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Imagine living with superpowers: increased healing capability, heightened immune system, muscles that don’t fatigue as easily and immunity to cold. Would you believe me If I told you this is all possible? Months ago, I was made keen, Through this video, about a system designed to enhance my body. No experimental injections, special pills or genetic predisposition required. Instead, strong mental focus, breathing exercises and…well I can’t reveal all the secret quite yet.
You may have heard about Wim Hof, also known as the Iceman. He holds several world records such as marathons in the arctic as well as scaling Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and boots. I’d like to stress that he isn’t some freak or statistical outlier, just a man with great dedication and resolve. He has created this method, as its name suggests, and now teaches his method to anyone who is interested so they to can push themselves to be the best they can.
I have had this program earmarked since my initial viewing and have been planning to start this regimen when I came out here to Pepperfield. (You will get sick of hearing this, but remember growth of body, mind and spirit.) I am pleased to say after nearly two weeks I’m already seeing results. The best way to describe this process, as well as how it works, is first through detailing the method. I start each morning by sitting up in bed. This is important because I made the mistake of waking up the first few days and starting while still lying down and I frequently found myself dozing off. By sitting up just for a few seconds I was able to set my intent, which I later discovered is crucial. Next, I begin by deeply inhaling and exhaling. Not so fast as to hyperventilate but quicker then normal breathing pace. I do a set of 40 of these deep breaths. After this first set my face feels somewhat tingly, my arms and hands feel slightly buzzed and sometimes my hand will clench. This is all okay. After my breathing set, I exhale all the air in my lungs and hold my breath. At the start I was able to last for about 15 seconds, but just the other day I managed to make it to nearly two and half minutes. For some perspective, try just exhaling fully and holding. When I reach this point it feels almost as if I’m floating. After I have held my lungs empty for as long as I comfortably can, I take a deep inhale and hold that for at least 15 seconds. The inhale period can last longer but I have found that 15 to 20 seconds is optimal. I then repeat this process two more time for a total of three complete sets of breathing. I then move on to the next phase. On the held inhale I complete as many pushups as I can. I can usually muster about 25, I’d say more so because my upper body strength is lacking. Some days I will also add on some crunches. After this I continue by stretching my body starting with a butterfly stretch and toe touches. I then move up my body to my waste and back doing a variety of contortions and poses to help limber up and finish by stretching my farms, shoulders and wrists. Most days I repeat this set again, mostly to continue to develop some more strength and flexibility but also to start perspiring. The last part is – still, even after nearly 2 weeks – the worst: a cold shower. Not a tepid or lukewarm rinse, only cold water.
Alright yes, I might be, slightly, crazy. Who would subject themselves to this kind of torture, especially right at the crack of dawn? Believe it or not, many people, including the ice man as well as myself. It will make more sense though if I explain why. Think back to the start, deep breaths. By inhaling and exhaling deeply I am pumping my blood full of oxygen and expelling massive amounts of carbon dioxide. This alone has to the potential to bring the blood pH from an average of 7.4 all the way up to 7.75, with some people even achieving an 8. All this oxygen does a few things. Because the cells are flush with oxygen they don’t require other methods of respiration. These other methods produce lactic acid and will usually make the blood more acidic. Also, the internal sensors that detect acidity within the body stop functioning. This blocks the nociceptive pain inducing receptors, making the perception of pain lessened. After all this, upon the holding of the breath on the exhale, the adrenaline and cortisol levels in the body spike – this is why I feel like I’m floating – and the autonomic nervous system, being influenced by all these factors, stops producing inflammatory proteins. This reduction of proteins also is caused by a suppression of production that’s normally caused by white blood cells. Upon moving to the next phase all this oxygen has provided the cells with massive amounts of energy – making cell division and healing easier for the body – and as a result both the pushups are easier. Stretches are now quite easy as well thanks to the alkalinity of the blood. The final phase, the cold shower is where the magic happens. Epinephrine levels rise and help suppress the immune system. This stress causes the production of more white blood cells and in turn helps strengthen the immune system. Additionally, both the body and mind become quite invigorated (who wouldn’t when being doused with cold water?) Homeostasis kicks in to try to correct this temperature imbalance and in doing so begins to target brown fat. This is energy rich fat used by the body solely for producing heat and energy. The cardiovascular system also ramps up to warm the body. This rapid increase of heart rate helps to strengthen the entire cardiovascular system. Lastly, cellular metabolization goes through the roof and more oxygen start to be consumed and eventually the shower doesn’t even feel cold.
Why? I wake up each day with tasks designed to push me, to make me better. And, while the effects of the Wim Hof method are clearly more physical it further helps me exercise my mind. I commence my day with the satisfaction of completing something that is difficult. If not anything else, it helps serve as a daily reminder to push myself to be all I can. Life, and my morning routine, aren’t necessarily easy and the slow but steady results have helped me understand that things take time. But by investing the effort anyone can develop these “superpowers” and even greatness.
[If you are interested in beginning this program please do some of your own research as well. Doing these exercises have the potential to be dangerous if not done properly. But, don’t be intimidated, it is well worth the sacrifice]