Pushing my limits; What can YOU Learn?

Table mountain

The last few months have been incredibly introspective for me.

Spending the bulk of my time alone on the mountains, in preparation for climbing Table Mountain every day next year, has allowed quality ‘me’ time.

It’s been interesting to watch myself see-saw between feeling inspired and feeling disheartened. I’ve been working aggressively through old negative behaviors – specifically self sabotage. It can creep up on you quickly and once your mind has hold of it: becomes diarrhea.

No one ever said self development was easy, and as with most things we tend to want the optimum results now without walking the path. Once again I am being taught patience and to choose gratitude for the learning’s instead of beating myself up for the fact I don’t already know it.

Over sixty hikes have taught me that and more; and I’ve quickly realised the similarities of conquering an obstacle every day, to the path of life.

Here are five insights I’ve gained:

1. One step at a time

We somehow create mountains out of molehills. Obstacles always seem to be harder, longer or even insurmountable. The trick?

Just get started.

It’s just one foot in front of the other that gets you up Table Mountain. Know your end goal but don’t focus too much on it otherwise it becomes daunting. Having an understanding of smaller targets that are easily achievable (where half way is; how many turns there are going up) diverts your attention from the total task at hand.

Interestingly enough, doing it this way has resulted in some of my fastest times up Table Mountain. You become enthused about hitting and reaching the smaller milestones rather than constantly overwhelmed by what still needs to be achieved.

2. Remain focused

I’ve almost twisted my ankle on the final few steps coming down after completing nearly 7 000 steps – why? Because I became cocky in a sense of thinking ‘ag just the last few steps who needs to concentrate’ and its exactly in that moment something happens.

Never take any step for granted.

I’m learning to become mindful not mind full. Many people have asked about what happens if I get injured next year. I believe injury happens when we are not prepared, we lose focus or is a manifestation of our own self doubt in our abilities to do what’s in front of us.

That last one I know because as a twelve year old I broke my arm two days before a football final while practicing. Why? Because I didn’t believe I was good enough to be in the team and contribute meaningfully.

Watch your thoughts carefully.

Every step we take in life must be with purpose and focus towards what we want. The moment we take our eyes off what we doing in the moment or allow self doubt to creep in is when we invite the mini disasters into our life.

3. Be grounded in appreciation and gratitude

Every climb I connect with the first step of the mountain in a show of gratitude for the fact that I not only have able legs, but a healthy body to support my climbs safely.

I have family members who’ve had to spend afternoons in bed because their bodies have been a debilitating drain on their energy. Most people I know suffer with illnesses throughout the year; some have chronic back pain. Some in wheelchairs. A few examples of things that others have to deal with daily that most take for granted.

Our bodies are our temples and one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment on this planet. Being mindful of each step allows me to fully be present in my body and feel each step; how one tiny adjustment means I don’t feel niggles in my knees. It allows me to listen to my body and go at a pace that tests me but doesn’t put unnecessary stress on it.

To me, being active celebrates the gift this body I’ve been given is.

4. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable

JT Foxx stresses this point and this practice is helping me realise why it’s so important. Often the body feels under duress or that it’s tiring. I’m learning how we can push ourselves past that initial ‘pain’ which enables us to achieve more than we dreamed. This has helped on the really hot climbs where, taking an hour versus two, in searing heat doing strenuous exercise makes a huge difference.

It’s amazing that often my mind feel my body is on the brink of ‘sorry buddy – we need a break or we shutting down’ and yet; on most occasions doesn’t come and you can push through it.

I can tell you that this alone is the biggest lesson I’ve learned that will help me when those dark days come next year. When my body perhaps feels like it won’t manage and yet, will make it so long as I just start.

Uncomfortable just means we outside the range of what we know as normal. What we’re used to. Means we’re challenging what our own minds deem possible or impossible.

In our own minds.

Nelson Mandela said ‘it always seems impossible until its done’

Like I said – just take the first step.

5. Reward equals the risk we take

This is a biggie.

If you playing it safe and expecting to get massive returns; you living in a dream world. Small step outside comfort zone equals small reward on the other side.

Huge strides pushing your own boundaries and limitations means there’s an equal reward of learning and growth on the other side of that.

Ultimately we need to all learn to forget about everyone else (when it comes to growing) and focus on ourselves.

Am I better than I was yesterday?

What have I learned this day/week/month/year that helps me become a better person for tomorrow to push the boundaries even more?

Don’t just live with purpose – live on purpose. There’s a word we can all use every day that could transform everyone’s lives.

Believe.

In yourself.

In each other.

In a better world for all.

I do. So don’t take my word for it – rather watch how I create that reality and decide if you prepared to take action for yourself.

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain

You

You won’t regret it. Of that I’m certain.

63321invest-in-yourself

 

Climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018

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I have a dream to help South Africa.

I have a dream to inspire people to discover what it feels like to live with passion.

I have a dream for love to fill people’s lives in spite of what life throws at them.

What is your greatest dream for your life?

