

So, you know all this, you know, and I hadn't even been at work, you know, being self-employed.

I after we close the house, we did all the things that we had to do.

And I came back to work, came back to Denver, went to my office and I was walking Ask the mailboxes and nobody ever sent me a mail.

I hadn't been there for three months and I figured it's all only going to be junk mail.


Yes, few flyers.

And the bill is something like that.

So exactly.

So I walked right past it, but then something said, you need to check your mail.

I even walked backwards, I went to the mailbox, I opened it up and I looked at the bottom of the mailbox underneath all of these junk flyers and you know, mailers and stuff.

I saw a card sticking out From the bottom and I knew into instinctively, at that moment, I recognized the handwriting, I knew who it was from and it was from him and apparently he had seen my mother's obituary and, you know, he felt really bad.

And so he wanted to send me a card and he knew I wasn't in town, and he wanted to know if my sisters were local or my father must be devastated.

Blah, blah, blah.

And I'm reading this going.

Well, not anymore.

He's not so.


So finally at the very end, he says, you know, I'm only ten minutes away if your father needs any help, let me know which right.

There is a little bit weird hadn't seen this guy in 33 years.

My father would probably say, who the hell are you?
You know, he came knocking on his door and then, I realized, I wonder how often he reads the obituary because my father had passed away.

I flipped the envelope over but it was postmarked the exact date that my father had passed away.

So again it's like this is too weird.

So I wasn't going to Pond, he gave me his email address and for two weeks it's like do I answer do I not and it's like nothing.

I don't know about this processing quite a bit here.

Yes think about that.

Think about everything else that was going.

There's a whole story here that we haven't yet to of into the like that your parents were dealing with and slightly like leukemia, simultaneously and stage and Stage.

Yeah, yeah, so, but we'll come back to that detail because that's that in itself is something.

So you're wondering, do I respond?
And he left an email address.

Year was this?
2010 it was okay December.

It was either December 2010 or January 2011 and so the last I had seen of him was you know sometime in 1978 the middle of 1978.

Okay wow yeah and I mean there's even a more of a back story I'll tell tell you sometime it's it's just craziness.

So anyway, I finally said okay I will Respond and I says, well, thank you, you know?
And because even in the letter, he sent me because I don't know if you remember me or not.

It's like, are you kidding us?
Why I live in Denver.

I remember you, thanks.

By the way, I love it.

Here is really good.

So, but I didn't say that, of course, I remember you.

And thank you for your condolences.

I really appreciate that.

You know, when he always said help gracious, my mother always was, you know, when he came over and stuff and I said not really sure how often you do.

Look at the obituaries.


But unfortunately, my father passed away, so, you know, it's all done.

So that did start a correspondence between us.

That was just friendly.

And it was really, it was, it was in some ways, it was comforting in a lot of ways, his wife had passed away, which I figured he must have been single if he was reaching out to me.

But his wife had passed away from breast cancer and had struggled with that for probably three and a half or four years.

I can't remember but then he had Add three children, one.

Who was just 17 when she died and the oldest was probably in his early 20s.

And the, the interesting thing is for as much as I was processing, losing my mother, my father, my childhood home which was a home a house that my father had built with his own two hands.

It was a beautiful house, a stone house and everything else that I had lost along the way.

I was grieving more for a woman I had never met and four children.

I didn't even know existed and my heart just really went out to all of them because of what they had lost.

I had had my mother until I was 54 right.



So, in that way, it was so anyhow.

As the story continues, I was going back again to Pittsburgh in April, to go to my aunt Stella's bowling banquet She was 82 years old and she was receiving an award for being the top female bowler, senior bowler in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

That's huge at 82.

Like, how cool is that?
Oh yeah.

And I mean and when we went to the bank, when I was just me, I went by myself and my sisters to my, one of my sisters and my niece, it was a lovely way of celebrating life after everything that we had been through together as a family because my aunt and my cousins.

I mean, we grew up as one big family, so eight.

Girls, you know, and we were all very, very close.

So it was, it was a wonderful trip but while I was there, I was going to, we were going to meet and have dinner.

And so we did.

So I actually went, you know, out with him and we had dinner one night and we had a wonderful time.

It was really great.

You know, we laugh we had an awesome time and all I could think of was, you know, as I was flying home.

The next day, it was like, did I dodged a bullet?
Wow, yeah.

Isn't that interesting to like, see it years later?
And be like that could have been me and, and the life, you know.

So yeah.

And I thought about that it was like, you know, when you think about the decisions we make in life, And, you know, the the decisions that you have made, which I know your story pretty well.


Yes you were on my show, but think of the decisions and the many different Pathways that your one life could be.

And I thought about even trying to write a story, you know, or maybe even a book about the parallel, you know, the lives.

It's like, you know, I could have been living there.

A mother a wife having no career bored to tears.


But, you know, this is what or I could have Stayed in Pittsburgh.

And maybe just had a night life and been single and, you know, maybe you need become a ski instructor there, you know, the things, the different ways from one decision.

That impacts Our Lives.

