30 Days of Cold Showers: Not What I Was Expecting

Mehdi Yacoubi
Feb 4, 2020 · 7 min read

How I finally managed to jump under the cold water every morning

You are comfortable sleeping in a warm bed. The alarm rings.

What could be the hardest way to get the day started?

A winter cold shower!

Two years ago, after watching a documentary about Wim Hof and his method I started considering taking cold showers to try and see for myself if the benefits are worth the discomfort.

I say “consider” because as you can imagine, jumping in a cold shower during winter is the last thing you want to do upon waking up.

There was something fascinating in this practice that really attracted me.

So I started really looking into the benefits of cold showers in search of further much-needed motivation.

The Benefits

  • It improves the immune function
  • It reduces chronic pain
  • It has an anti-inflammatory effect
  • It increases the amount of brown fat (having more brown fat is associated with lower body fat percentage)
  • It may have a neuroprotective effect through stimulating a special cold shock protein known as RBM3

On top of these health benefits, many regular practitioners claim it has other benefits:

  • Reduced levels of stress
  • Increased willpower
  • A higher level of alertness

After reading and doing my research about cold exposure, I found all these benefits to this practice and a growing community of people sharing their positive experiences with cold showers. I decided I needed to try it for myself!

How I started

But I still wanted to incorporate them into my life... I found that taking cold showers just after resistance training was much easier so I started to do so.

Unfortunately, a few months later, I realized this trick undermines greatly the benefits of resistance training.

I was stuck because I wanted to take these cold showers, but I wanted to make it easier to incorporate them into my daily routine, and “cold showers” and “easy” usually don’t go well together. I decided to try to move the cold showers back to the morning.

I remember myself, just after waking up, staring at the shower for 5 minutes thinking about how hard it will be, and immediately inventing an excuse that will justify getting a hot shower instead!

I have to say at that moment, my creativity was the best it ever was. I can recall coming up with excuses like:

  • “Oh, I feel a little pain in my throat, the cold shower will for sure make it worse…”
  • “I feel very cold, this cold shower will for sure make me sick…”

And many others…

I was just unable to get under the shower, turn the water cold, and stay there.

Until I changed my perception of cold showers, and what I was expecting from them.

How I finally managed to take morning cold showers

I understood that I had to find a short term motivation to overcome that seemingly impossible cold shower.

Cold showers were a big objective for me in 2020, and early January, I came across a tweet from Shane Parrish, author of The Great Mental Models and host of The Knowledge Project.

https://twitter.com/ShaneAParrish

For me, that was all I needed. Understanding that the ability to do things you don’t want to do is “the biggest generator of long term results”.

It resonated a lot with me because without formulating it, I was convinced by this concept. The reason why I think motivational speeches, videos, and articles do more harm than good is that they promote the idea that the feeling of extreme motivation when you think everything is possible, and you feel adrenaline running in your body is the fuel for achievement.

In my experience, relying on this feeling is a perfect way to get the exact opposite of what you want. This feeling doesn’t last, and most meaningful achievements take months if not years to get completed. How relying on an ephemeral feeling of motivation could possibly be the solution?

I think the biggest factor in long term success is the ability to follow your plan, do the next thing you have to do today and overcome the inevitable feeling of not wanting to do certain things.

So I decided to consider the ability to do things I don’t want to do but have to do as a skill I could improve, and to me, a morning cold shower was the single best way to train it.

What could possibly be worse than going half awake from a warm bed to a freezing cold shower?

I gave myself the challenge to take morning cold showers for 30 days during the month of January as a way to start the year outside of my comfort zone.

The first 30 days

For me, the game-changer in my ability to get under the cold water was to stop thinking. It’s a common mechanism of the human brain: finding great excuses really fast to justify not following your program.

With this shower experiment, I started to develop self-awareness, notice all the little lies we could tell ourselves and observe the dishonest explanations to our failures we often come up with. Lying to ourselves is a huge inhibitor to self-improvement.

As soon as I get close to the sower, I quickly get under it and just let the water flow. The first seconds are horrible, but then it gets a bit better.

With time, my tolerance for cold water increased a lot. However, the first seconds are not easier now than they were a month ago!

How I feel

1. Better confidence in my immune system

2. Completely awake in a few minutes

3. It feels easier to do things I don’t want to do

4. Enhanced mood

5. It lowers stress & anxiety

What’s next?

As I got even more interested in cold immersion during this month, I came across a great video from Yes Theory at the Wim Hof camp in Poland. I think cold showers are a great first step in the world of cold immersion and I would love to participate in such an adventure in the year to come!

For the moment, the water is pretty cold in Paris during winter, and the same quote for Wim Hof motivates me to jump under the cold water every day:

“If you don’t go to the cold, the cold will come to you”

It’s not for everyone, but if you feel like you need to practice your resilience it’s a great place to start!

Are you interested in living a long and healthy life? Join the Health Optimization and Lonvegity Community!

lifetizr

Healthier and longer lives through optimizing blood glucose levels

Mehdi Yacoubi

Written by

Co-Founder at lifetizr.io — Interested in health, longevity, nutrition & self-exp. Weekly thoughts on health & wellness at mehdiyacoubi.substack.com

lifetizr

lifetizr

lifetizr believes in prevention and optimization. Through powerful bio-tracking, data-informed recommendations, and science-based learnings, lifetizr helps people get and stay healthy.

Mehdi Yacoubi

Written by

Co-Founder at lifetizr.io — Interested in health, longevity, nutrition & self-exp. Weekly thoughts on health & wellness at mehdiyacoubi.substack.com

lifetizr

lifetizr

lifetizr believes in prevention and optimization. Through powerful bio-tracking, data-informed recommendations, and science-based learnings, lifetizr helps people get and stay healthy.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store