Things I do to feel alive & productive.
Some of you reading this know me. Some of you don’t. Few people actually know me well enough to know how I live my life so I thought I’d share some of my daily routines.
I get up early 365 a year.
A couple years ago a good friend of mine, Jacob Wismar, told me he had read a great book where one of the recommendations for meeting every new day with a better mindset was getting up early. As I was already getting up quite early before this I was intrigued to try out the idea. Said and done. From that day I set my alarm at five o’clock instead of six thirty. Of course I had to go to bet a little bit earlier but part from that it wasn’t that tough. But boy did it change how I feel, both how I feel during the day but also how I feel overall. Suddenly I’ve got tons of time to myself. I have more time to read, go training, meditate, learn something new or even work. As the years have passed I’ve started to go up even earlier. Now I mostly wake up sometime between AM4 and AM5.
I do yoga almost every day.
I’ve been doing Yoga now for about five years. It actually started with a weekend in the summer house in the Swedish archipelago. I woke up really early one day and with nothing to do I browsed the bookshelf for something to read. My eyes stopped on the spine of a book about Yoga. I’ve always had this preconception that Yoga is mainly a spiritual thing for people searching for inner peace. That’s not me. However as I curiously browsed the pages in this book, actually a more than fifty year old book about yoga, I felt like trying this thing out. Using only the book to get started was not an option. I didn’t really get how to do the positions. Once home in Stockholm again I contacted several Swedish yogis in my pursuit to learn this ancient Indian philosophy. The Yogis however unfortunately confirmed ever prejudice I’ve ever had about spirituality. I was back where I started. But I didn’t give up.
The mobile turned out to be my Yogi
A couple of weeks later after trying other paths to approach yoga I finally found the solution that worked for me – a mobile application called Yoga Studio. This app allowed me to tryout yoga without any teacher. The different levels and coaching programs suited me perfectly. Now five years later I do yoga more or less on a daily basis and it’s one of the best contributions to feel great I’ve done in many years.
Trail running 3–4 days a week.
About four years ago, in the middle of the freezing winter I was heading out on my regular long distance runs. Month earlier I’d challenged myself to run a ultra marathon and this 30km Saturday run was part of my regular routine. It was snowing outside and as always I didn’t warm up before the run. About a kilometer from home in a tight corner running down a hill something in my right knee snapped and a few kilometers later I had to walk back home. After several visits to both chiropractors and other form of rehab I found myself besides a doctor looking at the x-rays of my knee. Something had snapped and surgery was the prescription. The recommendation from the doctor was to stop running or at least stop running on asphalt and other hard surfaces. I’ve always been a great fan of nature and where I live we’ve got some great places to go running. Stop running was not an option so I headed for the woods.
Trail running after dark.
I’m faster than ever before.
It’s funny how things develop. Of course once I started to paddle and run more my body weight dropped and now I’m more fit than ever. I’ve dropped from 89kg’s (I was fit then too) to 79kg’s in 4 years. This has done wonders for my running. My knees feel better, I feel lighter when I’m jumping over logs and running down steep sections. Uphill is also easier of course.
Running is the best kind of exercise when it comes to time spent vs effect. Most sports you’ve gotta transport yourself to the training facilities and then you’ve gotta spend a lot of time to get even near the effect running has on your fitness. With running you just open the door and head outside. As I was told not to run anymore I feared that I’d have a problem to stay fit. I needed to replace running with something else. For quite some time I’d been swimming once or twice a week to keep fit for surfing. Now I decided to increase the amount of hours in the water and on top of that I decided to move from the pool to open water.
I paddle more than two kilometer before or after sunset on a surfboard. +300 days a year
Being a Swedish surfer it not easy. There’s not much waves around and when there are waves they really don’t represent what you’re getting on surf trips abroad. When go abroad to surf the two most challenging thing are soar muscles and lots blisters. Soar muscles from not having paddled on my surfboard for a long while and blisters from the ribs against that board. The blisters hurts a lot but you can surf with them. However, once the muscles go kaputt (swedish for very tired) your surfing goes kaputt. So, I started paddling. Board under my arms, walking down through our community in between all the other houses. People looking at me like I’m crazy. They think I’m even more crazy when I’m walking through the snow in the winter.
On my way to paddle my surf board an early winters day.
Today I paddle more or less every day. Summer, winter, spring or fall. I paddle until the ice settles and then when the ice opens up I start to paddle again. And as you can understand I’ve gained some muscles from paddling everyday for the last five years. On top of that I’ve lost weight. Nothing I really wanted but I’ve lost about 9 kilos since I started paddling.
I learned how to keep my breath for 5 minutes
When you fall inside a six foot tube the first thing that hits you is not the reef or the bottom. It’s panic, panic of drowning. Especially if you’re a Swede not used to the kind of powers you’re being exposed to under a hollow tube. To be mentally prepared for this I started practising keeping my breath a couple of years ago. To get started I got hold of a copy of ‘Manual of Freediving’ by Umberto Pelizzari and Stefano Tovaglieri. It’s a great manual and also an inspiring read.
