Being, Life Coach, Pole Dance, Presence, WonderPlay Coaching

How My First Ice-Bath Changed My Life

How My First Ice-Bath Changed My Life

A Tale in Six Chapters

(and it wasn’t even the therapeutic benefits)

Hear me out, friends.

[CW: pole dancing happens in this post.]

[I tried to capture some media to share in this post, but we did this at nighttime, and the images turned out pretty poorly. You’ll have to use your imagination…!]

TL;DR: skip to the 6 points below!
A little background: I classify myself as an athlete. 
Specifically, Pole Athlete & Artist.
Witness my only Eagle in a public performance, lessons from which I mention in my previous blog post.
Photo by Peter Yeung Photography

I am familiar with much of the wisdom readily available about common rituals and remedies that athletes of different ilks might use in their routines. I am certainly not an expert by any means, but I have gained some knowledge and some practices that I like and that have worked for me. 

  • Mindset practices
    • Meditation
    • Goal-setting
    • Success/victory mindset
    • Focus before and during training
    • Accountability
  • Nutrition practices
    • Timing (Meals, Fasting)
    • Content (Sufficiency, Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Supplements)
    • Water (Temperature, volume, frequency)
  • Body practices
    • Preparation (Smart warm-up, consistent maintenance)
    • Training (Timing, Content, Order, Balance)
    • Rest (Sleep and other constructive rest)
    • Recovery (Bodywork, smart icing to reduce inflammation)
    • Prehab or Rehab (injury prevention and treatment)
(Feel free to ask about my moderately-educated opinions on anything here. For more, I would honestly ask Ruby, at least to start.)

But I would draw the line at cold showers.

My dear husband Ryan has some very particular regular practices that he is using to stoke the fire of his discipline, and one of those is the daily cold shower. He is super curious about the teachings of the “Iceman,” Wim Hof, and one of those practices is a cold shower (with associated breath practices).
He has taught me the breathing practice he uses, and I have accomplished approximately 3 cold showers this entire quarter – and one was just because it was a stupid-hot day, not to seek any particular benefits. What can I say? I really enjoy being warm. That’s one of the reasons our company The Sacred Circus held its first retreat in Costa Rica this past March – a break from the Chicago winter? Yes please!
This month, Ryan and I conceived of some potential community events to host as The Sacred Circus, and one of his ideas was an Ice-Bath Party. I scoffed. I resisted. I was like, sure, maybe some athletes will come, but that doesn’t apply to me. I’ll go and host, but I don’t really know that anyone in my community – even the pole dancers – would be down. If my pole-athlete community is like me (and of course I assume they are, to a point), who could I get to willingly dip into a bucket of ice water? 

I eventually agreed to create the event, but remained skeptical.

A few days later, Ryan told me I was invited to go with him to one of his friends’ houses (from his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio) to take an ice bath. I resisted up until the moment I had to decide, and then reluctantly committed to meeting him after training, traveling with him to meet his friend John, and participating.

I accepted the invitation.

Even as I arrived, I had an out. John asked me if I was doing the dunk…and I could have said no.

But I said yes again. And then I did it. 

Here are the realizations that changed my life.

1. It’s not any harder than deciding to do it, and then showing up.

I had to decide in multiple ways to be there and do it. Verbally accepting the invitation…collecting bathing suit and towels…actually showing up…committing again onsite. The last bit of advice John gave to me before I stepped in was, “Take 10 deep breaths. Then just decide to get in, and get in. It takes you out of the fight or flight mode.” 
If you think about it, it’s a really small ask. What’s the cost? Some discomfort? Experiencing some fear? I was in no actual danger of death, which I knew in my head – but to convince the body is an entirely new experience. How many times have I experienced the newness of a pole trick and thought I was going to die…and then decided to do it again? (Quick shout-out to Susan Shen, currently a trainer at POW! Gym in Chicago, who was my pole instructor BACK IN THE DAY who got me into my first outside leg hang (that’s #pdgemini on IG if you feel like finding those images). I came down from the pole, crying because it hurt so much. I swore I would never do that nasty thing again.

…and then I did it a gazillion more times, to the point of having it be the start of combos like this. NOT because I was excited about doing this painful thing again. But because I eventually got curious about what could come AFTER it. Because I was more committed to continuing my learning than to avoiding pain/discomfort. (Thanks for the repost, USPDF!)

So smooth! #uspdfpro @elizabethtuazon Video Submissions now open for the 2019 US Pole Dance Championship! Video Submission Deadline December 16th 11:59pm EST. For details go to Final Stage competition held @Symphonyspace Theater in New York City on April 12-13th. Mens, Womens and Doubles Amateur Competition April 12th – 7:30pm Novice Competition Level 1 – April 13th – 9:30am Novice Competition Level 2 – April 13th – 12:00pm Pro Competition – April 13th – 7:00pm Sponsored by: @lupitpole #poledancing #poledancer #poledanceinsocks #socks #competition #nyc #spring2019 Repost from @elizabethtuazon using @RepostRegramApp – More found footage of that magic combo, especially including “how the hell do you get out of this…?” @davidpoleartistry says #pdspatchcock, but that’s not a thing I do yet. But I’d love to see it and be convinced to learn it! #pdbirdofparadise #pdbrokensplit #pdbrassbridge #spinpole @eunyou_lena @kelly_jo2418
A post shared by US Pole Dance Federation (@uspdf) on
Commitment, yo. It’s real, and you don’t need to overthink it.

