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Six Years Cold (Why I Started Cold Exposure)

Updated: 2 days ago

The majority of the people reading this will know me best from my cold plunge videos on Instagram. I have been filming my “ice chat videos” on and off for the last three years. Early on, most videos would receive between 20-500 views. Close friends would give a “like” of support but were probably thinking “What is wrong with Matt?” 


Two things I want to share. I talk a lot about anchoring yourself to a deeper purpose or why. My cold exposure journey is just that, it’s attached to a much larger purpose than just the shock of plunging into below freezing water.


Over six years ago I was going through one of the more stressful times in my life. That’s not to say I am not very grateful and beyond blessed for the life I get to live. I am. I also know my stressful time will pale in comparison to many people’s struggles. I am not naive about this truth. I digress. 


Six to seven years ago: 


Jilisa, my wife and I had just purchased our first home


Jilisa was still battling with her exercise addiction and eating disorder


We had just expanded the gym and were working hard to make sure we could create enough cash flow to sustain this new space


My mom was going through two major surgeries - one was for lung cancer


I was dealing with a five-year long debilitating back injury that prevented me from doing many things in life


I developed an autoimmune condition (chronic hives)


I was sleeping on average three to five hours a night


Where does ice fit into all of this?


My chronic hives were the catalyst to investigating different health and fitness protocols to lower the inflammation that can contribute to autoimmune conditions. I was covered in painful and itchy hives. If anything made medium to hard contact with my body - more hives would appear. 


I ended up in the emergency room several times because I had a hard time breathing and my chest was getting tight. I was put on heavy steroids to hopefully lower inflammation. These heavy medications didn’t make any difference. When I asked the Dr. when this would go away, his reply was something to the effect of, “You will probably need to live with this for the rest of your life.” Nope, didn’t like that. I knew there must be a better way.


I set off and started exploring. First, I implemented an elimination diet. I also exercised less. I tried to create zones where I could destress and I experienced my first couple of cold showers. Disclaimer: I am sharing my story and this is by no means medical advice. Make sure you contact a nutritionist and/or physician if you are dealing with medical issues. 


Here’s what helped me and why I believe it helped me.


My best guess is that I had elevated cortisol levels and high systemic inflammation that had a large contributing factor to me developing the autoimmune condition.


I rid most of my diet of foods that are known to cause high levels of inflammation. Preservatives seemed to be a contributing factor to it as well.


I worked out less intensely and gave myself more rest days. I learned that chronic elevated cortisol levels can contribute to many different alignments.


I hired a mentor to help me understand how to scale a business and become a better leader

Finally came the cold exposure. I started with cold showers and then slowly got into cold plunging.


With time - all my hives disappeared. Now they only appear on occasion under times of heavy stress or when a sickness is coming on. 


You might be wondering, “Which habit is the one that fixed it all?” Honestly, I have no idea. What I do know is, you can only worry about how you invest your time, money, and energy into all the important areas of your life. I think of these as deposits into your Fit5 Investing System (Mental, Physical, Relational, Professional, and Spiritual.) 


You can make deposits or withdrawals from your Fit5 System. Over time your life will begin to mirror the deposits and withdrawals you have made into your system. Your healthy or unhealthy habits may seem small at the moment, but they will both compound and ultimately be expressed as either your fitness or sickness, in all the important areas of your life. 


This is what I did with my system. I chose to prioritize healthy deposits and let the outcome take care of itself. The lesson I have learned from this chapter in my life and how I coach others is: 


Your chronic, small, daily deposits will create who you are in the future. Are you happy with who that person is in the future? If not, you better start changing your habits today in all the important areas of your life. Reach out if you need help.

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