As part of the Australian Parachute Federations ‘On Hold’ online series, AK presented to the group on the topic of tracking and movement jumps. While primarily focussed toward the perspective of the early learning phase of an individuals flying development, there was a wide range of topics covered and some Q&A toward the end.
Topics included: Key Success Factors, Exits, Levels, Quadrants, Body Positions, Break Off + more…
“Greatly appreciated the opportunity to share some thoughts, and lessons I’ve learned and hope it can add value to others out there. Thanks to Jules McConnel and everyone at the APF for the continued support.”
I had a super cool opportunity late on Tuesday night to chat to a bunch of young kids in Canada as part of their pop-up home school that was setup by Shane Parrish (Creator of “The Knowledge Project” Podcast and Farnam St Blog), as a result of school closures earlier this year in response to the virus outbreak around the world.
I’d been following this initiative as it was such a great idea, and the list of people the kids had present was super cool. Covering a wide range of topics from neuroscience to coding to autonomous vehicles. I’m a massive fan of Shane’s work, so this was a real treat to be able to share with the kids and flex their thinking a little.
You can check the full presentation here. Again big thank you to Shane, Vicky and the team for the opportunity.
I highly recommend checking out his podcast and blog as well if you are not familiar with them.
I’m currently about to tick over the 3day mark, of an attempt at a 5day fast. Yes – that means no food AT ALL for 5 days. It’s the first time I have attempted to fast for a 5-day period. I do a- 3day fast each month, or at least aim to, and I’ve been wanting to try a more extended 5day and 7day fast since i began. Naturally this is a pretty big stretch from 3days, and my mind can come up with an endless number of reasons not to do it. It has taken me a while to get my head around it, and to actually do it, but i’m stoked to have finally gotten over the mental hurdle and simply be attempting it, which in itself is a great step forward.
I wanted to address some of the questions i get when i share content about a fast i’m doing. Questions like – What are the benefits? Isn’t it bad for you not eating for so long? How the f@#$ do you not eat for 5 days?! I will try and answer some of these questions as well as cover off the specific protocol i follow when fasting.
I want to start by clarifying – I am not a doctor. This is not advice. I am not recommending you start fasting – I’m just wanting to share my experience and provide some further clarity for anyone curious. Although I have found enormous benefits in exploring and experimenting with the process.
Eating Is The Ultimate Habit
It’s worth noting why fasting can seem so difficult, and likely be quite challenging, atleast at the beginning. I think the main reason is simply habit. We have very strong habits built around eating, and strong attachment to food and our relationship to it. It is most likely extremely compulsive for most people, with zero level of awareness of this fact. Most people would never have questioned it.
When i first began fasting i tried to estimate how many days through my life i had not eaten any food. I estimated 14 days total just as a rough number.
At the time it was probably 14 days of 36 years of life.
So 13,140 days of life, and only 14 no food. 14 / 13140 = 0.1%
This means 0.1% of the days of my life i have not eaten. or 99.9% of days i have eaten.
This gives a clear perspective as to why it challenges you on such an unconscious and habitual level.
We have so many habits around food and how we interact with it. Things such as when we eat. What we typically eat at said times. Things we consume at certain times and different items at other times. You may have expectations that have been solidified in your mind -“its now X time – i should be eating!” It is deeply ingrained in our behaviour.
The reasons I fast now are probably slightly different than they were to begin with. Initially i just had no idea if it were even possible, and how i would find the process. There was a lot of unknowns. Now it’s much more about just reinforcing the learnings. I don’t imagine the feelings will change on day zero preparing to fast for 5 days when you look at your calendar on a Monday and think “Whoa. I am not going to eat anything until Saturday!” It was a pretty daunting thought, and likely will be again i expect.
There have been many learnings as a result of regular fasting. As with practicing anything you tend to learn about what works for you and what doesn’t over time, so I have learnt heaps and tweaked the process here and there – ie don’t eat a a big bowl of pasta, or anything carb heavy as your last meal before a fast – Big mistake.
