Posts in 30 Day Trials
Into the Sauna

My 1960’s San Francisco apartment complex is a treat, come for a visit you’ll likely experience déjà vu, or an acid flashback to a time you shacked up at motel 8 somewhere in the desert; just a crash pad for the night between long days behind the wheel. The building is shaped like an L, all the doorways facing the courtyard pool. The pool is 15 feet by 25 and 6 feet deep, in the 1960’s when everyone was smoking joints and tripping on LSD I can imagine this pool rocked the neighborhood to sleep. I’ve lived here two years, the only people using it are my neighbor Bob and his kids, I can’t believe its not been filled in.

The one redeeming aspect to my motel home is the sauna, the architect who decided to instal the sauna is gentlemen and a scholar who deserves only the best this world has to offer. The sauna has become my personal sanctuary. All that was required was the creation of a few mental blocks against the horrible visuals I experienced of the funky business that went down in the 60’s. With a typical interior all wood box, complete with hot rocks heating unit, 15 minute sand timer, and temperature gauge I can’t think of anything to make it more perfect. The light doesn’t work but a small square window in the door lets in just enough to see once your eyes have adjusted. This dreamy environment adds real cognitive benefits to the sauna sessions.

Putting aside all the health benefits of the sauna which you can read about some place else, great things have come out of the sauna. In a dark room above 200 degrees strange things happen to conversation, I’ve listened to first hand refugee camp stories, how to roast the perfect coffee bean, discussed many life goals, business concepts, and epic adventures on a number of occasions. The sauna forces your body to survive in extreme temperatures and maybe this makes people want to discuss what makes them feel most alive? I couldn’t be positive but it sure seems that way, I’ve shared so many great sauna sessions over the last few years and I can say with certainty some of my best thinking, most honest, and exciting conversations happened in there.

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Into the Cold Plunge

Chronic pain, headaches, sleep deprivation, a living nightmare for my friend. His resume of doctors, clinics, and attempted therapeutic practices is more impressive than most pro football players or ultimate fighters. A decade ago we battled on the lacrosse field where he received two serious concussions. (the suspected villain in the story) Ten years later his go to remedy for silencing the pain? Cold plunges. Yep, cold cold water. After thousands of dollars of treatment the only thing that provides daily relief is a long cold shower, or submersion in cold water.

5 years ago he invited me to try it, I wasn’t excited. It takes me quite some time to get into a pool thats 75 degrees, sub 60 degree water, yikes. The Challenge: 30 days cold showers or cold plunge.  Cold water sucks, you can’t sugar coat that, it’s horrible.

My first time: I hopped into the cold shower, I shook and started to hyperventilate, as I spun around cursing the gods I could hear my loins cursing back at me. My brain raced to string together magical combinations of curse words. This sick, sadistic experiment was going horribly wrong. Wiggling around like a worm on wet asphalt in the hot morning sun, I could not escape it. This lasted about 45 seconds, and then the birds began to chirp, flowers bloomed, rainbows exploded out of the shower head, equilibrium had been restored. This dramatic euphoria lasted a few minutes and wasn’t really as wonderful as nature, spring time, or rainbows but it was a hell of a lot better than the first 45 seconds. Breathing deeply into my stomach I was able to relax and accepted the cold water. Time slows down, relaxation sets in. When I got out my shoulders were purple, I was shivering, humbled, but proud I didn’t give up.

Note if you want to try this and you live somewhere warm, your cold shower isn’t that cold you big baby, get ice and fill your tub, 3 minutes for the rookies. Also if you have cardiac or other serious conditions please talk to a doctor first.

To Start: Find a good friend, and make a wager. Doing something with someone else, and making a significant financial wager has proven to increase success. So if you really want it, try it this way. Entertain yourself by searching the internet for strange wagers or ways to stay accountable you’ll find plenty of great stuff.

My Review: I’m hooked. After 30 days of cold water I feel excellent. With absolutely no medical testing to back this up I feel better. Inflammation: I’m an active guy so reducing inflammation in the body increases recovery, I noticed I can go harder and more frequently with less pain during off days. Mood: I’m not as moody, and I sleep better. Doing the cold submersion really calms the brain down. (It’s hard to think about all your stress at work when your shivering.) Could it be that mood & sleep are related? In the past I’ve had troubles with depression and stable moods, and I’m convinced without a doubt cold therapy works for mood stabilization. Weight: I wasn’t looking to lose weight but I can tell you my skin tightens up, and it also makes me hungry. Research shows it’s good for weight loss and significantly increases your metabolism, I strongly recommend listening in with Ben Greenfield, from Ben Greenfield Fitness, Tim Ferriss, and the rocket scientist who worked at NASA Ray Cronise. So take a listen right here.

What is actually happening? When you get in cold water your brain sends signals telling the body to save itself from freezing to death (in short). In order to do this it pumps all the blood into the vital organs. I imagine it as the flushing of my internal toilet. By staying submerged inflammation is forced out of joints, and sore muscles. After you get out and warm up all the new oxygenated blood returns to muscles and joints.

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