I finally did it! The icebath

The icebath

So I finally did the Ice Bath 🙂

Fear is an interesting emotion, it’s debilitating, it’s restricting, and it turns our potential into a shrivelled, dried-up blob that sits gathering dust in the corner of our lives, our minds, and our hearts. Regret grows alongside fear, a life that could’ve been lived, an experience we never had, a door we never opened, an opportunity we didn’t take, all because we were afraid.

Afraid of what? Afraid of discomfort? Afraid of pain, physical? emotional? Afraid of failure? Afraid of the unknown aspects of ourselves that might come to the forefront if we let that barrier down, Afraid we might lose control, but what if our control is holding us back?

When I was 6, I was with my family camping with other members of our cult community in the mountains in NZ. We had a secret property for when the ‘end times’ came and we would have to run and hide in the mountains, being hunted and persecuted for being a Christian.

It was nighttime, and all the kids were being given sparklers, you know, where you light it with a match and it fizzes little sparkles of light, you wave it around until it burns out and you’re left holding the metal end.

Well, I was afraid of them, I was scared it was going to hurt me, maybe burn me, I didn’t understand it, it was unpredictable, I saw all the other kids doing it, and I was still afraid. My dad tried to show me it was ok, that it didn’t hurt, I didn’t believe him, and I ran away and hid somewhere I could watch the other kids, but they couldn’t find me. I was safe.

And while I was watching everyone having fun with their sparklers, and seeing that no one was getting hurt, I changed my mind, I wanted a sparkler, I wanted to have fun, and I didn’t want to miss out. So I came out of hiding, found my dad and asked him for a sparkler, he looked at me sadly and said: “I’m sorry, there aren’t any left, they’re all gone”.

I was devastated. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach, I had let my fear stop me from having fun, everyone else had had fun, and now it was too late, there were no more sparklers left. It was at that moment I made a conscious decision to myself, “I will not let my fear stop me ever again” because the feeling that I had let myself down, the feeling of regret, the feeling I had at that moment, was bigger than the feeling of being afraid.

And that is how I have lived my life since, even in those early years within the confines of a religious cult, and in the many years that have followed, that feeling, that memory of being a six-year-old girl who was too afraid, has stayed with me and guided my life and my actions.

I intentionally put myself in situations that challenge my fear, not necessarily dangerous situations, not adrenaline-fuelled situations. No, I’m talking about something deeper, subconscious, those fears that we develop from our childhood, fears that others have planted inside our minds as a child, where their fears have become our fears, and we don’t even know why we have them.

My subconscious is riddled with fears, how could it not be, I was raised in a religious cult behind walls.

For me, life is a journey of breaking down those fears, challenging those fears, questioning those fears, and not getting caught up in other people’s fears and worries.

I’ve survived so many ‘it’s the end of the world, we’re all going to die!’ situations that it just doesn’t bother me anymore.

Just today, someone messaged me and said I shouldn’t ride my bike on the road, that I will die, instead, I should ride safely around and around a bike track. I would never enjoy cycling if I did that!

I could write a whole book on this topic, but let’s get back on track, I finally did the ice bath!

It took me two and a half years from the moment I lost that bike race against Nathan, to finally doing the ice bath. I was petrified, it doesn’t make any sense why I was so afraid, but I was. I had to bully myself into doing it, I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would be letting myself down, and I couldn’t live with that feeling, it was simply fear, and I wasn’t going to let fear control my life.

I made a fuss about it on social media to force myself to do it, if other people knew about it, then they too would hold me to account. I was committed, and I was petrified. You can watch the video on my website, of course, I filmed the whole thing.

I was shaking, and to this day I don’t know why, a fear that deep of cold water doesn’t make logical sense to me. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and to top it off, I had to wear a pink bikini. Another fear to overcome, I’m relatively comfortable in my body, but I’m not one of those people who wears bikinis and is comfortable showing that much skin to that many people. Pink is not my favourite colour, even as a young girl in the cult I despised pink, I felt like the colour was forcing me to be something I’m not, a typical girl. Society has changed significantly since then, and I’m grateful, but it’s taken a little longer for my dislike of pink, and associating it with conforming, to catch up with society.

So, here I am doing an ice bath in a pink bikini, and I’m trembling, I’m literally trembling. Cai was there with me, it was her ice bath, and she was a very calming influence on me, guiding me, reassuring me, and teaching me to breathe.

The temperature was 3.5℃ (38.3°F) and I stayed in for approx four minutes from when I first put my feet in and slowly lowered myself in.

It was like nothing I expected, the pain in my legs was excruciating (apparently this is normal) and when you think of cold water, this is not cold water, it’s not having a cold shower or jumping into a cold pool, this is something different. It’s beyond cold, it would be better to describe it as ‘you need to get into this liquid and stay there for four minutes’ then the psychology around it would change, because this wasn’t cold water, it was pain in liquid.

The only way to survive it is to breathe, nothing else matters, just breathe, all the blood in your body goes to protect your organs, that’s what the pain is. So I’m sitting there, breathing through pain, pain that I have chosen, pain that I have immersed myself in, I chose to do this. At one point I wanted to cry, at the same time I wanted to run away, Cai said this was a normal fight or flight response, because this is the most extreme situation you can put your body in.

But I did it, I don’t know how, but I did it, as you’ll see in the video, and the feeling of elation afterwards, well, words can’t describe that feeling, you have to experience it. I faced my deep-rooted fear, and I survived, not only survived but was joyous.

I know that the ice bath was more than an ice bath, and the fears that I overcame in that water will permeate into other areas of my life, and unlock doors inside me that have stayed hidden behind for years. I know that I don’t know what all those doors are, and I don’t need to know, because they will play out in the coming years of my life as they need to, building on the journey.

This is a good place to end with a quote I made up a few years ago “every time I step outside my comfort zone, my comfort zone gets bigger and I get stronger”

What’s your ice bath?