Well, it sounds like the book would be titled parallel lives, I guess so.

And I guess I have to start working on it because start writing it, you know.

So, how long was it, your parents grappled with leukemia and do they get diagnosed around the same time or or how did that come about?
My father was 78 when he was diagnosed and he was 83 almost eighty four when he passed away.

So what happened is I have my youngest Is much younger than the rest of us.

So, she was an Ipsy, baby.

So there's 17 years between my oldest sister, and my baby sister.

So of course, her kids were very young.

She had two kids, a girl, and a boy and my father just loved, you know.

I mean, his grandson, he had another grandson but this little one, you know, they were just very very close and they were eating together one time and my nephew had a cold and my father not even thinking about it was they were sharing some mashed potatoes with the same Force.

Work and my dad ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.

Severe, pneumonia in the local hospital, which things weren't going very well.

And of course, my sisters are frantic calling me out here.

You know, what do we do now with?
So we got him transported to the hospital, actually that I trained at and got my respiratory therapy degree at and basically, it was pneumonia.

He was in the hospital for a couple of days.

The day they were getting ready to discharge him.

What my other older sister was there?
and right before they discharged him, the doctor came in and looked at his chart and said, excuse me a minute and he walked out And they're looking at each other and it took about an hour later for him to come back in and said, we want to run some more tests.

So basically he had already been, you know, he had leukemia and already, he never had felt any effects of it, but because his immune system was so compromised that cold that my nephew had gave him ammonia.

So there was like, well, okay, at least we know and he was diagnosed with two types of leukemia.

One is CLL, which is very common in older people and you can live with it for a very long.

Long time.

The other one was, was it MDS?
And I can't remember the technical term the my plastic something dysplasia.

And that was the one they really wanted to keep an eye on.

Of course, my mother was like you and she was just frantic and I always thought you know Mom calm down you're going to worry yourself sick over this you know and guess what 18 months later she was supposed to have just a routine you know procedure and she they did the blood Work.

And the doctor said, we need to do some more work.

There's, you know, this we're finding something in your blood and she looked and said, that sounds like leukemia and they did a bone biopsy and she had the MDS.

So she had the exact same kind that my dad did.

Except she only had the one that one that was more serious and my mother was a very intelligent woman and very cure and she's like a dog with a bone once she got an idea in her head, she was going to chew on it.

Until you know, she got all the information she wanted.

And she kept saying to all the doctors, this has to be environmental.

It has to be environmental.

Well, it's the first 100 my mind if they both have like the same, you know.


That's an interesting thing.

What are the chances?
So, you know, it there and there is, there is one chemical called Benzene.

That's, you know, really associated with it.

But, but, you know, for the next, probably five years, I think it was that my mom had it.

Five or six years, even a lot of her, their friends did not know a lot of only the very, very close family.

Knew you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at them.

My mother was look beautiful.

We couldn't tell she was sick up until the day she died.

Except for, of course, the PICC line and my dad was starting to really show signs.

You know, once my mother was really failing and it was really funny.

It was almost like my mother was hanging on waiting for him to catch up with her.

Right, it's so interesting.

And I wonder if there really is something to that, and I mean, that's a whole nother conversation to explore, just the ability of the mind to affect our health, to some degree.

I mean, this is why the placebo effect is accounted for in scientific research, right?
Because it's you can you can give someone they think they're getting a medication.

You could basically have the amount of medication they're getting and the mind sort of somehow Bridges, the Gap.

Like it's quite quite something to think about.

And so what ages were your parents when they passed my mother was Just past 80.

She was, it was about 4 months, 3 months after her 80th birthday.

And my father was about three months shy of his 84th birthday.


And so and they both had leukemia for a number of years.

Yeah, they lab is at least five or six years.

I think.

So, in a sense because, you know, I'm actually going back to how you were.

You were grieving the, you know, your ex-partner ex-boyfriend I guess, you know, his loss of wife more than your parents.

And I wonder if there's an element of If you know, the first grieving, maybe comes when they get the diagnosis and you wonder how much time do we have left with them and you begin to already already sort of process the upcoming loss.

I guess I could put it that way.

It would you think there's anything like that that took place?
You know, I think you that could be it there.

That could have a lot to do with it because you know, there are always like steps of like oh okay another treatment or okay, another hospitalization, but I have to tell you up until the very last two or three A month, maybe two months of their lives, we laughed a lot.

Yeah, you know, we really did even though, you know, the blows were coming.

And I remember when my mother because she was in, they both had the chronic form of the MDS.

And when my mother actually went from chronic to acute, I got that phone call.

I was getting ready to drive up to Boulder Colorado because we were doing like this huge National Convention for the feldenkrais practitioner 04 feldenkrais.

And I was going to and even as a student I was a student but I was going to teach a class and I was helping to do a lot of things and I got the news and you know, my sister called and said okay this is what, you know, my mommy just got tested.

Again, this is what a cute is and this is what her numbers are.

And I got it backwards and I thought, oh great, she's still, you know, in The Chronic phase and it wasn't until I was pulling out of my driveway but it was like oh that means she has converted to a cute.

