Benefits of taking ICE COLD SHOWERS

Benefits of taking ICE COLD SHOWERS

Cold shower therapy is a metaphor for every-day reality. For us to be successful at anything that we do, we must be able to control our inner dialogue and fight the forces of resistance that prevent us from doing those things that we know we need to do.

Let’s play out this scenario and keep in mind how similar this is to your internal dialogue in your day-to-day reality.
Prior to entering the cold shower for the first time, our internal dialogue will be something along the lines of:

“Ok so in my head, I said I would do this but, honestly, it is  so painfully uncomfortable, no one is watching, and I really don’t see how this is going to help me.” We will call this voice resistance.

Another voice will come into the picture and say, “No, you’ve committed to this, now do it.” We will call this second voice catalyst.

Many times, it’s as simple as choosing the voice catalyst over resistance. As human beings experiencing internal turmoil, the scenario is usually not that simple. A third voice of course needs to come into the picture – we will call this voice, prolong.

Prolong decides that it is not ok to give up, but it is also ok to delay. “You know what,” prolong inquires. “Let’s do this, but not today. I am running late and it’s freezing out so getting out may make me sick. Tomorrow is a Monday which is a good day to start anyway.”

Prolong, is arguably even more insidious than resistance, because prolong gives an open-ended offer that may not make one feel as guilty. Resistance we blatantly know is wrong. A true test of character is choosing catalyst in this scenario. And guess what -
Choosing catalyst in any scenario where you face resistance is the right choice. When you are about to do something beneficial but uncomfortable, BE MINDFUL of justifications that occur in your head, whether it is going to the gym, pushing through a set, working on a proposal, going above and beyond on an assignment, practicing your instrument an extra hour, or stepping your naked self into the cold shower, cold shower therapy is a great way to train the mind to not justify and to face your fear of discomfort.
How does it work? The brain is a neuroplastic organ, meaning that is malleable; this malleability is a function of its external influences. By embarking in an activity that tests our character and fortitude, our brain is responding to this. Our brains will start to behave the same way in similar contexts. When we are able to fight the voice of resistance, and able to force ourselves to side with catalyst, our brains will be more inclined to do so in other situations. The more we fight resistance, the easier it gets, and the neurological pathways in our brain will actually physically change in response to this. For any of my research junkies who are interested in the neurobiology of this, check out the book “The Brain That Changes Itself,” by Norman Doige.

So what are the benefits?
  1. Improves circulation to the body. As our body fights to warm itself up, it will increase our heart rate which will pump blood all over our body. This enhanced blood flow will increase immunity. Also the increased heart rate will aid in fat loss.
  2. Fat loss. Cold exposure has also been shown to increase the release of the hormone adiponectin which aids in fat loss. Cold showers can aid weight loss in an unexpected way. The human body contains two types of fat tissue, white fat and brown fat. White fat is accumulated when we consume more calories than our body needs to function, and we don’t burn these calories for energy. This body fat piles up at our waist, lower back, neck, and thighs, and is the one we all struggle to eliminate. Brown fat is the good fat, which generates heat to keep our bodies warm, and is activated when exposed to extreme cold, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. Thus, cold showers can promote brown fat activity. A 2009 study found that exposure to extreme cold temperatures activated brown fat in 23 and 24 participants by a 15-fold increase, meaning someone could lose up to nine pounds in a year if they kept this practice up. 
  3. Clear skin. Cold water will seal cuticles and pores which will prevent them from getting clogged which is very good for the skin. A 1994 study found a drastic decrease in uric acid levels during and following exposure to a cold stimulus. There was also an increase in gluthathione, an antioxidant that keeps all other antioxidants performing at their optimal levels.

So who are some notables who have benefited from this unorthodox method?
  1. Wim “The Iceman" HOF is a dutch world record holder who has climbed the “death zone” altitude on Mount Everest, over 7,500 meters wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, completed a full marathon above the Arctic Circle in Finland once again only in shorts despite temperatures closer to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, and ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water. He says: “All the problems I have in the daily world subside when I do cold exposure. Exposing myself to the worthy cold… it is a great cleaning purifying force.”
  2. Vincent Van Goh was prescribed cold baths twice daily in a psychiatric ward after severing his own ear. Cold showers have been shown to relieve symptoms of depression due to the intense impact of cold receptors in the skin which send an abundance of electrical impulses from the peripheral nerve endings to the brain, providing an anti-depressive effect and mood boosting effect.

How to Do it: Neal’s Way

  • Step 1. Turn the Shower on to the coldest temperature it can possibly be. It does not matter where you are from, and how cold your shower gets; the colder the better.
  • Step 2: Pick a song that is approximately 5 minutes (longer is allowed, shorter is not). You MUST cold shower until the end of the song.
    1. Bonus Idea: Take a mental note of how you feel before, and how you feel 5 minutes after you get out. If you feel better (which trust me, you will), your inclination will be to do this again. Just by being aware of this, you will create a positive habit loop. (#HowYADoin?)
  • Step 3: Step into the shower right away.
    1. Bonus Idea: Upon Making physical contact with the cold water, have a mantra ready to go. Because I’m a man of extremes and my life is filled with hyperbole, my mantra is “I’M A F*****G WARRIOR!! WOOO!!!* (On Some days its I’M A F******G SAVAGE!!! WOOO!!!*
  • Immerse your entire body into it. At least one part of your body must be touching the shower at all times.
    1. Note: You may feel hesitant to actually step into the shower. This is ok: it is natural. Because cold shower therapy is a metaphor for life, this resistance to stepping into a painful situation is symbolic of the resistance you will face when you are forced to commit to a painful but beneficial task that your intuition knows you should dive into.
    2. First, force yourself to commit to the cold shower. After 1 consecutive week of cold showering, commit to 1 week of not hesitating and stepping right into the ice cold shower.
  • Turn water to warm for approximately 2 – 3 minutes upon completion of cold portion. This will warm you up so that upon exiting the cold shower, you will not feel uncomfortably cold.
  • Step out. Get ready to face the world. Wide awake, leaner, meaner, and happier. You won’t regret it.
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