Cold showers

In the month of February I decided I would take a cold shower everyday regardless of the weather. The only time where I did not take a cold one was when I didn’t shower at all that day, so I would say it was a pretty successful challenge. And for those in the northern hemisphere you may think I’m crazy, but it’s summer for me in the southern hemisphere so I’m not completely crazy.

So why cold showers?

Well most people hate it, it’s not very pleasant and also a task in which I would really have to encourage myself but in many ways it was simple for I did not have to change my lifestyle, routine, I just never turned on the hot water tap.

There are also many health benefits in taking these cold showers. It reduces your stress levels because it imposes a small amount of stress on your body so in a way you are conditioning yourself to actually face a situation that causes tension.

Cold showers are great in the morning for it increases the state of alertness. You will need to take deeper breaths when in the cold shower decreasing the carbon dioxide in the body helping you to concentrate.

Gives you a stronger immune system. Cold showers have shown to increase the amount of white blood cells which protects you from diseases.

You can even experience weight loss with cold showers.

As always the first few days were difficult, but when I came to visit my family the beach changed from the Indian ocean to the Atlantic, and that is a stark contrast in temperature, so much so that after swimming at the beach the cold shower is actually warmer. It was just like extra conditioning for my body and adapting to the cold.

They say in a marathon one quits somewhere in the middle because at the start you have the adrenaline keeping you going and at the end you realise how close you are to finish. For me though in this challenge it was at the start and the end in which I wanted to quit. The start made me question what I was doing and what the meaning of all of this was and the end I started to lose that motivation, thinking that I’ve done enough cold showers already.

But I made it!

I would encourage you to try it out for at least a week and see the changes in your life and body. Do it for whatever reason, but have a good one for that will help you to never stop.

This challenge made me realise how important it is to push through and encourage yourself because there will be times where you will be the only who can, you may get into a situation in which you are alone and then you will need that inner-being pushing you and taking through your ordeal.

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I’m not one to say: “Apologies for such a long wait for my next post, it has been busy, ” or something like that. But it has been a while, a very long while. So apologies. Perhaps you will find out why in another post. Who knows.

Entering a new year one surely has a new year’s resolution, or at least some sort of goal that you would like to achieve.

At the start of 2019 I had long-term goals. Goals that I set out before I even knew where I was or where I would be going. And quite frankly, the 2 big goals I set out were unattainable.

I did in actual fact have smaller goals that I also set out. Some were realistic while others were not so much. In many ways I was surprised. I did fall short on some but even the ones that were real challenges were eventually completed. The one goal was actually accomplished a week before the year ended.

So assessing the previous year I acknowledged that I was in many ways too audacious and unrealistic. So instead of making such large goals as last year I have decided to do monthly self-improvement exercises, as the title suggests.

The first challenge was 31 days without a grain of sugar. The reason why I chose it is because I am rather addicted to it. It is something I feel that I can’t live without which is not a good thing in any sort of way. It is a real challenge, but attainable.

An excess of sugar can lead to many sicknesses and diseases, perhaps more than you think. Diabetes is one of them. I have nothing against the sugars you find in fruit or any natural food, but rather any added sugar.

The problem may not come right away but there is a long-term issue when it comes to sugar. It can lead to blindness, tooth loss, fatigue in mental capacity and even produce Alzheimer’s. It’s sounds harsh but that is the reality.

It’s as if we are not aware of it and I think we all have more sugar than the sufficient amount. So I challenged myself in January (and I challenge you too).

Sadly, I failed the challenge.

On the 25th day I was almost forced to take a chocolate. I refused at first but this person was someone who just doesn’t understand the word “no” and unfortunately I’m not usually the one to argue. So I left it and grabbed a piece of chocolate.

It wasn’t even that tasteful. It tasted like regret.

But the rest of the month I held out strong. Actually, no I didn’t. I felt so disappointed that I indulged in sugar. I had too much. But it was a good challenge and I learned from it.

To set a goal for yourself you need to be relentless with it. As “V” would say: “Beneath this mask is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.” If you are passionate about a plan and you believe in it, then it will be very difficult for you to give up on it. Even if those around you don’t believe in you.

It is already the end of February so perhaps one can start the next month with a 30-day challenge. To give a few ideas such as waking up earlier than you normally do. Read a certain amount of pages in a book each day. Or how about no complaining for a whole month!

It is still good to have long-term goals, and also good to adjust them to be realistic but yet takes you out of your comfort zone. When you write down your goals your motivation to complete them increases. Some say it makes you 42% more likely to complete a goal.

Set goals that excite you and scare you at the same time.

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Race day: Part 1-Build up

It’s race day! The annual Jbay wind farm mountain bike race is here. Cyclists from all over South Africa have come to participate. Fierce competition was to be expected and prizes that would match the talent of the racers.

It’s my first ever mountain bike race. I have nothing to compare this to. It is all so mysterious, but packed with excitement. Am I fit enough? Will my bike survive on this terrain? And who am I even racing?

These were all the questions racing through my mind.

But how did I get here? How did it all start?

