This week I have started two elements of “The Wim Hof method”
Who is Wim Hof
Lets start with Wim himself. I first heard of Wim when he appeared as a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast, my first impression was “who is this nutter? he’s bat shit crazy” but the more I listened to him, the more intrigued I became. He started to pop up on other podcasts, The Ben Greenfield podcast, again on Joe Rogan and he was being talked about on other podcasts too.
Wim is a Dutch “daredevil” who holds 20 world records for his extreme feats, usually involving his ability to withstand temperature extremes. He holds several records for time immersed in ice, he climbed most of the way up Everest wearing only a pair of shorts!, he ran a marathon in a desert without taking water! crazy!
One of the big differences with Wim, is that he is willing to be poked and prodded by scientists and has gone through several scientific studies to test and verify his abilities. In one study, he proved he could regulate his immune system to resist the effects of Escherichia coli (E. coli). After being injected with E. coli, he complained only of a mild headache. The scientists believed that he must have some genetic quirk that enabled him to do resist the infection, but Wim took twelve medical students, trained them and they were then all able to resist the bacteria too.
It all sounds a bit woo woo, a bit crazy, but keep an open mind and give it a go.
What is the Wim Hof Method
There are several elements to the Wim Hof method, the first two are breathing and cold showers.
The breathing and breath hold involves around 30 heavy inhale and full exhalations, followed by a total exhalation, hold, full inhalation and holding again for as long as possible (but don’t go mad)
Cold showers are pretty self explanatory, start with a warm shower, then turn it down as low as it will go and embrace the cold for as long as you can, simple.
There are many more steps, these are just the basics.
There are potentially a lot of benefits, fat loss, improved immune health and for us open water swimmers, a better ability to withstand the cold UK waters.
There have been several studies on cold exposure and how it can promote fat loss, how “heat shock proteins” can turn your nasty white fat into the healthy and useful brown fat. Brown fat is what we burn to keep warm, if we are wrapped up and sat in front of the fire, there is no need to burn that fat, so it just gets stored.
Our bodies are supposed to get cold, we have evolved to survive the winter. Even when we started to live in shelters and houses, they were cold in the winter. In our modern temperature controlled world, we don’t get exposed to the cold anymore, we aren’t used to it anymore so when we see what Wim can do, we think its crazy, its not, its natural, its just a muscle we haven’t flexed.
The Lymphatic system shifts all of the crap and toxins away from our cells and also transports the white blood cells around the body, this system doesn’t have a pump to move the lymph fluid (some animals have lymph hearts). We have turned into shallow breathing sedentary beasts, with slow moving inefficient lymphatic systems. The breathing method helps charge this system and pushes the lymph fluid around our bodies, flush toxins, transporting fatty acids and delivering antibodies to fight infections.
I’m only into week two, but I’m enjoying this little experiment. After a few rounds of breathing, I certainly feel relaxed and I’m feeling much better in the cold too, which is handy because my office is bloody freezing at the moment.
Embrace the cold, feel your inner fire!