And the whole drive up to Boulder, it's like my mother is dying.

My mother is dying, and then I had to land in Boulder and just go right into service mode to help the people.

I was assigned to, to help who were presenting.

I had to teach a couple of classes.

I mean, it was just a nightmare and then, you know, I drove home and then started to process.

This is the beginning of the end, right?
So yes, it was A long process of grieving.

And along with that process of grieving came the it's going to sound weird, The Joy, the satisfaction and the gratitude that I was able to fly back and spend so much time with them.

Hmm, absolutely.


And I guess I'm kind of curious because I wonder if people would say this to you, is there some comfort in the fact that they both lived, you know, into like basically 80 80 plus years of life?
You know, absolutely absolutely.

Although I really expected both of them to live a lot longer because they were they were pretty tenacious.

Both of them.

I'm sure you're shocked to hear that.



Shocked to hear that, you know, you know, and totally totally random question.

Like, after you'd like left home, did you and your sister your big sister ever?
Have any more wild know we never did after a certain age, you know, probably Martines that no, we never did that again.

We got to be quite close and have a lot of fun and stuff together.

So, you know, I think that was just the younger years.

And, of course, at this point, nobody's going to mess with me because they know I have skills.

So, yeah, which makes me think of a line from the movie Napoleon.

I don't know if you were so Napoleon Dynamite but I didn't classic line.

Like I've got skills Napoleon, anybody who's listening?
Who's watching a point?
Napoleon Dynamite was quite a, quite a strange movie, but it's one of those ones that you doesn't make sense when you're watching it.

But then, when you think about it, after the fact you remember certain lines from it.

Just ridiculous.

And so it's hilarious.

There's one about I've got skills, Napoleon and so, but somewhere along the way, we haven't even touched on this fact that you yourself suffered from chronic.

Is a chronic pain?
Yes, I had a chronic pain syndrome and that started in my mid-30s what started out as just mild discomfort and tension in my low back and tightness it quickly, spiraled out of control within just a few months into a full-blown, chronic pain syndrome.

And I live Live that life of a chronic pain, patient for two and a half years.

And, you know, I did everything that I was told I went the Western Medical way because I was Western medically trained.

That's what right I do.

And so, I took all the medications they gave me the muscle relaxers anti-inflammatories and the what was the other one?
The painkillers.

Oh yeah, let's not forget that and I did all the really stupid stretches and exercises that the pts gave me even though they were working.

I was doing them.

I was a good patient.

I did, you know, went all the doctors appointments and Massage Therapy.

They wanted me to do all the PT exercises and appointments and instead of getting better I got progressively worse until I spiraled out so far down that you know, I wasn't working.

As much as I couldn't.

I could only work part time instead of going to ballet and pilates.

I was going to doctors appointments and PT appointments.

And it wasn't until one of my doctors told me that I would never be able to do my laundry and my grocery shopping.

Shopping all in the same day because the arthritis in my spine was so severe.

I would end up being bedridden and I just looked at her and I said, you don't understand.

I'm planning on going back to ballet class and she laughed in my face and said, you don't understand you are chronic pain patient.

You will never have the life you had before you'll never have the life you wanted.

You're too old for ballet anyway, so don't worry about it and forget about going to PT school because that was one of my goals.

She said, even if you could do the work which you can't because Two injured and broken, you're just too old to go back to school.

Wow, I'm just like listening to all of this going.

Oh, my goodness.

Like, you know, if you it sounds like a very disc impassionate person with a lot of limit limiting beliefs.

If I was just to make my very my roadside night diagnosis here, pretty much, you know, you know, just to hear all of that.

I think like, you might have to break some difficult news to somebody, but to just put it that way.

Like, hey, you have no hope.

Use give up on life.


Like Roof.

Oh man.

You know.

No, I think there's something within the body.

There is actually pretty remarkable capacity.

He'll obviously, there's some limits to what it's capable of doing, but I think this is a part of your story is.

Maybe they can pass through the body to heal in a way that wouldn't have thought possible.

So you get told all of these really harsh.

Like, seemingly cold dis compassionate, just your life is going to suck for the rest of your life.

You might as well just accept this and give up and and I'm Lee and I lit a fire in you.

I gather.

Well the last thing she told me she recommended that I start applying for disability.

Because I was going to need it.

And keep in mind, I was 36 years old who so I went home and I hit rock bottom for a couple of days and honestly, I don't even know what happened to me or where this came from, but I remember waking up one day and it was like, you know what?
You deserve better and this is your responsibility.

This is up to you.

Not only are they not helping you you they seem to be making you worse.

And it was probably not intentional, but I was getting worse.

It was like it is up, you up to you to try and figure it out for yourself.

And basically that's what I did.

I fired my medical team much to their Chagrin because of course I needed them.

They have to take care of me.

Stop taking the medications.

I stopped doing the exercises and stretches and the only A thing I did a Dye added acupuncture which was a huge leap for this.

Western used to be Western Medical mindset.

