The Ice Bath Challenge
One hundred straight days of sitting in an ice bath is a goal of mine for 2023. I bring this up because it is the start of 2023, and many of us are focusing on new year's resolutions. As we try and create new habits and get rid of bad ones, waves of emotions, motivations, and desires come and go. I’ll share my story and the three things that may help you as you create your habits for 2023.
Ice baths are something I have thought about adding to my daily routine for a while now. The addition of a newborn made me take the leap. I have read how the plunges help with mental clarity, act as a natural stress reliever, and help increase energy levels. All things that would be nice to have while navigating life with a baby, right? So let me paint the picture of my “ice bath.” I bought a 100-gallon tub off Amazon, put it on my patio (hidden, so the neighbors don't see it at my wife's request), and filled it with the hose.
I live in Illinois, and January through March are prime winter months, so keeping it cold has not been an issue. The average water temp has been between 33-40 degrees (as a reference for you southerners, the water surrounding the Titanic was 28 degrees). Some days, I have to break the ice to get in. Others, I luck out and the water is just cold. As someone who trains on helping people create habits, I took notes on how what we teach makes me feel as I aim to add this new habit to my life. Here is what I have found so far…
When I think of what has helped me last this long with the ice bath challenge, the first thing that comes to mind is attitude. Some days, I find it easy to do. Others, I find myself dreading the plunge. I find the internal dialogue trying to talk myself out of it. I must dig deep during those days and remind myself why I am doing this. I enjoy the natural energy from them. I love the mental clarity I have throughout the day. I am thankful for how much less stress I feel (while navigating life with a newborn).
When starting a new habit, I have found that I usually begin with excitement and "drive" or "motivation." But after that fades, I am faced with finding something that will keep me going when the motivation is nowhere to be found. Attitude is the first step in helping me stay focused. Having a positive attitude has been vital in helping keep my mindset on the goal.
The second thing that has helped me stay consistent with the ice baths is focusing on progressive improvement. If you have been part of our training, you will be familiar with the quote
"Progressive improvement is better than postponed perfection."
I started this goal thinking it would be easy. I saw tons of people doing ice baths on Instagram and figured, "I can do this." Boy, was I wrong! On the first day, I could barely sit in the water. Once in, I was out in about 3 seconds and running to jump in a hot shower.
After that first day, I almost threw in the towel and thought of trying again in the summer when it's warmer. But I made myself get in and tried to just get to 10 seconds. After a couple of days, I was aiming for 20 seconds, then 30… Now I am up to a minute and a half comfortably (the goal is 2-3 minutes). On some days I can increase my time; on others, I focus on the progressive improvement of how many days I have been able to do the plunge. When working through starting a new habit, it's easy to become discouraged or frustrated because we want immediate gratification. Focus on the small wins.
The third piece that has helped me with this habit is having someone to hold me accountable. My accountability partners are my wife and 7-year-old son. Both ask me each day if I have done my plunge yet and how it was. I am not sure they know I consider them accountability partners, but the idea of telling them I did not do the plunge motivates me to do it one more day.