Wim Hof Method Training: Day 1…

Today officially marked the start of the rest of my life. With the first seven cycles of seven years out of the way, and according to Buddhists the closure of my forty-nine adolescence age (my wife and especially daughter just said I’ll never grow out of it, The Scouse Peter Pan), I am approaching the adult age with a lot of optimism.

Yes I’m still concreted into the corporation I’m so desperately trying to “kango” myself out of, yes I am still surrounded by abject chaos due to the never-ending pandemic and global geo-political instability (as we all are), but the events of today have solidified my post-retirement plans.

I had been looking forward to today for a long time, ringed in red several times on the kitchen wall calendar, and it did not disappoint.

Training Day 1…

I was surprised about the lack of certified Wim Hof Method instructors in the UK, especially in Wales and the north of England, a grand total of two, covering a population of over thirty million people.

Today earmarked the first instalment of the journey to hopefully becoming an instructor myself one day, a one day Wim Hof Fundamentals course set in the beautiful hills of North Wales, just a few miles outside of Gwrch Castle, which houses a pair of likeable Geordies and D-list celebrities from time to time, who have scheduled challenges of their own.

Eager to get there on-time, I was the first to arrive and was greeted by our instructor for the day, Paul Roose. I had dozens of questions for Paul but didn’t want to barrage him from the “hoff”, so waited patiently until after our comrades had all fallen in.

He did however share two things that shocked me. The first, was that the course very nearly got cancelled, on the basis that his ice supplier had let him down, and he had to scrabble around the supermarkets of North Wales for alternative supplies (water, water everywhere, nor any drop to freeze).

Ice, ice, baby…

Thanks to Comrade Justin at the local Food Warehouse, he managed to acquire the required amount (120kgs) and safely ensconced them in the on-site freezers (which were just about big enough).

Strategically spaced around the girl guides hut, Paul shared with us the background behind the InnerFire movement and the Wim Hof Method, plus some details behind Wim’s backstory. Whilst interesting and already known to me, what blew me away was Paul’s back story, inspired by his honest, humbling and heart-felt journey from the brink of despair to where he is today. What Paul lacks in height (his words not mine!) his towering strength of will and determination has got him where he is, and made his case for change (in terms of his ten disciples for the day) an easy sell, to me at least. Here we had a gentlemen bearing his soul and past dilemmas with a bunch of strangers in an effort to bring our own reasons for being present today front of mind.

So after listening to Paul, and as he proceeded with asking the group to introduce ourselves, I fell out of time as I do periodically and more frequently these days, and spent what felt like hours viewing in 8K IMAX, a panoramic review of my life with two questions running around in my head. Why was I here, and how the fuck did I get here?

The why was simple. Or was it? I’ve convinced myself that the why was because I wanted to put in place a post-retirement plan so I didn’t have to work in the corporations again, to keep some money coming in and to keep my mind from not procrastinating into dementia. But in an instant, I realised that it wasn’t about any of that, it was about my journey, all of the rotten things that have happened to me, all of the rotten things I’d done to others, and how, through the last ten years since my self-scribed “spiritual epiphany” I have gained the wisdom, empathy, life experience and communication skills to help others.

As for the how, I guess that is down to either fate, choice or blind luck.

The first chapter of my two chapter book of life was mainly about taking. I have given my children the best possible chance of success and my wife a comfortable, adventurous and happy life (mostly!) and my buddies some fun and frolics, but beyond the irregular charity donations, very little in the way of philanthropy.

The realisation of what I must do next hit me like a hammer. I must learn the skills and competencies to help more people going forward, to help heal broken people in the way that Paul was inferring with his honest approach to the neophytes that sat before him.

I’m not built for traditional yoga, the meditation manual I wrote many years ago is far too complex that even I don’t believe in it or follow it, and reiki is best administrated by those closer to “the source” than I, but here we have a method so simple in structure and accessibility, yet so strong in it’s ability to change people’s lives, that by navigating through its many levels, I have the opportunity to be proficient in a toolkit that gives people happiness, strength and health, which is all anyone needs beyond the five basics elements for living; food, water, air, shelter and sunlight.

The Iceman Cometh…

After the full round of introductions (including my own), Paul give us a good account of the basics of the Wim Hof Method, after which we had our first exercise, a simple breath retention after a single breath. I managed to knock out a 1m33s retention which was good I guess, but no surprise as I’ve been practicing my breathing techniques for over two months now.

The second was again to take a simple breath and complete as many push ups as we could, I managed just nine, not surprising with what my daughter describes as ”chicken arms”.

Men talking bollocks…

The third was to submerse ones hands and feet in ice water (the former being more difficult than the latter), something I’d not done before, but with focus and calm breathing, I managed three minutes for both. Once the body gets over the initial shock and mind overcomes matter, it is actually quite easy, the blood rushing to the surface of the skin, providing as it where, a barrier to the nervous system which would otherwise be screaming “get me the fuck outta here”.

It burns, it’s burns…

Returning inside with grass-filled feet, we then took to the floor to practice the breathing method, again something I have practiced for a little while now. That said, there were things I was not doing correctly, so the fine tuning helped me acquire a new personal best of 5m30s of breath retention (not that I’m counting, as Wim says himself it’s not a competition).

Breathe m*therf*cker…

It was as this point that Paul asked us to again “politely piss on the pH paper” (my crude alliteration, not his), which showed up any differences in body alkalinity after doing four rounds of breathing when compared to none earlier in the session, with mine showing a little improvement, others massively so. After this, we then did another round of breathing and redid the push up challenge, all of us doubling our efforts, with my meagre nine turning into a rather impressive twenty two on an exhale. Not bad for a bloke who makes Mr Muscle look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Need to breathe like Holly…

After a spot of light lunch, it was time for my first proper ice bath. I had been preparing in the months prior to the course with cold showers every day and my make-shift plunge pool in the garden, but temperatures only ever get to 16c minimum so not that cold. Today was different, today was cold! Beforehand, Paul taught the group how to do the horse stance, which was like tai chi movement but with a bit more gusto and chanting. Warming up and with the right focus and intention, I got straight in the birthing pool filled with iced water up to my ear lobes, closed my eyes, and breathed calmly until the body shock subsided.

Playing it cool…

Paul asked me if I was ok half way through, I said I was fine and focusing on a tree in the far distance. And there is strength in nature, in trees, which are firmly grounded and avoid fragility when facing turbulent weather, the same could be said for us. As Wim says, be strong like a tree!

Chewbacca legs keeping me warm…

After four minutes of being submerged and my body becoming very warm, I submerged my head under for a further thirty seconds (thus stimulating the vagus nerve which is responsible for regulating mood, heart rate and the immune system). Jumping out, I did a few laps of the field and the horse stance until my body had warmed up.

Meanwhile in the birthing pool…

Everyone did amazingly well at all of the challenges, none more so than the ice bath, all of us staying in for two minutes or more.

Feeling invigorated, we came back inside for some closing words and advice from Paul and an invitation for us all to take home and practice what we had learned, so to overcome the obstacles he clearly has in a complex and fucked up world.

Naturally I hung back at the end to fire a few quick questions at Paul, not wanting to hold him back any for getting home, he very kindly obliged and gave some sound advice on the Wim Hof Academy and the training and annual accreditation process.

The course exceeded my expectations and the best part for me was hearing Paul’s story and his journey into now (to paraphrase Eckhart Tolle), and if I have just one ounce of his passion and drive to help others to find their own paths, then I can’t fail to succeed.

For those interested, Paul is running further course this year and they can be booked via https://www.wimhofmethod.com.

Clearly I can’t recommend Paul highly enough, a great guy inspiring others to be happy, strong and healthy.

Kendal Calling…

Wim Hof Training Day Two – Four with Paul’s northern comrade Emma is coming up in October for me, a course conducted in and around the picturesque town of Kendal in the Lake District. It will be cold. It will be wonderful.