I did acupuncture and I taught myself how to move again.

I just went back to how we learned, how to move when we were children and babies.

You know, when we were babies, nobody gave us these little baby barbells and said, okay, do 10 repetitions.

And now put one on here, one arm here, push here, roll your head, and this is how you're going to roll over in the crib.

We explored self-exploration, explored our environment, we played with Movement, we played, as we got older played with other children outside, you know, inside, that's how we learn to relate to each other, unless you were fighting with my sister, you know?
But that's how we learned.


And then once we get to school that kind of gets taken away from us because we have limited playtime, then we have organized Sports, organized, gymnastics, organized activities.

And then when we graduate, you know, from high school and college, then we're in the workforce, when something hurts we get injured, we forget that we can figure it out for ourselves or we just go running to the experts to say fix it.


I can't stand this pain.


Or this is an inconvenience and to this busy life that I have and so you need to make it better so I can carry on living my life.



And the truth is, we all have the answer deep inside of us and you're right.

The body does have an Capacity to heal itself.

As long as we give it the right environment in which, to heal for healing to take place and that requires an awful lot of self attention and that doesn't mean, you know, being narcissistic or you know, me me.

It means the really getting quiet and listening to the signals that your body is telling you and then responding to them.


Now as a coach and one who teaches mindfulness and awareness and a lot of this Is it.

This is of course, very relevant for for me but for those who are listening, this might sound a little bit like a foreign language you know getting in touch with her body.

What might that look like for someone.

First of all, turn off all of the devices for a while.

You know, you might want to take a break from technology, a couple of times a day.

It doesn't have to be like you know all day.

But take about 5 or 10 minutes, absolute silence and just kind of listen to your thoughts.

It's not meditation.

I don't teach meditation.

I don't even meditate myself because I have ants in my pants and every time I try it's just a, you know, meditation failure.

So I do my meditation through movement but to really remove it.

The tation.



And that could be how another person, you know who's listening to.

This might start is go outside instead of listening to your device's.

Listen to the birds, listen to The Wind in the trees, listen to the distant traffic, listen to the dogs barking in the distance, just really smell the air outside, really feel the ground underneath your feet, paying attention to yourself starting to walk very, very slowly, almost taking cat-like.

Oops, in your yard, little things like that are really going to start waking up your nervous system and activating that that self-awareness.

Mmm, and this is actually quite relevant in fasting for me at the time of recording, this as well, because I've been dealing with a hip issue that I haven't been able to find a resolution to.

And I don't know if we talked about when I was on your show.

No, but I've seen chiropractors osteopaths physical therapists massage therapists somatic.


So I've seen a laundry list of practitioners and it's been a real struggle to come to any sort of conclusion, as to what's going on and don't make this about my hip because this is your story, but security it's but it's, it's a curiosity to me.

I'm actually going to see a different type of chiropractor, tomorrow to see.

I've had like, not an MRI ultrasound because they're looking case or anything like strangely out of whack here.

And the only thing I can think about is I had to motorcycle accidents.

In my early 20s, like 18, 18 years ago and somehow it's showed up, again, sort of in the last two years and just been getting progressively worse.

And so it's like listening to this because I in my head I have this picture of being able to move freely so I used to be into power lifting lifting heavy things and I was just like the Tin Man.

I probably still really have the flexibility of a boulder I joke, but you know what?
I'm kind of a sort of a thick.

Thick guy.

And so, I think about though, like, the way that people can move on say, like I'm entering a ninja's, like American Ninja Warrior and things like that.

And, you know, just a different kind of strength and physical ability to move their body, through space to go.

I'm feeling kind of like pulled in that direction are drawn to that.

Hmm and it'd be really interesting to explore that and I really would like to.

So what you're describing here is kind of fastening so you started just like because you maybe you had like a limited range of motion and Oh, absolutely.

So and and basically, your story is kind of like yet.

It's my story too and it's the story to a lot of people who are listening.

So I would love to, you know, dig in a little bit deeper, if it's okay with you.

And I'm going to ask, I'm kind of curious how much time you spend sitting, and I'm sure you have a chair that's really comfortable but what you might want to Are doing is taking like a towel roll behind your lumbar spine, and giving you some support because I'm kind of guessing you might be sitting in a somewhat flexed position just kind of guess possibly.

So, I actually have a new links tool, okay, because sitting in a chair doesn't work for me.

If I sit in a chair for any length of time, my left leg will start to tighten up and won't like muscularly starts to lock up and the, IT band starts to tighten.

It starts to pull and and it's like, it takes a A little while for that to work out and right now my pelvis is slightly Twisted so that I think my left leg is about an inch longer than my right leg and I don't actually they're not actually like different lengths, it's that there's like a some sort of rotation to my pelvis.

And so I've had like adjustments that can temporarily correct it, but it moves back into this position.

And so I've been like this is really, it's a bit of a puzzle and it's really affected my ability to train and be active because of currently loaded up because it might just Buckle.

Well, you know, this is a Picked opportunity for you to learn more about your body, more about your head.