 

Next year I’ve decided to climb Table mountain every day . That’s 365 ascents come rain, shine, heat, snow, hail or wind.

 

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The route I will take up each day – Platteklip Gorge

 

The idea was inspired by three main things:

1. Recently retrenched I, with no desire to head back into corporate, have no time restrictions any more.

2. I’ve been raising money and awareness for worthy causes actively for the past four years now and I want to do it every day.

3. I was introduced to a woman a month ago who’s climbing Table Mountain 67 days in a row for Nelson Mandela day.

On the 22nd June 2017 my idea was born as I drove past Table Mountain.

It’s a spectacular sight. It’s even more of a privilege to live in it’s protective shadow. What an honour it will be to face it daily and be tested.

I’m already learning lessons and I haven’t even taken my first step.

I’m raising money and awareness for three organisations that build homes; educate children and build on the existing database for Leukemia. Empowering people to take ownership of their lives.

I resonate with people that have taken tragedies and turned them into positives; improve peoples lives by not just giving handouts – but teaching them to become self sufficient. There are initiatives I’ve recently heard about in our townships I’m excited to learn more about and work with. I’ll keep you posted on who the twelve organisations will be.

Where do ideas come from?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how some people have amazing ideas that launch companies or products that change the world. Internet, flight, Virgin, medicine, take your pick there’s tons. These were all just thoughts in someone’s head that they then materialised.

I remember a colleague at The Pro Shop (a golfing sports store) constantly walking around proclaiming “all you need is ONE idea… ONE IDEA!!”

He’s right.

They don’t even have to be complex – like this one.

Just do one thing consistently for a full year.

I’m 37 now and I have no doubt that my life experiences (good and bad) and beliefs have shaped what, is for me, this perfect opportunity to do all the things I love.

This statement rings truer than ever now:

When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear than all the opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life. ~Dr John Demartini

Powerful.

 

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The view from my 3 Peaks Challenge January 2016 (Lions head / Devils Peak / Table Mountain all in one day)

 

Self Belief

Last week I talked about ‘what defines your self worth’ and that plays a big part in this too. How many times have you had an idea, shared it, and been shot down by someone? Most likely you suddenly lost your shine and the idea started to fade. Ag it probably isn’t a good idea anyway We’ve all told ourselves that.

We allow others fears; their anxieties and their way of living to become our own – and it will cripple you if you keep allowing it. That’s why its important to surround yourself with people that continue to inspire you and share your passion and enthusiasm for life and support your dreams. Not their version of them – but your dreams; whatever they may be.

There’s no right or wrong way really; there’s just your way.

It’s like someone telling you who you should date based on what their own criteria is. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

The converse is just as important; it’s not just about how you are supported – but how you support others.

This idea opened a door to a new way of thinking. I stood on the balcony of my friends holiday home this past weekend enjoying the sunset. Surrounded by his best people for his 30th celebration, I took a moment to watch it alone. As if one of the mighty waves in front crashed over me; I realised all the work we put into ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually – eventually pays off. It’s like making a cake, it only tastes great when it’s finished – not when you’ve mixed half the ingredients.

Impatience is our false shepherd. We want results now and the “success” of having our dream job or home. We lose sight of the fact that all our perceived failures and disappointments are helping shape who we are; that we’re learning from them.

I’m one of the lucky ones – I absolutely love my life and have pursued it with gusto and relentless passion. I’ve dreamt big; still dreaming big! I’ve learnt to forget about worrying ‘how’ something will happen and just keep moving forward and try new things and explore. Even through the difficult times. In fact it’s in these times I’ve come to realise how we don’t need much to be happy either. My measurement of success has been how much I’m fulfilled and the positive impact I can make in others lives. In fact, I prescribe to the new definition of a millionaire:

The number of lives you’ve positively impacted.

Let’s change the World.

Our actions always have consequences. Just look at some of the pain being experienced right now. People are dying of starvation and yet half the worlds food is thrown away? We’ve ignored the negative consequences and now profit is more important than people.

What is your dream at the moment?

Do you feel you’re doing whatever you can to achieve it? Even discover it?

Does your soul feel like it’s on fire when you think about your dreams?

What’s stopping you?

I think we believe we have to do massive things once to achieve our dreams; I, in fact, think the opposite is true.

We need to do little things consistently every day – and the cumulative actions generate massive success.

Start today

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Dry Jan’s over – now what?

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This year there seemed to be far more people partaking in ‘Dry January’, i.e. taking a month off from alcohol.

Everyone has their own reasons for participating, but most notable is no doubt the fact that December really is the “silly season” and come January many decide to go on a ‘detox’; a word that’s never resonated with me. I see it more as giving your body a break from having to do its usual function of removing toxins from your body.

Immediate positives.

I’ve committed to a booze free January since I started doing the Cape Town Cycle tour eight years ago (formally known as the Argus). It’s the world’s largest timed cycling event that covers 110km around the Cape peninsula and usually attracts around thirty five thousand entrants, many from all over the world.

