Ryan Duey on Benefits of Cold Plunge for Metabolism, Mood, and Recovery

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Katie: Hello, and welcome to the Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie, from wellnessmama.com and wellnesse.com, that’s ‘wellnesse’, with an ‘e’ on the end. And this podcast is all about the benefits of cold plunge for metabolism, mood, and recovery, and I talk about my own personal experience with this over the last couple of years. I’m here with Ryan Duey, who attended Cal Poly University, lived in Spain for a couple of years working in Madrid, and then moved back to the U.S. and, during a near-death experience that catapulted him into a journey of self-inquiry, it led him to the jungles of the Amazon, the inside of a float tank, and a commitment to the health and wellness world. And he’s now the co-founder of Plunge, along with the co-founder of Capitol Floats. And we go deep in this episode about the benefits of cold therapy, why cold therapy causes stress and this is a good thing, the nervous system and immune benefits, how it can boost metabolism, what happens when the shiver response is engaged. And then how-to’s of optimal temperature, how long to stay, who can do it, can kids do it? And so much more. So, shorter but very fact-packed episode. I enjoyed a lot. I’ve been really incorporating cold quite a bit in my own life and I talk about why. So let’s join Ryan. Ryan, welcome to the podcast.

 

Ryan: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

 

Katie: I am excited to chat about cold because this is something I’ve been getting a lot more into this past year. But before we jump into that, I have a note in my show notes that you broke your back running with bulls and I have got to hear this story.

 

Ryan: Yes. So, after my early 20s, I moved to Spain and lived in Madrid. And it wasn’t in Pamplona running with the standard festival that’s up there with running with the bulls. It’s an event called a Capea, and it’s very traditional in Spain. What it is is basically you rent out a bull rink in…and I had no clue of this. These were all my Spanish friends. My language wasn’t great. I kinda just showed up to this event and it was a bull rink outside of Madrid on a farm. And basically what it is is you’re out in this rink and you run with bulls and they kinda move around and you… A lot of the Spanish people were much more eloquent with how they moved with them and knew how to kind of dance with them. And when I say dance, I just assume, like, move and I was not.

 

And so, I was one that…young 20s, wanted to show off a little and was out with the bulls and let’s just say the bulls won and knocked me down and ran… Awesome experience out there. But yeah, it was one that… Came back later. I didn’t even know I broke it. I couldn’t really walk the next few days and then I came back to the States and I had a chiropractor appointment, did some X-rays, and chiropractor’s like, “Ryan, did you know you have a slight fracture in your back?” And I was like…and I knew exactly from where it was about four months earlier. So that’s my bull experience.

 

Katie: Wow, that is quite the story. And glad you’re recovered now. I’m guessing maybe part of that recovery or maybe not was potentially cold therapy which is what I wanna really go deep with you on today. So, to start broad, I’d love to hear how you got into the world of cold therapy.

 

Ryan: I got into it in 20…well, I first learned of it in 2016, or actually 2015 when the Wim Hof documentary came out on Vice and I remember seeing that. I had no clue who Wim was. Cold water wasn’t really… Outside of sports and you kinda suffer through it and get in an ice bath for your injury or that. That was the only thing I knew about it. Even breath work to the extent. And I remember seeing the ice documentary and it had a profound impact on my life. I watched it two nights in a row. I cried both nights. And just the inspiration of who Wim is as an individual and what he was bringing forward of us being in control of our nervous system and being able to heal ourselves through different sicknesses and ailments and everything that came with that and I didn’t…of course, I didn’t really act on it. I just learned of it.

 

And it wasn’t till 2018 that I had a number of sicknesses. I had about five colds over six months. And I was what I thought was healthy. I was active. I just kept getting sick and that’s when my health coach, health mentor brought forth like, “Hey, let’s start incorporating some daily breath work and let’s start getting you into cold water.” And that was really the only lifestyle change I made and I stopped getting sick. So that’s when it really…the power of it kind of came forth and I was like, “Wow, this is a real technology and tool to be utilized.”

 

Katie: So, if you can give us an overview of maybe some of the benefits of cold therapy, because a lot of our listeners are women. And I will admit I was like this as well for a long time, I would hear about cold therapy and I would read about the benefits and I would be like, “No. I’m not doing that. I’ll do sauna. I’ll do exercise. I do not wanna get cold.” But I have become very much a convert these last couple of years. So, talk to us about what the benefits are.

