Cold Shower Therapyaversary – 5 Years Strong

Five years ago, on April 1st, I did something I NEVER, in a million years would’ve thought I’d do. I had a cold shower, in my own bathroom, in a first world country, where I have hot water, on a Sunday afternoon. FIVE years ago! I did that. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I paced, I fretted, I talked myself out of it over and over and over again, I psyched myself out, I did the dishes, I paced some more…until I finally just climbed into the shower and prayed. The moment I turned that water to cold, I shrieked and I made funny noises for the next 5 minutes. I did set a timer, because I figured I had no way of knowing what 5 minutes would be when I’m in the cold water. I knew I couldn’t trust myself. I also remember climbing out of the cold shower, still unable to catch my breath, and laughing uncontrollably. I do that when I get uncomfortable. I laugh. I was hysterical. Between laughing and not being able to catch my breath I was pretty close to having to breathe into a paper bag.

I was proud of myself. I did something I never thought I’d have to do. No wait. Scratch that. I did something I never thought I would do. I got myself uncomfortable. I took on the original cold shower therapy challenge and have never looked back. Half way through the first challenge, I knew I was onto something. So…I accidentally, on purpose, tweeted Joel and told him I was in for the full 3-6-5. I immediately regretted it but knew I wouldn’t back down now.

And I haven’t. Saturday is my 5 year cold shower therapy anniversary and I can tell you, it’s still the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.  First of all, I’m 47 years old and look at me. I don’t look 47 years old. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging or anything. I’m being totally honest here. LOOK AT ME. My skin alone is worth the cold water.  20170322_133444

I purposely left the photo this big, and should let you know, I did not use a single filter on this photo. This photo is as it came out on my phone. No photo shopping necessary. I cross my heart. That’s not to say I don’t deal with skin stuff. I do. My scalp is horribly dry from the exceptionally long and cold winter we had. I get some dry patches behind my ears and such. But never on my face. I have had many people ask me why i do it? And also how i could keep doing it for this long? And what the benefits have been for me.

So I’ll answer those below:

When did you start? 5 years ago, April 1st, 2012.

Isn’t the water really cold in Canada? When you turn the tap to cold…all the way to cold it does let matter where you are. Cold is cold. So no, the water isn’t colder in Canada.

Why? Because why not? When I read the original post, I got nauseous and excited and goose-bumpy. So i decided to give it a shot. At worst, I figured, I could stop. You can always stop.

Why did you continue after the 30 days?  Because you can’t know how amazing it is for you, mentally, physically, even spiritually. Not until you do it. You can’t have a 1 minute cold shower and call it a cold shower. 5 minutes, cold showers. That’s where the juice is. And then when I started washing my hair, and soaping up, and also, cleansing my face…it was then that I realized how amazing it was. I have some of my BEST ideas in my cold showers. I cry in my cold showers. Not because they make me cry. But because I process stuff while I’m in there. If I have to be in there, I might as well make the best use of my time. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 5 minutes. My hot water bill also went down. Which was an added bonus. I noticed a few days in what a difference it was making to my life. I was happier, my mental state was clearer, I was afraid of less. I lost weight. I mean…it was a win/win all around. So why not?

Why didn’t you stop after the first year?  Are you crazy? I’m already 365 days in! Why on earth would I stop? I saw the benefits for myself. I knew the mental clarity. To be honest, I got my heart broken in 2013 and were it not for my cold showers…I’m pretty sure it would’ve taken longer for me to heal that sucker. When I heard there was an app coming out for iOS, I was choked. I bugged Joel endlessly. Gimme my Android app! And you know what? He did. He eventually did. But what’s funny about that, when I started using it, I didn’t really care about the competition part. I was already in a competition with myself. And after awhile, it became a part of my morning routine. I brush my teeth, I wash my hair, I pee, I put on make up, I have a cold shower. (Not in that order). I couldn’t stop after the first year, because it gave me so much to keep taking them.

What have the benefits been? Well I mentioned a few already above, but the main one, is it taught me discipline like nothing else ever has. I have often been the one who starts something, goes on vacation, or away for the weekend, or has friends visit, or family comes to town, or have a bad day, and I fall off whatever wagon I happen to be on. I think we’ve all experienced that. It’s easy to not go to the gym, or put gas in the car until tomorrow. But one thing I never compromised was my cold showers. I know Joel was just in Antarctica and he said the cold water was unlike anything he’s ever experienced. I’ve not been there, so i can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that the coldest waters I’ve showered in was in Ireland. And it was DAMN cold. Some of those showers are really small too so you can’t even move to the side for a second or turn your body…you’re just under it. And it’s damn cold. There were a couple of times where I was more miserable than I wasn’t…and yet…I had a cold shower every single day. I have never missed one single day. Not one single shower. No matter where I am. I’ve cold showered away hang overs,. headaches, fevers, sore muscles, aching joints, heartache, bad days, etc. About 2 years in, I knew I was reliable to take a cold shower every morning. I knew that’s just who I was.

