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Messages - unchained

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26

So, our focus shouldn't be on the stimuli as much as on the responses.


True, but an understanding of the underlying emotions that can cause triggers to arise in the first place can help us implement an appropriate response earlier.

In the end I want both.  Whenever possible I'd prefer to be proactive about either avoiding a trigger entirely or redirect my thinking as early in the process as possible.  That's why it is important to be aware of our state of mind at all times.  When not possible and we find ourselves face to face with a very strong trigger I agree that a proper response is everything, worrying about whether you are tired or not is rather pointless in that situation.

27
Ages 40 and up / Re: 47yo, addicted to Porn and Masturbation since 13ish
« on: February 04, 2016, 10:58:33 AM »
The temptation seems to be growing with each passing day as does the boredom with EVERYTHING else.

Two weeks is good.

What you are experiencing is normal.  First week pretty smooth...triggers and anxiety get strong in week two or so.  I've found from going through withdrawal more than once that it peaks around the end of the second week or so and stays there for about a month.  After that things start to get much better.

Bored or not, finding things to occupy your mind will help immensely.  Make a hobby out of learning about your addiction.  Read all you can.  The more you understand the science behind what is going on in your brain the more you will see it as a fixable problem.

Good luck.

28
Ages 40 and up / Re: Yes I Can!
« on: February 03, 2016, 06:24:45 PM »
Hey Bob.  I appreciate the encouragement you have given to me in my journal.

Hang tough.  I don't know what you are going through, but usually the things we worry about the most never materialize.

I like Now-Man's cold shower suggestion.  Sometimes I feel like I'm some type of cold shower cheerleader around here, but they do help.  The improved mood is REAL...lasts all day, however it's the feeling of accomplishment that really gets me going.  Standing there with the knowledge that you can tough out uncomfortable situations...that you can man-up on it and do the things you set your mind to, even things that suck.  Five minutes is enough to make you feel like He-Man.

29
Learn from my mistakes...as they have been plenty.  Unfortunately, I'm stubborn and trip over the same obstacles over and over.

It is dang near impossible to maintain long term sobriety if one continues frequent MO...that's just the way it is.  You may be able to only focus on sensations sometimes, but let's be honest.  Who really wants to jerk off every day or two staring out into outer space while meditating on nothing?  It won't be successful.  Eventually the fantasies and porn thoughts creep back in.  Do that enough and your brain will find a way to rationalize that it's ok just to peek and then the next thing you know you're dusting yourself off again from another bad fall.

Believe me, when I started I was focused on quitting PMO but more or less thought no MO was an unobtainable pipe dream.  I rationalized the occasional (or all too many times frequent) MO as a way to "calm my nerves".  This way I wouldn't be on edge all the time.  I convinced myself it was necessary to MO to keep away from PMO.  But what was happening inside my addict brain was quite the opposite.  What WAS happening in reality was that I was feeding the beast that I was otherwise trying to starve.  Little images of pornstars or porn related scenarios would race through my brain.  It was keeping the appetite alive.  Was it as bad as a 4 hour PMO session?  Surely not.  But it did manage to slow my progress and always eventually led back to a relapse.  You want to starve the beast...that means you don't sneak it small bites...it gets nothing.

There are some rebooters that manage to tell porn to hit the highway and never look back...those are the poster children for successful rebooting.  I'm not one of those guys.  I've had long streaks, short streaks, long binges and small stumbles.  I've tried to do this with and without MO.  The successes I am now having come from learning the hard way.  I wish that wasn't true, but it is.  If you want to heal...heal fast, get back on track and not be in an ever lasting wrestling match with intrusive porn thoughts and imagery then leave your dick alone.

Weening yourself off of MO may work.  I hope it does, but I used to tell myself the same thing.  For most any addiction the only way is cold turkey.  Your brain will lie.  It will say it is impossible.  It will say that pressure is building up (bullshit) and that you will explode.  It is all bullshit.  You will not explode.  Don't waste the next year of your recovery learning the hard way like I did.  In order to make significant progress in your walk away from porn, the MO has to go as well...it just does.

