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Adventure Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

The Dream Of Everest Base Camp – Podcast

Episode 6 in the Worth Your Weight In Gold series

When you’ve seen a place in your dreams and a hundred times on Youube, it’s truly special to finally see it in front of you.
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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

Podcast Episode 5 – 9 Ways To Get Moving Again After A Muscle Strain

As an overweight person who trains regularly, I’ve pulled a lot of muscles over the years. Here are the ones I’ve encountered and what I did to keep moving.

Listen to Episode 5 – 9 Ways To Get moving Again After A Muscle Strain – on Anchor.fm here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

Podcast Episode 4 – It’s A Stretch But You Can Do It

The importance of stretching and relaxing your muscles before and after exercise cannot be over emphasized.

Listen to Episode 4 – It’s A Stretch But You Can Do It – on Anchor.fm here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

Podcast Episode 3 – Putting Your Heart Into Your Dreams

Understanding and monitoring your Heart Rate during exercise can give you amazing insights into your general health and performance

Listen to Episode 2 – How The tortoise Won That Race – on Anchor.fm here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

Podcast Episode 2 – How The Tortoise Won That Race

It’s more about taking part than looking the part.

Listen to Episode 2 – How The tortoise Won That Race – on Anchor.fm here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

Podcast Episode 1 – Worth Your Weight In Gold

Learning to carry your excess weight can be just as amazing as managing to lose it.

Listen to Episode 1 Worth Your Weight In Gold on Anchor.fm here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Running Sport Stress Swimming Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

You Are Amazing

Learn how to get the best from your body and become inspired to chase your dreams. Listen to the Worth Your Weight In Gold Podcast Series

Listen to the Podcast on Anchor.fm and other major platforms here

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Adventure Exercise Fitness Health Health and Fitness Life and Wellbeing Mental Health Mental Health Recovery Mountaineering Sport Stress Travel Trekking Weight Loss Wellness

The Dream Of Everest Base Camp

When you’ve seen a place in your dreams, and 100 times on YouTube, it’s truly special to then see it in front of you. Indeed few things compare to the realization of a dream.

Kumar, my guide, was concerned so he stopped me and reminded me to be careful, that we were walking on ice. In fact we were walking on 1000s of tonnes of ice that formed the spectacular Khumbu Ice Flow spilling down from the foot of Everest. I’d just seen Everest Base Camp in front of me. I was walking on air.

I finally caught up with the main group who’d been out of sight ahead of me all day and stood beside a stone with the words ‘Everest Base Camp, 2016’ painted on it. One of the guys, I think his name was David, took the picture I’d been dreaming of for the past 2 years. Despite the fact I couldn’t keep pace with the group, I’d earned their respect. I may have reached the Base Camp after they did but the magic of reaching it was just as special. You see when you’re overweight and don’t look the part, you have to find the mindset to compensate, that knows you can still do it.

Dare To Dream

Take the risks, experience the pain and disappointment along the way and, for sure, you will find moments of true joy.

Summit of Everest taken from the Everest View Hotel. Everest Base Camp Trek Oct 2016

It may be the case that you feel your dreams are just that. Fantasies that entice you when you’re sleeping or just not paying attention to anything in particular. The realist in you tells you that reality is something less. More within your grasp. Safer. If that is the case then I’d like you to try something just for one minute. Picture that realist as an over protective friend. Someone who loves you and wants to protect you but doesn’t really know you. Imagine the things you might consider doing if they weren’t trying to keep you safe. Who would you be? Where would you go? What would you achieve? Welcome to a dream you just might realize!

I believe that life is something so much richer when our dreams are chased. Take the risks, experience the pain and disappointment along the way and, for sure, you will find moments of true joy.

Yes You Can

Those words became a mantra which answered every moment of doubt.

A few years after I’d gone to Everest Base Camp, I came across a mantra that helped me keep believing in myself. High up on Kilimanjaro as we approached the summit, our lead guide, Abraham, kept repeating the words, “Yes you can!” Those words became a mantra which answered every moment of doubt. Though I found myself again behind the main group on Summit Night, those words sung out in my heart and mind every time I wanted to stop. A few years previous I’d have never have thought like this.

I’ve not always believed that I could climb in the high mountains, run marathons or swim in open water. That fact alone held me back for years. Having had the many dreams of adventure, I had to gather the resources that I did have. Book the holidays, raise the money, tell people what I was planning. Slowly but surely I started to realize that I might just do this.

Then I’d start to train and the doubts would rise all over again. Every bad training session, every injury would drive me back to the embrace of my overprotective self. That side of my thinking that was ever present, waiting for me to see the error of my new found ways. Time and again I had to recover and rebel and go back out until I started to feel fit enough to do this.

