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It’s almost Christmas, and I haven’t worked out as much as I should have.
The plan was to run around the bay twice a week plus one day a week dedicated to strengthening my upper body. Not even close to what I have done.
I had an endless list of issues, first of all with my orthotics, because they needed to be modified, and it took almost a month. I will get them back this Thursday. And about my upper body workout, well, I injured my wrist (don’t know how) about a month ago.
All this exercise, that was my weekly routine until last year, when I started to have problems with my hips, and therefore I stopped running, had the aim to prepare me for my coming trip.
I ended my post about my trip to The Himalayas swearing I would never go to a mountain ever again. (read the post here).
I lied. To you and to myself.
MY BIGGEST FEAR
I am going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next January. I will leave at the end of the month, and that gives me just another month to prepare. I am a fit person, but some extra exercise will surely help.
The problem is that I can train as much as I want, but my biggest fear always stays: cold.
My complete lack of resistance to low temperature has affected my life since when I was little. Coming from the north of Italy you would expect I am well accustomed to snow and ice. No. I’m not.
So many times I refused to go out with friends just because I was terrified by the temperature outside, and I would call myself sick or invented any excuse not to put myself in the position of trembling like a feather the whole time in front of people.
Last year I decided to start facing all my biggest fear, and I did it. The first step to get outside my comfort zone was to beat the cold. I went on a trip to the Himalayas for a whole month at the end of the winter. I failed.
I came home wholly traumatised and promised I would not put myself in a situation of such discomfort ever again.
In the end, my stubbornness won, and I booked a trip to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.
I did not have a clear plan on how to win my battle against the frozen temperatures I will find during the hike, but one day, out of the blue, a friend sent me a message on Whazzap saying: “Wim Hof, 16 December in Sydney, check this guy”. I checked the guy and immediately replied: “I’m in”.
WHM. WHAT IS IT AND HOW IT WORKS
Wim Hof, better known as the “Iceman”, is a revolutionary guru who travels the world teaching his method for a happier, stronger and healthier life. Sounds a lot like one of the many life coaches out there, but believe me he is not.
This incredible human being holds something like 26 world records related to endurance and resistance. Just to mention a few of the extraordinary ventures, Wim climbed several times Mount Everest to the Death Zone (around 7.000 m), summited Mount Kilimanjaro, and finished a half marathon in the arctic circle.
Did I mention that he did all those things wearing nothing but shorts?
Yep. I know what you are thinking: he is crazy. And you’re right, he really is.
A funny looking fearless middle age man who claims he can change the world.
The core of the Wim Hof Method (WHM) is the combination of three factors: a breathing technique, cold exposure, and commitment.
On this day, many scientists have tried to explain his “superpowers”, with no results. Wim states that the mind is so powerful that it can control the body and influence the immune system. In one study he has been exposed at frozen temperatures, but his body temperature did not change.
On another occasion, he has been injected with viruses that would have caused him to vomit, diarrhoea, flu, and so on, but nothing happened. He claimed he controlled his immune system with the power of his mind.
You can easily state he could be just a freak of nature, but here comes his peculiarity: instead of taking credit for being so out of the normal, he thought other people to do the fantastic things he does. Twelve of his students have been injected with the same viruses used during the experiment, and all twelve were able to suppress the illness.
Wim travels around the world teaching his method, in workshops and special activities, like the expedition to Mount Śnieżka in Poland.
Thousands of people have now tried and practice his method throughout the world.
Now I am one of them. Yesterday I went to Wim’s workshop in Sydney. I don’t have many pictures of the event, I dare to take a quick snap while I went to the toilet during a break and that is all.
A friend made a video of my second ice bath. I can’t stop watching it!
my personal experience at sydney’s workshop
During the workshop, the method has been explained, and we then started with some physical exercises to stretch and get ready.
We then laid down, and the breathing session started: three series of 30 full breaths, followed by holding your breath for as long as you need more air, and another deep breath with another 15 seconds of holding.
At the end of the exercise, with my eyes closed, I saw a big round light in front of me and a smaller black stain that was moving and changing shape at the very centre. The black mass was disturbing me, so I forced myself to push it away. It came back but I concentrated, and it slowly imploded and disappeared. I think then I lost consciousness. I was not sleeping, neither I was awake, I was hearing Wim’s voice, far away, like a whisper, he was saying: ” fully in, let it out.” but I could not move.
At some point, I felt like getting up, and it seemed to me it happened the same to all of us at the same time. There were 700 people at the workshop.
I spent some time sharing my experience with my friends there, and it seems like the bright light was a widespread event.
After a light lunch, we started to get ready for the ice bath. On horse stance position we started some movement to improve circulation, and in groups of 50, we headed out. Some plastic pool had been filled with ice. We were around 15 persons per pool. Everything went fast. I remember I heard someone yelling: “1,2,3!!” Then I went into the pool. Oh my God. I thought I couldn’t make it. It was 2 minutes, just two minutes. I could not breathe. I started somehow to slow down my breath and closed my eyes. Somehow I made it through the 2 minutes exercise. Once out of the pool my right hand was stuck in a sort of contraction position. It started to feel better after 3 minutes.
I was in shock. I went inside and wrapped myself with a towel. After 20 or something minutes, I went to the bathroom to get changed, and I overheard a woman saying that they were calling people for a second ice bath. I didn’t think twice and ran outside, still shivering.
My second ice bath was really intense. Probably not as frozen as the first one because most of the ice already melted, but still bloody cold.
I felt so proud of myself. Once home I downloaded the free app of the Wim Hof Method (just check WHM on Google Play or Apple store) and read more about how to progress the cold exposure.
The method suggested starting with cold showers gradually. What a nightmare for me, but I am so committed I will definitely push myself to do it.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, probably I was still excited. At 3am I woke up and started to feel sick and vomited. My body was aching, I could feel the flu coming. My heartbeat was faster than usual, and I was sweating and shivering at the same time. I tried to calm down, started to inhale and exhale very slowly. I concentrated on my breath, and after a while, I went back to sleep.
This morning I woke up completely fine. I did 3 sessions of breathing, I cleaned the house, did the laundry, went outside to work out, had a cold shower, and here I am still full of energy.
I have the feeling the trip to Kilimanjaro will be just fine.
do you want to learn more about the whm?
If you are curious about the WHM, here are some helpful liks.
Disclaimer: if you go deep, you will find how Wim came to acquire his knowledge. That is a story of sadness and despair, but it will help you understand that sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself then.
Wimhofmethod.com This is the official website of the WHM.
Smithsonian An article from the prestigious Smithsonian journal
Vice Between all Wim interviews and documentaries, this is the one I liked the most. Careful. You might cry.