Man VS Ocean Interview

At the end of last year I received an email telling me about Adam Walker, a toaster salesman turned ocean swimmer! As you can imagine I was intrigued!

AdamW-0265-2t_sm

Adam is the UKs leading open water marathon swimmer and the first British man to complete the grueling Ocean’s 7 Challenge. Only six people in the world have completed the challenge and Adam is one of only two people to complete the challenge on the first attempt.

Adam made headlines worldwide in 2014 when a pod of dolphins swam with him for four hours protecting him from a great white shark stalking him in the Cook Straight, New Zealand. This year Adam will star in a film documentary about this experience directed by John Jackson (The Descendants) and Andy Byatt (Blue Planet).

After reading his amazing story, I was lucky enough to be able to put some questions to Adam to find out more about him, but more importantly how exercise can help with mental health.

 

Do you find physical or psychological barriers hardest to overcome? 

This sport is around 80% mental and 20% physical.  When I was stung by a Portuguese man o war in the pitch black in the middle of the Pacific Ocean I didn’t know whether to move forward or back in case I got stung again. The mental element is more challenging although physically you have to be at a very good level to swim all day long without stopping which again has to be trained up. I have leant to switch of both elements and keep it simple. If its simple in your mind its simple in reality this comes with experience and confidence.

What would you say to someone starting a completely new fitness regime who had huge self doubt? 

Focus on what you want to achieve write down your short, mid and long terms goals and even laminate them and pin it up at home so you can see it every day. Know that each step you make you are on a great road to fitness health and wellbeing. Just step over that line and make the leap, what do you have to lose? Fitness comes with many rewards, make sure you have a plan of the sessions each week, if necessary get a personal trainer.  Work hard and you will see and feel the benefits. I made that leap and it not only made me fitter but changed my life forever in so many ways. I now no longer do the job I don’t want to do, I am happier than I have ever been! Fitness can be life changing!

Where has been your favourite place to swim so far?

I loved Gibraltar as the water was clear and I heard pilot whales and saw dolphins. But nothing tops my experience when a pod of dolphins escorted me across the Cook Strait in NZ. It was incredible and I felt honored to be out there with them. The experience will never leave me and it has made me stronger than ever to support whales and dolphins.

Would you say swimming is a good exercise for mental health? If so, why?

Definitely, it helps with depression producing endorphins but has a number of physical and mental benefits:

  • It has been proven by scientists that by being immersed in cold water three times a week increases your white blood cell counts which helps fight infection and boost your immune system by activating antibodies and increasing the metabolic rate.
  • In Sweden it’s common practice to let babies take naps outdoors in the cold, which has proven to not only help them be more resistant to diseases but they also sleep deeper and more soundly. Insomniacs are told to have cold showers to aid their sleep.
  • In Siberia as a ritual they dump a bucket of cold water over the head of children aged 2-6 years old. It has shown that 95 per cent of children who participate are healthy through the flu season as opposed to 75 per cent of those children who do not take part.
  • Better circulation – cold water exposure over time is shown to improve circulation, since cold water exposure causes your blood flow to be re-directed to your vital organs. It forces your body to circulate your blood more efficiently and effectively.
  • Temperature regulation – cold water helps limit heat loss. As it decreases core body temperature it actually regulates overall body temperature.
  • Relief from symptoms of depression – cold water has proven to help relieve the symptoms of depression. Due to the high density of cold water receptors in the skin, a cold dip is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from nerve endings to the brain, which can result in an anti-depression effect.
  • Healthy skin and hair – cold water helps close the pores and doesn’t dry out your skin like the warm and chemically treated pool water. It is also great for your hair as cold temperatures close the hair cuticles, making it stronger.
  • No chemicals – as well as irritating the skin, chlorine is absorbed by the body primarily through inhalation. Many pool swimmers suffer a cough or sore throat during and following a training session. Open water swimmers can breathe deep the fresh air of their surroundings.
  • Energy increase – cold water boosts energy levels, nerve endings stand up and the heart starts racing. It is one of the best possible ways to give yourself a natural high.
  • Helps you maximise your breathing capabilities – cold water forces you to breath deeper, by forcing you to pause momentarily as a reflex to the immersion. This opens up the lungs and helps bring in more oxygen.
  • Minimise pain – reduces chronic pain, body aches and inflammation, regulates nervous system, improves kidney function and overall improves circulation.
  • None resistance activity – ideal sport for individuals who have had injuries or impairments as it’s a non weight bearing activity and resistance free, in addition you are working the majority of muscles so you still get a workout.

