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Do you remember in the summer of 2014, when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media? Yeah, so do I. There were all kinds of videos posted of friends, family, celebrities and random strangers. They’d take a bucket of ice and water, place it over their heads and then turn it upside down. The results were almost always the same—when the freezing water hit the skin of those being challenged they would let out a high-pitch squealing noise and then run off into the woods somewhere. Admittedly, I did the same thing.
Over 17 million people participated in the challenge, but as far as I know nobody "nominated" Wim Hof. Why would they? An ice bucket of water dumped on Wim is a stroll in the park. I mean...a dump truck of ice poured on Wim wouldn't be challenging. In fact, it's welcoming! It's his happy place. Wim has taken what we consider "hard" or uncomfortable and flipped that bucket upside down. He has made a living getting comfortable being uncomfortable—and it's not because he was originally wired differently from the rest of us. It’s because he invested the time to re-wire himself differently.
Perhaps you’ve seen him on television swimming in ice-cold waters, going for a run barefoot in the snow or maybe you read about his 28-hour climb to the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, wearing nothing but a pair of running shorts and sneakers. That's what Wim does. It's part of his personal development philosophy...and it's teachable.
When I first discovered Wim I quickly became a fan. He was breaking a lot of what I thought were "the rules". I started to read all of his books and the various articles written about him. I watched video after video consuming as much as I could. I remember hearing him once say that anyone can do what he does, they just have to learn his method—the Wim Hoff Method. But I wasn’t so sure about that.
I’ve always been attracted to vitality. Like so many of us, I have an inner desire pushing me to try and improve mentally, physically and spiritually. That quest led me to hire a U.S. Navy SEAL to live with me for a month. I also decided to run 100 miles within 24 hours to see how far I could push my limits. I managed to raise millions of dollars for charity in the process, but it was more than that for me. The run was something I was told couldn’t be done—by me anyway. I knew the only way to prove the naysayers wrong was by testing my own self-imposed limits.
So the more I learned about Wim, the more I became intrigued. He had something that I wanted, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I needed to find out. I eventually pulled the trigger and bought Wim’s 10-week video seminar. I learned about his progressions of breathing/movement/yoga posture/meditative practices/cold exposure—and how it gave him a boost in certain physical and even spiritual markers. And then I bought a cold tub.
I set the temperature to 51 degrees and waited for the water to chill. The tub was intimidating as it gradually cooled down. The anticipation of submerging my body into the freezing water was messing with my mind...toying with me. The temperature dipped a degree every 15 minutes and each degree multiplied the fear. A few hours later it hit 51 degrees...it was GO time.
When I put my right foot in the water it took my breath away. Felt like I had been kicked in the gut by Nick Diaz. "Man, this is so damn cold", I thought. "Breathe", I told myself. "Just get your balls below this damn water, Jesse and you will be fine". As the water reached my belly button I exhaled deeply and relaxed my shoulders. I slowly lowered myself until the water hit my chin. An eerie calmness filled my spirit. I eased into the water. I felt alive.
Inspiration inspires. What I like most about Wim and his book is how he taught me to trust my body, overcome fear and give me the best opportunity for success. He mixes personal experience and science—which becomes truly motivating. Wim provides the tools you need to master self-discipline, gain courage and live a vibrant life. He is Aquaman and Tony Robbins rolled into one. He is The Iceman!
Author of Living with a SEAL
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