Three months ago, I started working with a health coach. There’s a level of discipline that’s required to eat right, and food prep every Sunday, and to track my food. Every single day (for the past 81 so far). Just like with #CST, there are great rewards. I don’t need to tell anyone that I take cold showers every day. BUT…when I do…I get to feel like a bada**. And nothing beats that feeling.

Will I continue? Heck yes I will. Look. I can’t even wash dishes in hot water anymore. My tolerance level for hot water is not what it used to be. I also can’t warm up as quickly in the mornings, but that’s good for you. I also put heated floors in the bathroom which makes it easier to warm up after the shower in the winter. Let me just tell you, turning that tap to cold at 615 every morning…it’s like cranking the dial on my favorite song…I can smile and sing through it, or I can grin and bear it. I prefer singing and smiling. Much like how I go through life.

If you are looking for an accountability buddy for your cold shower therapy challenge…I’m it. I’m here for you. Just know…I won’t let you get away with anything. If you miss a day, I’m making you start over. If you only did 4 minutes, it doesn’t count and you’ll have to start over. If I can do it. ANYBODY can do it. Don’t talk to me about not giving up your hot water. You don’t have to give it up entirely. I don’t care if after your 5 minutes, you switch it over to hot. I switch mine to warm so I can shave my legs and wash the conditioner out of my hair. I have to. I can’t shave my legs in cold water. And conditioner doesn’t wash out in cold water. But if you wanna take it on…I’m throwing down… think of it as an anniversary present to me.

Just like Joel says…if you’ve got something you’ve been wanting to complete…some goal you’ve wanted to reach but you’ve been lazy/procrastinating at getting it done…now’s your chance.

Take me up on it…

I promise…you’ll end up loving it. And even if you don’t…you’ll be awesome-er for it.

Who’s in?

xoxo Rita

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So now what…?

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When I was 8 years old, I got pneumonia and landed in the hospital for about a month. Back in the day when they used to treat pneumonia and much of everything with glucose IVs…I was hooked up to one for the duration of my stay. I drank a lot of pop because the doctor’s said I had to drink a lot of fluids, and pop was recommended. I put on some weight while I was in hospital and when I came out…it was like…something was wrong. I could tell my parents were looking at me differently. My mom was having conversations I couldn’t ever remember her having.

One in particular I remember is when I walked into the room and she was on the phone with my aunt and she was talking about how difficult it would be to marry me off if I didn’t lose the weight. I was 9. All I wanted was some cheese slices for my snack…and I heard her say that. In hindsight, I know my mom was worried about me. She wanted me to have the fullest life. I get that now. But man…at 8,9,10,11 years old. I SO did not get that.

Of course, it got much worse…Weight Watchers at 14/15yo. Diuretics that my mom ordered for me from a magazine that she saw. I didn’t take them like I was supposed to. I used to hide them. I’m not sure where. Or why, but I never took them. Remember those silver, plastic, space suit looking heavy duty sauna work out suits you could buy in the 80s? My mom and dad bought me one when I was in my teens. They’d make me wear it at night while we’d watch TV and I’d have to sit in front of the wood stove…y’know…to sweat it all off. Then on the commercial breaks, I would have to run up and down the stairs while everyone else sat and ate their snacks…I was going up and down the stairs in my noisy, uncomfortable, heavy duty plastic suit. Or I’d have to put the suit on and run around a track in the middle of town, while my dad sat in the truck listening to the news. I hated that chip trail. I hated that track suit. I hated that my dad would check to make sure I was sweating when I got back in the truck. Don’t worry, I got smart. I used to splash myself with water before going back…Kinda like my big f**k you to the whole thing.

These were my parents. They were just doing what they thought was best for me. So that I could live the fullest life. And because it looked bad for me to look this way. And they cared a lot about that. Especially my mom. She still does, but she can’t help it. It’s cultural. She was born into it. She loved me. She wanted me to be great in my life. And she didn’t think extra weight would provide me with that. She also worried that men wouldn’t love me if I was big. Parents don’t come with a manual. They do the best they can, and they f**k up all the time. And fingers crossed, they raise some pretty good kids.

