One of my learning obsessions has to do with the human body. I want to know how it works and what its history has been in order to better understand it. Understanding is the key to greater cooperation and/or control.
My quest has led me to a fascinating idea. The way I understand it is that, historically, most people's bodies were more regularly exposed to cold temperatures than we currently are in our domesticated environments. Well, of course, but what else could that mean?
It turns out that internal temperature is controlled by metabolism; in this case, the consumption of body fat and hormone production. The idea proposes that because of our near constant exposure to warmth, our nervous systems have had reduced efficiency in these processes. It is like a muscle that is used in a very short range of motion for a very long time. It becomes weak and stiff outside of that range.
Enter Cold Thermogenesis:
How do we regain our "range of motion" -- our ability to quickly adapt body temperature internally, burn fat and increase hormone production? Get really, really, really, dangerously cold. Being curious, of course I experimented with this. After a few times of severe shivering, my body + 20lbs of ice + bathtub = trauma, I decided on a more sustainable route.
I now take cold showers, a habit that was difficult to build. It does seem to have benefits even though it is significantly less of a drop in temperature. I think it may raise my metabolism, although a high fat diet and adequate water consumption do that as well. It also seems to keep my skin tighter. When you get goose bumps from cold, those are muscles in the skin contracting and the harder they flex, the stronger they become, keeping skin tight. Not to mention the consequent increase in blood flow.
Finally, mind over water. When I step up to that shower head, every part of me wants to avoid discomfort and go warm. Each time I do not give in, my mental toughness gets a little stronger. Seems like a good trade off for something that can't hurt me and it is my favorite thing about this practice.