What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength

What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength

What Doesn't Kill Us traces our evolutionary journey back to a time when survival depended on how well we adapted to the environment around us. Our ancestors crossed the Alps in animal skins and colonized the New World in loin cloths. They evaded predators and built civilizations with just their raw brainpower and inner grit. But things have changed and now comfort is king...

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Title:What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength
Author:Scott Carney
Rating:

What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength Reviews

  • Dave Murray

    An extraordinary account by an investigative journalist that is as pleasurable to read as a good novel. An inspiring nudge to reconnect with the environment if you have been living an a narrow comfort zone.

    I am in the process of working my way through Wim Hof's ten week course but even though I am familiar with the method this book added to my knowledge of it.

    This book has reinforced my view that breathing exercise, meditation and embracing cold is poss

    An extraordinary account by an investigative journalist that is as pleasurable to read as a good novel. An inspiring nudge to reconnect with the environment if you have been living an a narrow comfort zone.

    I am in the process of working my way through Wim Hof's ten week course but even though I am familiar with the method this book added to my knowledge of it.

    This book has reinforced my view that breathing exercise, meditation and embracing cold is possibly as close to the mythical panacea for improving health as I am likely to find.

    The bottom line is that this is both an informative and enjoyable read.

  • Mario Tomic

    The book was very fun and interesting to read. The big idea is how we can use environmental factors such as cold exposure to trigger certain adaptive mechanisms that might be beneficial for our wellbeing. My favorite part of this book were the stories how hardcore obstacle course races become popular and the part talking about different types of training regimes that incorporated the Wim Hof's breathing method. Overall, fun read. Check it out!

  • Hans

    Paradigm shift, Check! These are the type of books I truly love, teach me something new about being human. Give me a challenging perspective that is supported with evidence, well thought out and persuasively reasoned. I have found again and again that the best template for understanding humans is going back to the Stone Age, where the bulk of our evolutionary history was spent. Learning about that template will help modern humans figure out how to maximize healthy living. Though I have discovere

    Paradigm shift, Check! These are the type of books I truly love, teach me something new about being human. Give me a challenging perspective that is supported with evidence, well thought out and persuasively reasoned. I have found again and again that the best template for understanding humans is going back to the Stone Age, where the bulk of our evolutionary history was spent. Learning about that template will help modern humans figure out how to maximize healthy living. Though I have discovered the beauty behind seasonal living, I never once contemplated just how much our bodies might need the environmental seasonal extremes. How being actually exposed to the cold could possibly invigorate our bodies and kickstart metabolic processes on the cellular level that promote overall health.

    This book hits on two components of our bodies that seem to be little understood. 1) How the Cold stimulates the body and 2) How breathing techniques stimulate the body. By stimulate I mean activate a certain physiological response within the body. I am not going to rehash the whole book but needless to say there are some fascinating findings. I plan on exploring these myself further.

  • Bronson

    My brother in law gave this to me over a year ago and I've just sat on it till now. It's crazy cool and I'm mad at myself for not picking it up sooner.

    There are 2 thing's I'd like to point out-

    1- The science / philosophy of Wim Hof is fascinating. The idea that you can hack your body to adapt to extremes is very interesting. I've done the breathing exercises for a couple days and I was able to hold my breath for 2 minutes and 45 seconds today. Crazy! I haven't dared do any of the col

    My brother in law gave this to me over a year ago and I've just sat on it till now. It's crazy cool and I'm mad at myself for not picking it up sooner.

    There are 2 thing's I'd like to point out-

    1- The science / philosophy of Wim Hof is fascinating. The idea that you can hack your body to adapt to extremes is very interesting. I've done the breathing exercises for a couple days and I was able to hold my breath for 2 minutes and 45 seconds today. Crazy! I haven't dared do any of the cold water conditioning. I'm afraid of the cold and the water so that one will take me a while.

    2- I was super impressed with the way Scott told the story. Its similar to other books (Born to Run comes to mind) but I liked how he mixed his personal experiences, scientific studies, time with Wim and others who practice his methods. I felt like it was a perfect blend to tell a complete story and color in enough detail to make it believable and not too much so I never go bored. Very well done, I'd highly recommend this one.

