Monday, 25 October 2021
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

All that matters is that we keep ourselves strong, healthy, and happy. The rest is bull****!

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Dec 27, 2020

“All that matters is that we keep ourselves strong, healthy, and happy. The rest is bull****!”.

I have the words of one of my life heroes, Wim Hof, in my mind as I decide to get into the sea this late December afternoon, instead of into the warm temperate indoor pool of the hotel.

I’m aware that I’m being watched, filmed even, by onlookers who clearly just think I’m crazy, but there’s not a doubt in my mind about my sanity at this point. To me, insanity is running on a treadmill indoors, or swimming in a chlorinated pool, when we have the best spa we could imagine right outside in the form of the Adriatic sea.

I’ve been studying, and practising The Wim Hof Method, for the last year or so, and it has changed my life. It has allowed me to keep swimming in the sea all year round, it has inspired me to challenge myself, and it gave me the internal power and fire in my belly when I most needed it – to do the “warrior’s journey” from the UK to Croatia in the middle of winter in my tiny car with my cat.

Each day, before embarking on the next leg of my journey, I would do his breathing method first thing, to help me deal with the stressors that would inevitably come my way.

 

If you’re not familiar with his work, Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete, also know as “The Ice Man” who holds almost 20 World Records for his incredible feats of endurance, including the longest ice bath, climbing Kilimanjaro in only his shorts, and running marathons in his barefeet around the arctic circle.

For 30 years, he was referred to as “crazy”, however, he believed that whatever he could do, anyone could achieve, and over recent years, his method has been scientifically proven. What he has shown, and has been supported by extensive research, is that we have conscious control over our Autonomic Nervous System, which means that we can train ourselves to overcome stress and disease.

Like myself, Wim Hof believes that the secret to our health lies in re-building our deep connection to nature, but also to our own bodies. To get out of our thinking minds and into our feeling bodies, and tap into the deep physiological processes which can heal both our bodies and our minds.

I’m desperate to share the benefits with the group I am with enjoying the Rixos Hotel in Dubrovnik, but even the suggestion of a colder plunge pool after the hot spa falls upon deaf ears.

The problem is that we have been subjected to so much false information regarding wellness. People are obsessed with using machines, and treating the body like it is a machine. Obsessed with calories-in, calories-out, what distance we’ve covered running or cycling, doing the same thing over and over again and being totally disconnected with the body as nature intended it.

I believe that this is because we have confused wellness with an aesthetic. The definition of “wellness” is actually “the absence of illness”, and also a dynamic process of change and growth.

We’re not machines, we are plants, a complex network of systems that need to be kept in balance if we are to stay well. Low-fat ready meals, counting sins, using machines to train our physical bodies, this is craziness to me.

I eat lots of steak, I drink red wine, I have feasts and periods of fasting, and I get told I’m lucky that I don’t have to watch my weight. Luck has nothing to do with it. There is a history of obesity in my family, but I’ve been studying health and wellbeing for 30 years. I know what my body needs, and that is to keep close to nature, whether it’s what I eat, how I move, and how I live in general.

In Wim Hof I found a kindred spirit, and he has added in a magic ingredient for me, and that is building resilience, which allows me to get into the sea in December, and enjoy the huge buzz that ensues afterwards.

We are blessed here in Dalmatia to have this incredible Adriatic sea which is full of healing minerals. We can place our feet on the rocks, rest our bones in the water, breathe in the salty air, feel the space around us, and connect to the infinite energy source that is nature.

Saying that, the whole experience was made all the better when you also have a Wellness suite inside to dive into afterwards to get warm, and as my body melted into the hot marble slab in the Turkish bath, I felt bathed in this warm glow at having stepped into the discomfort in order to get the reward afterwards.

I felt I had climbed the mountain to get the view, albeit not in my shorts, and it wasn’t exactly Kilimanjaro, but I felt alive.

Again Wim Hof’s words are in my head:

“I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid not to have lived fully”.

 

Read more Gillie here...  

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Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Molunat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk

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