 

Ryan: It’s something that we’re still figuring out. I could speak for myself with the benefits of, you know, why I do it. It is the mental resiliency, it’s the consistency of doing something hard daily, and I really think there’s some power in the consistency of it and rewriting, like, neural pathways in there. So, getting into the cold, the big thing that we’re doing is we’re stressing our bodies out. It’s an intentional stress, you know. There’s environmental stressors that we have all the time daily and then there is this part, what we call hormetic stress. And getting into the body to naturally…to bring on adrenaline into our body, and then from there, it’s us controlling our breath in this hyper-stressful state. In a sympathetic, fight-or-flight state, we get to override the system and actually breathe.

 

So, it has massive impacts on our nervous system. So great for just building a more robust nervous system or immune system, excuse me, and our nervous system. You know, naturally, our breath throughout the day gets really shallow. We get stressed out all the time. Well, the plunge is just an exercise to really build that muscle within our body. So autotomic nervous system which is, you know, the nervous system and the immune system, great for blood flow. Getting in there, you’re gonna get better blood flow into your vital organs. It has shown impact for metabolism, increasing metabolism in the body, cutting down inflammation.

 

Those are some of the main ones that are there and then, you know, we’re still…there are still studies that are coming out of other things that are happening. The big thing for me is I just hear so many different people with different benefits that they’re experiencing. You know, with Plunge, we have a lot of different customers that come to us and they just have turned to a lot of different things. Like, we just recently…this is one that just happened recently. We had a person that had COVID and they had COVID long haul and they were…you know, they tried everything. They were in studies. They were taking all the medications out there, and we get a text and the guy’s had the unit for a week and his recovery score on WHOOP…he’s like, “I have not seen this since I had COVID into my ability to sleep, my ability to…I finally feel calm,” which is him saying, “My nervous system has finally calmed down.” So, you know, that was just a personal testimony that just happened recently. But it’s a pretty wide, wide spectrum of benefits.

 

Katie: Yeah, I definitely have felt that myself on the amazing energy and hormones that seem to kick in after cold. Like, admittedly, for me, still, that first little bit, 30 seconds in cold is not the most fun but you feel so amazing when you get out. And I used to say…like, I’m much better now. I used to say I wasn’t good at meditation and the beauty of cold is you get in cold water and all of a sudden you can meditate because you can do nothing but focus on your breath. You’re not making a to-do list, you’re not worried about what’s for dinner, you’re not…like, all the stress goes away and you’re like, “I am breathing. I’m just breathing.”

 

I also recently talked to a guy who used to play football and had had a lot of TBIs and he said cold is the only thing that helps his brain, like, relieve that pressure and kind of, like, increase his focus. And I think there definitely seems to be, like, a neurotransmitter connection there.

 

Ryan: I haven’t heard that one, the concussion. That’s incredible.

 

Katie: Yeah, it was just anecdotal for him but he said it’s…now I think he does 20 minutes a day just purely for the mental side. And I’ve read some data that there are kind of separate benefits if you do cold by itself and also, like, contrast therapy, combing heat and cold also has a lot of benefits, but kind of, like, they’re different camps almost. Can you explain? I know a lot of people like to do sauna, cold, sauna, cold. Just compare and contrast using them in different ways like that.

 

Ryan: Yeah, the contrast is… So first, like, for cold, one of the main mechanisms if you’re just doing cold is a lot of who people do it are really attracted to it right now for metabolism increase. And so, the cold is really phenomenal to get in and stay cold. It’s the body kind of adapting strictly to the cold. So, if you’re gonna be heating back up after, that might not be the best route for metabolism. But for contrast, I find it to just be… On a personal side, it’s the most calming mechanism. Like, when I get into the cold, I’m on fire, and then when I contrast back and forth, my sleep is on another level when I incorporate the contrast.

 

You know, it’s also one for probably a lot of your listeners here of women and pregnancy, and mitochondria is so important for that. And, you know, it is important. And I’m not saying it’s the best to get into an ice bath per se in 30 degrees. I wouldn’t really recommend that for a pregnant mom. But it is important to challenge our mitochondria in those states. So going maybe in a cooler temperature of 60 to 55 degrees and then warming up a little. And I’m not saying a sauna at 200 plus degrees, but at least doing the spectrum where you’re challenging the mitochondria and that’s gonna…you know, that’s so vital for that health during that period of time.

 

Katie: Yeah, I’d love to understand a little bit more about the metabolism benefits, because I’ve definitely seen this and I know a lot of people are using it for that specifically. And I’ve definitely firsthand witnessed the sleep side as well. It takes an act of the will for me every single time, but I know if I get in the cold for even just 3 or 4 minutes, about 20, 30 minutes before bedtime, my deep sleep score is amazing the next day. So, I’d love to understand, like, what is the mechanism that’s happening with metabolism benefits and then also sleep.

 

Ryan: Andrew Huberman has a lot on this right now. He did the deep dive onto metabolism. And his big thing is taking us to…you really wanna take yourself to a shiver and that shiver response sends some sort of trigger into the body on the metabolism side. And there’s the discussion of brown fat versus white fat and what those does to the body. And getting that cold response has been shown to turn white fat, which is kind of our…as we age, it’s a less energy source than brown fat, but cold-water therapy, increased metabolism can turn our white fat to brown fat. And that’s something that, like, all of us as babies, that was what we had. We had brown fat. That’s, like, natural in our body. And then as we age, biologically, a lot of our fat turns to white fat.

 

So, getting into the cold is a great response to kind of browning, for lack of a better term, our white fat to brown fat. And then on the metabolism side, it’s…I don’t quite know, like, the exact mechanism, but for me, it’s, like, my body’s just, like, alive. It’s almost like there’s an energy output that’s taking place. And, you know, you can get it, like you said, in such a short window of time. It’s not a long window that you have to…it’s not 20 minutes that you need to go sit in an ice bath. I mean, it doesn’t even need to be in 30 degrees. It’s, you know, 2 to 4 minutes and even 55 degrees and you’re gonna start getting that response in the body.

 

Katie: So, let’s talk about those two variables because I know there’s…I’ve seen a lot of debate and there does seem to be a trend right now, at least on social media of, like, go colder, go longer. And I do have to think, like, eventually, there’s a diminishing return, and at some point, it’s actually not gonna be great for the body to push it too far. But what have you seen as far as data on what is the temperature range you need to hit to start to get the benefits and how long? Because I’ve read for instance some data that even in, like, the low 50s, you’re getting that tangible benefit, you’re hitting shiver response, and that maybe there’s no need to push it into the 30s to actually get those benefits.

 

Ryan: Absolutely. I actually encourage anyone that…you know, any of our people that get a Plunge or anyone I’m talking to, I’m like, “Start in that 55-to-60-degree range.” The biggest thing for me is finding consistency. I liken cold therapy to working out. We get the benefits from working out by being consistent. And getting in at 39 degrees for 20 minutes your first time, it’s probably not the best mechanism in. You don’t wanna go to a CrossFit workout, your first workout back in six months and break your body down and not be able to get back into the water.

 

On Wim Hof’s site they talk about the 60 degrees or less. They’ve shown benefits for this. And it’s really…I mean, this is kind of the magic of it. It’s listening to your body. Like, all of our bodies are different and that is the beautiful part of cold plunging to me is you have to build a relationship with yourself in the water, in the cold, being able to listen to where am I at my threshold, where is healthy for me, where isn’t healthy for me.

 

So, like, to your point, I think it’s finding consistency and finding a temperature that you know you can get in. Start for two minutes. Don’t even do minutes, do breaths. Let’s go, like, 20 to 30 controlled breaths. How long can you do that for? Your body will naturally tell you, “Hey, let’s start lowering this temperature.” Like you said, there’s diminishing returns. It’s like a workout. You’ve done this weight now for three months. You might wanna start pushing it or try a different workout, get your muscles feeling a different workout. It’s the same thing of what we’re doing to our nervous system. We’re working it out and we need to play around with the times and the intervals of how we’re doing it.