  • Dylan Tweney

    Provocative, mostly clear-eyed look at Wim Hof and his remarkable claims. Hof is the originator of a method of breathing, cold exposure, and meditation that supposedly has very remarkable effects on health, endurance, and even the immune system.

    Carney, a journalist, tests out the method in a variety of extreme environments (including summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro shirtless) and reports on his experiences. There's also a fair amount of reporting into related fitness gurus, like surfer/Santa Monica t

    Provocative, mostly clear-eyed look at Wim Hof and his remarkable claims. Hof is the originator of a method of breathing, cold exposure, and meditation that supposedly has very remarkable effects on health, endurance, and even the immune system.

    Carney, a journalist, tests out the method in a variety of extreme environments (including summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro shirtless) and reports on his experiences. There's also a fair amount of reporting into related fitness gurus, like surfer/Santa Monica trainer Laird Hamilton. Carney goes in skeptical but comes out a believer.

    One nice thing about this book is how frank and clear Carney is, including his descriptions of specific exercises, his routines, and his experiences. His honesty (mentioning even small failings or discrepancies) goes a long way toward increasing his credibility.

    Overall, a fascinating book that is encouraging me to experiment with these breathing exercises myself.

  • ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    Some of the concepts a bit ridiculous. Still, a strong 4 stars.

    Q:

    I suck in a cool breath of air and focus my eyes on the blazing orange rock in front of me. I exhale a low guttural roar, like a dragon just waking from a thousand-year slumber. I feel the energy begin to build. The rhythm of the air quickens. My toes start to tingle inside my hiking boots. The world starts to brighten in my vision as if there are two dawns working at the same time—one tied to the rising of the su

    Some of the concepts a bit ridiculous. Still, a strong 4 stars.

    Q:

    I suck in a cool breath of air and focus my eyes on the blazing orange rock in front of me. I exhale a low guttural roar, like a dragon just waking from a thousand-year slumber. I feel the energy begin to build. The rhythm of the air quickens. My toes start to tingle inside my hiking boots. The world starts to brighten in my vision as if there are two dawns working at the same time—one tied to the rising of the sun, the other in the depths of my own mind. A coil of heat starts behind my ears like someone has lit a fuse. It arcs across my shoulders and down the curve of my spine. There’s no point in checking the temperature. It’s well below freezing and I’m already burning up. (c)

    Q:

    I don’t like to suffer. Nor do I particularly want to be cold, wet, or hungry. If I had a spirit animal it would probably be a jellyfish floating in an ocean of perpetual comfort. Every now and then I’d snack on some passing phytoplankton, or whatever it is that jellyfish snack on, and I’d use the tidal forces of the ocean to keep me at the optimal depth. If I were lucky enough to have come into the world as a Turritopsis dohrnii, the so-called “immortal jellyfish,” then I wouldn’t even have to worry about death. When my last days approached, I could simply shrivel into a ball of goo and reemerge a few hours later as a freshly minted juvenile version of myself. Yes, it would be awesome to be a jellyfish.

    Unfortunately, as it turns out, I am not an amorphous blob of sea-goop. As a human I am merely the most recent iteration of several hundred million years of evolutionary development from the time we were all just muck in a primordial soup. Most of those previous generations had it pretty rough. There were predators to outwit, famines to endure, species-ending cataclysms to evade, and an ever-changing struggle to survive in outright hostile environments. And, let’s be real, most of those would-be ancestors died along the way without passing on their genes. (c)

    Q:

    Anatomically modern humans have lived on the planet for almost 200,000 years. That means your officemate who sits on a rolling chair beneath fluorescent lights all day has pretty much the same basic body as the prehistoric caveman who made spear points out of flint to hunt antelope. To get from there to here humans faced countless challenges as we fled predators, froze in snowstorms, sought shelter from the rain, hunted and gathered our food, and continued breathing despite suffocating heat. Until very recently there was never a time when comfort could be taken for granted—there was always a balance between the effort we expended and the downtime we earned. For the bulk of that time we managed these feats without even a shred of what anyone today would consider modern technology. Instead, we had to be strong to survive. If your pasty-skinned officemate had the ability to travel back in time and meet one of his prehistoric ancestors it would be a very bad idea for him to challenge that caveman to a footrace or a wrestling match. (c)

