Ironman, marathon swimmer, ultrarunner, Thai boxer, surfer and lifelong backpacker; riddled with health issues; on a mission to see how much one broken, sleep deprived dad can achieve through living a healthier life.
exhale was borne out of obsession. My three obsessions for coffee, for health and for fitness, and my passion for helping others by combining all three.
It all began 5 years ago when we had our first child, Lila. At 6 months old we took her travelling for 4 months around SE Asia while Kirsty was on mat leave. She had colic, and cried a lot. I had stress, and slept not a lot. As mostly a surf trip it was a dream come true and I surfed some of the scariest reef breaks in Indonesia. Until one fateful day at Uluwatu I dropped into a double overhead, bone crushing wave over waist deep water full of razor-sharp coral! Only half awake after another shocking night’s sleep I stacked it and my surfboard hit me square in the face. It's no exaggeration that I'm lucky to be alive.
That night after being left with a bust eye and whiplash I saw a local healer nicknamed Mr Tendon. After being pulverised for 15 minutes I was fixed, physically, but still mentally scarred. Sleepy surfing wasn’t working. It was the next day when, about to throw the towel in, I stumbled upon a speciality coffee shop in Seminyak. I tried an Aeropress from Tana Toraja and a Syphon from Aceh and my mind was blown by their deliciousness and the air of importance the baristas were giving coffee. I had to learn more.
The next day, fueled by delicious, strong coffee, I had one of the best surfs of my life! I decided that day that I wanted to open a coffee roastery selling this incredible tasting, performance enhancing elixir. I've been mastering the art of roasting my own coffee in a Whirley Pop popcorn maker on our stove at home ever since.
Shortly after Lila was born, the company I worked for organised an Olympic distance triathlon. I did it, with very little training and did surprisingly well. I thought ‘wow I could really get into this’ and booked 2 more in for the following summer. However, the intense stress caused by Lila having colic, the lack of sleep, or maybe it was just that I’d burnt the candle at both ends for too long, started to catch up on me and caused my health to plummet. I was ill for so long I couldn’t train so had to cancel both triathlons.
So began a 5 year health journey during which I had a list of symptoms as long as my arm and list of diagnoses from hospitals across London. I haven’t connected all the dots yet but I’ve learnt a hell of a lot on my journey including that by prioritising your health anything is possible…
…and for Fitness
After the failed triathlons I was totally gutted. But I was determined not to let it get the better of me. So I researched, and read, and listened until I had completed google, had read a bookcase full of books on health and on fitness, and listened to every podcast I could find.
I’ve used this knowledge to build up from a 1 mile open water swim in Lake Windermere in 2015 to the 14km Thames Marathon swim in 2018. From an Olympic Distance Triathlon in 2015 to an Ironman in 2019. From not being able to run more than a km before my knee blew up in 2014 to running my first ultra in 2020. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I've learnt how to use my diet to take control of my health.
So I urge everyone I meet, and anyone who has stuck with me and read this far, to not let whatever you’ve got going on in your life hold you back. Physically, mentally or whatever it is, f*ck it, it’s your life and you can do whatever you want with it.
(sorry if I got a bit cringe there, I promise I’m not in real life! :0)
P.S. check out my families insta @little_family_big_adventures for more shenanigans