20 Day Cold shower challenge

Last year I heard about a guy named Wim Hof who has world records for sitting in super cold ice water. He has also climbed mountains in shorts and boots. Wim seems crazy but is really a legend. He has trained his mind and body to be able to withstand extreme cold temperatures. This lead me down a rabbit hole which ended in reading up on the health benefits of taking cold showers.

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Sounds crazy but I was ready for a challenge.

After studying up I found out you only need to finish your shower with cold water. Basically take a nice hot shower and finish with a blast of cold water. Much more doable than taking a full cold shower.

The next morning I tried it out...  

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Full disclosure; I screamed like a little girl! That first rushing blast of cold water was a total shock to my wimpy body and I screamed out loud. When I stopped screaming I could hear my wife laughing in the other room. Shocked and a bit embarrassed I dried off and went on with my day.

On day 2 the hardest part was to get my nerve up to actually turn the water down to cold. Having the memory of the day before made it even harder. This time I took a deep breath and powered through it. Only letting out a small shriek. I continued this for a few more days until the initial shock went away and I was able to breath into the cold and embrace it.

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Over the next few months I tried it off and on. Nothing consistent but it did get much easier and the screaming was abated.

Afterwards I would feel very awake, clear headed and strong. I would also feel a sense of toughness throughout the day. “Walk to the mailbox without a coat on in the snow?” That is nothing compared to a cold shower. “Sit through a boring meeting at work?” Piece of cake. “Stand in the garage with no shirt on in the winter?” Meer child's play matched to how I finished my shower this morning. I would walk a little taller knowing I had won a small battle early in the day.

I have tried to understand the scientific reasons why a cold shower is good for your body. But my eyes start to glaze over when I hear things about dopaminergic pathways and mitochondria. I will leave you nerdy types to google away here if needed.

January 1st of this year I started Wim Hof’s 20 day cold shower challenge. Being a new year and all, I was filled with optimism. In fact this challenge seemed easy. You only had to take 5 cold showers a week. 15 seconds of cold the first week, 30 seconds next, 25 the 3rd week and finish up with 60 seconds on week 4.

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The first week was fairly easy. 15 seconds of cold water was not too difficult. The hardest part was standing in a perfectly warm shower and having to physically turn the knob to cold. Sort of like the getting to the gym is the toughest part of working out.

Week 3 went by with not much fanfare. I did score some extra credit by taking 6 cold showers that week. Go me!

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But then week 4. Going from 25 seconds to 60 seconds seems easy on paper but not so much in practice. Day 1 with 30 seconds left my body reached for the shower control but my mind slapped it away. “You are only half way through. Suck it up pal.” That extra 30 seconds turned out to be more difficult than the initial 30. I did power through and made it to the end of the week to finish the challenge.

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In my short college career I only received one “A” which was actually an “A” minus in english comp 2. So to see that score card with all 20 boxes checked plus 1 extra credit did put a huge smile on my face. (In fact it is still up on the fridge now.)

In the end as tough as they can be I really like the clarity, awakeness and extra toughness I get from taking cold showers. I plan to continuing and am even considering signing up for the Polar Bear Plunge at our local beach. Now that will be a real challenge!

Have you ever taken a cold shower?

If so what benefits did you notice?

Cheers,

John