Yeah, yeah.

It really is and that's kind of the shift that you have to make because you know, when we have something like that, it's so annoying.

It's frustrating, it's uncomfortable and then it gets loose and then our brain starts to go a little bit crazy, but it's like, what can we do to help that that hip?
And I think what's happening is it's a pattern that you have.


And that's why, you know, the chiropractor can put you back in alignment, but if you go back into that same Habit or pattern?

It's going to go back in that same position, not because it's week, it's because that's what your body knows.

And that's what your neuromuscular system is telling you to do.

Do you ever sit on one of those big exercise balls?
I don't, I have 10.

They're magical.


So because so what's interesting is I can cycle and I've cycled up to 50 kilometers because it doesn't require fully straightening my leg.

And so I can cycle 50 kilometres, but I struggle to walk 50 meters now for an offer that's like 50 yards from my the American listeners.

I'm in like 30 miles, 30 miles in 50 yards.

Yeah, the other thing is the hip joint is one of my favorite joints because it's such a beautiful joint and you know, you've got the ball and socket and they fit right in and when the the ball and the socket, I mean it's a circumduction movement that the hip joint is capable of.

But as in our Modern society, we have a tendency to use the hip joint as a hinge forward and back forward and back forward back.

It doesn't have the opportunity to do that, rolling, and sliding and gliding.

That is what the hip joint is meant to do.

Which means that the soft tissue around that joint will start to tighten up.

It's not necessarily a hip injury but the soft tissue.

So it's not necessarily the joint and then what that happens, you get even less ability to rotate and you get even more limited movement.

And a lot of times, then the movement will go to.

Well, my my pelvis has to move.

So your SI joint will try and compensate for the lack of movement in your hip.

So, it's actually it's complicated, but not really so cool because I mean, I've had the physios that get in there and then they beat it up and they put me through Agony and, you know, and we're and it's like that's torturous.

Then I've had the somatic experiencing, which is like super, super gentle.

I've had acupuncture but it's probably more Sports acupuncture than Dedicate acupuncturist.

So there is one who's on my list of people to check out and like the Osteo and the Cairo as well, which is why I'm exploring a different chiropractor to see like, okay what did they, what do they come up with?
Because they have a different way of adjusting that doesn't involve snapping cracking popping, right?
Is that, you know, so that sort of thing.

So we'll talk a little more offline because I think that is fascinating, but I wanted to really explore because we haven't even got to how you became a ninja.

And for those who are listening, what you don't see is behind behind, Cheryl is a rack with a number of different.

Ant swords, and I would gather other kinds of like ninja type weapons, or weapons that they would use in that culture.

So view started to on your own journey of being told that you weren't going to have like any quality of life left and you said I don't accept that.

So you hit you hit a pity party.

You hit rock bottom.

You just powd it for a little while and then and then how did you get yourself out of that?
What prompted you to go?
Okay, that's it.

I'm tired of being a pity party.

It was just, I don't know.

It was just this Epiphany.

I had this mental heads.

King moment.

And that was when it was like no you're not going to look like this, you deserve better, your husband deserves better you know and I was not going to live that life, I knew how I was living for the past two and a half years and it was so miserable that if it was even going to get worse, I didn't want to live at all right, right.

And I really believe that why believe there's a warrior in each and every one of us.

I know that I know that everybody has the warrior spirit inside of them, but I think I really got a double dose and I didn't even realize.

Why's it, you know, you can tell from my tenacity of beating trying to beat up my sister who's probably three times my size and weight.


And a lot smarter than me at the time but you know it was that tenacity of spirit that said, no I'm not going to do this.

It was that same spirit that says no, I'm not going to stay here and let you know, dictate my life.

I'm going to Colorado and find my own way.

You know those things.

It was that same kind of no I'm not going to do it this way and so that's what it was and I don't even know it wasn't Um, intentional or cognitive, or I didn't analytical.

I didn't think through it.

It was just like this big fat.

No, I'm going to figure it out on my own and I did and then I didn't like that, very technical, a big fat.

No, I was presented with this option for the rest of my life and I decided a big fat.

No, a big fat man?
And I've never used that term but I heard that phrase but I like it.

It's good.

A big family.

I like I'm visualizing like these blue bubble letters like and it was like, nope.

And so then you say okay, if this is not going to be the life, I'm going to live.

Do you start, you know, because very often, I think we, we spend time it's like driving down the road staring the rearview mirror.


This is what I don't want and and we don't look through the windshield to go.

That's where I want to get to.

So, how did this shift for you?
Well, I knew where I wanted to get to.

I knew what I wanted.

I wanted off the medications.

I wanted my life back.

I missed my ballet class.

As in my ballet friends.

So it took more than just, you know, I'm in pain all the time, it took away my community, it took away my support system.

It took away my passions that I had, I couldn't do anything.

And that was the thing that was really driving me and I can tell you, it wasn't really, it was not easy.

And there were days that I really wanted to just reach for the pain meds.

You know, and I even I had a very small stash.