Training For Everest Base Camp. Ben Vorlich Summit. Oct 2016

I always remember the excitement of sitting with my fried breakfast at Edinburgh Airport ready to board a flight to Abu Dhabi and on to Kathmandu. I’d trained with my brother for months in the Scottish Mountains. He’d seen me exhausted and down hearted. Stuck with me as I moved at a snails pace wondering if we’d ever get safe back to the car. I’d lost count of the number of times the whole idea of heading to Everest Base Camp seemed like a bad joke. But somehow, helped by my brother and our training, I’d held onto a belief that I could do this. And then, at last, I did.

Abel, My Long Suffering Coach On The Mountains Ben More Summit, Oct 2016

Making It Real

I had earned the right to be here.

When I first met the group of my fellow trekkers at our hotel in Kathmandu my doubts started to return. They were friendly and polite and they tried their best but I could see the surprise on their faces. I could see that I was by far the most overweight person in the group. They were all young and mostly looked fit. Their very appearance suggested that this trip to the mountains was their domain. Not mine. I had to quietly remind myself that I had climbed a lot of mountains. That I had earned the right to be here.

After a spectacular flight into the mountains, we soon set out from the small town of Lukla along the trail to Everest. On that first day the pace of the group was fast in the mix of excitement and the perhaps a subconscious need to establish a pecking order of fitness. I was soon well established at the back of the group. Fortunately on that trek there were two others who walked close to my pace so we were never alone.

Runway at Lukla, gateway to Everest. Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

As our altitude increased and the air grew thinner over the next few days, I learnt the hard way that maintaining a slow and steady pace was vital for survival as much as enjoyment. I’d put in a burst of pace just over 4,000m to catch up with the main group. Suddenly the mountain began to spin and I almost passed out. By the time we reached our Teahouse in Dingboche that afternoon, I was shuffling along way behind everyone.

It was during the acclimatisation climb out of Dingboche next day that I realized, despite my slow pace, that I’d earned the respect of the group. On one of the many stops, I wearily plodded up to where the group were resting. One of the fitter guys who was always at the front commented that every time he stopped for a rest I always managed to walk in before they set off again. He said I just kept coming, like the Terminator. The nickname stuck with me for the rest of that trip and the one the following year to Mera Peak.

Dingboche. Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

A few days later, past the settlement of Gorac Shep with only a few miles of barren rock between me and Everest Base Camp, I finally thought I would have to stop. I was completely exhausted, the main group were out of sight and there was no one around me. Every single step was followed by a stop and several deep breaths. Suddenly a voice piped up at my shoulder, “Geez! Sean, are you alright?” It was Mel, an Ozzie who lived in London, and Kumar, our main guide. Mel was fine walking at my pace and Kumar re-assured us we could make it. That was all the encouragement I needed and we were soon looking down on Everest Base Camp from the rocks at the side of the Khumbu Ice Flow.

Khumbu Icefall flowing down from the foot of Everest to Everest Base Camp, Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It

When we put that dream in front of us and push ourselves towards it we can experience exhilaration and joy.

You may have heard the phrase, “Dream it, believe it, achieve it.” accredited to author and Life Coach Tony Robbins. I first came across this phrase at a Slimming World Meeting when I booked a few weeks membership. To me, it serves as a framework for an amazing life.

If you dream it, it’s a part of you, however deep or achievable and whether you like it or not. You just have to believe you can achieve your dreams no matter what anyone else thinks or tells you. Then, sometimes despite the people around you, sometimes with their full support, you need to be determined and humble and do whatever it takes.

Our world has a perception of overweight people. They think we are lazy, irresponsible and impulsive. That exercise and hard work are beyond us. Yet I know we dream like everyone else. When we put that dream in front of us and push ourselves towards it we can experience exhilaration and joy. Such is the joy of walking in the mountains free from the box they put us in.

Everest in the distance on the trail from Namche Bazaar. Everest Base Camp Trek Oct 2016

Learning to carry your weight can be just as amazing as managing to lose it. Learn how by reading this series, Worth Your Weight In Gold, from the start here.

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Christian Life and Wellbeing Mountaineering Religion Travel Trekking

High Spirits

Life Beyond The Summit

Climbing wearily up onto the Deurali La above the small settlement of Goripani we stood amongst lines of Buddhist Prayer Flags strewn among the rocks and fluttering in the morning breeze. This was my first trek to Nepal and the first time I had come upon these flags in the mountains. As Thakur, my guide, told me all about them I found myself contemplating religion beyond the bounds of my own Christianity and eternal life beyond the very summits amongst which we stood.

