By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
When most people are approaching 60 they begin looking for ways to slow down. But it seems nobody has mentioned that to Tom Carroll.
The former pro-surfer has just turned 57 and he says his love of adventure — and especially his passion for the ocean — isn’t going anywhere.
The man known as Australia’s first million-dollar surfer says the call of the waves is only getting stronger.
“I’m 57 now and I definitely want to be surfing into my 90s, at the very least,” he says. “That’s what fitness means to me. If I could be the 100-year-old guy surfing, how good would that be? And I need to stay healthy for that.”
There was once a time when nothing could keep him from the ocean but back-to-back injuries have forced him to spend 10 agonising months out of the water.
He says it was huge challenge to stay positive but his dedication to twice-daily meditation helped him through it.
“I’ve had major surgery on my right knee, which I completely annihilated when I was 16 trying to surf big waves. And boy has it come back to bite me,” he says.
“I had no cartilage and my knee had grown to the size of a small soccer ball, so I had a new one put in about 18 months ago.
“Then I needed shoulder reconstruction surgery. The tough thing with the shoulder is it’s six months out of the ocean, and four months out with the knee. Then it’s another three months before you’re really surfing properly.
“And that’s where the meditation comes in. It helped me keep an even keel. I practice meditation twice a day; 20 minutes when I wake up, and again in the afternoon. I’ve been doing that for around two years now, but I’ve been meditating all up for about 12 years.
“It has been the most wonderful thing for me.”
FEELING THE FEAR
Famous for his big-wave surfing — he starred in the 2012 documentary Storm Surfers, in which he set off in search of the world’s biggest waves — Tom will happily clutch a board under his arm and stroll into the kinds of seas that would have the rest of us running for the carpark.
So does that mean he’s utterly fearless? Not exactly.
“Everyone sees you take on big waves and everyone thinks you’re fearless. But that’s not true; even today I get out in medium-sized surf and I definitely feel fear,” he says.
“But the more you dive into fear, the less power if has. If you back away and let it overtake you, then it holds that power over you.
“It depends on the type of fear, though. There are definitely two types of fear; there’s the one I engage with, the one that helps me to concentrate. And there’s the other one that ultimately tells me I shouldn’t be doing something.
“That last one is really important. That’s self-preservation kicking in.”
GET OUT OF THE GYM
It’s no surprise that someone who grew up in the water now turns to the ocean to keep fit. But it’s not surfing but stand-up paddle boarding that keeps Tom in shape.
“I love to stand-up paddle board,” he says.
“It’s an all-over workout from the tip of the toes to the top of the head. I love it.
“I want Mother Nature wrapped around me. Our bodies are made for nature. Allow yourself to be a part of it and you have incredible benefits — even beyond physical fitness.”
WHOLE FOODS ONLY
Tom says he now eats a mostly plant-based diet, though he does eat fish. But he has one firm rule that he lives by when grocery shopping.
“My rule is this; Anything you grandmother can’t read or can’t understand on a packet, don’t eat it,” he says.
“So all the packaged, processed stuff, get it away from me. It’s whole foods only.”
1. Favourite health food?
Avocado. I love it in a smoothie, in a salad, smashed up, you name it.
2. Favourite treat food?
I do like chocolate. Particularly dark chocolate ice-cream.
3. What’s your poison?
I’m a water man. I start the day with a warm litre of water in the morning with some turmeric.
4. Favourite motivation tip?
Start small, and make exercise a part of your day.
5. How do you relax?
I sit and meditate twice a day. Just make time for yourself. It’s seriously a game-changer.
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Tom Carroll is managed exclusively by The Fordham Company.