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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cunningham

7 Things I Learned In Nepal

There's 2 kinda people when it comes to big events...

Ones who prepare, and the others who just kinda rock up.In this instance I was regrettably the latter.

Between wedding plans, setting things up for being away for 4 weeks, still playing footy and doing the usual stuff on top, to go out for a 4+ hour walk was next to impossible.

But I managed one 17k walk the week beforehand and with our illustrious leader Nick's words "you'll be fine, boot camps and what you're doing is enough" I was coming into this trip of a lifetime with a large case of confidence…

Heading into this trip I was hesitant, the business, my girls, what will people think, how will the business go and so on.

But you know what... there's never a perfect time, especially once you have kids, and with the amazing support I have from Carley and the rest of the team I knew everything would be fine.

I knew the group and I would gain so so much from the trip, and be able to come back with a fresh view and energy towards things that it was well worth the time away.

And sitting here now I have no regrets, and I did gain so much from it as did the other team members, Jan O'Sullivan, Chris, Tara, Glen Charge and our leader Nick Farr along with Bobby Bajram who was on a mission of his own, but shared many moments with us also.

And that's what I wanted to share with you in this post today "7 Things I Learned In Nepal".

1) Make the most of what you have. The Nepalese people are so humble, so kind and so very grateful for what they have.

It was very grounding personally, and made me realise how much I really do have and how lucky I am to have the opportunities I do.

It also reminded me that even though I don't have everything I want now with regard to business, health and finances, I can still enjoy my life and feel happy. So don't let ‘things', ‘people' or 'situations' dictate your happiness, you need to remember you have everything within you now to feel that!

2) Consistency is the key. Although it may seem ridiculous. Our daily routine with regard to our hygiene, food and water reminded me how important a consistent routine is to getting the results you want! Over there one slip up (forgetting to wash your hands after touching a door handle or sharing someone's hand, could result in you being down and out with gastro for a day or two.) Over there time is important, if you're stuck somewhere for too long you may not be able to acclimatise and miss the opportunity to summit.

Day to day here, we are lucky that one slip up here and there isn't going to be detrimental to our overall results, but taking this same approach or putting more importance on it will certainly ensure you're avoiding the yo-yo cycle.

So if that sounds like you, go back to what you need to focus on day to day. What are the little things you need to get right to ensure you hit the end goal. This was continually drilled into us by the guides and Nick every day! Drink, eat, drink eat and be mindful of hygiene!!

3) To achieve what you want, you need to model someone who's been there and done it!

I learned very quickly that moving too quickly was not fun, at high altitude you feel like a overweight kid, with bricks for shoes. You're out of breath so easily.

Some days were bloody tough, it was like walking up stairs (if the stairs were made of stones you had to navigate) for 4,5,6 sometimes 7 or more hours straight!

So imagine this; you're breathing like a wounded water buffalo, your legs feel like they're on another planet, and along with your 6-10kg excuse for a heavy pack you're slugging your way up some hill. Along comes some an old man or young kid, carrying about 90kg around their head wearing thongs and probably smoking a cigarette or just chatting casually to the guy next to him doing the same thing.

So once my dignity resurfaced and I got used to seeing this every few minutes. I began to strategise about what is going to be the most effective way to do this.

By this, I mean getting up this hill in the least amount of agony.

I began to watch what these Sherpas were doing, and I follow their feet. I would stand where they would, watch how they land, push off and so on. Funnily enough I got so much into a zone I wouldn't realise how far I had moved, but it was easier!

It's funny because I realise we do this every day. I do it in business, rather than trying to waste hours and hours figuring something out or wasting valuable time making mistakes. I will search for a coach, someone who's already doing what I want to do and learn from them. You probably do it with your health if you train with us. You most certainly do it. If you're not modelling the trainers you're probably modelling some other members, and it's great and I recommend it highly! Don't get stuck, overwhelmed and try and do everything yourself, find a coach and make your life easier!

4) Comfort Zone… Forget it! We’ve all heard it before, “the magic happens outside your comfort zone”.

But I really want to drill this home to you. If you do the same old stuff and expect different results… you’re crazy!!

If you want something to change or be different you need to do something different. Being miles away from home in a completely unknown territory we were forced to step outside our comfort zones and what we were used to. The issue is, for most people during their every day, there’s no opportunity to do this, therefore it relies on the individual to seek it. We are naturally lazy, so often it never happens.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be as simple as working with someone you know is fitter than you, or at work teaming up or sitting with someone you know is super productive or is in a higher position than you, this is going to force you to work harder and achieve more.

For us in Nepal, every day there was a new challenge, whether it be physically through exhaustion or climbing a big hill, or facing fears on a high bridge or walking on the edge of a cliff. But once you stretch yourself to this new level, everything else becomes so much easier, simple, more manageable no longer a challenge or threat.

Which brings me to the next point...

5) Your glass ceiling. Everyone has a perceived limit physically, mentally, the amount of stress they can handle and so on.

For example in the gym, if someone was left to challenge themselves for an exercise, lets just say it was how many push ups you can do in a minute, most people will set themselves a number, hit that and then be done. However when you have a coach there pushing you 9/10 you will do a few more in that same time if not more. Then once you do this, you now know what you’re capable of so when that challenge comes up again you aim for that new higher number.