 

Katie: Yeah. I think of it a little like fasting where there’s certainly physical benefits as well but I feel like the resiliency and building that mental toughness is a huge advantage of the cold, and especially…I was so resistant to it. It’s been really fun to see my ability to stay and go up over time. I also am competitive so I know in myself I’ve pushed it a few times just to prove I could and stayed in for too long and then you feel tired the whole rest of the day. So, there is that point of, like, listen to your body and I didn’t do that. Is there any guidelines also about how far into the water to go? Because I know for instance, like, if I go full thyroid in, it’s a totally different level than if I’m just, like, you know, waist deep or chest deep in the water.

 

Ryan: Great question. Yes, like you said, it totally matters into where you’re at in the body. I think from an optimal plunge standpoint, it’s trying to get all the way down, shoulders under, up to your neck in and the rest of the body in. Your hands and your feet are always, like, a very intense point. So, for myself, my feet are under and I can do it. My hands, I usually hold out and then I’m bringing them in every…I kinda fluctuate between every 15 seconds and I just try and take them to its limit and them I bring them up. It’s where the most nerve endings are in our body so they’re gonna be the most intense part in the body.

 

And I encourage, like, my girlfriend. She plunges all the time and she is…sometimes it’s just getting into…like, below her chest. And it’s, like, finding the place that you can get in and do it. So, if it’s just so intense that the shoulders aren’t gonna make…you’re not gonna get in because that’s too intense, just get the body and get the legs in, do that. Get your 15 breaths in. But yeah, I think from an optimal standpoint, it’s getting that neck in and then trying to submerge as much of the body as possible.

 

Katie: Yeah, and it is less fun to get shoulders in but I feel like you do adapt quickly and I heard even Tim Ferriss 10 years ago talk about this that there’s a special benefit to cooling kind of the brain stem, back of the neck area for the metabolism side and for burning fat and for that brown fat creation. There seems to be a signaling mechanism connected to the hypothalamus, they think. Because he even recommended, you know, you can put an ice pack on the back of your neck and get some of the effects because of that. So, I feel like that’s a high value point to get in the water even though it’s not fun. And I don’t know if it’s actually recommended but one thing I found, to your point, is that my hands and feet do get cold first, so I’ll often keep my hands out, like, almost like praying in front of my face but I’ll put on my scuba boots.

 

And so, I can stay so much longer if my feet aren’t, like, pins and needle burning. And my thought hopefully is that I’m able to keep the rest of my body in longer, hopefully create more brown fat. And I know from, like, past medical training, like, hands and feet are the optimal to cool down if someone has heat stroke for instance because they so effectively cool the body, but they also don’t have a lot of fat typically. So, there is kind of minimal benefit to getting your hands and feet extra cold. So at least that’s one of my hacks that I do. I don’t know if it’s recommended but I find I can stay in so much longer.

 

Ryan: No, I’ve heard that from other people and that is…it’s super intuitive on your part to listen to your body and figure out how do I… that’s part of the game is figuring out the part that you can withstand longer in there.

 

Katie: Yeah, and especially when I used to have thyroid issues. I found, like, those would really, like, hurt because I was already kinda, like, cold anyway. But the cool part was getting used to the cold, I felt like my body temperature actually went up over time and I kind of adapted to it and I actually like…my basal body temperature went up. So even though it seems like if you’re already cold, you don’t wanna get cold. I feel like it can have that amazing rebound effect which probably is going back to those metabolic benefits.

 

Also it feels like it’s important any time we’re talking about anything to make sure we cover benefits and also potential risk. So, are there any risk or downsides to cold therapy or things people need to be aware of before they jump into a cold practice?

 

Ryan: Yeah, I think…I mean, heart issues. It is a stressor on the body. That’s the pure intention that we’re doing of getting into the cold water is to stress our body out. So, you know, if you have heart issues, that’s definitely one to monitor, whether it’s talking to your health practitioner or just easing in, you know, starting out your first time. And it’s a new way to learn your body. So, I think that’s…the heart’s a big one.

 

Like, I’ve talked about earlier with pregnant mothers. I think finding… You know, I’m not a doctor. Obviously, I haven’t been pregnant, and so I don’t quite know that, but it’s talking with some mothers that have. It’s not going super extreme with it. So, I think that’s always the biggest thing is getting into it. Don’t redline it your first time. And that’s really for anyone and finding that temperature that you can just kinda get in, take it to your edge, and build some consistency with that.

