Wild Swimming

In addition to more time with my family, enjoying our wonderful surroundings and less time spent travelling around the country with work, one of the unexpected positives to take out of lockdown has been embracing ‘wild swimming’.

Pre-lockdown, I was swimming at Uppingham pool twice a week before work. I was training with a great group of friends that helped me swim faster and longer, and when Boris initially grounded us, it was one of the things that I missed the most.

When we started to be let out again, I heard friends had started to swim in the River Nene so, with some trepidation, I decided to join them to learn more. Over time, we have explored more areas of the Nene and as my confidence grew, I would go off and explore more in the sea while down in Cornwall.

There is something magical about swimming out in the real-world vs swimming in a pool. It is like comparing the treadmill to running along a coastal path or sitting on an exercise bike compared to cycling around the wonderful countryside with all it has to offer.

Seeing beautiful parts of the country, areas not normally seen from land and the wildlife that inhabits them (watch out for angry swans), has been such a brilliant addition to my weekly routine, and one that I will continue even once the pools reopen. Whilst the pools have their place, particularly for improving your technique and in the winter (when no amount of neoprene will keep you warm), swimming outdoors has brought a whole new dimension to my training. So here are my quick tips on how to get into ‘wild swimming’.

  1. Buy a swim buoy with a dry bag like this. It can make sure you are seen, act as a float if you cramp, and you can carry your keys, phone, or even a flare if you are in the sea.
  2. Whilst some hardcore locals will shun them, embrace the wetsuit. The longer you are in the water, the more likely you are to get cold, so reduce the risk.
  3. Test the water; even if just for the first time, swim with others that know the area, so you can learn from their experience. If you want to join me for an early morning swim at Wansford or Wadenhoe, just ask; you will be very welcome.
  4. Swim into the current first. In a river swim upstream first - that way, when you are tired you aren’t turning back into the current.
  5. Be careful in the sea. Speak to the RNLI or locals; someone once said to me that ‘the sea is always trying to kill you’. Whist I am not sure I agree with that, treat it with respect, tell people where you are going and swim at supervised beaches. Swim with fins if you are still unsure and take precautions.
  6. Read something like ‘Hell and High Water’ by Sean Conway to really see what human beings are capable of. He was the first person to swim from Lands End to John O’Groats.

It is important to stay safe, so be sensible and take advice.

As I head to the Welsh coast for a week with the family, one of the things I am looking forward to most is swimming in, and exploring, a new area of the sea. As Roger Deakin said in his book ‘Waterlog’, “Natural water has always held the magical power to cure.”

The Magic of H2O

We all know how important water is to you. After all, we are made of the stuff! We nag our children to drink more and feel worse when we don’t drink enough of it.

One of the reasons people eat too much is because the feeling of dehydration is commonly confused with hunger. As a result, when our body is craving more water, we give it more food, which may or may not include some water but also includes a whole load of other things you didn’t need. As a result, if you can ensure you are fully hydrated, you will find that eating the right amount of food and avoiding snacks becomes much easier.

Why not try it yourself? Correctly hydrating yourself can make you feel years younger! This tool is the best method I have found to calculate how much water I need:

And remember to add some lemon to your water when you drink it to help keep your blood alkaline!

Eliminate Toxins
Finally, before I set you a two-week challenge of my own, I want you to eliminate some more toxins in your life. In this modern world, we are exposed to countless toxins that gradually build up in our body. Like pouring tea from a teapot, these gradually build up in our bodies over time, and they usually go unnoticed. It is only when the cup overflows or, worse, cracks that we get an outpouring of ill health all at once.

This is one of the reasons a detox can sometimes make you feel worse before you feel better, as you are getting an outpouring of toxins from your body. This overflow could be a cold or the flu, and the cracks could be developing cancer or heart problems. There are lots of toxins to be aware of, but I’ll cover a few toxin sources to be aware of, ones that are linked to some serious cracks in your health.

Bisphenol A
Plastics touch our food in so many forms and ways, and it is difficult to imagine life without them. Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you that you aren’t allowed to use plastics at all. Generally, from what I have read, I believe most to be perfectly fine, with one exception.

When plastic is heated up, it causes some of the chemicals to leach or migrate to our food—namely, the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Laura Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in biology at Tufts University in Boston, explains that ‘studies show that high doses of BPA disrupt reproductive development and function in laboratory animals. Levels in humans were thought to be too low to be of concern, but more recent research has challenged that perception’. www.WebMD.com

Tax Planning Rutland

There are some simple steps you can take to minimise this without causing any disruption to your life:

  • Don’t cook anything in plastic.
  • If you are freezing food in plastics, allow the food to cool first before you transfer.
  • Never drink water from a bottle that has been warmed up, whether that be in the car or anywhere else.

In 1988, one of the UK’s worst pollution disasters occurred at a water treatment works in Bodmin Moor. Twenty tonnes of aluminium sulphate leaked into the water supply near the town of Camelford. Sadly the health implications were far reaching, with aggressive forms of Alzheimer’s seen as a result of higher-than-usual aluminium levels in the brain.

Professor Exley, a world-renowned expert on aluminium, hoped that the case would highlight how little we know about the implications for our health of the most prolific metal on the planet. Aluminium, he argued, is now added to or used in almost everything we eat, drink, inject or absorb. At high levels, it is an established neurotoxin—yet no one knows whether the levels we are ingesting are safe.

‘When the amount of aluminium consumed exceeds the body’s capacity to excrete it, the excess is then deposited in various tissues, including nerves, brain, bone, liver, heart, spleen and muscle,‘ he explains. ‘We call it the ‘silent visitor’ because it creeps into the body and beds down in our bones and brain’.

Source: Liz Bestic, The Telegraph, 5th March 2012

The accumulation of aluminium in the body is a risk factor not only for Alzheimer’s disease but also, possibly, for neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It’s therefore best to reduce our exposure to it. Whilst aluminium naturally occurs in many foods, it is the increased exposure that gives more cause for concern.

There are a couple of simple ways to do this without disrupting your life too much:

  • Use aluminium-free deodorant, as this has a high level normally.
  • Cut out or cut down on the amount of fizzy drinks you consume.
  • Minimise cooking with foil.

Another nasty you are probably unconsciously topping up your body with is Parabens, because they are hidden in so many everyday products. ‘Parabens have been widely used since the 1950s to control bacteria growth, and are mainly found in our cosmetics. In 2004, British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D., found parabens present in malignant breast tumours. As a result, experts in many countries are recommending limits on paraben levels in cosmetic products. What’s more, watchdog organisations worry that if parabens can be stored in the body, over time they could have a cumulative effect and pose a health risk’.
(Source: www.realsimple.com)

Whilst the research is still inconclusive, it is worth being mindful limiting these chemicals because in the long run, it can only help rather than hinder you. Use products that are labelled ‘paraben-free’, for example, ‘Aveda’ and ‘The Little Bubble Company’.

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