“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask... with nothing beneath it?” – Jodi Picault

Comparison is a thief of joy. 

At one point or another, in each of our lives, it’s something we all go through.

Whether it is comparing ourselves to others or the person we used to – or want to – be, it can take a toll on one’s life. 

“I was never a cool kid,” APEMAN Daniel Yost said. “I got bullied and picked on because I had big ears. All throughout high school, the cool kids would play pranks on me, show off their new stuff, brag about this or that. I had one thing, just one thing I had to be proud of; I was a great hockey player.”

Daniel embodied the true hockey spirit. Gritty. Tough. Unrelenting. 

He went on to play junior and college hockey. It was the only time he felt alive and free. Hockey became Daniel’s outlet and shelter. 

“For 60 minutes when I laced up my skates, I was the best player on the rink,” he said. “I held a national record in hockey as the youngest player to have a shot clocked at over 100mph. I was only 15-years-old. That’s what got me through the days. Through the bullying.”

Daniel was an average student at best. He struggled at English and still deals with ADD. But hockey was his. It was where he could focus and be himself. 

Until, all of a sudden, it was taken from him. 

“I was hit from behind and severely damaged my left knee and ankle,” Daniel said. “I partially damaged every ligament in my knee and had a Grade 3 sprain of my Achilles tendon. There I was being told that I have to wear this air cast for months and do months on months of physical therapy. At such a young age, I felt like my dream was gone. All I had wanted until that point was to play hockey.”

So Daniel took a more traditional route: went to college. Dated a few girls. Got his heart broken a lot. That feeling of being free was gone. He lost something inside of him when he couldn’t play hockey.

“I didn’t want to be great anymore,” he said. “That part was dying. I gained a lot of weight and was over 300-pounds… but a fat 300-pounds – not like I am right now. I felt disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.” 

That’s when he joined a gym. 

“My friend Matt really got me into bodybuilding,” he said. “We would train for an hour or two every day and I really started to look good. I lost the weight and got into pretty good shape. But there I was, back in an environment where it was all about the cool kids and people judging what you looked like. It never felt right.”

For Daniel, being in an environment where everything is about looks makes it easy to get caught up in that world. To lose yourself. 

“That type of judgment, for me, is not supportive or healthy,” he said. “I made some good friends but to me, It just wasn't the same. I always loved hockey because it was something I did. No one's opinion mattered and that's just not what bodybuilding was to me. It’s all about what you looked like, not what you did. There were guys that couldn't do half the things you can do, and they would win because they ‘looked good.’”

One day, the girl he was dating (and now married to) decided to start powerlifting. Being a supportive partner, he helped train her and went to her first meet. 

“It was like coming home,” Daniel said. “In my heart, it was like I was back on the ice. Now, it was about something you could do – you have a team of people that want you to be the best you could be. It was like when I found powerlifting I found something I had lost 10 years ago when I got hurt.”

Not two years later, Daniel is part of a great powerlifting team and his coach is making him into something special – just like his experience with hockey. 

“In late April, I will be setting an Arnold XPC Pro qualifying total in the SHW Classic Raw division,” Daniel said. “The first thing my wife got me when I started powerlifting was an APEAMN shirt that had one word on the front: PURPOSE. It is still my most-prized shirt.”

Daniel’s wife knew that he needed a purpose in life again – and now he has it. 

“So here’s to setting a 2,100-pound total and breaking all my expectations,” said Daniel. “Win or lose, 3/9 or 9/9, I have my purpose and I won’t stop until I achieve it.”