The main reasons why i fast currently are
To activate Authopahy
To lean into that which is uncomfortable, and maintain fasting as a part of my lifestyle and rhythm
There are a host of other reasons including
Optimise Cognition (mental processes)
Better understand relationship to food, and re-frame. This includes better understanding triggers that lead you to eating, or wanting food and why.
Improved sleep quality
Personal challenge and flexing perception of what is possible
Rest and reset vital organs
break down stubborn fat storages
Autophagy – What Is It?
“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating. In basic terms Autophagy is a process where by your body breaks down dead cells that can mutate and cause a host of auto-immune diseases such as cancer, alzheimers and parkinsons, among many other benefits. Beyond a certain age, everyone has these cells and without forcing your body into Autophagy you do no nothing to remove them. This leaves the door open for these diseases to develop over time.
Since i learnt about fasting and the processes of Autophagy which you activate in the body as a result, it became something that I could not ignore and had to adopt in a consistent and sustainable way. I don’t have any history of the above in family blood lines that I am aware of, but i value my physical health almost above all else. It is an absolute core value for me as everything flows from it. I think it is unreasonable to expect to have really good mental health if you don’t look after your physical body as an example. Your ability to then prioritise family and friends etc is not possible without the above, so this is, in part, what initially motivated me to begin experiment with fasting. I think of it simply like the oxygen mask on the aeroplane example. You put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can then place it on others around you.
Getting Started & My Mindset
I initially just began to experiment and was curious about the process. I began with a 3day fast, and i think i caved after 2 and a bit days. But that didn’t matter – there were so many learnings straight away. With the exception of Yoga/Meditation, I think I have learnt more from fasting about my own psychology than almost anything else. It provides such a signifiant level of clarity around differentiating between physical body hunger – That feeling in your stomach where you can really feel the need for food and can observe a noticeable lack of energy; and the more brain hunger that we get, that i think of like the brain essentially just wanting to tickle the dopamine receptors. Learning to notice the difference between these two feelings has been a big deal for me as it leads on to a much greater level of awareness to when your brain may be wanting that dopamine fix as the quick solution, and no part of your physical body actually needs or is wanting nutrients.
Since attempting my first 3 day fast it became so clear how good the process is for the body. I have continued to do a 3 day fast each month since and fast intermittently often.
My basic mindset toward fasting is, that i want to make it as smooth and manageable as possible, and im very clear on the reasons i do it, and things i want to avoid as a result of the process.
The main thing i want to avoid through the process is the body feeding off muscles. Not that i have much anyway.. but this is not something i want to do, as i want the body to feed off the ketones that are released through breaking down the fat cells.
The main point to this is hydration. Muscles are something like 90% water. If we don’t adequately hydrate we end up chewing through muscle potentially. Solution: Lots of water, with pink salts in the water to help retain as much of the fluid as possible.
The other big thing to remember through this, is that you are covered in energy. In the same way a free diver can hold their breath for 5+ minutes and way exceed what most think is normal or possible, they are very well aware of the reality that their body has more than enough oxygen. In this same way, you have more than enough fuel for your body to not only run, but to run in an extremely efficient manner.
Activating Ketosis Through Fasting.
I want to get my body into a ketotic state as quickly as possible. This is key. I think of this as switching the bodies fuel source from glycogen to fats/keytones, much like turning on a light switch or turning a tap from hot to cold. If you are slow to switch the fuel source it puts the body into an ultra stressful state, where it is as if the fuel gauge is showing empty and the car is trying desperately to extract every last drop of fuel before the engine fails. This is BRUTAL and you have a very high chance of caving if you do it this way. So to get into ketosis as quickly as possible, we want to burn through any glucose stores left in the body as soon as we wake up. If we quickly churn through these it’s as if the body flicks a switch from glucose to Fats much more efficiently. Once you’re in ketosis, it’s typically smooth sailing, and I normally feel really good. Cognitively the brain waaaay prefers fats as a fuel source, and you can definitely notice this. You feel very clear and efficient mentally once you start accessing the fats.