 

Katie: And I know any time we’re talking about pregnancy or nursing, it’s always of course talk to your medical professional before trying anything kind of situation, of course. But I know when I was in Finland, we did sauna and cold plunge in very extreme conditions and there were pregnant moms in both of those. And we’re talking, like, 180-degree plus saunas and 28 degree moving cold water. So, I definitely have seen people do it. Is there any data that you’ve seen? I know we also can’t really do easy studies on pregnant women, but it makes sense to me that women would’ve encountered cold while pregnant. Like, we don’t just naturally get to live in a perfectly 70-degree environment just because we’re pregnant. Are there any safety guidelines around that that you know of?

 

Ryan: I haven’t. I haven’t. I’ve definitely scoured the internet for different studies on it and there’s been some…PubMed has some stuff on it. It’s also one, like…with me, I don’t have experience with it so I weighed into that, like, much more cautiously into just encouraging people like…it’s kind of a self-exploration thing. And then on the data standpoint, I don’t have anything to really bring forward there.

 

Katie: For a lot of our listeners… Most people listening are moms, so another question I know we’re gonna get is what about kids? And I’ll say on a personal level, again, not medical advice but I often will get in with one of my kids and we’ll kinda compete to see who can stay longer. Fair warning, it’s tougher when you have a moving child moving the water around because you stay colder. But what do you recommend when it comes to kids and guidelines? I know in the sauna I’ve had experts on here say it’s fine but they need to listen to their body. So, if they get hot, let them get out. Is it maybe the same with cold or any guidelines there?

 

Ryan: It’s exactly the same there. It’s been interesting. Kids are so attracted to the cold. I’m sure…I don’t know if you’ve seen that with your kids. It’s just this curiosity with it. And it’s actually something we hear with a lot of our…just people that plunge. It kind of brings back that childlike life into them. Like, they feel like a child again in the cold. So, there are some interesting parallels there. But for kids, I always recommend…they’re gonna know, you know. A lot of them, it’s a shock. They get in, they’re not…they’re only gonna be in for so long. So, they’re gonna listen to their body. I think the goal with kids that I’ve seen in, you know, my family and whatnot is just getting them to get a few controlled breaths in there. Like, there’s gonna be such a shock to them, and it’s a fun and it’s…like, they wanna scream and it’s, like, can they just get… Let’s just go three to five like, like, [inhales]. Like, can they send that signal to their body, like, “I’m safe. I’m okay.” And I think that’s the goal of just kind of a bite-sized win for a kid.

 

Katie: Yeah, I feel like kids are so instinctive too and they do know when they’re gonna get…they’re not gonna push themselves past the point where it’s dangerous because their bodies will absolutely tell them to get out. But it’s fun to watch my kids, especially the younger ones. Their responses are so natural. They usually start laughing which speaks to all the release of all the neurotransmitters and dopamine that’s happening when you get in cold water.

 

Ryan: Totally.

 

Katie: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to watch. Another tip I have personally is when I was trying to, like, work up to five minutes a day, I would put on a song that was five minutes long, so for me, it was Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and then I always knew, like, there were benchmarks. Like, “Oh, when she starts speaking French, I’m almost done. I can get out soon.” But now it’s funny. It’s so Pavlovian that if I hear that on the radio, I start getting goosebumps. It’s like a trained response these days.

 

Ryan: That’s an incredible hack. Like, the song, the one song is the thing that we hear from so many people. Like, “I’ll stay in for a song.” And it’s just another way to kinda hack it and know and train the body to, you know, send the signal, you’re safe. I love the Lady Gaga song.

 

Katie: What about as far as timing throughout the day and/or timing in relation to working out? Because for instance, I’ve heard that if you…like, you actually want a little bit of the inflammatory response after, for instance, a really strong weight training session. So, you might not wanna immediately blunt that with cold. I don’t know if that’s actually correct but I’ve heard that tossed around. Is there any kind of optimal time either objectively or in relation to other activities when it comes to cold?