How do you feel about sharks now? 

The same I have no issue with them, when I do these swims I am in their world. I have no complaints if anything was to happen, however I don’t believe we are the right food for them and it is more about mistake identity thinking we are a seal or other food source. I love everything in the ocean and we need to protect it and what’s in it.

What’s harder, selling a toaster or swimming an ocean? (Genuine question!)

What is probably a better question is what’s more interesting and exciting. I don’t need to answer that one. Of course a toaster. Ha ha!

Man vs Ocean, is Adam’s story in his own words of how he went from toaster salesman living in Nottingham to the world’s toughest ocean marathon swimmer. It’s out now, so go and get a copy!

Man V Ocean Book Jacket
Man Vs Ocean, by Adam Walker (John Blake Publishing, 7th January 2016, £17.99)

 

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Saturday 2nd November – Momentous Occasion!!

OK so today was pretty damn momentous…I bought a dress!! An actual dress. As in what girls wear! Thankfully I took a friend with me who was amazing. She was patient, enthusiastic and very encouraging. I’m not wearing it for a week so have time to freak out lots about wearing it in public! 
It does mean however that I’ve achieved one of the goals on my vision board, which was to buy a dress. WOO!! 

Today started with yet another tough training session with Chris. He’s really pushing me on the whole ‘improve the cardio’. I did the ‘fat blast’ circuit again, but this time only felt like throwing up once. Improvement! I did 4 sets of the following:

Prowler Shuttle Run (really hate this)
2 Lengths Backwards Sled drag (still tough)
TRX Row (eugh!)
Sledge Hammer & Tyre 
5KG Slam Ball 
Boxing (Heavy Bag)


After 4 sets of this I was completely knackered, so Chris decided to add in the devil’s chair (sitting against the wall for 30 seconds) and then prowler runs. I did that 3 times, which was more than enough torture! 

So all in all it was a pretty good session. I am determined to improve my cardio (well it can’t get much worse!), so there will be plenty more ‘fat blast’ sessions to come. Help me!! 



Thursday 31st October – The end of month 4!

Wow 4 months done! The time has flown by. 
So the last few posts have been quite reflective, which has been pretty therapeutic, but it’s time for a change. 
I saw this photo today, which is very fitting for Halloween don’t you think! 
 

Looking at it makes me feel a bit sick. That’s exactly the kind of food I used to crave, and eat, on a regular basis.I’ve not eaten a pizza in over 4 months! 
So I’ve already done 2 workouts this week with my fabulous personal trainer, Chris. They couldn’t have been more different though!
I wasn’t feeling great on Tuesday night (hormonal, nauseous, the usual!), but as the lovely Chris said: ‘this isn’t nursery. You can’t go home just because you feel sick’. Nothing like sympathy! He’s right though. So he decided that sadistic torture was the way forward on Tuesday night:
Fat Blast Circuit
Prowler Shuttle Run (evil!!)
2 Lengths Backwards Sled drag (tough but not too bad)
TRX Row (60seconds) (eugh!)
Sledge Hammer & Tyre (60seconds) (such a weakling!)
Grapple Press (60seconds) (horrible!)
Slam Ball (60seconds) (knackering!)
Boxing (Heavy Bag) (60seconds ) (yay!)
3 times through
That looks pretty good, doesn’t it? The bit that’s missing is the two times I had to stop as I thought I was going to be sick! It was so embarrassing. I get really nauseous before my period for a few days and it hits in waves (so much fun!!), and I usually get mental temperature swings from one extreme to the other. Add in the above ‘fat blast circuit’ and you have me running to the toilet sort of silently dry heaving and praying to not pass out! Once the first round of nausea passed, I went back in and carried on, until it happened again! This time I ended up sat on the floor in the corner of the gym with head pressed against a piece of equipment that was cold. How pathetic is that! Chris was very patient and made sure I was OK. Sadly the ground didn’t open up and swallow me. ButI did manage to do some boxing to finish. My cardio fitness is pretty poor and I know Chris is working on improving it with the above killer workout, but I want to be better at it now. Yes, the impatience hasn’t improved!! So we’re going to do that again on Saturday morning, but without the potential puking hopefully!!
Last night’s workout was much more fun, thank goodness!
 
