I screwed up. Again.

Halfway through the second challenge, I realized I’d overextended myself. Seven days was WAY too long. I needed a few days of rest between each challenge to recover and mentally prepare myself for the next one. Also, I’d chosen to start the challenges on Wednesday because Jan. 1st happened to fall on that day, but it was throwing my whole week out of whack, so I changed that up too.

Now, my challenges last five days and run from Monday to Friday. This gives me time to recover and record, edit, and publish my weekly updates.

All right. Time to jump into the next challenge.

Cold showers!

The concept was simple: Take a cold shower each day for five days, increasing the length by one minute each time.

The first day was the worst because I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I’d tinkered with cold showers before, but I’d never lasted more than thirty seconds. This was WAY more intense. I tried keeping my head under the water the entire time, but the intensity of the cold gave me massive brain freeze—imagine the pain of eating ice cream too fast, then multiply it by ten and picture yourself enduring that for a full minute.

It sucked.

Honestly, I didn’t last the full minute. That doesn’t mean I failed, but I moved so the water never hit my body in the same spot more than a few seconds at a time. I alternated between my head, my face, my chest, my back, and my armpits—you have no idea how intense cold can be until you blast your armpits with freezing water.

I’m not sure how, but I made it through. By the time my timer went off, I was hyperventilating, but I felt incredible. I’d taken my first cold shower, and my adrenaline was through the roof. I felt indestructible, as though I could take on an entire army of trained ninjas and whup their butts. The adrenaline faded after a few minutes, but the feeling of invulnerability lasted much longer. I felt happier and more energetic for the rest of the day.

Day two was much better. Not only did I know what to expect, but I was looking forward to that boost of energy that was bound to follow my present torture. I also managed to slow my breathing and focus on the experience. It was strange, but I actually kind of enjoyed the pain. It made me feel like a badass. The boost of energy that followed was even more intense than the first. It was AMAZING!

The third day was by far the best. By then, I’d grown accustomed to the cold, and I was addicted to the rush of adrenaline. I was able to focus my breathing and ended up in a near-meditative state for the last minute or so of the shower. The feeling of invulnerability that followed was even more intense than the previous days. Three minutes was my sweet spot.

The fourth day wasn’t as much fun. Three-quarters of the way through the shower, my core temperature had dropped so much that I started shivering. I also discovered something unexpected. Because I was constantly moving, the water never made contact with the same part of my body for more than a few seconds. Or so I thought. Turns out, my feet were in direct contact with the freezing water. They were completely numb by the time my timer finally went off.

I’d survived another day, but I still had one more shower left, and I knew it would be pure torture. To make things worse, the fifth day was a complete wreck. I was unable to focus and barely got any work done. Knowing I would hate myself if I failed this challenge, I went skating, well aware I would have no choice but to take a shower to wash away the sweat. It was -17° Celsius, and the ice was super rough, but I still had fun and, by the time I got home, I was ready. I set my timer and hopped into the shower.

It SUCKED!

The first few minutes were bearable, but my body started going numb after the four-minute mark. I couldn’t feel my feet or my crotch, and my eyes would barely open. I was shivering so hard I could barely hear myself whimper over the sound of my teeth chattering. The cold was so intense it reminded me of the time I was a kid, and I stayed outside too long. When I came back inside, and my body started warming up, it felt like my nails were being ripped out. Well, this felt like that, only all over my body.

I don’t know how it happened, but I survived. It took a good 15-20 minutes for me to stop shivering, and the boost of adrenaline I’d previously experienced was barely noticeable. But I’d done it, I’d completed the challenge.

I felt amazing. I’d given it my all, and I’d come out victorious. I also learned a lot. While I still enjoy cold showers, I don’t think I’ll ever go beyond the three-minute mark again. It’s not that I can’t, but the point of cold showers is to give you a boost of energy and keep you mentally sharp by forcing yourself to do something you know won’t be fun. I’m thinking of incorporating this “positive torture” into my showering routine.

All things considered, I’m super happy I did this challenge. I recommend everyone try it, even if you don’t go the full five minutes. Just one or two minutes is enough to give you that boost of energy and make you feel like a badass. Seriously. TRY IT!