 

Ryan: I mean, my simple answer is when can you do it. Like, it’s already so hard to do it just with all the natural excuses and life and all the…it’s hard to get under cold water. So, whenever you’re gonna do it, if that is after a workout…because you’re warmed up and it’s a… I always find it a little easier after a workout. If that’s your time you’re gonna get in, great. Like, just do it. Don’t overthink it. And to your point, yes. We do want that response post workout and to kind of get right into the cold and suppress that inflammation impact that’s taking place. Like, it probably could…it will have an impact on our workouts. Like, I was talking to Dr. Kelly Starrett about this. He’s kind of a recovery expert. And his big thing is…he said, “If I had a client, if they’re a bodybuilder or some professional athlete, yes. I would recommend them probably not to get in the cold right after their workout.” But most of us aren’t that. Most of us are working out for health and wellness. And so, the biggest thing is, like, how do I just feel good to go work out tomorrow? So, if that means cold plunging, like, that might be more benefit for you than being concerned about getting the maximum gains from your workout. So, my answer is I think yes, there is something there. And I don’t think a lot of us are at a spot to really worry about that being the factor.

 

Katie: Can you speak to the hormonal side a little bit? Like I said, I’ve seen data about cold plunge helping with hormones. But any specifics on what’s actually going on there that we know about? I know, like you said, it’s an early area of research, even though there’s age-old evidence of it. But do we have any data on what is happening with our hormones when we get in cold?

 

Ryan: I mean, the actual, the mechanism, I’m not the most articulate to say that. I think there are studies out there especially with anxiety and depression into what’s happening there and I think there is…we’re getting a massive adrenaline shock. And then in that is being able to control our breath through that. So that’s… Anxiety and all that, it’s, like, a natural…it’s usually adrenaline in the brain. But in the body, we’re getting adrenaline through our body and we’re being able to kinda override the system with our breath and controlling, lowering our heart rate.

 

So, there are some studies out there that show different sample sizes of anxiety, depression, and people having impacts from getting in the cold, and I think that’s kind of the depth that I understand it. There’s really good…yeah. It’s a unique one online where there’s probably a lot of other things under the surface that’s happening that we don’t even quite realize yet.

 

Katie: And like I mentioned, most people listening are parents. So, I’m curious if you’ve heard any specific kind of cool, unexpected things from families specifically who incorporate cold plunge?

 

Ryan: Well, you talked about it is it’s created this unique family time that is…I did not anticipate when we launched Plunge that that would be a thing. It’s become this kind of…we hear…there’s so many moms and dads. It’s like, “It’s become this ritual with my daughter every night that we go and we do something hard together or we…it’s become this family time. As opposed to, like, game night, it’s, like, we’re doing plunge night.” And so that’s been the coolest thing is build this camaraderie amongst the family to do it together. How long can we go? And, you know, it’s not a super long time that you do it, but it’s just this new ritual that gets built into the family and it’s been…I did not anticipate that and it’s been really cool to witness.

 

Katie: And I know you have, well, several probably specific products for cold plunging and that you’re making this a lot more accessible to families. Like, I know when I first started this years ago, you kinda had to build one out of a freezer. That wasn’t the best experience. And make sure you unplugged it so you didn’t accidentally shock yourself. And sometimes it would freeze over and you’d have to chop the ice and there was the whole thing around it. What are the options now? Because I feel like you have…talk us through the options you have and are they indoor, outdoor? Where can they go?

 

Ryan: Yeah, so our unit is…it came kind of out of this conundrum of there’s…it’s either a chest freezer which, you know, is kind of this…it’s kind of an eyesore. It’s not the safest thing. It’s not built for that. It’s not built to filling it up with water and getting in all the time. It’s gonna leak, it’s gonna do that. So, my co-founder and I, we launched this out of a… man, there’s gotta be a way to make this more affordable than the few options that were on the market at the time. And we did come up with something that we thought was, you know…both men and women really enjoyed it. It looks good. It’s effective. It’s clean. It’s cold. It’s on demand whenever you want it. So, we have our standard model and then we’ve developed a few other ones that… We’re gonna be soon launching an XL unit which is a much larger unit. And we have a unit that turns into a hot tub so you can fluctuate it between hot and cold.

