Stuck in a Holding Pattern: Week 4 (repeated) of the Wim Hof Method

Week five of the Wim Hof method called for a 10 minute cold shower every day. I thought it would be a piece of cake since I’d been doing so well with them, but I was wrong. I caved in under 30 seconds. Three days in a row.

Clearly, I wasn’t ready to move onto the all cold showers, so I did the only logical thing, I repeated week four.

How much discomfort is too much?

We all know that in order to grow, we need to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones.

Scientists believe that when we experience a level of stress and anxiety that’s just outside of our comfort zone, performance can improve. Too much stress, on the other hand, becomes counterproductive.

“We need a place of productive discomfort. If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive. Like Goldilocks, we can’t be too hot or too cold.” Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Where weeks 1-4 pushed me just outside of my comfort zone, week 5 proved to be too large of a jump, and, not surprisingly, it had a negative effect.

In order to progress in a healthy way, I needed to return to a “productive” level of discomfort, which is why I repeated week four. At the end of the week, however, I found that I still wasn’t ready to move forward. So I repeated it again, and then again.

It felt right for awhile. But then, I started to cut corners. 30 breath cycles became 27, then 25. I dropped to my knees for pushups. 1 minute long cold showers were now just 45 seconds. And last week, I skipped a day altogether.

If you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker

This week, I was reminded of a saying that goes “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” If you’re not getting stronger, you’re getting weaker. It’s not enough to maintain the status quo.

Every day for three weeks I did the same exact thing. It was hard work, but it was the same work. As a result of the repetition, my comfort zone grew larger, but I wasn’t growing with it, which is why I found myself comfortably back inside it.

When you get too comfortable, you become lazy. You make excuses and excellent rationalizations. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to fight laziness, and you don’t always win. And that’s when things start to fall apart.

I’ve spent the last four days taking nothing but cold showers. I’m pushing myself to the very edge of my learning zone. It’s hard and it sucks, but I’m doing it and it makes me feel tough.

That said, I don’t know how long I’ll last. Give me some bad news or a stressful day and I’ll more than likely give in to a hot shower. And oh, how I love a long hot shower. Whatever happens, I promise you this: I will try my darnedest and give it my best for as long as I possibly can.