3-Day Fasting Protocol:
I need to thank Tim Ferris for all his research and experimentation around fasting, as this is essentially the protocol he laid out, and was super helpful in me getting started. I found it made the process very manageable for the most part and am very much appreciative of having that information made available.
– Final meal before beginning fast.
The main thing I think of here is eating whole foods, nothing processed and very low carbohydates. I’ll typically just have a bowl of veg with some butter or olive oil and some lemon juice.
Broccoli, capsicum, spinach, asparragus maybe a couple pieces of sweet potato.
– 6pm fast begins.
I’ll likely go for a run, or a walk in the evening before I sleep. This is not essential, but anything to work through glycogen storage either side of sleep I have found to have a huge impact.
– Once waking up, if I feel like having a coffee I will. It will just be black but I typically avoid coffee when fasting now. I take it as a good opportunity to cycle off it.
3-4 hour walk. You want to aim to get moving within 30mins of waking up. Get a large bottle of water and add some pink salts and get going. This is where we aim to burn through the excess glycogen stores and activate ketosis as quickly as possible.
I do have a unit to measure my ketone levels, so if I get back from a walk and they are not high enough, I’ll go walking for another hour to two if possible.
Remember, lots of water!
Use the time to listen to listen to an audiobook or listen to a podcast.
Same as above. From the extended walk yesterday you should be in ketosis now. I typically will still go for a long walk to start each day but an hour or two is heaps.
Repeat. I have previously used Keto CaNa when fasting which I would consume 2-3 times through the day. I don’t have any this time round, so will just be water all the way.
Again, wake up. Walk. Move the body. Read a book, and go about your day as normal afterwards.
For a 3 day fast, when breaking it, it doesn’t so much matter what you eat. I am going to aim to break with a broth this time around, but its up to you. That’s it.
You did it!! Enjoy a nice light meal, and well done.
Hopefully that gives some insight into the process and the reasons why. Also to recap from the beginning of the article – i finished the 5 day fast. It was a really great experience for the most part. The usual short mental challenges here and there, but mostly really smooth. I noticed the mental hurdle of going beyond where i’m used to finishing and it was really interesting to just observe the thoughts related. I plan to do a 5 day fast moving forward every 3-6 months and will likely explore a 7 day some time soon which is not much of a stretch really. Once you’re in such a deep state of ketosis it gets pretty comfortable.
“Solture is something special. It’s more than a pair of sunnies. More than just hanging out with your mates. More than just hanging out with your mates. It’s experiences that only some will dedicate every spare minute and every spare dollar to. It’s every weekend.”
Super stoked to announce a new sponsorship with SoltureCustom, as well as having custom AWOL branded sunnies made available to everyone that wants a pair!! Details of how you can order yours, as well as a discount code are below.
SoltureCustom are based on the Gold Coast of Australia. SoltureCustom’s sunnies are created with extreme sports athletes and enthusiasts in mind. From wake boarding to base jumping these sunnies are the ones! We’re super stoked to have them on board supporting us on our adventures, and have no hesitation in recommending them if you’re in need of a pair of sunnies. They’re super affordable and you can custom engrave them to your liking.
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For more than a year AK & I spoke about the idea of creating an annual event that caters exclusively to high level flyers and coaches. An event to push those who are usually in the role of pushing others. To collectively raise the skill level at the high end – We believe this to be something that can add real value by flowing down through the community to all levels of flyers – Something to inspire and motivate everyone.
To have so many high level free flyers and coaches in one place, flying for consecutive days with focus and direction, really being pushed, was something special.
Downunder Dynamic By Mason Corby, 2015. (Image: Dave Hyndman)
In 2015 I was fortunate enough to be involved in the very first Downunder Dynamics camp organised by Mason Corby. Mason gathered together a group of experienced flyers from all over Australia. To have so many high level free flyers and coaches in one place, flying for consecutive days with focus and direction, really being pushed, was something special. There was a real energy and momentum built off that event. I have been told by many people that the video from the first Downunder Dynamics was a real inspiration and motivation for their journey. It was really good to have an event like this in Australia.
