Winning ITV1's 71 Degrees North was an incredible experience and achievement. I want to share my advice with you using everything I've learned from that challenge on how you can be best prepared for anything because, as I found out - the hard way, it's often the things you don't expect that can cause the most problems.
Hopefully by sharing my advice with you it will help you to expect the unexpected and be prepared with whatever challenge you face.
Tip One: Never take anything for granted and test out equipment first
We were told that the tents were the best that money could buy - that literally nothing could flatten them. However, on the first night and in the middle of a blizzard, the tent ripped in two. Luckily, my army training held me in good stead. I'd been told always to pack up your kit - that every last piece must go into your kit bag before you go to sleep no matter how exhausted you are so you're ready to leave at any point.
It was a very dangerous situation - we weren't wearing our outer protective layer and we were suddenly in the middle of a raging blizzard unable to see a foot in front of our faces. Luckily the safety truck was right there and we were able to bundle all together and launch ourselves into it before the situation got out of hand. But had it not been there, packing my kit away would have saved my life.
Tip Two: Keep Positive & Stay Focused:
Keeping positive is half the battle. In the Arctic, people were daunted by the cold, the tough living conditions, the terrifying heights, and the high fear factor and so were often defeated before they started. Some of the challenges we faced were absolutely terrifying - if you thought too much about what you were about to do, then you could be overcome by fear and negative thoughts.
If you stay positive you're more likely to succeed. Break down the task into small manageable chunks. I didn't think about the weeks of challenges stretching out in front of me, just what was next. I took each day and its individual challenge one by one.
Tip Three: Don't forget the obvious
While it's easy to remember to get the right gear for your body, people often seem to forget the obvious - look after your head, eyes, mouth and feet. Another army tip that held me in good stead throughout the challenge was to make sure you always took good care of your feet. If your feet aren't in good condition, you can't escape if you need to. Even small blisters mustn't be ignored, and make sure you keep drinking water. That is such an easy thing to forget but you can't function properly without it.
When I was in the Arctic experiencing temperatures of -30C, surprisingly one of the worst things I experienced was the pain from my teeth. Every blast of cold air was agony and this was something I just didn't expect. We didn't have water to drink so we had to boil up snow which meant we were either drinking water at boiling hot or freezing cold temperatures. I remember waking up in the tents in -30C and my water bottle being frozen solid, and so trying to drink was incredibly painful.
The air was constantly at an ice cold temperature and so just breathing in the cold air against my teeth was like hitting a raw nerve each time. The important thing before taking on any challenge is to prepare properly and fully - don't let the little things hold you back. That's why I've taken the Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Challenge and discovered instant relief from the pain of teeth sensitivity. Now it's your turn!
Take the Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Challenge: www.colgatesensitiveprorelief.co.uk
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