Oh and that second thing that shocked me, he had already read this blog site before I met him today, that my friends is synchronicity in action…

Wim Hof Method: The Trials…

The simplicity of the Wim Hof Method and it’s accessibility to all, is, as I have found out, the secret to its success.

I took it upon myself to dive straight in to several experiments (not all that are offered), namely breathing (including retention and meditation), cold therapy (twenty day challenge to take cold showers for three minutes per day, culminating in my first ice bath this morning), and certain physical exercises (push-ups, stretching, inversions and horse stance).

As already mentioned, I have tried a lot of eastern-based practices over the years, yet this western variant (no not Covid related) seems to resonate with me more, allowing me to stick rigidly to it, compared to the other methods.

I found the breath work to be both invigorating and serene at the same time, the supercharging of my body through increased oxygen surging through veins, arteries and capillaries, waking them up and working them to provide a natural high and the ability to hold my breath for four minutes, and it is during that time that I experience a real peace, and all for free. I recall in desperation paying a not too insignificant amount to partake in a transcendental meditation course which never really worked for me.

The cold showers shocked my body into life after the breath work, and even though the temperature was only a cool nineteen degrees centigrade, it was still cold enough to make a difference, to calmly withstand room temperature water, which is quite odd. I can walk around the house naked (what a horrible thought) for hours and not be affected by nineteen degrees centigrade, but turn that same temperature into water and you feel the immediate difference.

Might as well start on the most difficult level, no time to lose…
Mr Flibble says four minutes WOO (With Out Oxygen)…
Cold shower challenge complete…

That’s biology at work. The reason the water feels colder than air is because water is the better conductor of the two. When you plunge into a nineteen degrees centigrade shower or pool, heat escapes your body much more easily across the entire surface area, than it would if you were simply standing in nineteen degrees centigrade air, as the water takes more heat from your body, and quicker, it feels colder.

Naturally, I wanted to experience an ice bath to take it to the next level, and after some serious contemplation and lack of opportunities in buying a large wooden barrel, I acquired a portable bath (yes it’s a thing), prepared zip-lock ice bricks and took my first ten minute plunge today. At fifteen degrees centigrade (which is just cold enough for the magic to start working according to The Hoffer), it didn’t take my breath away, probably down to the cold shower preparation each day. I’ll need more bricks to get the temperatures down to below ten degrees centigrade (when the real magic happens), I just need to broker a freezer space deal with the wife!

It’s a start…
Maybe my Chewbacca legs are keeping me too warm…
Done…

The horse stance and “tai-chi-esque”manoeuvres do seem to raise the body temperatures to counter the less-than arctic blast of cold to the system, and these are much needed, as simply towelling of doesn’t seem to increase the temperatures rapidly enough before the chills set in.

My wife and I also took it upon ourselves to take the practice to the beach early one morning this week, where I found a perfectly flat rock to do my breath work and horse stance on, sandwiched between a dip in the sea, which again was a relatively warm eighteen degrees centigrade.

Just breathe m*therf*cker…

My plan is to do the breath work in the garden before my tribe rises each day and take a plunge, to set my intention for whatever the day should bring, giving me more power in the mind to succeed, at whatever it is I need to do.

One thing I have noticed, is that the method certainly gives me that grounding and stable platform for the day, but within a few hours of getting back on the corporate treadmill, the same old duhkha reappears, so I may have to carve out a “WHM siesta” at lunchtime to see me through.

One thing is for certain, the method helps, but it can’t change everything. Over time, I hope that I will have that power over the mind, and with that find the courage to make a real change in my life, to ditch the stressful job, live with the financial consequences of that decision and find more a meaningful venture and peaceful existence.

In August, I am booked on a one-day WHM course with a qualified instructor over in North Wales, with a view to seeing if I too could embrace the method more deeply and see if there is an opportunity to become qualified, to learn the deeper levels of the practice so I could teach others of the benefits that are clearly there, and with that take a bold and brave step into the unknown world of financial insecurity yet corporate liberation, and with that, a freedom from the bondage of a system that doesn’t work for me.

Fully in. Letting go….