I kept him for probably 20 years, I had like a still had the pill bottle with one or two pain pills in it one or two much.

The relaxers and I kept them in my drawer.

I think even put them in my leotard drawer, as kind of like a Talisman or, you know, it's like you are never going back there again, interesting because it look like I have a bottle of like, it's ibuprofen and whatever the muscle relaxant is methyl carbon all, I think it is and I never want to take them because in the beginning, when this started happening, I was using them because it was an easy fix.

In one sense, like okay, I take these and now I can walk normally again but I was like, I don't this is not Like I'm 40.

So I'm still relatively young and I was like, this is not the future that I want and and thus has you know, sort of started this journey of exploration like you know, if I'm having to take one of these a couple of times a week already, that feels like too much, right?
So, I love that idea.

You had this little Talisman here, reminding you that this is not what I'm going back to and sometimes you have to embrace your pain.

And that's a really tough.

That's a tough pill to swallow to pee.

A timely metaphor was as ugly, but you have to embrace it.

We want to run away from it, but if we can embrace it before, it even gets to painful if it's like why is my hip feeling like this?
Like when I get up after we're done today it's going to be all those first.

Couple of steps are going to be a little bit uncomfortable because of the way.

I'm sitting I know that now and I know what to do.

And try not to have ants in my pants when we're recording.

So I'm not shifting all over the place on the camera but I know what to do and it's like It's your body saying okay, you need to move this this way.

And if we start to listen to the smaller messages in the smaller ping aches, and pains that, we sometimes either try and ignore, you know?
Or think it'll go away on its own, we start paying attention to those and we can prevent ourselves from getting into a really bad bad situation.

Dance with your pain?
Yeah, yeah.

I like that.

And so, you know, I think about, like, crawling around in my basement.

Like, I've got a pool table.

For example.

It's like, what?
Doing, like a bear?
Crawl on all fours, or things like that.

Yeah, Jun that.

I've tried a little bit of it.


How did that feel a little bit awkward?
Because I'm sort of like, it's, I'm discovering the sort of, because I was so focused for so long on building strength and like, I'm getting a strong look, just brute strength that I didn't pay attention to my mobility.

And so it's like, now I find myself, you know, like I said drawn to this and it's like hmmm well, where do I start?
So you know I purchased a Mobility Program for example, but I couldn't seem to go through those and the thing they're sort of lacking was okay.

How do you do this?
When you don't have the mobility, you know, they progressions and that's the challenges like Mobility teaching, often comes to music.

Folks, who are very mobile and they sort of show these modifications, but it's like, it's not the same.

No, not quite the same because I know you can literally just bend over and like, you know, just what kiss your own backside from.

Yeah, yeah.

More after the recording but yeah, you know, I have to tell you.

I was so I was so stiff and out of shape, I got out of my pain syndrome but I was stiff.

I was out of shape.

I was overweight and boom, right away after I was, but I was paying free.

I got accepted into my PT program which was great.

But But it meant that I had to sit for like 12 hours a day 7 days.

A week, as I was going through this program for two years and when I finally graduated, I have never been that inflexible and stiff in my entire life.

And I went back after I have figured out, I'm only 40.

I'll be able to get back just, you know, do some Pilates go to ballet class, I'll be fine.

And my ballet Master kept screaming at me, stood up, straight, stand up, and I would just get so angry and I, you know, I looked at him and I almost yelled and said I am standing up straight, but I glanced in the mirror and I was Like this, I look like question mark but to me that was straight because that's the position I have been in for so many years, right?


So but then it was a gradual way of getting the flexibility back and now I mean I can do full slips splits forward and back side to side.

My I've never been this flexible.

So and you're how old currently, I'll be 66 in a few weeks.



So I was I was picking a little younger than the I mean I was trying to put do some math together.

Now of course If I just bumped into you, I would I would not pick 66 for your age.

Thank you, like just straight.

This is no, no way.

I'd be picking like, oh, I bet you're 66, right?
No, that didn't like, I was thinking, maybe, like, 54 ish, and that was because he'd mentioned 33 years in passing and having been in University, right?
So I was like, probably like 50s ish.

So 66, and you can do the full splits.



I mean and your forties you can do this.

No, I could not do it.



Like and that's that in itself is like super inspiring and cool because it's like if you couldn't do it in your 40s because I'm 40 and and there's a, just a part of my brain that's rebelling against the thought that like I'm going to be sort of somewhat crippled and in pain for the rest of my life.

I'm like, no, no.

I just I just haven't found yet that thing that way to kind of break free from that.

So, What you were doing ballet and pilates and dance, but then, at some point in time, I know, we're short on time because we've had, there's no, we just got.

We went down some rabbit hole.

He's got a great story and people are going to have to like, check out your podcast as well.

Which is it, the feminine in Japan project.

Is that what it's called?
The Feminine, your project will definitely include the links because there's there's so much more to your story.

That's like, really, really cool.

But just, you know, what?
Prompted you to take up martial arts and because, I know, I had this thought my mind I was like, did your dad ever You to know that you were taking it martial arts or he was, he did, he did my father even lived long enough to know that I got my third degree brown belt.

