You might need an extra blanket tonight.
Or three, because the temperature doesn’t seem to match your comfort level. Yes, it’s winter and yes, the mercury plunges, but that doesn’t mean you like being cold — although, as you’ll see in “What Doesn’t Kill Us” by Scott Carney, cold might be keeping you alive.
With very little between him and a snowy wind, had Scott Carney questioned his own sanity on his way to the top of Africa’s
highest mountain some months ago, few would have blamed him.
Temps plummeted, but there he was, on a purposeful quest.
A journalist by trade, Carney was looking for modern-day snake-oil salesmen for a book he was writing when he came across Dutchman Wim Hof, who claimed he could teach people to do simple, but extraordinary, things to increase endurance and productivity. His methods, as a skeptical Carney learned firsthand by signing up for Hof’s course, tapped into that which our ancestors naturally did.
Today’s humans live in what Carney says is an “ocean of perpetual comfort.”
We don’t have to catch our food or spend much time in extreme climates; conversely, early humans didn’t have the comforts of deli lunches or down coats. That difference — the hardships they endured, as opposed to the physical comforts we almost demand — has negatively shaped humanity through obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, lost ability to intuit direction, lessened navigational aptitude and other once-innate skills that might be lying dormant but that “we don’t use ... very much anymore.”
Skills lost — but Carney was determined to find them again. He followed, then tweaked, Hof’s methods before and after endurance testing in a Colorado laboratory.
Carney tackled an obstacle course race to see if it was as challenging as he’d heard. He studied how we’re able to control physical reflexes, even when we don’t think we can.
He trained with 25-pound weights in a swimming pool, learned breathing techniques, checked in with the U.S. military, and returned to Hof’s compound.
Which is how he ended up on Mount Kilimanjaro, nearly naked and knee-deep in snow.
So could you do it?
The answer may be yes — Carney tells you how — but there are many aptly placed “don’t try this at home” warnings on the pages of “What Doesn’t Kill Us.”
Certainly, this book is for super athletes, but it’s also a great read for sofa slugs who want better health, thrills and a few pounds gone. If you’re looking for something that will make you look forward this year by looking backward, “What Doesn’t Kill Us” won’t leave you cold.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.