The Iceman Cometh…

Baader–Meinhof is a phenomenon in which after noticing something for the first time, there is a tendency to notice it more often, leading to a belief that it has a high frequency, and perhaps (taking it a step further) there is an esoteric force at work, pushing it into consciousness, giving the self a nudge to find out more.

I had never heard of Wim Hof until recently. The first time I heard the name was when I took to the road last year to survey the land for our planned eco-retreat (the progress of which is near zero due to pandemic related logistics issues). Our trip to the Lammas eco-village soon after raised his profile further, and further still with my foray into ishnaan (ancient cold water therapy first practiced by Indian sheikhs in the Punjab) and finally Russell Brand who has waxed lyrical about the guy for the last eighteen months.

As my recent duhkha post detailed, I have been trying far too hard to find enlightenment, peace and equilibrium over the last decade, in a desperate attempt to find answers to the hard questions of why are we here, how do we maintain a healthy mind and body and what happens to our soul when we die.

I have undertaken many practices during that time, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, reiki, kundalini and all forms of holistic therapy. Whilst that was not wasted time, I found that I was no more balanced than before, wiser of course and more knowledgeable, but still somewhat out of kilter.

One of my commune comrades started to talk about Wim Hof again a couple of weeks over breakfast, and I decided to take a deeper look into this guy to find out what his method was (WHM – Wim Hof Method).

After watching some of his (and Russell Brands) YouTube videos and downloading his free app, I found that his approach to wellness was simple, so simple in fact that it was instantly accessible to all, free at the point of entry, which used our mind, lungs and skin to help retune our physical and meta-physical states of being to bring back balance, calmness and a super-charged immune system to boot.

Contrast that to the other forms of conditioning out there, chemical conditioning via Big Pharma, mental conditioning via Big Therapy, physical conditioning via Big Trainers, spiritual conditioning via Big Religion, all of which comes at considerable expense.

Even the spiritual practices like yoga, transcendental meditation, and holistic therapies don’t come cheap, but the WHM looks to give you all of that balance for free via (in the main) breathing techniques and cold water therapy. That’s it. No detailed rules, laws, regulations, dogma, trinkets, gadgets, just you, your body, your time and water.

Naturally this sounds too good to be true, but as with many things in life (with the exception of injecting heroin, jumping out of a plane without a parachute or supporting Liverpool FC), I’ll try anything once.

So I did just that, and all that I can say is that it works, or at least it is starting to.

Breath work I have done before in yoga (relaxing and energetic), but never have I attempted body oxygenation and breath retention. Within the space of just a few days, I found myself being able to hold my breath for just shy of three minutes, post-which my stress levels plummeted to absolute zero. No technique I’ve done thus far has allowed me to go from breakneck speed to a dead stop so quickly. Remarkable.

The cold therapy I found quite easy too. New Years Day this year saw me in sub-zero temperatures in the sea close to home, albeit with a swim suit on, and I have taken cold showers since, but not with such routine or regularity. Every day I wake up now, energised after unbroken nights of slumber (another benefit of the WHM), almost racing for the spare room where I take my morning “meds” in the form of breath work and contemplation, followed by either a cold shower or a quick dip in the sea if the tides are right before the work day commences.

I am already seeing the benefits, I feel my head is less foggy, my body is reacting well to the new practices, and conflict situations in work have been dealt with as matter of fact rather than “oh no!” scenarios.

Naturally I wanted to know as much about Wim Hof as I could, so my wife bought me his recent book for my birthday which came today, three chapters down already at lunch and I’m in awe of the guy. Humble and honest background, no bullshit, easy to read and the words come straight from the heart, giving me the impression that this guy is both authentic and awesome in equal measures.

Incredibly, he has twenty-six work records, mostly ice-related shenanigans, but it was his clinical trials that pricked my attention most. Here was a guy in his fifties, deploying his own breathing/cold therapy/mind over matter techniques being injected with ecoli under lab conditions, monitored by medical practitioners to see how this man really reacted when his body was put under a real attack, only to find that his immune system was so strong, the bad bacteria had no impact on him whatsoever. He repeated the experiment with twelve of his trainees a short while later and all twelve tests had the same outcome.

