EVERFIT book review - OXYGEN

Book Reviews, January 01, 2018

This memoir written by William Truebridge is a fantastic coming of age story about a NZer who has shaped himself into the worlds best freediver.

I loved reading this book as it describes how Williams nurture (his environment growing up mixed with his specific training) and his nature (inbuilt love for the ocean, and calling to seek what his limits in the sport of free-diving are) have helped shape him into the worlds best free-diver. His mother Linda was instrumental in encouraging him to strive. "She taught me that there was always more inside : more creativity, more potential, more depth. Thanks to my mother, I believe in myself and infinitude of our capacity for whatever we set out minds to." (pg 25)

When he started his specific training in going deep (2003) the world record for CNF (constant NO fins)  free diving was around 60m (held by Finnish diver and ex professional triathlete Topi Lintukanangas). This discipline is where the diver swims down and back with reliance on his/her own body for propulsion using a modified underwater breaststroke. Any weight worn must remain constant. Through specific training (pool work, meditation, Yoga, strength work, breathing control, deep dives with large rest, and shallow dives with short rest), curiosity, self belief, and consistency (training year after year) he progressed his objective depths to claim multiple world records and become the first human to dive unassisted to 100m. In his chapter titled "setbacks" he discusses the years were he made gains but was quick to point out that these were built on years when he persevered road blocks or hitting the ceiling. It is easy to maintain training during periods of improvement. It's much more difficult when you are treading water. On page 101 William states "even today I set my goals as far out as I dare into the dark waters of possibility. In the words of Ellen Johnson Sirleak (Africa's first elected head of state) - "The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them." This is a great lesson for all athletes. The journey to improvement is never a simple linear slope up. You have to ride the ups and downs with a positive, inquisitive attitude. 

I not only enjoyed Williams training stories and tips, I enjoyed his health, environmental, and nutrition philosophy. They all dovetail together and gel with by beliefs and ongoing actions to improve myself and the world. 


"The harder I trained, the more rest became important as well. Our bodies need time to respond to training stimuli and make the physiological adaptations that improve performance, but they can't do that if new stimuli are already being piled on." 


"....releasing adrenaline into the body....eats into oxygen stores (and erodes energy) before the dive has began." - this is why it is important to train the parasympathetic system with mediation daily to allow you to relax, and perform in a "flow state" before competition.


"....oxytocin (love hormone)  is known to slow down the production of adrenaline and cortisol (the two strongest stress hormones that the body produces). It also inhibits the amygdala (the brains fear centre).....I was in love and diving care free." 


"In fact the argument that one species may be more sentient or "conscious" and therefore more important than another is moot as all species are mutually dependent. In fact we're so entwined with other life forms that it can make the boundaries between organisms difficult to define."


"The sport of free-diving puts huge oxidative and acidifying stress on the bodies systems, so the diet has to address this with alkalinising foods that are rich in anti-oxidants. Basically this translates to lost of fresh fruit and vegetables." 


"In general I avoid land-based protein. You can take your pick of the reasons - animal welfare, ecology or health. It's a clear finding (disputed by the meat industry) that consumption of beef, pork and chicken is heavily implicated in the epidemic of diseases of affluence (cancer, heart disease, diabetes), as well as responsible for as much greenhouse gas emission as the entire transport industry. Not to mention the inconceivable suffering of sentient animals that (in the case of pigs) are more intelligent that the animals we bring into our homes as pets - animals that are protected from similar fates by humane societies."


"For every serving of wild shrimp as much as 20 x the amount of by-catch (unwanted fish, sea birds, turtles, and mammals) is trapped and thrown back into the ocean dead. Marine ecosystems all round the world are collapsing, and according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation 76% of all fish stocks are depleted or fully or over-exploited." 


One of the best gems I garnished from the book was how William discussed how he had to constantly evolve to stay ahead of the negative voices in his mind. He talked about how the brain was an adaptive organ - constantly evolving itself depending on how we use it. For this reason NO mental or training technique will last forever. Our body and mind will become immune to it's adaptive properties after a certain length of time (for example if you play your favourite song 100 x it won't generate the same emotive response). As an athlete and a human you have to continuously develop new ways to get the best out of yourself. We all need new strategies, mental tricks, hacks, and mantras. William found that being grounded in the moment with an acute awareness of the present helped underpin performance. "Now is all" is a great little mantra he came up with.  


To read about more expansive habits to shift you and the world towards true health check out my book 'Holistic Human' available on Amazon and my site (NZ and AUS only) https://everfit.co.nz/Store/holistic-human-book