Last week, I started the Cold Shower Therapy (#CST) challenge. When you accept the #CST challenge, you agree to spend the next 30 showers without hot water. For 30 mornings you climb into the shower, take a deep breath, and try to stand under an icy stream for 5 minutes (or just long enough to speed wash yourself).
While I’ve read all about the great benefits of CST, there are also a few of unforeseen dangers that I didn’t realize come with it. Within just one week of starting the challenge the following had plagued my life:
- Loss of Appetite
- Loss of Interest in things I once enjoyed
- Poison Ivy
- Walking with a limp
Prior to starting this challenge, I could eat huge portions of my favorite foods, often until I became ill. I could browse Reddit nearly all weekend, and feel completely fine with the few accomplishments I mustered before bed on Sunday night. I also sure as hell didn’t have itchy skin or trouble walking. But now all of that has changed, and it’s all because of something so simple: the act of choosing a cold shower over a hot one.
After my first cold shower, I stepped out and immediately felt a rush of pride. ‘I did it! I can do anything!’ And I thought that was the point, and went about my day. But it wasn’t until the subsequent showers that I realized where the true motivation comes from. It’s not so much the act of surviving a cold shower– put me in a shower where my hot water heater is broken, and rather than motivation, I’d emerge with a new form of malice to unleash upon the world. Rather, it’s the act of hearing yourself come up with such a vast variety of excuses, and making the conscience decision to ignore them all. It’s amazing just how creative your brain can be. From the time the alarm goes off, it starts telling you why today would be a GREAT day not to take a cold shower. Why yesterday (whether amazing or terrible) justifies cranking up the heat. How there really isn’t any benefit that a hot shower can’t offer. And my personal favorite: that there just isn’t any point in not being comfortable.
What I didn’t realize was how much control the excuse generating portion of my brain had over my life. After all, it generates them in such volume that I never noticed they were the same ones recycled with different words. I started to catch on when I considered ordering healthier options for lunch:
‘You might get hungry later, so you should go ahead and order the foot long combo.’
Or when I thought it would be a good workout to camp on top of Yonah Mountain this weekend:
‘There’s no point (in not being comfortable this weekend). What benefit can camping at 3,100ft give that a day hike to 1,800 can’t provide?’
Suddenly, I realized that not only had I heard these excuses before, but just that morning I had successfully ignored them. But there I was, the day of my hike, and I had decided to lie back in bed. I had decided to do a number of other things that day, and realized all of them could wait a little longer while I watched some TV and relaxed. That’s right. I had come up with excuses not to go camping, and then came up with excuses to procrastinate starting my excuses. That’s when I took a deep breath, got up, and packed my bag. Just like turning on the cold water, in the end I was much happier.
Except for the poison ivy and sore muscles. Those really suck. But I’d do it again!
Did you make any excuses today? If the answer is “no,” perhaps like me you don’t notice them yet. And that’s a much bigger problem.