What is this? Is it luck? Is it good DNA? Is it poor test conditions? Or is it the fact that here we had a man who could manipulate his immune system in such a way that made him somewhat impervious to bacteria and viruses, even when injected directly into the body?

From what I have read thus far, the science backed up the latter.

Many have frowned upon me when I have told them that I will not be taking the Covid vaccines, on the basis that I believe that I am healthy enough for the virus to only impact me slightly, and that the vaccine is still only on emergency licence until 2023 with no clinical conclusions reached. Mr Hof it appears has now given me the opportunity and associated techniques to boost my immune system even further, which I will embrace with freezing arms (from the cold showers).

I’ll continue to do the daily exercises to see how the practice improves my mind, body and soul, but may leave the ecoli injections a while longer…

Suhkha…

“In darkness, look to the light” is a line from the Dungeon Master, for those of you old enough to remember the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from the Nineteen-Eighties, a line I’ve carried with me through the last four decades.

Whilst my last post outlined and detailed the current dissatisfaction points in my life, that of course is just one side of the coin.

My wife read my post yesterday and whilst holding back on the many other problems she sees from her position (no doubt), she asked me what gave me satisfaction, what gave me suhkha, suhkha being the opposite of duhkha, those things in life which keep our wheel in kilter, spinning perfectly.

The list below is a definitive one using the same categories and clusters from yesterday, and although no doubt others could argue against a few of those, this captures the things that please me, that put me in the PMA zone (Positive Mental Attitude) and allows me to function at my best;

Work

◦ I am well respected in work as someone who works hard and achieves greatness

◦ I mentor and nurture others to help them realise their potential

◦ I am liked by my work colleagues

◦ I am paid very well for what I do, and have a good work/life balance

Health

◦ I am fit and healthy for my age

◦ I have optimised my weight and BMI

◦ I am in tune with my health and can listen to my body, adapting my habits when required

◦ I like to take alternative therapies to keep my balance (mind, body and soul)

Mental Well Being

◦ I am happy compared to others I know

◦ I can recognise when I am under stress and have the right tools to decrease anxiety

Relationships

◦ I have friends for life, not many compared to some, but loyal and honest soul mates

◦ I like spending time with friends and they like my company

◦ I am a good judge of character and don’t suffer fools / waste time on pointless relationships

Society

◦ I like being a part of my local community / tribe

◦ I like it when people I know and like do well in life

Hobbies

◦ I like reading

◦ I like blogging

◦ I like music and live concerts

◦ I like the arts, film and theatre

◦ I like time spent in nature

Being

◦ I love my family, my family loves me (my ikigai)

◦ I am liked by friends, neighbours and colleagues

◦ I am seen as fun and energetic by others

◦ I believe in life beyond death which settles me

◦ I am wise and see the world how it really is, not how it is presented by others

◦ I am kind

Life is all about balance, good vs bad, light vs dark, day vs night, but such things are not conflicting or fighting against it’s opponent, it is complimenting it.

If we do not have opposites in play which bring the balance, how can we truly evolve as individuals if everything we have or do is positive.

I have spent this weekend in one of the most magical places on Earth (in my opinion), the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury, where I am penning this blog from now, the majestic Tor sitting atop its ancient mound in view from my temporary bedroom window.

I have been coming to this place for the last twenty-seven years, and every time I visit I feel closer to The Source.

Adding what happened this weekend would not do justice as a footnote here, so I will save that experience for another post, but I will leave you with a pictorial reminder the both duhkha and suhkha exist, and it is our challenge to find the right balance, so we become balanced, which for me is enlightenment…

Duhkha…

“I got nighty nine problems but a bitch ain’t one” is a horrendously offensive line from a rap song from the ultra-materialist Jay-Z, but the origins of that line go back millennia.

Whilst I may have personally been impacted by the pull of the brace of supermoons recently, and unconsciously by the pandemic, there is something not right at my core. I feel like there is a huge fatberg in the sewers of my mind, building up quickly now, and with it a huge pressure on the entire system.