    Q:

    With no challenge to overcome, frontier to press, or threat to flee from, the humans of this millennium are overstuffed, overheated, and understimulated. The struggles of us privileged denizens of the developed world—getting a job, funding a retirement, getting kids into a good school, posting the exactly right social media update—pale in comparison to the daily threats of death or deprivation that our ancestors faced. (c)

    Q:

    There is a growing consensus among many scientists and athletes that humans were not built for eternal and effortless homeostasis. Evolution made us seek comfort because comfort was never the norm. Human biology needs stress—not the sort of stress that damages muscle, gets us eaten by a bear, or degrades our physiques—but the sort of environmental and physical oscillations that invigorates our nervous systems. We’ve been honed over millennia to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Those fluctuations are ingrained in our physiology in countless ways that are, for the most part, unconnected to our conscious minds. (c)

    Q:

    Today tens of thousands of people are discovering that the environment contains hidden tools for hacking the nervous system. But no matter what they might be able to accomplish, they’re not superhuman. The fortitude they find comes from within the body itself. When they forego a few creature comforts and delve more deeply into their own biology they’re becoming more human.

    For at least half a century the conventional wisdom about maintaining good physical health has rested on the twin pillars of diet and exercise. While those are no doubt vital, there’s an equally important, but completely ignored, third pillar. And what’s more? By incorporating environmental training into your daily routine, you will achieve big results in very little time. (c)

    Q:

    The grounding concepts of the Wim Hof Method are simple enough: By routinely stimulating a stress response a person can take some modest control of their fight-or-flight reactions. A thousand cold showers have made me a warrior in my bathroom and even the snow, but no human has ever evolved to thrive at 18,000 feet. (c)

  • Mehrsa

    I thought the first 1/7th of the book was fantastic--based in evolutionary theory, science with a healthy dose of skepticism. I totally buy the basic idea and since reading the book, I've decided to wear only t-shirts when I run in winter and take cold showers. However, the rest of the book is just Scott Carney doing cool stuff and showing off and talking to other people who train hard. I wasn't so into that. Also, I wasn't into the whole "I got cured of parkinson's from cold ice treatment." See

    I thought the first 1/7th of the book was fantastic--based in evolutionary theory, science with a healthy dose of skepticism. I totally buy the basic idea and since reading the book, I've decided to wear only t-shirts when I run in winter and take cold showers. However, the rest of the book is just Scott Carney doing cool stuff and showing off and talking to other people who train hard. I wasn't so into that. Also, I wasn't into the whole "I got cured of parkinson's from cold ice treatment." Seems we need some more science before we lead people down frustrating paths of snake oil cures.

  • Kater Cheek

    Boy do I have mixed feelings about this book. I'll start with the positives. How exciting is it to think that some athletes and fringe researchers have begun to discover one of the missing elements that's creating so many of our modern problems. Being in the cold can help you lose weight and reverse autoimmune diseases? So strange! So provoking. This is the kind of stuff I eat up. It's not just fascinating new medical science, it's stuff you can apply to your own life.

    Well, sort of.

  • Jeff Hayes

    While it was an interesting read, it is light on details of the Wim Hof Method. Maybe this is because Carney wants you to pay for Hof's method, which is fine, but the book ends up reading like a love letter to Hof. If you do any internet reading on Hof, you're likely to find conflicting accounts of the method and inconsistencies in Hof's statements. This book isn't really about Hof, though, who is an interesting character and by his own admission, not great at communicating a "big" message.

  • Brendan Monroe

    Going from

    to books that don't, we have "What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength". Just copy-pasting that title is exhausting.

    18 is an obscene number of words to cram into a title, especially when you're leaving out three more - "makes us stronger" - in an effort to be ... succinct? Clever?

    Why did I even get this book? Oh, that's right - I wanted

    Going from

    to books that don't, we have "What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning will Renew our Lost Evolutionary Strength". Just copy-pasting that title is exhausting.