So he knew that and it's really funny because we would talk martial arts a lot and, you know, talking about like the philosophy, the spirituality of it and everything and and, you know, we would share stories and you know, things that we wouldn't have talked about, you know, if he would have told me that before we're not, you know, I was like I'm not going to listen to stuff, you know, Marta.

Oh, right.


So, no.

He knew he actually came and watched a class when I was a yellow belt.

So I had barely been training, you know?
Because everybody had to see his like, you know, they could see me dancing, you know, they could see me as a ballet dancer, they get to be doing on the ski slopes all that stuff.

But nobody could have envisioned me including myself as a martial artist and being on the mat and doing nympho.


So right you live long enough to do that or to see that or to know yeah which is brilliant and in your mouth.

It involves weapons training as well.

Does it?
Oh yes.

Oh yes.

Yes, it is.

It's it's a really cool art.

We are considered a soft art, not one of the hard Arts.

So, add more like Aikido Judo where you kind of like accept and absorb the person's energy and then turn it around and take them down.

We're more of a defensive art so we're not like really super aggressive or anything like that.

The warrior spirit for us is the heart of a warrior.

Is a heart of love and compassion and you know, a desire to take care of ourselves.

Our families, our communities, our environment.

We love all living things, including, you know, the plants, the birds everything, but we just have really strong boundaries and we don't like people to cross those boundaries, you got it, right?
And yeah because I think of it like karate or coyote and you know, because I did some of that as a martial art.

It's a very hard martial arts, very, you know, and and I tried a little bit of Wing Chun as well, which I thought was really interesting just because it's more of a kind of a flowing, martial art, this sounds fascinating.

So you could in theory, you could walked in your superhero costume or or something better, your superhero Alter Ego.

You could be like, walking down the street with a cane pretending to be like a Target.

I guess a vulnerable, a vulnerable, sweet older lady and then somebody Thumbs up and all of a sudden that cane turns into defensive weapon and CH.

Yeah, everything's a weapon.

That's one thing that Sensei told me before I ever stepped on the mat, when he was sticking needles in me, trying to get me on the mat to train with him, and it's like, everything's a weapon.

I got, you are really crazy who thinks like this, but now it's like, look at this knitting needle, you know?
Right, right.

So as your Sensei, an acupuncturist as well as that, yes, that's how the whole thing started.

And I mean, I know we've been talking a lot of times, I don't want to take too much.

More of your time.


Kick the the table.

That's a good.

Yeah, I don't want my hip to be too sore but yeah, join the party.

Now I know we can commiserate, but yeah, I met my Sensei when I was 44 and what he didn't know, when I first met him was that I had had a pretty traumatic experience just a few months before I met him.

And the reason why I went to him was one of my clients.

I was working with says, oh, this guy that I go to, he's an acupuncturist, he does shiatsu and You know, it's you can keep your clothes on and you know, it's just very non-intrusive non-invasive.

So I went to him and he says, well, you know, I can help you with some of your symptoms with acupuncture if that's okay with you.

And I said, well sure.

So the first time he started sticking needles in my legs, he got a very Faraway look on his face and he said, you know, with your legs and my coaching I could teach you how to kill with these things.

And I thought, okay, so who thinks like this out loud or things like this?
Let alone says it out loud and I wanted to just go running.

Grab my purse and run but I was literally pinned to his table.

So I was kind of stuck there, another little pun for you and, you know, he's going on and on about his martial art in the art of the Ninja at his martial arts.

School was right next door, and his Clinic.

It was like a duplex and I says, I am not interested, there's no way it is never going to happen so just, you know, zip it.


Long story.

It took him three long years until I finally capitulated and plus to the traumatic event started really rearing.

Its ugly head about a year after I met him.

It was bad and it was full-blown PTSD.

And when I finally told him the entire story, you know what happened, and that's when his campaign to get me on the map, went into high gear even though I kept saying no, and he said, there is such a healing power and martial arts.

I know We'll help you and it'll help you heal a little.

And I'm just, like, I don't understand how hanging around, a smelly Dojo with a bunch of sweaty.

Men is going to make me feel better.

No, I kept saying no.

And so, finally, three years later, I pretty much again had hit, rock bottom, I had nowhere else to go.

I had nothing else to try.

I just finally, I said okay you know you got me.

I'm at my Wit's End.

I will take a few classes to learn a few self-defense techniques.

And to prove to you how much I'm going to hate it.


Oh man.

I hear like a parallel because I think back 25 years ago coach that I worked with and I was like determined to prove that he wasn't going to succeed working with me.

Yeah, because I was determined that like I was a failure, I was doomed to be a failure destined to be a failure, and he wasn't going to succeed.

I was literally just doing this to have one more reason to stay stuck in my Victim mindset and for some reason he was just compassionate and patient, and gentle and refused.

Give up on me.

No matter how many times I tried to convince him, you should give up on my worthless self and lo and behold you know here I am.


And so it's funny just hearing some of these parallels here and, you know, I've been through trauma PTSD.