Why I gravitated to the dusty tomes in my loft this week I don’t know. As I have been off work this week enjoying the sunshine, I took some time to rearrange my personal bookcase in the bedroom, with the four quadrants of my Billy bookcase organised from left to right (History, Science, Noetics and Nature). Alas, one book was missing (and I didn’t even know I was looking for it) in Steve Hagen’s Buddhism: Plain and Simple.

Eager to reread, I recalled buying it on iBooks several years ago, so spent some time this week refreshing my memory on the content, whilst the physical book remained hidden somewhere in the attic.

The book explains the concept of duhkha, not easily translated into English, but can be attempted by saying dissatisfaction or as the book puts it, those things that puts our wheel out of kilter.

The extract below details quite accurately explains the human condition today and how none of us really want any problems to deal with:

Once upon a time an affluent farmer approached Buddha with great hope. He prostrated before the sage and sought his blessings. Buddha raised his hand in benediction.

“O Venerable One!” the farmer said, “I have a major problem and I know only you can help me.”

Buddha kept quiet and the man went onto narrate that his good-for-nothing son was troubling him and that he was mad at his wife because she supported her son over him.

The man said, “Do something so their minds change and they realise how much I’m doing for them.”

“I can’t solve this problem for you,” Buddha replied and lowered his eyes again, in a meditative state.

The farmer told Buddha how he was worried about the upcoming harvest as the weather didn’t seem too favorable and the monkeys were destroying his crop.

“I can’t help you with this one either,” Buddha said calmly.

Still hoping in the powers of Buddha, he told him that many people owed him money and he was having hard time recovering it from his debtors. And that he too owed money to lenders and creditors. He asked Buddha if the sage could give him any remedy or amulet.

“Hmm…” Buddha said, “I can’t solve this problem for you.”

“What good are you then?” the man yelled. “Every one says you are the enlightened one and here you can’t solve any of my problems. Is there absolutely nothing you can do? I’m tired of my terrible life.”

“You see,” Buddha said patiently, as if he hadn’t heard the man’s tirade, “at any point in time, you’ll always have 84 problems in your life. The 84th is the key.

If you solve the 84th problem, the first 83 will resolve themselves.”

“Please solve my 84th problem then,” the man said, going back to being humble. “How do I do it?” he added.

“First, we have to identify your 84th problem.”

“What is my 84th problem?”

Buddha smiled and peered deeply into the man’s eyes that were full of desire, doubt and anxiety.

“Your 84th problem is,” Buddha said and paused, “you want to get rid of the first 83 problems.”

So whilst I understand that we can’t solve all of our problems, and that if we do pop a few off our list, inevitably a few new ones will be added, I felt it was time to actually document all of the things that cause me duhkha right now, and see if any (or all of them) are significantly increasing the size of the fatberg that grows within.

The process is the same as Step Four from the 12 Steps to Recovery programme those with serious addictions go through, and it was quite cathartic jotting those down and reflecting just how much each one was impacting my being.

The list below is a definitive one, and although no doubt others would add a few more, this captures enough for me to cogitate on for a while. They formed natural clusters once the list was complete, so it felt natural to categorise them:

Work

◦ I don’t like the ethics of the company I work for

◦ I don’t feel in control of my own career

◦ I don’t like my job

◦ I don’t trust my chain of command

Health

◦ I don’t like the ringing in my head (tinnitus)

◦ I don’t like the pain in my “man pipes”

◦ I don’t eat the right things, too much processed food

◦ I drink alcohol but I don’t like it’s effects any more

◦ I don’t exercise enough

◦ I don’t walk the dog enough

Mental Well Being

◦ I don’t relax enough

◦ I don’t do yoga enough

◦ I don’t do meditation enough

◦ I don’t speak nicely enough (curse too much)

◦ I don’t want to be stressed

Relationships

◦ I don’t have enough like-minded friends

◦ I don’t spend enough time socialising / connecting with friends

◦ I don’t spend enough time with my sister/niece

◦ I don’t speak to my parents

◦ I don’t like how I am too self-righteous and judge others on their actions/inactions