Superset:
Seated Shoulder Press: 12 reps x 5kg, 12 reps x 5kg, 12 reps x 5kg, 10 reps x 5kg, 8 reps x 5kg, 8 reps x 5kg
Dumbbell Lat Raise: 12 reps x 3kg, 12 reps x 3kg, 7 reps x 3kg, 10 reps x 2kg, 10 reps x 2kg, 10 reps x 2kg
Single Arm Push Press: 10 reps x 4kg, 10 reps x 4kg
Double Arm Push Press: 15 reps x 3kg, 15 reps x 3kg, 15 reps x 3kg
Boxing Superset:
Ground & Pound: 60seconds, 60seconds, 60seconds, 60seconds, 60seconds
Heavy Bag: 20 hits, 30 hits, 40 hits, 50 hits, 60 hits
The ‘ground and pound’ was hilarious and hard work. It basically looks like a body bag and is filled with sand. You kneel over it and punch. It probably looks ridiculous, but is strangely satisfying even if it does hurt your hands! I did 60 seconds on that then up on to the punch bag, then bag to the sand and so on. It was so tiring but so much fun. There are three words I thought I would never associate with the gym. 
I can’t tell you how much Chris has helped me get over my fear of the gym. If you’ve read any of my earlier posts you’ll know how I was almost resolute that I would never go to a gym, let alone enjoy it! I’ve spent money buying workout clothes, and dare I say it even feel comfortable in them! How did that happen? He’s clearly some kind of evil genius. 
In terms of fat loss and inch loss I have made progress (22lbs and 17 inches), but not as much as I would have liked. However, due to the PCOS I have to be realistic and acknowledge that this is going to take time. Also, I didn’t gain the weight in a couple of months so it isn’t going to just disappear. When my head manages to act in a semi normal way I can see that things are changing for the better, but unfortunately it doesn’t happen often enough. I get that naughty negative voice criticising from his perch on my left shoulder. The stroppy fairy on the other shoulder however is getting pretty fed up of him. She’s taken up boxing too and is preparing to knock him out! 
 
Meeting Chris has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I honestly can’t put into words how much he has helped me in such a short space of time. If you’re struggling with your weight or would just like to talk to someone about a new approach to nutrition and/or training, contact Chris. He’s extremely knowledgeable, easy to talk to and enthusiastic. You won’t regret it!
Contact information

Sunday 27th October – Puzzle epiphany!

Happy Sunday everyone!

So I’m feeling at a bit of a crossroads at the moment, which you may have guessed from my sporadic and emotional posts. 

When I started all of this back in July, I had one goal: lose weight. 
I was totally and completely committed to that one goal. Nothing else mattered. To be fair I think that makes sense. As far as I was concerned, I was going to eat healthily, start training (eventually), lose weight and be happy. Such a fairytale concept! 
In reality I’ve adjusted to the healthy eating (but still crave bread like you wouldn’t believe!), and am actually enjoying the training with Chris (although it’s tough and I am not doing that great with a lot of it), but have uncovered, or rather admitted to myself, that it isn’t as simple as I had hoped. 

I am now more aware of what I don’t want: to be miserable, to have no confidence, to carry on doing a job just because it’s comfortable, to not push myself

So what do I want?
To be healthy and happy 
Simple! 
Well not so simple for me. I am a total drama queen after all! 


So what am I going to do about it? 
Well, I have started to disengage my head from the bucket of sand it has been hiding in for as long as I can remember, and it’s a scary process. I am admitting to myself that things need to change, also a scary process. BUT I AM admitting it. 

