I love this kind of challenge. It’s physically taxing and mentally exhausting, but it’s a perfect reminder that our limitations are self-imposed and that we are the masters of our destinies.

The idea for this challenge came to me when I downloaded the Wim Hof app. For those of you who have never heard of him, Wim Hof is the man responsible for proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that exposure to cold—be it an ice bath or a cold shower—is good for your health. He’s also an advocate of oxygen deprivation and the man behind countless amazing feats.

In the past, my unofficial breath-holding record was around one minute, but that number rose to three minutes with the help of the Wim Hof app. Amazed by the phenomenal change in my lung capacity, I decided to challenge myself. Each day for a week, I practiced holding my breath. The goal was to get to five minutes.

Before I tell you how it went, there’s something you must know. The current world record for breath-holding is twenty-two minutes and twenty-two seconds, but that was accomplished by breathing pure oxygen for twenty minutes or so prior to the attempt. The record for the longest natural breath-hold is eleven minutes and thirty-two seconds. Also, professional breath holders usually attempt these world records in cold water, which puts the body in a meditative-like state and allows the heartbeat to slow drastically, thus making it possible for them to hold their breaths longer. I, on the other hand, performed all my holds lying on my bed.

All right. Time to reveal my results:

  • Monday:
    • Round 1: 3:00
    • Round 2: 3:00
    • Round 3: 3:45
  • Tuesday:
    • Round 1: 3:30
    • Round 2: 4:00
    • Round 3: 4:15
  • Wednesday:
    • Round 1: 3:30
    • Round 2: 3:28
    • Round 3: 4:00
  • Thursday:
    • Round 1: 3:31
    • Round 2: 4:16
    • Round 3: 3:30
  • Friday:
    • Round 1: 3:31
    • Round 2: 4:32
    • Round 3: 5:00
  • Total: 56:48

As you can see, I didn’t even come close to breaking the world record, but given the fact that I was a beginner and that my attempts were performed with no oxygen and no cold water, it’s pretty decent.

Who am I kidding? It’s frickin’ AWESOME!

All right. That’s enough self-praising. What I loved most about this challenge—aside from being able to say I can hold my breath for five minutes—is the reminder that my limitations are self-imposed and that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to as long as I’m willing to work hard and ignore that little voice inside my head that’s continually clamouring for me to give up and remain forever trapped in my comfort zone.