Let’s rewind a few months…

I was having breakfast one morning, or was it lunch I can’t remember, and the local newspaper was in front of me. So I do the obvious thing and not read the newspaper to keep up to date with politics and the nature of the town, but rather flip to the back and read whatever sport is going on.

After turning over the newspaper the first thing I notice is the mountain bike event is happening 10km away from my house!

Just to give a little info on what the race entails:

There are 3 distances one can race: The 25km, 50km and the ultimate challenge of 85km.

The event has been running for the past 7 years and this year it has become a lot more family friendly which now incorporated a 5km and 10km run for those who aren’t that crazy over cycling.

I was so glad that not only was there a bike race I could enter but also one that I can cycle to without needing to find a ride to get there.

I’ve been cycling to work and back every day and whatever errand I had for the day so I felt I had a lot of pre-fitness. So all that’s left is to go for longer cycles and fine-tune my technique.

It was tricky to go for long cycles because work being very time-consuming and having very little time for anything else in the day, and then to top it off the shortened sunlight due to it being winter.

I would go for one long cycle a week and each time I would add a few km to the tally. I was certainly getting fit and also getting some time for myself in an isolated place.

With places like this you get that sense of refreshment and peace with your situation.

One week prior to the race I was confident that I would at least finish the race but whether or not it was going to be a good time I had my doubts.

Now back to the present…

The 50km racers just set off and it was time for the 25km racers to go, I chose 25km because it was my first time racing with no real grasp of what would happen.

I was catching up with a friend so I ended up right at the back of over 150 racers not realising that they were going to start. I had no intention of winning but the intention of riding as fast as I could and leaving nothing behind. So starting at the back was not the end of the world but I would’ve preferred to be a lot closer to the front.

The countdown had begun. Less than 30 seconds to go. The excitement became evident amongst the racers including myself and once the countdown ended we rode off and the 25km race began…

Part 2 of the race coming tomorrow!

What season are you in?

What word would you describe the season that you are in? Has it been a challenging one? Has it been a time of growth? A time of acceleration? A time of stagnation? A time of reflection? A time of meeting new people? A time of lonesomeness?

It may be difficult to say that you have only felt one way in a season but I’m sure you can agree that there was definitely a theme during your current season.

Also note that a time of hardship does not necessarily mean you had a bad time, it just means that you went through a lot but you learned from your experience and in that way grew from it.

We all go through times where we struggle to keep our head above water but also times where you float effortlessly. Crazy how that works. Like the famous saying from Winston Churchill:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

Right now in my life I feel that I’m lacking certain things and certain traits but I was reminded of these few verses in the bible:

There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heavens.

A time to be born, a time to die.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh.

A time to mourn, a time to dance.

A time to search and a time to give up.

A time for war and a time for peace.

There are loads more verses in between but these are my favourites from ecclesiastes 3.

You may feel alone but instead of realising how you are missing out in your relationship realise the freedom that you have with ‘no strings attached’. If you feel that you are struggling in some way remember that it is not going to last forever, you will get out and you will learn from your hardships, and grow from it.

Just remain hopeful in the fact that things can and will change for the better. If you have a dream that you are pursuing don’t give it up, because you won’t lose if you said you tried, but you will never win if you don’t try.

Taking the first step

What is it that you would like to do in your life? What goals and aspirations would you like to reach this year and this lifetime? I’m sure everyone has their own goals but so often we never seem to achieve them. We waste our time on the wrong things and fear that we may be laughed upon if we try something new.

One needs to be FEARLESS. You need to have that inner resilience that will never quit and will always start something. But how do you become fearless and how does one reach success?

I was talking to a good friend of mine over the phone the other day and it made me realise how I became somewhat more fearless and started to see the horizon of success in my midst. It made me realise what I did this year and how it shaped my year and how it’s going to shape my life!

It’s only really one thing: Taking the first step.

My whole life I have lived under the security of my parents, getting the love, care, food and resources to give me a glimmer of hope that I can reach my dreams. Last year I was also part of a program that did make me much more independant, but there was still a lot of things that gave me the feeling that I am still protected by others, that I always have something to look upon if I’m in trouble.

This year I had the desire to start my life as a legitimate adult. Meaning that I would provide for myself completely. I left my home and went to a new town to start my life on my terms. At that time I had no job, no house and just a little bit of money left from holiday work(wasn’t really a holiday, was a lot of work).

There were so few unknowns to me but the one thing I knew was that I needed to be where I am now.

It took me only 4 days to leave my friends place and about 15 days to find the ideal job. The job that I could only dream of. The job is providing me with everything I need: Knowledge, experience and obviously money to provide for my basic needs. In no stretch of the imagination is it a huge salary but for my first job I’m doing ok. And where I lack in money I gain in knowledge and experience. The opportunities so far will equip me for amazing things to come and I am just so privileged to have so much already.

So to answer the question, it’s all about taking that first step. Sometimes trusting in your abilities and taking that huge leap of faith may seem scary but it’s going to pay off eventually. Yes, maybe it doesn’t work out this time, but next time you would have done it before, and so you’ll learn from your mistakes and it won’t be so scary.

