Awesome and Terrible: Wim Hof Cold Shower Week #1

cold shower in river

Maybe it wasn’t quite like this, but my first Wim Hof cold shower was amazing!

A few days ago, I mentioned how I was going to start off on the Wim Hof program to adopt cold showers in my life.  The reasons for this are many, but until today I don’t think I really thought about the emotional reasons as well as the physical.

But yesterday… well, I was having a tough day. Lots of everyday stresses falling on me all at once, and I really needed a win.  We all have those days.

But I realized that, even though I’d said I was going to start the Wim Hof program and get myself more resilient by taking those cold showers…I’d been putting it off. I knew how much it was going to suck at first, and I really didn’t want to do it, even though I knew it’d be good for me.

So…into the shower I jumped.  Well, stepped. 🙂

The program has a reminder sheet that I printed off, and at the bottom (and with an accompanying video) Hof explains that when you’re first getting going with this, the idea is to start with the regular warm shower, which I consider myself something of an expert at.  Then, at the end of the shower, you switch it over to a cold shower, and stand under it for however many seconds you it asks for that week.

During week one, you have to do it for 15 seconds. So… warm shower completed. I girded my loins and yanked the shower handle over to the far right.

There was that moment when you’ve done it, and the hot water is still flowing while the cold water makes its way from the cold pipes into your shower where I thought “oh… this isn’t so bad.”

And then, quite literally, it hit me.

At first… it sucked.  Well, it sucked a lot the entire time.  But the initial blast may have been the worst part. Cold water hitting my back and running down.  As expected, my airway started to tighten, so I started to concentrate on breathing as much as I could. And I counted as accurately as I could… 15 seconds.  I stood there under that freezing cold water and took it. I couldn’t think of anything else besides “GET OUT OF HERE!” and “15…14…13…12…11…10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…0”

BAM! The faucet was turned off.  I stood there and shivered for a moment while my skin tingled and my breathing slowly returned to a normal rate.

And then, I started to laugh, nearly uncontrollably.

I whooped and hollered like a crazy man for a couple minutes (thank goodness I was alone in the house when this was going on)!  I DID IT!  I overcame one of my greatest fears and the elation was literally pouring through me.  I could feel the tingling in my blood against the skin as it worked to re-warm me, and it was the greatest feeling in the world.

I think everyone needs one of these big wins every once in a while. OCR can do it for some, but for me, on this day, the  simple act of taking a cold shower (not just cool, but freaking cold) was what did it for me. I felt inspired to do more, to do things right, and to take on the day with gusto!

I got more done after that cold shower, still feeling the tingling sensation on my back for a couple hours afterward, than I have in quite a long time. I have now added a new item to my daily routine. And yes, it still sucked a bunch this morning (I made sure that I turned around more and got the front of me more completely as well this time), but I did it. And as I stand here in my cubicle at work and feel my body tingling where the cold water hit me, I totally get Wim Hof’s feelings about this.

It sucked. And it was wonderful all at once.

How about you? Ever try the Wim Hof method of increasing your resilience via cold and breathing techniques?  Share in our message board

  • ryanrauch

    I’m guessing this has to do with cold thermogenesis and burning fat? I’ve been listening to a lot of Ben Greenfield lately and he’s big on cold showers as a means to burn fat faster and more effectively (BAT vs. white fat) as well as improve immune system. Thinking about giving it a go soon. Curious to hear if you stick with it!

    • It’s partially that, yes. There are a ton of benefits to cold water immersion beyond just fat loss, though. Boosted immunity, better circulation, relief from depression and anxiety (could be part of why I felt so darned good yesterday!), sped-up relief of muscle soreness, and more. But yeah, Ben was one of the reasons I’m taking this on.

  • Joyce Slaughter

    I have so many questions about this and I’m not sure if I will phrase them properly to reflect what I’m asking so go ahead and read my mind…

    So, I’ve done this “end your shower with a cold blast” in the past for a few reasons:

    1) It closes the hair follicles and as a woman, we like sleek shiny hair. You get that from a ton of product, or closed follicles.

    2) before I knew I had thyroid issues, I had super crazy dry skin. The cold blast closes your pores, supposedly capturing in the natural oils and warmth from the warm water. Supposedly moisturizing your skin (it either didn’t work for me, or I was so horribly dry)

    3) the whole “it wakes you up and keeps you awake” thing

    4) the weight loss effect

    But every time I did it, I stayed chilled all day. Eventually abandoning the cold blast practice simply to regain some semblance of feeling like a human and not a popsicle. And by “chilled” i mean completely frigid, teeth chattering, ice cold to the touch – chilled. All. Day. long. It was highly unpleasant for me. And for anyone who touched my hands at all during those days. I was literally a walking popsicle.

    so the question is this: does that feeling go away for you? if so, how long after the shower does it take for that to go away? does the breathing and mental aspect of the program keep you from feeling this way?

    Keep it up! I look forward to updates.

    • Yeah, for me it goes away. By the time I am done drying off, I’m pretty much back to normal. My skin may be a bit chilly, but that’s about it. It’s sort of a tingly feeling but I don’t stay cold.

      I don’t know if it’s the breathing aspect or what… maybe it’s how hard I dry myself, or that I get out to walk and build up some heat afterward, or what. I am one of those people who never really gets cold, anyway, despite my (previous?) hate of cold water, so that might have something to do with it. I’d also imagine that your thyroid issues have something to do with your issues with it, too. Must make it harder to keep a warm internal temperature if your thyroid isn’t sending out the correct signals regularly.

      There’s a Wim Hof Facebook group, I’ll ask over there.