UltraHumps: Overcoming The Bad Habits Of Demons And Winning!
My last three articles were about ‘Can Ya Do An Ironman….My Story’; ‘Finding Qwik Kiwi Through Coach Ray’; and ‘Finding Ultraman With Qwik Kiwi’s Coach Ray’. The intent of these three articles back to back were to reveal how this crazy sport all happened for me and to encourage others; discuss falling off the wagon with a crap result at an Ironman and how Qwik Kiwi’s Coach Ray got me to the finish line; then beating my demons to finding Ultraman. This article will discuss what had to change, how it worked for me and also to help others.
Exercise – I was a couch potato. I was never any good at sports that involved a ball. My hand eye co-ordination just simply wasn’t there and I would sooner skip the embarrassment and find an individual sport as opposed to a team sport. I was a reasonable runner as a kid, more in the medium to long distance events. Track and field were not my game, after all, I did a marathon at age 13 or 14 simply to better an elder sibling who was doing a half marathon. Sibling rivalry, gotta love it!
As life progressed, so did other things and exercise became a lower priority. I could always get by and pass the fitness tests required for work, but some times work got in the way of fitness. A doctor told me to lose weight or I’d end up on permanent blood pressure medication (which I always scoffed at) until one day I was on it. A separate Army doctor by the name of Lincoln Nichols, a good mate of mine, told me some truths about where my path was heading with weight, high blood pressure and lack of exercise, let alone drinking and crap food intake.So how to fix it. Anyone can tell you to hit the gym or the pool or the bike or the roads, but you have to want to do it for yourself. I didn’t have an excuse. The gym was free at work as was the swimming pool. I was single at the time so I didn’t have family ties to commit to. It simply came down to making it happen. A number of times I would start a new fad of exercise, but it would always end, as I would sooner party, or couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed, or couldn’t be stuffed to do any form of exercise after work.
They say it takes 3 weeks to change a habit. I’m not sure if that is true scientifically or just something I heard in passing with someone at work making it up. For me to get off my butt I had to have a goal. My first Ironman in 2012 was it. If I had never started Ironman after a dare from my brother over too many beers, I would never have started to commit to exercise. It is important to give yourself one day a week off training or you will not allow your muscles to recover and you’ll probably fry your brain and chuck it in. Even though I was too stubborn to back down from the Ironman dare, I didn’t know how to swim, didn’t know how to ride a bike properly with clip in shoes and gears in brake levers, and was too unfit to run properly. Ironman or triathlon became the perfect sport for me. It is three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. If I was doing just one sport like running, I’d get bored with it and throw it in. My training is always mixed. Being an Ironman, it is a big distance of a 3.8 kms swim, 180 kms cycle and a marathon run (42 kms) to finish the day off. Therefore it demands a high workload of training every week.
So simple for me, and I acknowledge that everyone is different, but I had no choice but to stick with exercise. I also had a variety of exercise activities and I allowed myself a day off each week to walk away from training. Eventually with my exercise habit changing, I started to find myself getting twitchy if I had a few days off with no training after an event, etc. Exercise – find that physical demanding goal!
Drinking – This was my demon and my path to self destruction. I am sure I would have had a heart attack by now and there is a family history of it. I am sure we have all had the New Years Resolution of ‘this is my last drink’.
In my last article, ‘Finding Ultraman With Qwik Kiwi’s Coach Ray’, I talked about how I stopped by simply pouring my last beer down the drain, and I did. I haven’t touched a drop in five years. It gave me a realisation of what it must be like for an alcoholic or drug addict. I had tried to stop drinking a number of times, but there was always another function, another party, or someone pissed me off by trashing me personally, so I’d go on a bender. I never considered myself an alcoholic that had to hide alcohol around the house or in the car. I could go days or weeks without a drink, but when I had a beer I always wanted another one, then another, then another, and before I knew it I’d wake up the next day feeling like crap, having a blackout, where the hell is my car, phone and wallet, did I really drive that car home WTF, and god knows how many times I knew I had to apologise to someone for being a dick. The wake up calls were always there, but I had to want to stop and it wasn’t easy. I had stopped a number of times in my life for months at a time, but it was always easy to relapse.
This was one of those demons though that I couldn’t simply have a drink one day a week, because once I got the taste of a great beer I was in for a good night which always ended badly. I’m not a wine or spirit drinker as that would turn me into the ugly drunk, enough said.
So like exercise, I beat it, but it took ‘Rich Rolls’ book of ‘Finding Ultra’ where his life story was like I was reading about myself to make me do it. I needed a reason and Rich Roll gave me the inspiration, plus my wife supported me when I sat down with her after someone pissed me off at the wedding of a colleague of hers and I knew I would of handled it differently if sober (and wouldn’t have got evicted from that wedding). Find that inspiration!
Food – I think every single person has probably battled with weight at some stage in their life, whether it is a small amount or a large amount. I certainly have, and even doing a lot of training I was still eating crap. I would go day after day, week after week eating crap, telling myself I burn it off anyway so who cares. I knew that when I was eating well I trained and recovered better and did better at events. I had sorted my physical training out through Coach Ray’s assistance. I had also ditched alcohol altogether through Rich Roll’s inspirational book of ‘Finding Ultra’ and the strong support from my wife who should of ditched my arse.
Food was going to be a demon with so much sugar in everything we buy. I simply solved it by daring or testing myself to eat healthy and picking what I knew was healthy. I wasn’t going to be a vegan as I do like a good piece of salmon or a steak, but being in an environment where there is always a confectionary bar at work fundraising for one thing or another, or soft drinks, and a tick book, I simply had to test myself to discipline myself and walk past it. Easier said than done when additionally every night if living in Camp you can grab a dessert when in the Mess Hall, or jump in your car and within a few kilometres you have gone past so many fast food joints, which Rich Roll’s calls window food (roll the window down and they will feed you).
So how did I solve it? A Navy PTI (Physical Training Instructor) told us once when doing a 12 week challenge that we should give yourself one day a week where you perhaps let your guard down a little, otherwise you won’t stick to a diet. So I call it bad boy Friday. This doesn’t mean McDonalds for breakfast, KFC for lunch, pizza for dinner and wash it down with a sugary drinks late into the evening, but I will let myself have one or two things, like maybe a pie, or an ice cream or a small block of chocolate. Just one or the other not two or three and only once and on one day a week. If you went crazy on that one day a week, you’d be spending the other 6 days recovering, then repeating the process.
So that’s how I fixed my lack of exercise, my demon of alcohol and my demon of crap food. Find a goal, something to enjoy and train for it, remembering to give yourself one day a week off from exercise. Find an inspiration like Rich Roll with Finding Ultra and weigh up do I really want to lose this relationship or something else because of drinking or drugs or some other demon. Eat wisely, but like exercise give yourself that one small treat on a bad boy day, and shift the day if need be to another day if something is coming up.
Hope this helps.
Regards John Humphries (aka UltraHumps)
Humps will be writing weekly as he continues his journey raising funds for the Fallen Hero’s Trust.
Read Humps’ article from last week here:
All his previous articles are stored here: