#16 – Me Gusta Agua Fria

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. These practices are the result of research and experimentation. I posted links to research and articles in the Notes & Links section at the end of the post.

As I cleared the haze out of my eyes, I made my way to the shower and turned the faucet to the hot position. With my eyes finally adjusting, I noticed steam beginning to rise and a thick fog was now covering the shower doors. I took a large inhale and let the hot air expand in my lungs. I stepped into the water letting the warmth ease me into the the next phase of my day.

Enter Wim Hof.

wim-hof

No, there wasn’t a naked dutch guy called, “The Iceman” in my shower.

That would be strange.

I’d been reading about the positive effects that regimented breathing and cold water exposure can have to both mental and physical health. At this point, I had been following the Wim Hof cycle for about a week.

The cycle consists of the following:

Power Breaths

Take 30-40 deep, vigorous but focused breaths (through the nose).

The Hold

After the 40th breath, exhale completely and hold your breath for as long as you can.

Recovery Breaths

Take a recovery breath and hold for 10 seconds.

REPEAT

2 more times

More Power Breaths

Take 30-40 more deep, vigorous and focused breaths (through the nose)

The Hold (with Push-ups)

After the 40th breath, exhale completely and hold your breath for as long as you can.
This time, while holding your breath, complete as many push-ups as possible.

Recovery Breath

Take a recovery breath and hold for 10 seconds.

SIT WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED

This is actually my favorite part. After going through the four cycles (including push-ups), just sit and enjoy the quiet. Focus on your breath. I’ve found that this breath cycle is the fastest way to achieve a meditative state. While I’ve also enjoyed guided meditations from Tara Brach and Deepak Chopra, nothing has put me in a calm, focused meditative state faster than four rounds of the Wim Hof cycle.

So, how do you know you are done? I usually set a timer for twenty minutes, which usually gives me about 12-14 minutes of meditation time.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave …

back-at-the-bat-cave

Uh … I mean, my shower …

elf

So, there I was standing under the steady flow of soothing, warm water. It was almost like I was back under my cozy blanket not wanting to get out of the bed. The next stage in the Wim Hof training includes cold water exposure during your showers. The mental images of Wim standing in a large, plastic box full of ice started pouring into my visual cortex. An internal battle ensued that ended with some audible grumbling and a violent torque of the faucet handle to the right.

scream

DAMN … that was cold.

Full disclosure: The faucet handle was actually just slightly beyond halfway towards the cold side.

After the longest 15 seconds in history, I turned the faucet off.

I survived. I felt … amazing, actually.

I felt focused. I felt aware. I felt renewed.

After a few weeks, I graduated from 15 seconds, to 30 seconds, to 45 seconds and beyond. I became more comfortable with the faucet handle fully on the cold side.

Now, I finish my morning showers with a 2 minute dose of cold water.

READ IN YOUR BEST SKEPTICAL DAD VOICE:

Ok. Nice, Jeremy. But why in the hell are sitting in a stream of cold water? 

There are a few reasons why I’ve decided to include this into my daily routine.

BENEFIT #1 – CHALLENGE YOUR MIND EARLY.

I like to do something early in the morning that challenges my mental game. Don’t just take a cold shower. Embrace the cold with calm. No cringing. No shouting. No clenching. Relax from your brow to your toes and just breathe. I find this to be a powerful reminder of the amazing capabilities of our minds and bodies.

BENEFIT #2 – GRATITUDE PRACTICE

Cold showers make you want to walk up to a hot shower, give it a hug and thank it repeatedly for being an accessible experience. I used to take hot showers for granted in my numbed, frantic state when I would scramble through the fifteen minutes between getting out of bed and sitting in traffic with a million other robots. Pausing to give a nod to hot water helps me stay present.

BENEFIT #3 – TONY ROBBINS????

In the article,  The Power of Cold Water, Robbins Research International talks about Tony’s use of cold water immersion. The article shows how cold water immersion could benefit the lymphatic system, circulatory system, immune system and digestive system. Tony’s team also presents a strong case supporting the mental benefits of cold water immersion.

The lymphatic system is pretty interesting. It basically removes bad stuff (toxins and bacteria) from the body through a system of vessels and nodes. The lymphatic system does not have a dedicated pump (IE. the heart and the circulatory system). The body’s movement and the larger muscle groups work together to push the fluid (and the bad stuff) through the system. While exercise and deep breathing are helpful to the lymphatic system, cold water exposure can also trigger contraction in the smooth muscles of the lymphatic vessels causing them to contract. As these muscles contract, it assists with the flow of fluid throughout the system.

BENEFIT #4 – REDUCE AND RECOVER

Remember that with training, muscle soreness is the result of micro-tears that cause inflammation and swelling. Reduce the inflammation, and you reduce the soreness. I’ve experienced some tendonitis in my right elbow, and I’ve found that localized ice baths can reduce inflammation and reduce pain.

Plus, it worked for Sandy Koufax …

koufax-ice

Ice baths have their fair share of believers and critics. I’ve tried an ice bath once, and will likely try it again. For now, I am enjoying the multiple benefits of my cold water shower.

BENEFIT #5 – MOOD SHIFT HACK

Whenever I’ve found myself spun up in a frenzy of trying to control things that I can’t control, a few minutes in a cold water shower can be a game-changing mental reset.

According to a study by Dr. Nikolai Chevchuk, cold water exposure could induce positive moods. For more information, listen to the NeuroScene interview with Dr. Chevchuk.

Cold water provides:

  1. An early morning challenge.
  2.  Reflection on the awesomeness of it’s more popular cousin, hot water.
  3. A jolt to the system that gets bad stuff out of my body.
  4. A means to recover from training.
  5. A push button mental reset.

I’ve found a friend on the right side of the faucet handle.

At the end of your next shower, as you are turning the faucet to the off position, give it 10-15 seconds of cold water. Get a mental win in the morning before you put your drawers on.

Would love to hear about your experience in the comments section.

 

Here are some links to articles and research:

The Power Of Cold Water – Robbins Research Institute

NeuroScene Interview with Dr. Nikolai Chevchuk

Research on Cold Water and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Wim Hof – Free Online Course

Use of Water As Therapy

More On The Lymphatic System

Some Arguments Against Ice Baths

9 thoughts on “#16 – Me Gusta Agua Fria

  1. I’ve been using cold showers after intense workouts and it drastically reduces recovery time from sore muscles. Without question. It’s just a little discouraging have that George Costanza moment…

  2. My man! I tried this Wednesday and Thursday this week and skipped today, for science. Even though what I did today was far less draining than what I did the previous two, I felt so much more drained. For me, it didn’t feel so much as a “refreshing switch” that got flipped, it was more like something that just stuck with me the whole day in the background of my conscience. Cool stuff, Gilby!

  3. Dude awesome job on the article, the Wim Hoff method is amazing. I agree you should try a sensory deprivation tank it feels so good

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