Despite being raised a Catholic, I have long since held the belief that there are many ways to worship. Standing among the foothills of the Anapurna Range that morning surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world I felt humble and at peace. I offered up my own silent prayer with those I was told were fluttering out of the flags. My fascination and love of the spiritual powers attributed to the mountains and those who live among them began.

Buddhism is the main religion among the Sherpa people who live in the mountains of Nepal. Symbols of the Buddhist Religion are everywhere along the mountain trails of the Himalayas and it seemed a constant stream of prayers was rising up among them.

Prayer Flags

The colours of the Buddhist Prayer Flags are symbolic of the elements of the world.

  • Blue for the sky or space
  • Yellow for the earth
  • Green for water
  • Red for fire
  • White for air

What I love about the Prayer Flags however is that prayers are imprinted on them and it is believed that, as the flags flutter in the wind, those prayers are carried to the heavens.

Prayer Flags at the Chukpo Lari Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

This was particularly moving for me a few years later when, on the Everest Base Camp Trek, I stood in the Chukpo Lari. This is an area of stone cairns and prayer flags standing as memorials to many of the climbers who have died on Everest.

Prayer Wheels

Prayer Wheels On The Outskirts Of Lukla Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

It’s almost impossible to trek in the Himalayas without coming across Prayer Wheels. These are vertical cylinders on which prayers are printed around the outside. It is believed that the act of spinning them as you walk past has the same merits as saying the prayers printed on them. Often there is a bell which sounds as the wheels rotate which just adds to the tranquil sounds in the mountains.

Giant Buddhist Prayer Wheel in Khumjung Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

Temples

One of the most amazing views I have ever seen opened in front of me as I arrived on the plateau in the settlement of Thyangboche. Everest and Lhotse among the line of mountains towering above and directly in front of us. To my left was the world famous monastery of Thyangboche. The feeling was as though standing before the very alter of Heaven itself.

Everest and Lhotse from Thyangboche Everest Base Camp Trek Oct 2016

After a short acclimatisation walk, we were soon back in the settlement where we were allowed in to see the Monks conducting a service. Listening to the low drone of mantras recited by the monks and the clang of small symbols in the soft light of the temple, the serenity was incredible. We could indeed have been sitting in eternity.

Credit: Wild Films India

The Berbers

The religion prevalent among the Berber People who live in High Atlas Mountains in Morocco is Muslim. Despite the different religion from the Sherpas in Nepal, the faith of the people is just as strong and the welcome just as warm.

Berber Village of Armed in the atlas Mountains Mount Toubkal Trek, Aug 2019

In this part of the world it’s the greetings from the local people, as much as the sincere and friendly welcome they give you, which shows their religious beliefs. “As-Salamu Alaykum” is the main greeting you will hear which means, “Peace be upon you”.

Often, when we said that we were heading to the summit of Mount Toubkal (The highest of the Atlas Mountains) the reply was, “InshAllah” which translates to, “If God wills it.” In the phrase there is both the expression of the hope that you will be successful and an acknowledgement that nothing happens unless it is God’s will.

The Song Of Kilimanjaro

The prevalence of Christianity in the region of Kilimanjaro was very apparent to me as soon as I headed out to explore close to the small town of Moshi. Most of the local population were processing back down the road into town from local Churches.

If his name alone didn’t hint at his religion, Abraham, our lead guide for the Kilimanjaro climb told us that he had previously trained to be a Priest. When telling us how far it was to each of the camps along the way, he would often joke, “Trust me. I’m Catholic. I can’t lie.”

Kilimanjaro as seen from Moshi Kilimanjaro Trek, Sep 2018

On summit day, as I desperately struggled towards Stella Point, Abraham’s conviction drove my spirit on. “Yes you can!” he told us many times as we pushed ever upwards.

One of the Porters called Alias did everything to get me to the top. Carrying my pack and sometimes physically supporting me as I slumped exhausted along the path.

Though the songs the guides and porters sang as they carried heavy loads up the mountain weren’t necessarily Christian, their humility, generosity and their actions spoke volumes to their Christian faith.

Kilimanjaro Song performed by Abraham and his team from Kandoo Adventures (Special shout out to Will and Clair who joined in the dancing) 🙂 Kilimanjaro Trek Sep 2018

Common Good

Having encountered many different religions and cultures on my travels, I would say that mountain people and the lands they inhabit have much in common. Whether Buddhist, Muslim or Christian, they possess humility and charity in equal abundance. Perhaps they are touched by the enormity and sheer raw beauty of the lands they occupy. For sure they enhance it with their spirit and by their actions.

The story of my Kilimanjaro Trek in 3 minutes Kilimanjaro, Sept 2018