I am the best kind of human being. I grew up to be a good person. AND…through all of those horrible and humiliating things that used to happen, I have lived a damn fine life thus far, despite what I looked like.  I’m well traveled, and I have great friends, a good job, a home i love, friends all over the world, a good job, etc. etc. etc. I’m thriving. I’m living. I’m loving. And I’ve done all that on top of, my mom only loves me 85%. She’ll love me 100% when…

Imagine, going through life thinking your mom only loves you 85%. How horrible is that? My mom never said that to me. She only did what she thought was best for me, 100% of the time. I kept telling myself that my mom didn’t love me because I was overweight and i was embarrassing her. I stated telling myself that at 9 years old. I’m 47 years old now. And about 2 weeks ago, I realized that conversation I’ve had in the back of my mind, always and forever, always there. Forever impacting my life. In the work I’ve been doing with my health coach and two of my besties, not only have I dropped some weight effortlessly and easily, I have also been digging really deep into some of this crap that keeps me here. Holds me in this place. Keeps me from having 100% relationships with the people in my life.

If you’ve never struggled with your weight, you may not get this…but the truth is, we all struggle somewhere in life. We all have some story we made up about some area in our life, and we have stayed committed to that story. I have spent my ENTIRE life looking for ways to lose the weight. To get healthy. To make my mom proud. Etc. Every thing I’ve tried…and believe me, I’ve tried them all, (with the exception of Atkins which is not a vegetarian friendly diet), to no avail. I’ll lose some weight only to gain it all back. Why? Because in the background of my life…I have this soundtrack playing that I am going to live the greatest life no matter what my mom says and I’m going to prove to her that she’s wrong. All the while, convinced that there’s something wrong with my body the way it is.

Ironically, i’m the only one suffering. I’m the one who puts on more weight and feels unhappier when I look at myself. Sure. I have a level of confidence that maybe not everyone has. Sure, I have traveled the world unafraid of the seat belt extenders and the judgments. Although that’s not entirely true. I’m afraid of the judgments…but my desire to see the world is far greater than what people think of me wandering around the world. I have seen and done SO much and I have contributed a great deal. I have opened my heart, I have made a difference, I have reached out. I have loved. I have lost. I have done all of it.

Except for the one thing that matters the most to me…I have not allowed the world to see the me that is 100% me. The me that isn’t living life with a niggling buzzing in the back of my mind that has me wonder what people are thinking about me, or discounting myself as a love interest for someone simply because I would rather head that rejection off at the pass. Better for me to take myself out of the running before they tell me they aren’t interested because they don’t date big girls. I know there’s more. I know I’m meant for something bigger in life…and yet…I have let the weight hold me back. From living the fullest life. I know I could say that I AM living the fullest life. Sure. It even looks like I am. But if you look closely…peer in through the door, turn on the lights, and shine some flashlights in the corners…you’d see that all I’m doing is living my life on top of “my mom only loves me 85% and there’s something wrong with me.”

There has always been something wrong with me. And recently…I realized that my mom is not to blame. My dad isn’t either. They just did what they did. I made up the rest. Cause that’s what we do. Someone says something and we make it mean…xyz. We can’t help it. My parents had a problem with my weight. I didn’t. They did. But it slowly became my problem. And it’s been a problem for me ever since.

So why now am I sharing all this? Well. To be honest…I only got this for myself about 2 weeks ago. Like a giant light bulb going on over my head. Suddenly, my life flashes before my eyes and I remember all that stuff. And then I remember why I used to cry at boot-camp every time we had an outdoor workout. I didn’t know it at the time. But I do now. I used to cry at outdoor boot-camp because of the stupid chip trail behind the rec centre in the middle of town and that stupid space suit. I called my mom and I shared all this with her. The impact on me, I cried and shared and told her all the stuff I remembered. She filled in some blanks. She apologized. She told me that she loved me 100%. I took responsibility for all the stuff I’d made up. I apologized to her for saying she only loved me 85%. She forgave me. I forgave her.

So now what? Now that I can’t blame my mom for my life going the way it did, and I’m doing some great work with my health coach and having some amazing results (as seen in the photo above)…now what do I do? Now WHO AM I? That pit in my stomach…that’s the pit of uncertainty. That’s the pit of what kind of life do I want now that I’m making myself a new mixed tape for the new soundtrack of my life?

Now what indeed…

We all have stories that hold us back from living the fullest possible life. I’m grateful, to have finally seen mine. Realistically, I don’t know how much time I have left on this world. None of us do.  Do I really want to waste it believing that my mom and the people in my life don’t love me? Hell no. You know what “they” say don’t you?  Allowing the experience of love is the elixir to life.  (I totally just made that up, but I do believe it’s true).

I think I’d like to try that. Starting right now…

xo

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