◦ I don’t like the way I judge others on how they look and not how they are

◦ I don’t do enough for others

Society

◦ I don’t like having a big mortgage

◦ I don’t like the way I spend too much money on things I don’t need

◦ I don’t like the way society is (broken) but do little to change it

Hobbies

◦ I don’t read enough books

◦ I don’t blog enough

◦ I don’t spend enough time learning the ukulele

◦ I don’t spend enough time with nature

◦ I don’t do enough sports

Being

◦ I don’t want to live my life without being enlightened

◦ I don’t connect with my higher self

◦ I don’t always make the right choices

◦ I don’t react well in conflict situations (too quick without thinking)

◦ I don’t like the way I want to control things beyond my control

◦ I don’t like acting upon my cravings rather than acknowledging them

◦ I don’t like feeding the addictions my ego desires (sugar, alcohol)

◦ I don’t always make the right choices

◦ I don’t like other people controlling what I do, how I look

It’s quite some list, and likely not unique either, I’m sure most of us have experienced some, most or all of them over time, and perhaps continue to do so.

The more serious ones, the ones impacting my mental and physical state of being, do need to be addressed now.

Acknowledging our duhkha list is, in my opinion, the first step to recovery and unblocking the sewer, just how we do that depends on many factors, but the overriding one for me is courage, courage to make difficult decisions or to change deeply engrained and programmed habits and behaviours.

To have that mindset, that ability and willingness to change, often needs a catalyst, and that will be the topic for my next blog.

Enter, The Ice Man, Wim Hof!

Detox…

As with most other Earthly inhabitants, and as with most years, January is always a month of reflection, reflecting on the events of last year and the plans and anticipation for the year to come, along with the perennial screaming pleas from the weighing machine to “get the f*ck off me!”

I spent sixteen days off over the Yuletide period with the family, with good quality time alongside everyone that was allowed to be around the table, around the table. As is customary, we ate too much, drank in moderation but often and put on the inevitable hip inches. It’s allowed.

Now that the festivities are well and truly behind me, I instantly turned to my rack of well-being books, naturally gravitating to the paleo and meat-free tomes as a way to start shredding the excess pounds. As I did that though, my higher-self seemed to stop me dead in my tracks, as my lower-self was sending a very loud and clear message that other things needed to be considered this time.

My material body is in pain, as penned my times before over the years and in my last post, my tinnitus is absolutely raging at the moment and my recent venture into “mushroom stacking” wasn’t the only thing required to abate my invisible and subjective malady.

As the first few days in January are quiet, I took to the internet and discussions with my hippy friends to see whether other things may be needed. Commence Operation Detox!

Research and chatter has revealed that tinnitus is thought to be an inflammation of the inner ear (among other things) so a diet avoiding items that inflame to body (wheat being a classic example, our ancestral DNA was never meant to take it from the beginning, the agricultural revolution really does have a lot to answer for!) and to take items that are rich in anti-oxidants was the way to go. Not only that, but sodium also has a part to play in the downfall of our well oiled meat machine, too much salt can also play unwanted tin whistle tunes inside the head it seems.

Why didn’t I take the blue pill…

Not only am I now taking a variety of supplements as outlined above (left stack of Lion’s Mane and Niacin for tinnitus – right stack of vitamin D3 and zinc for Covid prevention – yes it’s a thing!), my mind-body-soul coach “L” suggested that I get onto Anthony William (aka the Medical Medium), who has an interesting backstory of contacting “the other side” to provide nutritional advice to his clients and the general public. One of the main approaches in the morning is to kick start the detox process by consuming a flagon of celery juice. Let’s see what state the guts are in over the coming weeks, clean and gurgle-free I hope.

Juice Dalek…

So here we are at the start of the New Year, regressing to a well established, free to all (no subscription required) and age old lifestyle and optimized way of life. Ladies and gentlemen, let me re-introduce you to The Mediterranean Diet!