In the end, I actually found that quitting MO to be easier than PMO.  You never would have convinced me of that two years ago but it's true.  It is the porn that is so hard to let go of.  I spent about 30 years constructing the perfect harem in my brain that I could visit anytime I wanted and they were there for nothing other than to fulfill my selfish desires.  That is one tough thing to give up.  Taking control of and choosing to abstain from MO is empowering and will serve you well in resisting the sirens when they beckon.

Remember this...at no point in our lives are we ever stationary.  We are always moving in one direction or another.  There is no "I'm sitting still on this road".  You are either moving toward or away from porn...it's that simple.

Lastly, what BrooklynJerry was referring is known as the chaser effect.  In the early days the chaser is very real...so be on the look out for it.  The chaser has tripped up many a guy...including me.  I don't know why it is, but for some reason the day or so after sex it is very easy to get triggered.  Also, what I found for myself was that I was actually more apt to believe the lies my brain was telling me after having successful sex.  It would usually go something like this "See, your dick worked just fine last night.  You know she probably won't want sex for another few days...why don't you just have a peek.  You're fine now...all healed up.  Why wouldn't you want to check out what new girls are at all of your favorite sites?"...yeah right.

Leave you dang dick alone and don't look at or read anything that is even remotely stimulating and you will be fine.  Don't worry about if it constitutes someone else's definition of what is or what is not porn.  If it gets you going, avoid it like the plague.

30
Ages 40 and up / Re: Who knew...?
« on: February 03, 2016, 11:54:28 AM »
If you can go 30 days without MO, you can keep going.  You said yourself that it's worth it.  You are healing and your time without MO has accelerated it.

I know from experience (I was still MOing for the first 30 days of no PMO) that  I was still getting major hits of dopamine from MO and thoughts of the next MO. As we say in AA, I was simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Just hang tough.  The addicted part of the brain will attempt to rationalize small things that will lead us back to PMO.  In the past, MO was one of those things for me.  Now, it's off the table too.

31
I've been trying to come up with a new acronym for the emotions that trip us up.

I'm familiar with BLAST (Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed, Tired).  Later I heard about HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).  After giving it some thought I realized that the H definitely need to be in there.  I've also picked up on a couple of more conditions that send my brain seeking pleasure and PMO.  One is Entitled.  Often times I would use PMO as a sort of reward...like saying to myself "you did so good at such-and-such, you deserve a little treat".  Entitled has crept up on me more than once in reboot.  My brain would somehow convince me that my reward for staying away from porn should be a binge on porn...ugh.  The second condition is Ill (or could be Sick or Unwell).  I have medicated physical pain with PMO on many occasions, however, it is usually some type of self-induced illness, i.e. hangover.

The best I could come up with is:
B ored
L onely
E ntitled
M ad
I ll
S tressed
H ungry

Unfortulately, this leaves out Tired (or possibly F for Fatigued).  I've also played with A for Angry instead of M for Mad and the aforementioned S or U in place of I for Ill.

Any ideas?


32
I have been without looking at video porn for 5 wks. Yesterday i looked at a sex story. I tried to justify as im reading that its not the same. I did not jerk off however. Today i feel awful. Like i have to start over. Im so pissed at myself for reading that trash. Anybody else been there?

Been there?  Every guy at this site has been there.  I spent so much time "there" that I should have bought a second home and set up temporary residence.  You are definitely not alone.

First..congratulations on the success that you have had.  Five weeks is a long time and you should feel pride in your accomplishment and your success should give you hope for the future.

Second...you are not starting over.  Even if you failed and MO'd to the erotic story, you are not starting over.  It may be a hick-up, setback or whatever, but it doesn't take you back to square 1.  Learn what you can from the mistake and keep on moving.  The faster change your mindset from being discouraged or mad at your self to a mindset of seeing both your successes and failures as a learning opportunity then the faster you will feel better about yourself.  Remember, this addiction feeds on negative thoughts and feelings.