For us there were some days were we be able to look up at the mountain we had to tackle that day, and instantly the mind would be like "There’s no way!" But over there, there was no other option, we had to do it, if not it was another day trekking back, or you had to stay put and sleep where you were. So if you wanted food, a place to sleep the next night you just had to move on. But then at the end of the day after completing it (bloody hard mind you) you had a new found sense of what you were capable of. Something that seemed so huge and almost an impossible task to accomplish now seemed manageable, and opened up new possibilities of what you could achieve, hence the term 'glass ceiling’ it’s not real, it’s only what we perceive as our limit, there’s so much more above that.

For most people their limit is only about 80% or less of what they’re physically & mentally actually able to achieve.

6) Resilience. This is something you need in truckloads, day after day, hour after hour. You have to be able to get back up and keep going.

There would be days we would be ascending for 5,6,7+ hours. Then wake up the next day and do it all over again despite how sore, tired, dirty or uncomfortable you were.

There was a certain point I realised how much of this I had and how much I needed to accomplish the summit.

It was our final few days before summit day, we took of from Kare (last village before we actually got onto Mera Peak) It was a huge day, 7 or so hours climbing rock to rock up to the snow line. We finally hit the snow line, we’re above 5,200 mtrs so everything’s just hard work, we then put our crampons, tie ourselves with a rope line to one another (in case we fall into a crease) and then begin the walk through snow to Base camp.

Not before long, some poor weather sets in, we can hardly see 20 mtrs in front. We’ve been walking for 5.5 hours now so very tired.

By the time we hit base camp, the snows coming in side ways and I’m feeling really sick. We get into our tents around 3pm and we don’t move from here until the next morning.

During the afternoon and evening the Sherpas and Kitchen boys knock on our tent every half hour it seemed with food and tea. At that point I feel like I’m in another world. Feeling like I’m going to vomit, unable to eat anything and hardly able to lift my head.

Thankfully I had Nick in my tent who pretty much forced me to drink water (and he was also happy to help me out with eating the food I didn’t want). It was a rough night, but I had drank enough water to rehydrate and wake up feeling ok.

There were times during the night were I was thinking, “shit, how am I going to recover in time to get to High camp tomorrow” You go through a mix of emotions and thoughts. But I kept focused on just hydrating, and resting up.

We set off the next day, a couple of team members less, as a couple of the girls had reached breaking point and decided to turn back.

It was another tough day, the sun was out, and walking through the snow with all our gear at altitude was tough. We worked out that we were walking about 350 mtrs horizontal an hour (which is very slow mind you).

Midway through this day I began to feel crap again, by the tine we got to high camp 5,800 mtrs I was throwing up and barely able to lift my head or even talk. But I remained positive, just like the night before, I just needed to rest and recover as we were setting off that night at midnight to summit. Even though it was one of the toughest days we had done I was physically confident and just hopeful that my sickness would go away. But it didn’t. I got worse.

The crew acted quick and put me in the hyperbaric chamber. This bubble/minion suit looking thing simulates lower altitude. instantly I felt better. After 45min I was able to stand up on my own. You have about a 2 hour window before you start feeling worse again so I had to pack quickly and descend back to Kare.

Remember Kare to Base camp was 7 hours and base camp to high was 5.5hours, going back during the night with a couple of the sherpas we got back in 2 hours and 15 min. I was not feeling great, but was able to catch my feet as I kinda just stumbled down quickly. Falling down parts of the rocky section and stopping frequently dry reaching. But I made it back safely.

This experience was huge for me in many ways.

Trekking for nearly 2 weeks just to get to the base of the mountain, and to be at high camp, just 6 hours away from the summit (the reason why were there in the first place) and just miss it was heartbreaking but at the same time character building. I knew I had pushed myself to the limit and did everything right, but unfortunately you can’t really prepare for altitude sickness and it can get anyone young, fit, old or other.

I also felt semi responsible in some way for the others not to summit, at that point of the trip I felt I needed to step up and lead, but at the same time it takes a lot of courage to make a call like we did to turn around. I learned a lot about myself and how much I’m willing to handle or stretch myself before it’s too much. I know I will be able to take this and apply it to many other aspects in my life

7) Take action. Being so far away from home and my girls was tough, I felt guilty for a lot of it, to be away from home, leaving everything to Carley at home and the business. But the thing is, for something like this there is no perfect time, especially when you have kids.

It’s just like starting anything, people always say “Its just not the right time” IT NEVER WILL BE! If you wait for all your ducks to line up you will never take action, and if it means taking action on your weight loss journey, if you don’t pull the trigger NOW you will be in the same position 1,2 10 years down the track.

I go with the 'Ready, Fire, Aim' approach. When the opportunity is there, take it and then everything else will fit around or you will find a way to make it work. As a family we are committed to bettering ourselves and making the most of our opportunities so we never wait for everything to be perfect, and I urge you to do the same.

Knowing I had the full support of Carley and our team to go and do this certainly made it much easier. I knew it was a good chance to test our systems and give our team more responsibility. It was great as we can now see areas to improve and areas that are going great!

Being away from the girls really made me realise how much they mean to me and how hard I want to work to provide the lifestyle, opportunities and freedom we want down the track.

This experience was like none other and I hope you’ve been able to get a feel for what it was like through me sharing our journey through this blog. If you get the opportunity I strongly encourage you to get over there and do a trek, you will not regret it.

And with that said, we would love to offer an experience just like this, maybe slightly easier and take another amazing group next year and do EVEREST BASE CAMP.

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