After sustaining serious injuries throughout his career, including four shoulder surgeries and a worn disc in his lower back, Leon knows a thing or two about suffering with pain, both physical and emotional.
In May 2008, Leon had no choice but to retire from his extraordinarily successful diving career, but he still enjoys involvement with elite sport. A commentator for the BBC, a mentor for the likes of Tom Daley, among others. A successful executive coach and now a renowned speaker and mental health advocate. Leon delivered a highly popular TedX talk entitled How to manage your mental health which currently has 2.3 million views on Youtube.
After finding out that he’s a super fan of Kurk, we got a chance to sit down with him and ask a few questions.
We know you’ve sustained a lot of pain and injuries throughout your career, do you have any tips for pain management and recovery?
My main tip is to be gentle and kind to yourself. I didn’t do this when I was an athlete, always rushing back to training and continuously ignoring pain. I do not recommend that!
My current approach is much kinder. It’s all about reducing inflammation.
These days I focus all of my energy on recovery, getting good quality sleep, regular yoga practice and high quality supplementation.
I’m also really into cold water (ice baths or cold showers or getting in sea) also for recovery among many other physical and emotional benefits.
“I’m a big fan of Kurk for inflammation and recovery. I’ve tried many Turmeric and Curcumin supplements in the past and felt no benefit at all. You can really tell the difference with a high quality supplement and being in liquid form is so much more potent.”
What importance do you give to diet and supplementation? And has your diet changed over the years?
One of my favourite quotes by Michael Pollan is : “Eat food, not too much and mostly plants”
This is where I’m at. I also feel any supplementation should be of the highest quality possible, which is why I choose Kurk.
My approach to nutrition and diet has changed many times over the years. It seems when it comes to nutrition there are always conflicting opinions. We can easily get lost in this. After years of experimentation I have fine tuned what works for me and I encourage others to do the same.
Another quote I often remind myself of is :“If you can’t change your mind, you can’t change anything!”
How do you manage your own mental and physical health?
I move every day. Movement is my medicine. This could be walking my dog out for a stroll with my son Ziggy in his pushchair, a yoga practice, a high intensity interval training class, cycling, swimming in the sea or lifting weights at the gym.
I also have a daily meditation practice. I use the app Headspace (spoiler alert I am Headspace move mode coach so appear in the app) which is great. I also have a coach. I think all coaches should have a coach!
What’s the one thing for you that’s made the biggest positive impact on your mental health?
Wim Hoff inspired cold water therapy.
Any parting words of wisdom?
What you decide to do now changes everything. Start small and find consistency. Maybe it’s a slight change to your diet maybe a slight change to how much movement you do, maybe you start increasing the amount of time you sit quietly following your breath. You could choose to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and news feeds, and whatever you decide to do - take small steps and do it consistently.