 

But it’s a cool feature for, you know…we sell it and you can turn it into a hot tub but it’s mostly for our customers that are in really cold conditions because these are indoor and outdoor units. So, they can upregulate the temperature. So, if you live in Montana during the winter, you know, the concern is not, “Is my water gonna get cold enough?” It’s, “Is my water gonna freeze? Is the piping gonna freeze?” So, this…and sometimes people don’t wanna be plunging in 30s. They wanna be plunging in the 50s. So how do I get control of my water? So that’s our hot and cold unit. You can upregulate the temperature, put it to exactly where you want it. So, we have our standard, our hot and cold, and then, coming soon, our XL unit.

 

Katie: Awesome. And yeah. I feel like in the winter right now, I’m struggling more with…it’s harder to get in the cold plunge when it’s already 30 degrees outside. And so, like, I’ve turned up the temperature now on ours in the 40s so I’m not as cold.

 

Ryan: That’s the magic, though, is getting in in that winter time where it’s just the daily…you don’t wanna do it and it’s just having that on-demand option to be able to be just like, “Okay, I’m gonna do it.”

 

Katie: Yes, and it is…like I said, I don’t feel like that first 10 seconds ever seems to get much easier. But the staying in gets easier. And the benefits…I do it for the feeling as soon as I get out. It’s almost like a complete state change, just that your skin is all tingly, your brain is just on, and that’s what drives me to keep getting back in.

 

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I also feel like anything…like, cold plunge is one part of many, many things we can do for health and I’m a huge fan. I’m curious for you what some of the other things that are your non-negotiables when it comes to health or maybe your own 80-20 of things that you feel like give you the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to staying healthy.

 

Ryan: I mean, to me, it’s simple. I mean, I have a list of supplements and products that I take that, you know, are always there. But it’s getting sun on my body, getting my feet in the ground. Cold plunging has become that time, and breath work. Like, those are the main core attributes of it. Another big thing which is floating. I’m a big advocate of float tanks and float therapy. So that’s…it’s kind of the opposite of plunging. With plunging, you’re bringing in this stressor to your body where getting in a float tank and getting the Epsom salt. We’re all to some level deficient in magnesium. So, getting into the tank, having that experience and then it’s really getting the external stimuli cut down on the body and getting in there for 60 minutes.

 

Whether it’s a full meditative experience which it’s not always that experience but sometime…it’s just that is a completely calm to the nervous system. So, for anyone that is not familiar with what float tanks are, I’m sure a lot of your audience is, but, you know, a float tank is a chamber you get into. It has about a foot of water and about 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt. And you go in usually with no music, no lights and it feels like you’re floating in outer space. The water’s heated to skin temperature. It’s about 93.5 degrees so you don’t really know where your body ends and the water begins. And you really just get to let go and surrender and have no gravity on your body, really release a lot of tension that’s in the body and then just have the mind. What’s really taking place over that window and it’s kind of up for debate the exact time period, but, you know, usually around that 45-minute mark, the prefrontal cortex and the exterior lobe start to separate. And when those are connected, that’s when we call…that’s when we have the chatter, the monkey mind. So, when those start to separate, we get those moments of clarity, those moments of peace. So, floating’s a big…I’m a big advocate of that, you know, whether that’s once a month, twice a month, however often you can get in. That’s a huge, huge tool.

 

Katie: Yeah, I’ve done some floating in the past as well and it’s amazing how it both seems like you’re in there forever and also for, like, two minutes. Like, time kind of disappears once you kind of get relaxed in there and it was a weird experience for me the first time but then it was easier to, like, just get into that state change pretty quickly. And I think especially for moms it can be an attractive bio hack because it’s totally quiet and peaceful and no one’s asking you for anything and you literally just get to be for a few minutes, which is a rare treat for a lot of moms, I think. I also love that you brought up sunlight because this is a recuring theme among high achievers on this podcast and I think one that’s often underestimated is just getting natural light a couple of times throughout the day, from the data I’ve seen, has a really profound impact on hormones. Like, pretty drastic. And I’ve seen that in my own labs. Especially getting in the sunlight in the morning as soon as possible after waking up is a really important signaling mechanism for sleep and for your right, correct cortisol patterns. And I think that’s one of those great things that’s completely free that we can all do and that seems to really compound the benefits of anything else we’re adding in.