Before launching into what that entails, two things spring to mind. Firstly, my wife lived in Sicily for a number of years before we met and recalled this morning that her diet / lifestyle whilst there was great and her joie de vive was never better (youth playing its part of course!). Secondly, I reminded myself to watch the video below, which was a Ted Talk I saw a few years back which gave some insights into several studies completed from various parts of the world, including Sardinia which for the geographically challenged is an island slap bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Whether we actually want to live to one hundred is a moot point, the take-aways from the talk are well worth taking note of:

The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Whilst the focus on the below is a scientific approach to food and drink, lifestyle choices do go beyond diet. As Dan mentions above, exercise (especially the use of natural techniques and not putting the body under too much strain/pressure), mindfulness (in whatever form of that suits) and community (traditional ways of exchanging ideas and information via verbal dialogue and body language, not via technology) all play their part too in the enjoyment and fulfillment of life as a whole.

Live well, live longer…

The Mediterranean Diet:

A diet that is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods (although eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week) is a good rule of thumb to bring optimized nutrition. The following outlines the basic principles of what to eat and what to avoid:

Eat Often: Vegetables (tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots,, sprouts, cucumbers, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches), nuts & seeds (almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds), legumes (beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas), tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams), whole grains (Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread and pasta), herbs & spices (garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper), fish & seafood (salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels), healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil), water & wine (red wine – one glass maximum per day) and tea (herbal or black tea without milk or sugar).

Eat Moderately: Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey), eggs (chicken, quail and duck eggs), cheese & yogurt (cheese, Greek yogurt).

Eat Rarely: Red meat (beef, pork, lamb, venison).

Never Eat: Sugar-sweetened food and beverages (incl. table sugar), processed meats (sausages, hot dogs), refined grains (white bread, pasta made with refined wheat), refined oils (Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others) and other highly processed foods (incl. those marked “low-fat” or “diet”, butter/margarine and various processed foods.

Low-Sodium Diet

A low-sodium diet limits foods that are high in sodium (salt). Following a low-sodium diet will reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart failure and hopefully in my case, tinnitus. We still need sodium in our diets for the salts lost during exercises and trips to the toilet, but moderating our in take is something to consider.

Salt – not worth its – well salt…

The recommended daily limit of sodium will vary depend on factors like gender and age, but generally speaking the daily recommendation is between 1.5g – 2g per day.

Nowadays, food labels tend to display the sodium they contain and a quick walk down the aisles at Morrison’s this morning revealed the same so it does become easier to calculate and regulate should you wish to be scientific about it.

Foods that have less than 5% of the daily limit of sodium are considered low in salt. Foods that have 20% or more of the daily limit of sodium are considered high in salt, and the following lists which food to avoid:

Processed Foods: Mixes for bread, biscuits, cake, and pudding, ready meals.

Instant Foods: Packet mash, cereals, noodles, and rice.

Packaged Foods: Stuffing, rice and pasta mixes, snack dip mixes, and macaroni and cheese.

Canned Foods: Canned vegetables, soups, broths, sauces, and vegetable or tomato juice.

Snack Food: Potato chips, popcorn, pretzels, pork scratchings, salted crackers, and salted nuts

Frozen Food: Ready meals, entrees, vegetables with sauces, and breaded meats
Meats / Cheeses: Smoked or cured meat, such as corned beef, bacon, ham, hot dogs, and sausage, canned meats or spreads, such as potted meats, sardines, anchovies, and imitation seafood, delicatessen or lunch meats, such as bologna, ham, turkey, and roast beef, processed cheese spreads

Condiments & Seasonings: Limit use of salt, such as such as garlic salt, celery salt, onion salt, and table salt salt. Regular soy sauce, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flavored vinegars, ketchiup and especially monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Bread and cereal: Choose breads with less than 80 mg of sodium per serving.

To keep the flavours up during cooking, replace salt with herbs and spices to foods instead of salt during cooking. No one wants to eat bland food, else the mind will wander quite easily over to the cookie jar (though if the above is put in practice, then it would be fine as it will be empty!).

Time will of course tell whether the above actions yield the positive outcomes and planned noise reductions inside my noggin, if at first you don’t succeed…