While the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol and certainly regaining my fitness levels quicker might sound like my main motive, training three times a week and cycling around 200km collectively means you spend a lot of time on the bike. When you spend so many hours on that little seat, the last thing you need is your body to be firing on anything other than 100%

This year I’ve decided to try a slightly different approach. Faced with three important birthdays in January alone, including a 40th and a 30th, these special times (I’m calling them lighthouses!) meant I’d break my abstinence.

This got me thinking; why not just keep going in February and March up until race day? I already have other weekends away and bachelor parties that will act as these ‘lighthouses’ to break up the monotony of no alcohol.

I should point out right now that my Achilles’ heel is wine.

I love it.

A cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc after work watching the sunset in Cape Town is heaven. I really enjoy the taste – it’s got nothing to do with the effect of the alcohol. Truth be told I’m more worried about the sugar content of wine than its alcohol effects – 1g of sugar per 100 ml including 83 meaningless calories. This has contributed to my anti-oxidant scores being so low in the past, as well as poor diet and stress, when I was first scanned on the biophotonic scanner* – it was at a dismal 19 %. This machine measures your score non-invasively and takes a mere 30 seconds. Essentially it’s the world’s best lifestyle lie detector. Thankfully my supplements, LifePak Nano, are world class so my score has improved (doubled without changing any other variables) but alcohol definitely played a part in damaging my antioxidants. The proof will be in my future score.

Finding Balance.

Here’s an interesting question to ask yourself: does taking a holiday from booze for one month make such a difference if you keep drinking the other eleven?

And herein lies my biggest challenge. Balance. Every year I start so well only for April / May to roll around and then the vino begins to flow like the fresh water in Iceland. Maybe it’s the beginning of depression at the onset of winter darkness?

I’ve already made up my mind that when my wife is pregnant I’ll stop drinking with her during her pregnancy that’s nine months. That decision, together with the inspiration of my friend who is not waiting for a baby to dictate stopping for nine months and doing it for herself now, means I’m going to extend my stint this year.

End of August 2017. Sixty six days before I turn 38.

In certain respects I think ‘going cold turkey’ is sometimes where the problem comes in with my balance issue. It never cultivates the right lifestyle. This is where I think these ‘lighthouses’ come in. I think “diets”, “90 day fitness challenges” and “detoxing” are short term strategies and can have really negative connotations for a lot of people and therefore can produce counterproductive results. I think we are treating the symptoms not the causes – which is why most of us default after our ‘challenge’ is over.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking around the habit of drinking – and it is a habit – specifically at night time. And I’ve realised a couple of important aspects:

1. Alcohol is the best friend to an idle hand. When I’m training I really don’t feel like a drink at night, neither with nor after dinner. It’s when my hectic cycling training is over and I have more time in the evenings at home that drinking wine becomes easier.

2. If it’s not fun it’s not sustainable. Whether exercising or drinking you need to find the lifestyle that’s fun in both areas. It can’t feel like you’re punishing yourself.

3. Eating out is a real treat – for your pocket. You more than halve your bill eating out if you leave out the alcohol. That means you have other options. You can eat out more; enjoy more expensive dishes; or, as I’m doing, put that money away for overseas trips instead.

4. You honestly just feel better. Already within the first week you feel the difference physically of not drinking. Will be interesting to see the prolonged effect of drinking far less.

5. You think more. Just like we probably shouldn’t be giving kids phones or iPads for them to learn to be creative and find ways to work through boredom, so too should adults put the alcohol down when they are idle and being lazy. Learn to sit with your thoughts and emotions – you just never know what you may find out.

6 Lifestyle is an infinite mind-set. Diets, detoxes and X –day fitness challenges are all finite terms. Being fit and healthy is an infinite process. No guess as to which strategy matches being fit and healthy.

 

I really enjoyed this article last year showing the visible differences people shared of what they looked like drinking versus no drinking – check it out here: Before and After Sobriety pictures

What is YOUR reason?

Everything in life is about balance. I’m not saying we should all quit alcohol, but finding a healthier way for alcohol to be a part of our lives is probably the smart option. For me it’s about feeling good and this is what’s key. Everyone is different and we all have varying standards of what being healthy and feeling healthy is. Some people want to run marathons; others simply want to walk 5km without being short of breath; others just don’t want tight fitting pants anymore.

As I get older I definitely feel a shift making it harder to lose weight compared to how it fell off when I first started cycling. I’m not interested in becoming a calorie watcher, but just as I know eating chocolates every day is not going to help the waistline, alcohol needs to start being shown the same consideration.

Let’s see how my nine months go… I’ll keep you updated on my progress and let you know how much my scanner score improves too.

The hardest part is always winter. With less daylight hours to hike, go walking or cycle, staying motivated will be a challenge.

Then again – nothing worthwhile is ever easy, is it?

Otherwise everyone would be doing it.

* For those interested in more information on the biophotonic scanner check out this video or contact me to set up your scan