I really like the above image as I guess it is a piece of the puzzle, and I would say a pretty important once. Maybe that’s how I need to start looking at this. 
In fact, I’ve just had an epiphany!! This new adventure of mine is slowly piecing together my new life. I know that probably sounds incredibly cheesy, but it seems fitting right now. 

I just have to find all of the other pieces…

As it’s Sunday I’m sure you’re expecting a photo of the food shop. Well here you go! 

It is definitely expensive to be healthy. I seem to be at the supermarket at least two or three times per week. Maybe I should get a job there so I can at least get a staff discount! 

Food today: venison sausages and poached eggs for breakfast, some dark chocolate (because I’m hormonal and well that’s enough of a reason!!), soup for lunch (tomato, probably not allowed…), steak, broccoli, corn and sweet potato for dinner 

I haven’t actually had lunch or dinner yet as I’m writing this during the day, but I have planned to have the above to eat. 
I am sure the venison sausages will upset some people, but I’m not going to apologise for eating them. They taste good, are low fat and full of protein, and I am trying to eat something other than chicken! 

I am going to try and bake some paleo and protein friendly goodies soon. Another step on the road to all things healthy! I will of course keep you updated on the progress with that. 

I actually feel pretty good today and am really pleased that through writing this blog I’ve come to some sort of realisation about things. Yes they seem a bit rubbish at the moment, but if everything was easy then you wouldn’t appreciate the good things when they happen. 


Wednesday 23rd October – Post 100!

Post 100! 

I really didn’t realise I could waffle on that much…! 


I think quite a lot has changed since my first post: 
http://fightingthefear2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/monday-1st-july.html 

It was all about food! What I could no longer have, and what I was going to be eating instead. In a way nothing has changed. I’m still obsessed with food, and still miss certain things:


However, I am so much more aware of the affect food has on me, how addictive some foods are, and how great it feels to get over those cravings (I’m still working on that one!). 

Another thing I have learnt in the past few months is the importance of goal setting: http://fightingthefear2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/wednesday-24th-july-part-2.html 

I was initially very negative about goal setting. I didn’t have time to prepare for it, which I know is kind of the point, and I like being prepared. However, meeting or even smashing goals is a great feeling. I’m already on to my second set and working on demolishing them all. It will probably take time, but I am (very slowly) learning patience! 

I think what has surprised me the most in the past few months is my total attitude change towards training: http://fightingthefear2013.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/wednesday-7th-august.html 

I never thought I would even set foot in a gym, let alone enjoy it! In fact, I’ve had to miss the gym tonight and I am really unhappy about it. I never thought I would be sad to miss a session! 

I know I’ve had quite a few setbacks along the way: the numerous hormonal issues, the PCOS, the potential depression….but I am determined to get through it all. A few months ago I wouldn’t have said that. I would have given in to the negative thoughts and ‘wallowed’. 

I have met some truly fantastic and inspirational people since I started this whole new experience, and I am so grateful for all of their support and encouragement. It makes a huge difference knowing there are people out there who are prepared to listen, and most importantly are happy to. 


Speaking of awesome people, my personal trainer, Chris, deserves a huge mention here. He has been so supportive and enthusiastic over the past few months, and I am extremely lucky to have him helping me. I had such a negative, and probably stereotypical, view of personal trainers before I met him, all of which was completely wrong. He has never shouted at me, never put me down, never done or said anything to make me feel bad. He has only ever been positive, realistic and enthusiastic. He has given me the exercise bug. He has listened to me complain, moan, put myself down, and swear (a lot!), and never once made me feel like I was overreacting. Having that objective input is a godsend. 
We still have a long way to go, but there’s no way I’m giving up now, and even if I wanted to, I don’t think Chris would let. Another thing I am very grateful for. 

Chris also writes a blog and has just written a fantastic post on happiness: http://chrismainpt.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/dont-worry-be-happy/  

It really struck a chord with me as to be happy is what I want more than anything. 
This is just another reason why I am so pleased I met Chris. He really does listen to what you say and looks at the best solution for you. 

So, you must really want to get in touch with him now, and here’s how you can:

Chris Main: https://twitter.com/Coach_Mainer