We might just have to look another episode.

You know, I would love to talk to you all day, you know, it's like yeah, well we'll have to just record another episode, you know, part 2 part 2, with the ninja because and I had because I had no idea you were even in your 60s.

And so it's like, I'm still training.

I mean, I still train at least three times a week and this is another deep dark secret.

I'm not sure that, you know of and I'm not sure if I should kind of drop the bomb right here.

If people listen, like this far into the infinity, okay?
And if they didn't, they're going to miss a heck of a good tidbit because basically, when I turned 58, I decided it was time to start engaging in more age, appropriate age, appropriate activities.

So I started pole dancing.


Okay, that uh-huh.

I even competed three years ago, I did a competition.

My coach talked me into it and poof, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I did it.

And getting that far out of your comfort zone, it just takes your confidence to a new level.

No kidding.

That, you know, I was giving a speech like a week later, you know, to a networking group and, you know, always get kind of nervous, no matter how prepared I am.

Sure it was like Yeah.

So I mean you know I wonder if in one sense that you feel like obviously there's some physical you know, ailments that the still sort of exists for you, but do you feel like with your level of Mobility agility sort of flexibility?
Just able to move your body around.

Do you feel younger now than you did 20 years earlier, in your 40s, with all your pain?
I feel younger at 66 than I did at Six.

Wow I feel I'm a lot more mobile.

I'm really fit.

You know, I'm 66 I'm on no medications which really perplexes any medical person.

You know who does see me.

It's like you're kidding, you're not on anything to, you want to get on something, no, thank you.

Sure, you sure.

I mean maybe we get something for you.

You know, we get something.

I know I can find something that's going to mess you up and screw up your metabolism and, you know, mess with your head.

But if I had known, if I had the ability when I was 30 to look through a crystal ball and see where I would be right now.

I wouldn't have believed it.


And if somebody had told me that at this age, this is I'd be talking to someone like you.

I will have a book on Fitness over 50 and the Ninja Book and all this stuff, I'd be pull dancing, you know, if somebody had told me that I would have laughed and then I would have cried because I knew in my heart, it never would have happened.

But, you know, here we are.

Well, we're definitely going to have to do another episode because there's just so much to your story and, you know, I just absolutely love it.

It's one of my favorite stories.

Well, thank you.


And you're just a delight to talk to.

You bring a wonderful energy to the conversation, your willingness to share be open.

Be vulnerable is is amazing.

You know, if people were to take 11 like nugget one tidbit away from this conversation.

If they've got this far, they've already.

They've already got one like really cool nugget, you know, one surprising one.

But what what nugget would you like them to take away from this?
I'd have to go back to that big fat.

No, do not ever.

Let anybody tell you what you can and cannot do do not ever let somebody place a label on you and just say, no, go your own way and if people don't like it and it's like, what's the worst?
That's going to happen.

If you do that, you know, right?
What's the worst going to happen?
You show up and do a smelly old Dojo at 47 years of age thanking.

This is never going to Work, you know, and 20 years later your I'm going to guess, a multi, multi level black belt.

I'm working on my third level right now.


Yeah, which is just incredible.

You know, and you're feeling younger.

So what an amazing story Cheryl.

Thank you so much for being on today.

It's been truly a pleasure and look forward to when we get to chat for the ninja part 2.

Okay, well, thanks John.

Thank you.

And after, if you've enjoyed this episode, please like share, subscribe or leave a review because that helps his podcast to reach and Inspire more people.


Jonathan McLernonProfile Photo

Jonathan McLernon


Coach Jon is a weight loss coach and emotional eating expert who has lost 100lbs. From nanotechnology researcher, to Navy marine engineer, to globetrotting nomad, Coach Jon spent most of his life running from his true calling, until one question changed his life. Now he's on a mission to help others lose weight for good and leave BS diets in the rearview mirror.

With Freedom Nutrition Coaching he marries the Science of Metabolism with the Psychology of Behavior Change and the Compassion of Human Connection to create life-changing transformations with his clients.

Cheryl L IlovProfile Photo

Cheryl L Ilov

Author, Speaker, Martial Artist, Physical Therapist

Cheryl Ilov is an author, speaker, dancer, podcaster, martial artist, and recovering physical therapist. She is also a former chronic pain patient, who was told by her medical team that she would never recover. They were wrong. Cheryl fired her team and embarked on a journey of self-healing and self-discovery.

Her journey included the discovery of the healing power of an ancient Japanese martial art called Ninpo Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja. She began her training at the tender young age of 47, even though she knew she was going to hate it. Her plan was to take a few classes, learn a few self-defense techniques, and then quit and move on with her life. Ten years later she became her teacher's first female black belt.

Cheryl believes that there is an incredible amount of inner strength in each and every one of us, just waiting to be unleashed. She also believes that we can heal from anything, no matter what life throws our way. She is the author of 2 award winning and Amazon best-selling books, "Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond'" and "The Reluctant Ninja: How A Middle-Aged Princess Became A Warrior Queen."