Although I did everything on my own it was my friends, family and my ability to encourage myself that I am capable of achieving good things. I also have to thank God for showing me the right path. For months of praying and many other directions and possibilities all turning down it was this new plan out of the blue that was only advised by the Lord. The previous rejections gave me that desire and strength to just go for this new adventure. Life isn’t easy so you might as well make it difficult for yourself now making the rest an easy ride.

Right now it’s a lot of hard work and little time to socialise and relax so at times the road ahead can feel lonely but I know the work is going to lesson and the opportunities to connect with others will rise. So now it’s all just about working hard and making sure I always have my goals in the back of my mind to always remind me what I want to achieve.

There will be times where you are alone. But then you just have to encourage yourself. It may sound weird but try it and see the results. Others may not always understand what you’re going through but that’s because they haven’t gone through what you’re going through. That’s what makes us all unique and special. You are the head and not the tail.

So take that first step and reach for the stars!

I’d like to thank my friend for revealing this to me. This person is also a blogger and probably writes better than me, so perhaps give it a look.

Is it worth getting thrown into the deep end?

A wise word from a wise man: Life is diffuicult.

This is not actually from a wise person because it doesn’t take a genious to figure out the above statement. It seems that the older we get, the more responsibilities are taken over by us. This means that there is more at stake.

Sometimes in life though, we get thrown into the deep end. You might get a test that you will have to study for in a day, or your boss hands you a new project that you know next to nothing about or you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and you thought the jack for the car was a boy’s name.

Life has a way of handing you a tough task. You get thrown so hard that you aren’t even sure how to get back up.

In my opinion however, I think it’s the best way to learn.

So often we spend our time learning a new thing but it seems to take forever because we have no deadline, no one to check up on us. If you think about it we could learn almost anything on your own, but we need someone to teach us, some organization that may take most of our money, but they will be efficient in educating, and they will have deadline with lots of tests. It’s called a university.

It seems to me that if we aren’t really being chased by something then there is no desire to run. We need that desire to maintain a mind always growing and improving day by day. At the moment there are too many things that distract us from our potential to grow faster than we can imagine.

I think it’s important to aim high when it comes to goals. When we’re thrown in the deep end there’s only one thing you can do, after panicking, and that is working your butt off. I would rather aim high and not reach my goals than aim low and never see my full potential.

So aim high and know that there’s always more to get than what you are receiving right now. Personally I am about to venture into dark waters. But there is a glimmer of hope and to get there one needs 2 things: Focus and determination.

I fasted sugar and it changed my life

In general, fasting is a brilliant way to get your life back on track. In many ways it can give you a fresh perspective on life and how you may have been wasting some of those precious seconds.

I have fasted many times in my life for various things: Technology, different types of food but never was it really a challenge. None of them took such a strain on me and pushed me to my limits. It sounds crazy but I am an idealist so I’m in the pursuit of perfection.

This time I decided to fast sugar, but for six months! This was the hardest challenge of all but I certainly grew the most from it.

Here are a few points on the changes I’ve experienced, these points are not backed by medical facts (I’m no doctor), it is simply the changes in my life that I hope to see in yours should you choose to accept the challenge. Also, don’t try this if you actually need sugar, but then try ways to limit it if possible. Also don’t try and drastically change for it could be expensive. There is pretty much sugar in everything, even bread. So just have the smallest amounts of it without having sugar as a snack.

1. More energy in the day.

Sugar gives that spike of energy where you feel on top of the world until a few hours later the spike goes down and you feel less energised than before. No sugar means your energy levels remain the same, just get plenty of sleep and water and you will be good to go.

2. I required less sleep.

It goes hand-in-hand saying that if you lose that energy after the sugar high, you will need to replenish more than without any sugar at all. Without sugar I needed about an hour less of sleep and I wouldn’t feel worse I actually felt better.

3. Your mind is more rigid, having clear thoughts and memories.

The above statement might sound complicated but this is what I mean: I was able to take control of my mind, having clearer thoughts of what I was thinking about and just remembering things a lot easier than usual.

4. It becomes easier to fast, challenge yourself to do something else.

Having that willpower to say no to sugar gives that mentality that you are capable of being disciplined. It gives the ability for the next change in your life to occur with a lot less struggle. Personally, after a few weeks of no sugar I started to excercise with a routine, and I stuck to it.

5. My skin had little to know breakouts

For years I have needed to treat my skin, applying the necessary things to clear it up, however, without sugar I never needed to apply any cream, just a little bit of sea water and the ocassional wash (just kidding, wash everyday).

6. I lost body fat

I’m not overweight in any way but like everyone I do have body fat, with all the excercising and no sugar I lost a bit of body fat and replaced it with muscle.

I would seriously recommend trying this for it has changed my life so I hope it changes yours. Give yourself a time period and if you make it, you will see results. Take the saying of 2019 so far: New year, new you. This could become a new trend, like the Ice-bucket challenge, but this doesn’t waste water but actually changes the world, one step at a time.