    18 is an obscene number of words to cram into a title, especially when you're leaving out three more - "makes us stronger" - in an effort to be ... succinct? Clever?

    Why did I even get this book? Oh, that's right - I wanted to see how freezing water, extreme altitude, and environmental conditioning would renew our lost evolutionary strength. Did I find those things out? No.

    This book is basically one long promotion for some self-absorbed Dutch guy named Wim Hof. Hof comes across as a capitalist yogi type who shares his Jedi mind tricks with celebrities and others wealthy enough to buy time with him. The Hof is full of wisdom in the form of mostly breathing techniques designed to help his disciples perform well in crazy athletic competitions and fool their bodies into thinking it isn't cold in minus 30-degree weather.

    Breathe fast so you absorb more oxygen into your bloodstream, hold your breath while doing pushups, and take cold showers seems to be the gist of it. Oh, and spend time shirtless in subzero temperatures to build up something called "brown fat" which enables you to spend time shirtless in subzero temperatures without feeling cold ... or something.

    Wait ... did I just make this book sound interesting? I didn't mean to, because it isn't. Or I should say, it's interesting in the way the spiel of a conman is interesting until you get to the end and realize he's just trying to get you to invest your life savings into an energy drink pyramid scheme because man, once your friends buy in you're all going to make so much money making all that money!

    This is a book clearly designed for the CrossFit crowd. If competing in an obstacle course where you have a solid chance of breaking a bone or knocking a joint out of place really gets your rocks off, then you are this book's target audience. This type of masochism is accepted in the way that, say, self-flagellation isn't because it's sold under the guise of increasing your strength. Notice I said increasing strength rather than increasing health. That's because many of the activities mentioned here carry the very real possibility of injury and/or death. But hey, whatever makes you feel like you're renewing your lost evolutionary strength!

    It's not that I disagree with the effectiveness of the practices described in this book, it's that I don't care. I have no plans to summit Mount Kilimanjaro shirtless in record time or swim in a Polish lake in the middle of winter. If that's something that adds a sense of accomplishment to the lives of others, then great, good luck to them.

    While I find cold showers refreshing after an intense bout of cardio, one of the benefits, in my view, of living in the 21st century is that you don't need to train to survive hours outdoors in frigid temperatures without clothes on, or learn how to hold your breath for several minutes underwater without coming up for air. If we were living in some kind of water world perhaps those skills would be useful. As it stands now, the whole idea just sounds like something celebrities and those with more money than brains do in order to try and find some meaning in their existence. I'm personally quite content looking on through the window of a nice heated room while you prance around in subzero temperatures like David Blaine training for his next act.

    Did I mention I'm clearly not the intended audience for this book?

    There is a brief, and completely unnecessary, mention of Napolean's ill-fated invasion of Russia, and then a similarly brief mention of the Nazi's ill-fated invasion of Russia, all of which is apparently there to say that, yeah, Russia is cold and those armies weren't well equipped to deal with it. I think that's something we all knew already.

    Carney will once in a while throw something interesting out there, like how placebos are almost as effective as a lot of doctor-prescribed drugs, but then he won't go into detail explaining the psychological reasons for that. Why? Because that would have taken away from time better spent talking about Orlando Bloom hauling weights around in a pool.

    Similarly, other than apparently having stores of "brown fat", what were things our ancient ancestors did to survive in harsh elements? What about other more recent peoples, like the Native Americans? Carney doesn't think it's worth taking time to write about those things, because he's busy counting the celebrities hanging out poolside at Laird Hamilton's swanky Malibu mansion.

    There are a number of things that would have made this worth reading, but Carney has clearly written this book with his very image-conscious Playboy audience in mind, and they're probably happy with it as is. While I think that that gym-selfie snapping Instagram crowd of CrossFit masochists have more in common with Neanderthals than just their penchant for suffering, they need their authors too. I just wish Carney - or, more likely, his publisher - had been honest when titling this book.

    A more fitting title would have been: "More Pain, More Gain: How Suffering, Taking Yourself To The Brink Of Unconsciousness, And Risking Life And Limb Totally Make Your Life As An Overprivileged Asshole Sound Cool".

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