 

Ryan: A hundred percent. As I’ve gone on my wellness journey, it’s like our body naturally has its own cycles, and it’s, like, what are the triggers to just kind of… Like, when we’re rising in the morning, like, what are the triggers that the body…to get the body to be doing what it wants to be doing? So, you know, sunlight is that…I wouldn’t even call it a hack. It’s just the fuel that gives that body that response and then we can…you know, it naturally starts to do what it’s supposed to do.

 

Katie: Absolutely. I’m also a big fan of a little bit of midday bright sunlight because that’s another very just important signaling mechanism. And skin exposure to me is very important but also, it’s….people don’t realize, there’s sensors in our eyes that respond very drastically to natural sunlight. So even just 10 minutes of being outside on a break on lunchtime, go for a walk, it makes a huge difference in your hormones over time, just like we’ve talked about with cold that, like, hormetic stress from cold can make a huge difference in hormones over time. And to your point, I think it all does go back to consistency as well and actually what can you stick to or how can you actually incorporate it.

 

A couple of other questions I love to ask for the end of interviews. The first being if there is a book or a number of books that have had a really profound impact on your life? And if so, what they are and why?

 

Ryan: A book that’s just been timeless for me and I keep coming…I’ve read it a number of times and I… it’s a book called “Who Dies” and it’s by Stephen Levine. Stephen Levine…this was written back in the ’80s. Stephen Levine was a hospice caretaker, arguably had spent more time with people in their transition states than any human on the planet and Ram Dass really encouraged him to bring this forward. And it’s just a great investigation into death. I think death is something that I would…it’s just something I encourage myself to explore more and more. It’s something inevitable. It’s happening around us all the time. So, it’s a beautiful book into death. And looking at it from our own mortality to people dying around us or if we were a parent and our child dies, like, what is that. Like, all the levels of death that take place. And I think it’s a beautiful, safe space to kinda go in and investigate this inevitable thing that we all experience.

 

Katie: That’s a new one. I’ll make sure that’s linked in the show notes as well. And I love that idea. I’ve got actually the words memento mori on my wrist as a reminder, remember your death. And the irony being is when we remember that and actually kind of sort of meditate on it, it actually tends to make people less afraid of actually dying and more content in life. I love that you brought that up.

 

Ryan: That’s the key I really take from…I mean, the book really hammers that home but it’s, like, the more open to our death, you know, the more we’re gonna openly live life and it’s this paradox that they dance together and I’ve really come to see that.

 

Katie: Awesome. And lastly, any advice, parting advice you wanna leave with our listeners today? It could be related to cold or not.

 

Ryan: Advice? I’m always very hesitant to give advice because everyone’s at their own space. I think for me the mantra that I come back to just kind of in general as an entrepreneur, in my life, you know, in partnerships, in relationships, in all the stuff, it’s…and it’s been so liberating to me, but no one knows what they’re…none of us know what they’re doing. And, you know, I bring it forward in business a lot where I’ve kind of, “Oh, what’s the move? What’s the answer?” Thinking that, you know…in an old job I had, my bosses knew what to do and it’s just like, “Dude, no one knows what they’re doing and everyone’s just figuring it out.” And it’s always just been one of the most liberating mantras that I’ve had.

 

Katie: Awesome. Well, I think that’s a perfect place to wrap up. I hope this has been really educational for a lot of people. I hope we’ve encouraged some people to try to brave the cold and to experiment with it. Like I said, I’ve seen benefits in my own life and it’s one of my favorite things I do now for mental benefits. And I just, like, actually miss it now when I don’t get in the cold for a couple of days. But I know it’s a hard start for a lot of people, especially women seem to be resistant to it at first. I hope we’ve shed some light on the benefits and made it seem more doable, more attainable. And I’ll of course have links in the show notes. And I think there’s possibly a specific code that we’ll have for listeners that they can check out in the show notes as well. But where can people find your products and learn more?

 

Ryan: Yeah, just the thecoldplunge.com. It’s our site there. We have a great blog with that cover even more of these topics that we’ve discussed. It has our products there. So thecoldplunge.com.

 

Katie: Awesome. Well, Ryan, thank you for your time. Thanks for all that you do and for spending time educating us today.

 

Ryan: Likewise, Katie. I appreciate you having me on.

 

Katie: And thanks, as always to all of you for listening and sharing your most valuable resources, your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the “Wellness Mama” podcast.

 

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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