By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
CHAT with Todd Sampson for even a moment and you can actually hear his impressive creative mind at work.
The advertising ace turned TV talent speaks at an incredible clip, barely pausing for breath as he powers through topic after topic.
But there is one question that really makes the Todd Sampson’s Body Hack host stop for a minute as he contemplates his answer: What’s the most physically challenging thing he’s done on television so far?
Was it the time he trained with the French foreign legion in the murky waters of the Amazon river? Was it when he fought in a professional MMA bout? Maybe when he tore his bicep, his rotator cuff or his abdominals, or pulled his hamstring, during filming?
“Well, one of the episodes this season is about perception, and how we perceive the world though our senses. So this tribe captures this poisonous frog, which they’ve been doing for thousands of years, and then they spread it out across four stakes,” he says.
“It sweats, and they take that sweat and put it in a container. Then the chief spits in it, then whips it up. He then burns three holes in my arm with a stick from a fire, and then they put the poison in.
“I really thought I was going to die. I thought I’d gone too far. My heart rate went from 50 to 150 and down to 35 in about a minute, so my doctor was ready with the adrenaline.
“But it was one hell of a perception change.”
Hearing Todd talk so casually about these genuinely life-threatening moments, you can’t help but wonder why he does it. What drives this successful father of two young girls, who sits on the board of some of Australia’s most prestigious companies, to want to get poisoned in a far-off jungle for his TV show?
“I’m inquisitive of the world and I think that we can learn a lot about ourselves through others,” he says.
“My goal is to try and create a show that’s adventurous, so people want to watch it, but that you can learn something from along the way.”
With a filming schedule that sees him on the road for a month or more at a time, and a work life that’s no less hectic when he returns to Australia, Todd says his number one priority is ensuring he’s never too busy to be the best father he can be to his daughters, Coco and Jet.
“My number one goal in life is to be a good father to my girls,” he says.
“For me, it’s about being a role model, pushing them to face their fears, giving them the tools that I didn’t have to use for their fitness.”
TRAINING MIND AND BODY
WITH a second season of his gruelling TV show now under his belt, Sampson now knows exactly how to prepare himself for one his adventures. And while training his body is a crucial element, he says preparing his mind is every bit as important.
“To me, fitness is like a passport to another world,” he says.
“And if you’re not fit and strong, then you can’t go in and do the things you want to do. I don’t see it as something you do in the gym, I see it as a life skill.
“Fitness without looking at the brain is like getting your car serviced and not looking at the engine. And from a brain perspective, there are two things that science has proven definitively to have huge benefits. One is mediation — I use a form of mindfulness meditation that invoices gratitude — and the other is visualisation.
“I think if you surveyed the most successful people in the world, including athletes, I’d be willing to bet that 80 per cent of them do some sort of medication or visualisation practice. It’s incredibly powerful.”
HAVING spent weeks at a time embedded with some of the world’s oldest tribes, Sampson says there’s plenty of those ancient food practices that we already incorporate into our own diets.
Western buzz words like intermittent fasting, and even being a flexitarian, might seem new, he says, but they’ve actually existed for thousands of years.
“I don’t eat until roughly 10am, because I train in the mornings, and my typical diet is lots of fruit and vegetables and fish,” he says.
“I haven’t eaten meat for 29 years. Not for moral reasons, it was purely down to digestion. But in this series, I end up eating sloth — and I can tell you that you don’t want to be doing that.
“But I think it’s important to understand your relationship with food. For me, fuel is food. And I have lived with tribes all around the world who have lived the same way for 11,000 years, and intermittent fasting or not eating too much meat is just a part of their lives.
“So having a practical relationship with food is important. It doesn’t mean you can’t love it, but it can’t control you.”
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