Breath holding is truly one of the coolest experiences in the world. To keep your breath as long as you can and a little bit longer brings you closer to the fear of dying than anything I’ve ever tried before. And while bringing you closer to fear it also teaches you self control in these moments. One of the best way of preparing you for a long breath hold is to meditate three to ten minutes before. So I learned to meditate.
Stay positive, stay alive!
Everyday I set my alarm at five o’clock in the morning. I walked to our sofa and lied down to meditate. There I disappeared into the world of meditation for ten minutes before starting to hold my breath. Six month later I hit the five minutes mark. The last two minutes of my five minute breath hold is only about mentally convincing myself that the last oxygen in my blood is enough to stay oxygenated, to keep working my abs to make the blood circulate and stay positive. If I fail in staying positive during those last two minutes I instantly grasp for a breath. If I do stay positive the minutes feels like seconds. I’ve experienced nothing in my life that so clearly illuminates the thoughts in my head. It’s as if I can touch the thoughts with my fingers.
Kettle Bells makes me stronger two times a week and keeps me from drowning.
Part from the running and paddling a surfboard I’ve taken up strength training. As I was getting older my body started to ache more. I started feeling more pain in my back and other limbs. When I surfed cold waters I got the cramps more often and on top of that I often panicked in bigger waves due to loosing my breath. Part from learning how to keep my breath and working on my general fitness I felt I needed to increase my overall body strength.
Said and done. I bought a bunch of kettlebells I started browsing the internet for Kettle Bells strength routines. After trying different exercises I found a approx 45 minute program that fits my needs perfectly. The program has done wonders for overall strength and my body posture.
I do this kettle bell program either as pure strength training or as a cardio strength training. The later is done by not resting in between the exercises. I’ve added ‘Turkish get-ups’ 3×6 to make the workout even more effective.
As I learned how to hold my breath I told you that I also learned how to meditate. I don’t do a lot of breath holding any longer. However, the meditation was something I really enjoyed so I continued learning about mediation. I looked for new ways to approach meditation and learn more. As with most things time is a problem. I didn’t find time to go to a course and the books I read didn’t help me enough. But then, in an episode of the Tim Ferris Show I learned about the mobile application Headspace. This app guides you through different meditations and I instantly liked the thought of carrying my personal meditation coach with me everywhere. Since then I’ve been meditating more or less every morning with Headspace. And if find it really does good for me.
I’ve taken up skateboarding again.
Skateboarding was, together with snowboarding and surfing, the love of my life as a teenager. I skateboarded on a daily basis, vert ramp, mini ramp and some street. Skateboarding brings people of different classes and a races together. Nothing matters except for skating. I loved that. On top of that it was a great way to stay fit.
Skateboarding keeps you fit.
I’ve now taken up skateboard again. First I spend a a couple of hours maybe every second week to get going. But this summer I decided to go all the way. I built myself a miniramp in our garden. O boy what a great decision. Suddenly I can go skating whenever I want. My children can have a go as well and if I’m lucky we’ll be skating together in a couple of years.
I don’t drink alcohol anymore.
My latest change in life is alcohol.
I’ve been thinking about slowing down on the booze or even stop drinking for a couple of years. But you know how it is. People expect you to have a drink, share a beer after work, drink a glass of champagne when you meet up with friends and share a bottle of wine for the dinner. Not to mention all the Gin & Tonics you’re supposed to drink when it’s time for a party. Drinking is part of the way we socialise in our world and especially in Sweden.
I decided to stop drinking just before the summer of 2016.
The summer is probably the time when drink the most in Sweden. We have all sorts of excuses for drinking in the summer. Vacation, Midsummer and crawfish parties. And all those dinners with friends. When you arrive at one of these parties and tell people you’ve stopped drinking they look very surprised and start asking why.
Why did I stop drinking?
Two things. First, my daughters are soon turning teens. I’ve got a problem telling them not to drink when I’m drinking myself. I guess it’s pretentious but I want to be the better role model for them. Secondly. I’m afraid of being an alcoholic. Not now, but when I’m older. Wherever I go I keep seeing these men and women in their fifties and sixties and many of them have a drinking problem. I cant bare to end up there. Fat, unhealthy and sharing more than one bottle of wine every evening while telling other people I don’t have a problem. So I’ve stopped now.
Finally. I switch my mobile off every day.
Last but not least. I switch smartphone off more often than most people I know. I don’t have notifications activated. SMS is something I answer when it suits me, not other people. When I’m on vacation with my family I leave my phone at home. It is not my obligation to be constantly accessible. I can choose.
Feel motivated by this? Learn more about what I do and get in touch if you want.