A long time ago...when I was five years old, I clearly remember walking to school in the cold December winter. It was perhaps minus 20 degrees out and the wind whipped down the lanes and bit my face. It hurt, and I can remember thinking that since I lived in Canada, and winter was inevitable, I had better learn to like this weather or half of my life would be spent in misery.
This would be easier said than done.
Some years later we started downhill skiing. Now, I could enjoy the cold and even look forward to it. I loved skiing so much that the months of October and November were ok because they were necessary preparation for the cold skiing we could enjoy after.
When I finished high school, I started ice climbing. My joy of climbing was balanced by the pain of climbing on the north side of the mountain in the depths of winter, and the extreme pain of thawing my fingers at every belay. This was surely masochism at its finest, I thought. I was not quite friends with the cold.
While my winter holidays were spent in pain, at least we had central heating so my time spent at work and at home was more or les comfortable from a temperature standpoint. Then I moved to Japan. No central heating. Cold floors and hot ceilings. Winter in Japan seemed harder than Canada as the housing is typically somewhat colder than Canada.
While I was browsing on the Internet a few months ago reviewing different breathing techniques (pranayama),I came across an article about the breathing techniques of a Dane nicknamed the iceman. Wim Hof. He had found some training techniques to make friends with the cold.
One of the pillars of his techniques was the cold shower.
I read about his cold showers and various reviews and decided to take the plunge. Since I have access to a shower at my workplace but there is no gas, I had no option but to go straight to cold shower with not hot warm up or warm down. Nevertheless, I did it.
I started with a 3 minute duration as I had heard somewhere that the effects would not 'kick in' until you had reached that threshold.
Sadly for me after about a week and a half of three minute cold showers it became apparent that they had two effects: the shock effect (where my capillaries learn to shut down) and the cooling core temperature effect where I am putting my body in a bad postion that was difficult to recover from. It often took my thirty minutes of excercise in a heated room to recover.
Now I have changed my time to 30 seconds to one minute. This way I don't drop my core temperature, but I still get the shock value that my body can learn to adjust to. I have found my willpower has gone up a lot. My moods are even better than their previous good level, and my energy has gone up.
A week and a half after I started my son caught a cold and I think I caught it from him. I say 'I think..' because I never got past the symptoms of a sore throat for the first five or ten minutes after waking up. I literally had no other symptoms. The sor throat was only for three or four mornings. I felt great from an energy perspective and I never got a drippy nose.
I plan to continue for the full year and evaluate after that but it may be difficult. What I mean is I may become accustomed to the benefits and no longer see them as benefits. I will just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.