Gimme a Big Cold Hug…

If you’ve been following me on Instagram the past month, you know what I’ve been up to (besides swilling some admittedly great coffee at various places around Columbus). I’ve been doing the Wim Hof 20-Day Cold Shower Challenge. I’ve mentioned it before, but this is the wrap-up for the project because I finished it – successfully.

So, I did it. I finished the @iceman_hof 20-Day challenge, and for every shower I’ve taken the past four week I’ve blasted myself with #coldwater at the end. I went from nearly hyperventilating under 15 seconds of cold water as it smacked just my legs, to starting with it hitting my chest and then fearlessly turning around to let it hit the small of my back. This was historically the worst part of a cold immersion for me, and I love it now! It’s been about two hours since my shower, and I’m STILL feeling the tingle on my skin from that cold shower! I am sold – every shower I take from now on will have that blast of cold at the end to start me off and make the rest of the day awesome. If you’re afraid of it, I HIGHLY recommend you give this program a try. I feel great, my mood is lifted from the moment I step out of the shower (literally chuckling/giggling to myself sometimes), and the cold simply is bothering me less. There’s something to this #hormesis thing! Thank you Wim! Next step – the ten week program.

A video posted by Jamie Fellrath (@mudlifecrisis) on

Let me tell you… this works.  This one unequivocally worked for me.  I mentioned when I was starting it that I was (notice the conspicuously bold-printed past tense, here) the world’s biggest cold-water cream puff. I could not stand cold water touching my body, nearly at all. But let me tell you what going through this whole Wim Hof challenge has done for me:

1. I now look forward to my cold showers.

That’s right, there’s no hesitation any more. To be frank, when I started this week one with five days of mere 15-second cold showers, it was horrible. I inched my way into the showers from the feet up. Maybe I let the water splash a little bit on my check before freaking out.  I held out, though, for the entire time, breathing carefully and slowly and working to allow the water to hit me.  It was awful then.

Fast-forward to this morning –  my first cold-shower morning without the “challenge” hanging over my head. I took my normal hot shower, and then yanked the faucet handle to the right without hesitation for the cold shower.  I walked into it, and let the cold water run over my chest. Then I turned around and let it run down my back, especially that spot on the small of my back that I absolutely (used to) hate to get wet and cold.  The exhilaration of cold water hitting the sensitive skin back there and letting it wake up my cardio vascular system is something I look forward to now.

I went for a bit over a minute – and even as I was noticing the water temperature drop as the warmer water worked its way out of the pipes and I realized “Dang, I need to get moving with my day” and stepped out with no shivering, no rush, nothing like that.  There was just the tingle of the effects of the cold water waking up my skin and ergo my body.

And last week, after I finished with a yoga class at our downtown YMCA, I finished up with a cold shower in the locker room. That’s right – a second one. Again, totally comfortable, totally accepting of the frigid water hitting me. It was awesome.

Demon entirely conquered.

2. I am sleeping better

That’s right, folks. I am waking up feeling so much better than I had been. There are a ton of folks who are touting cold showers during the day (some even as late as 2-3 hours before bedtime) for better sleep. I’m finding that my sleep is more restful, and that I’m waking more easily in the morning now. This is even before I blast myself with cold water.

3. The cold weather isn’t bothering me

Earlier this month, our house (we live in an older house, built in the 1920s) was freezing. The pilot light on our gas furnace wasn’t working properly – it wouldn’t stay lit. So, we had no heat other than space heaters till we got it fixed. There were some chilly mornings, for sure.

But it wasn’t bothering me. The temps were in the low sixties in the house, but I was fine with it – even on the mornings when I was downstairs in just my pajamas! And while we have the furnace fixed now, I’m still finding myself more resilient to ambient cold weather all around me. This is particularly useful as we are moving out of a fairly pleasant and balmy November into a colder month.

The cold showers seem to have increased my resiliency, much to the chagrin of my family who want me to turn up the heat. I’m turning into all those memes about how the best way to get dad’s attention is to touch the thermostat.

4.  My mood is awesome!

This was unexpected, but very welcome. Stepping out of the cold showers each morning, even on the mornings that I was still checking to make sure I had all my parts, has been a rush. Not a rush of cold, or even the tingle on my chest and back, but from my mouth. It’s literally been making me giggle and laugh to get out. I mentioned this in my last post during week one of the challenge, but it’s continued. And I may not be guffawing like I was on day one, but I’m still sort of chortling to myself as I get out – feeling happy and my mood lifted.

Something about these showers is causing this.  Perhaps it’s the improvements to my lymph drainage as this article suggests. I don’t really care why it’s working… it’s working.

So… what’s next?

Well, this habit is now part of my morning routine, period. It’s awesome and I want to keep this going. It can’t help but be a benefit in my races (Shriveled Richard/Arctic Enema, anyone?). And I just love how I’m feeling with it.

And, like I said back when I started this voyage of lower temperatures, I want to put this to the test in the right way. So I have set up my team (Team Mudlife Crisis!) for the 2017 iteration of the Columbus Polar Plunge on February 18, 2017. This event is benefiting Special Olympics Ohio and is going to be an awesome test of my new love of cold water.

If you are going to be in the Columbus area then, I would love if you’d join the team and  help me raise money for this great cause and fun event.

You can join or donate here. I’ll be sure to have pictures of the event and share all that in February!

Click Here to Donate

So, in short, I highly recommend trying this out. Even if you don’t want to do Polar Plunges and the like, I think this is beneficial. It’ll make you stronger, healthier (body and mind), and more resilient. It is entirely worth the initial shock, I promise.

Have you ever tried a cold shower experiment? Let’s talk on our message board!