2. It’s a solo experience, but you don’t have to be alone.

The jewelry my husband and I wore to our wedding, and to get our marriage license.

Thanks be to John, who was with me the whole time, as much as I needed him. He coached me on my breathing when I started to panic, gave me helpful visuals and analogies that kept me calm, and left me alone once he saw I had tapped into a zone and relaxed. He was super supportive the whole process, all the way from the very invitation to describing some of the process and the physical and mental benefits he derives (much of which is corroborated in this article), to acknowledgement of my rockstar status after I was done, to lending us his tub for our Ice-Bath Picnic in September. He is a real gem.

Speaking of our Ice-Bath Picnic, check out our event on Facebook or on our website! (John will be there too.)

3. Getting outside your comfort zone, no matter how far, is an opportunity to exercise courage.

Each time I said yes, there was a part of me that wanted to say NO. I have learned to have more compassion and gratitude for my fear than ever – it’s there for a reason, and it has kept me plenty safe, comfortable, and alive thus far. Woohoo! 

And it’s job is to continue keeping me safe. 

AND!…sometimes I want to choose outside of that. So I exercise my courage muscle by choosing past what’s comfortable or known, on purpose. I remember standing up out of that ice-bath (stumbling a little, because blood flow and sensitivity has changed) thinking to myself,

If I can do that…I can do anything.

I still might need to exercise the muscle a little more, certainly. And having courage in the face of fear is not the same thing as jumping off a cliff, flapping your wings really hard, and expecting to fly because someone told you that you could. (This image is early in the new book I’m reading in my book club, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.) But sure as anything, I’ll come up against fear again. Choosing action from courage is a practice. And I choose to practice.

To quote a line from the fantastical film Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which I just rewatched with my dear friend, colleague, and fellow athlete Ellen, “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Here’s a picture of Ellen kicking the Chicago Triathlon‘s ASS!

4. I get the opportunity to walk my talk as often as I choose.

My business is coaching – asking people continually to look past where they would normally stop and consider what’s possible – which sometimes sounds outrageous! If I’m not willing to choose boldly in my own life, why would someone trust me to support them doing it in theirs?

Weirdly, this ice-bath was in integrity with my business. Who knew?

Well, who the f*ck can say, darling, really?
Photo by Jess Rose Photography

5. Anybody can describe THEIR experience to you, but nobody can live YOUR experience for you.

There’s no substitute for Doing It, Being There, Showing Up.  Ever. (See my blog post on Presence.) As I remember reading in Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch, one of the reasons that individuals exist is so that God could experience [Him]self. Because humans are the masters and mistresses of experiencing the wonders of the world, right? And that’s because we’re master creators. There is a supreme gift in creating your own experience and living your own life. 

The caption of this post included the following:
🎹This was one of the early pieces I got heartily coached on, and I recall the total wonder I experienced when I realized that I, too, could be an artist, simply by deciding to interpret the work in my own unique way. 🎹That gets to KEEP being the point: it doesn’t matter who has done it before me or how; *I* am participating, here, now, and contributing my voice. 

6. You don’t have to know “how it ends” to start the story.

I wanted John to explain what would happen beforehand, so I could prepare myself for what would happen. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, certainly! We’re certainly not going to stop asking people for help or advice who have done something we’re about to do. But as a friend pointed out to me recently, NONE of us know what’s going to happen. We’re each doing this – living this life as these bodies and beings – for the first time, and we each have our own thoughts and judgments, experiences and prejudices, beliefs and values. Who can say how it will go for someone else? And who’s to say someone is “more right” in the path they choose to take? 
All I knew was, at first I was desperately interested in the procedure and the results – the “how” and the “ending.” But at the end of that experience, I have rekindled my interest in what my experiential takeaways will be, and who I will choose to Be from there. And those can only be known by me as I write (and live) my whole story.

I couldn’t leave this section without mentioning this popular Lao Tzu quote: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” (that link takes you to the Bodhi Spiritual Center, a luscious, accepting place in Chicago, where I haven’t even explored the tip of the iceberg yet!) A coach I had in WordPress said it to me recently much more colorfully: “It’s like eating an elephant; you have to do it one bite at a time.” And I’ll be darned if that isn’t true. (You can see my post on Chaos As Perfection to see more thoughts on what’s possible when we think we have our path all planned out.)

In Conclusion…

Come to our Ice-Bath Picnic.

Tell us you’re coming on Facebook or on our website.



Tell your story! Comment below or email me.

A time you exercised courage beyond your fear…
The single step you took that started your journey of 1000 miles…
When you emerged victorious on the other side…
Your personal preferences for health and wellness routines…

I’d love to hear from you!

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