Fly4Life November 2015 (Image: Richard Scheurich)
Traditionally for someone who really wants to be challenged and learn the latest flying techniques the best option was to travel overseas to events like Fly4Life and Angleweek. But with the momentum and sheer number of up and coming flyers in Australia right now, there really is an incredible opportunity to create something special, something that will hopefully run for many years to come.
… and so FLOW was born.
We had a vision for the group, the type of jumps and the location we wanted and to see it all come together was deeply satisfying. A huge amount of gratitude to everyone involved.
FLOW 2020 will be September 22-26 @ Skydive Oz, Moruya. See you there!
When you’re in the earlier phases of learning any new skill you encounter huge challenges. It’s part of the learning process, and likely part of what makes learning any new skill rewarding and a significant factor in deriving enjoyment from it. If it were easy, it typically is offers less perceived value.
Flying and specifically skydiving, definitely amplifies this fact, as you add into the equation weather, the fact that it can be a costly undertaking, the need for all your own gear, not to mention the large time commitment required to simply participate, let alone progress…. You could spend all weekend at the DZ for only a couple of jumps.
Obviously as time goes on you become more comfortable with this reality as it’s just part of the sport, and there is more to it than just the flying, but in what I’d consider the early learning phase, its tough.
I remember personally from going through this process (it was not that long ago) wanting to go tracking but not being able to lead a jump or not having a necessary crest etc.
I believe it’s super likely we lose a lot of people from the sport during this process. Perhaps this natural filtration process is a good thing, as it forces people to kind of earn it, and it ensure the people that do remain in the sport are operating with a greater level of commitment? But then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s to everyone’s benefit to see the sport grow. That way you are way more likely to be able to send that sunset load at the end of the day as you will have the numbers to turn the plane and people will be keen to charge!
The other side to this is the safety implications that are potentially introduced as a result of the somewhat slow path of progression through the early stages. Without the right leadership and mentors, people can easily get impatient and frustrated. Go and do jumps that they shouldn’t, or find their general decision making can be impaired as they focus their attention in the wrong direction, focussing on what they can not, as opposed to what they CAN do. (sort out your belly skills 😉
It’s with all this in mind that I essentially began running events in the first place, and specifically AWOL: Freefly Basics, was created. This is an event that can be for every level of flyer, but specifically focussed toward bridging that gap for those people between 100-500 where we can really spend the time on the ground creating a strong baseline understanding for how to move forward safety and progress in the most efficient manner possible. The event is designed to enable us essentially to be as flexible as possible and cater to the array of different needs that people have in the early learning phase. Some people are good to go tracking in a 6way and others may need to do a few 1on1s.
We weren’t dealt the best weather forecast for this first event unfortunately, but it’s always good to have the time on the ground without the perceived pressure to turn loads, where we can focus on the theory of it all. Simon Colmer ran a phenomenal safety seminar which always creates some awesome conversation and gets everyone thinking.. It doesn’t matter how much you know – these are always super valuable. Darren Mason did his 300th jump – (Congratulations mate!), and this weekend also marked the opening of iFly Melbourne.
Pictured right to left: James Ray, Darren Mason, Tom Brock, Joyce Chan, Hikitene Kingi, James Methgary
As always a huge thank you to the APF & VTPC for supporting this event and the ongoing support of all AWOL events, Thank you to Angela, Cody and James & the team at Skydive Australia (Great Ocean Road), to DeemFlywear and LVN, to the first-class group of coaches: Tayne Farrant, Simon Colmer & Dave Hyndman and most importantly to those that came to participate and keen to learn and become more proficient and safer flyers. I hope you guys continue to find value in these events -we will continue to put in the effort to facilitate them as long as this is the case.