I see that this is your first post.  You may want to consider starting a new journal for yourself.  You will get support, feedback and encouragement here.  You will also get some accountability.  Lastly, it helps to get your thoughts "on paper" so to speak, as well.  Good luck.

33
Holy cow! Main stream media finally catching up?  Maybe some light will finally shine on this addiction.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2016/02/02/porn-public-health-crisis-utah-weiler-thinks-so/?intcmp=hpbt4

34
Ages 40 and up / Re: Continuing Onwards to No PMO and More
« on: February 02, 2016, 11:45:53 AM »
Hang in there...just keep evaluating your plan and tweet it where there are weaknesses.

I just heard the following quote for the first time this past week:

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.

35
Still going strong...just wanted to check in.

I also have some exciting news to share on the sexual healing front.  I've come to realize since I began this process that in the past, 100% of my own sexuality has been objectifying women.  In my marriage as well as previous girlfriends I more or less ogled their bodies to get an erection and sex was more or less the physical act of pmo...there just happened to be someone else in the room I was in physical contact with rather than me alone with my computer.  I was always watching, looking at their bodies to stay turned on...sex was me pleasing myself inside of someone else.  It was just like I was watching it on a screen.  I suppose I have always been disconnected during sex as a result.

Please understand I love my wife and have had many deeply loving relationships before her.  I'm not the guy who can't see a women as anything other than a sex object, however, I know that porn has always caused me to over sexualize the way I see people and I know that I have inappropriately objectified women in the past.  This was not, however, so severe that it kept me from being able to love and respect the women I have been with.  It's just that when things get sexual I have trained my brain to need to stare at a woman's body to get aroused.  It's just like staring at 2D images in a magazine or on the screen...that it what my brain required for me to perform sexually.  Everything was sooo visual...because of this I've probably only had sex with the lights out a few times in my life.  Even if something sparked in the middle of the night I would always reach for the lamp because sex to me necessitated looking at a woman's body.

Last night, for the first time in a really long time I became aroused by nothing more than being in the presence of my wife.  It was rather late but she was still awake in bed when I went to bed.  **Not to worry, there will be no triggers in this story**.  Anyway, I lay on my back with my hands behind my head.  She was on her side facing me.  She reached out and held onto my arm as we lay there.  Just laying there, not speaking I became incredibly turned-on from just being beside her and feeling her touch.  I'll finish by saying we had successful sex.

The great thing is that it happened start to finish in the dark.  I was tuned on by her presence...not just looking at her body parts.  There was no messing around to get me going, not even a kiss.  It was just a natural desire without any type of sexual touch that made me 100% erect.

Of course, I wasn't analyzing anything at the moment.  It wasn't until afterwards that I realized what happened or rather how it happened.  I wanted to tell her, but she had already drifted off to sleep so I just lay there reveling in the fact that I functioned like I'm supposed to.  I damn near cried.

36
Thank Bob.

I got back home from vacation last night.  I had fun, but it's nice to be back.  For me at this time a consistent routine is very beneficial.  Our schedule was so hectic that I didn't have time to do some the things that help me maintain focus.  I actually missed listening to my now memorized radio podcasts by Gary Wilson and others.  I didn't think they were appropriate listening while I drove with my 6 & 8 year olds in the car, lol.

37
Ages 40 and up / Re: 47yo, addicted to Porn and Masturbation since 13ish
« on: January 27, 2016, 06:11:56 PM »
2) Another takeaway I have from the video is that Medication can strengthen the frontal lobe and rebuild gray mater. What sort of Meditation is suggested for exercising the frontal lobe?

I do a type of meditation that was suggested in the InnerGold program by Gordon Bruin.  Actually, he is adamant that it is not a program but rather a way of life.  You may want to check it out.  It was helpful to me.

Anyway, the meditation he suggests is this.  You memorize a favorite quote, poem, bible verse, words to a song, etc.  It is preferable that it is something positive, inspirational or motivating.  Sit somewhere that you won't be disturbed and is relatively quiet.  Sit comfortably.  Close your eyes, take a few slow breaths focussing on your breath and then begin to very slowly and deliberately say your quote out loud.  When you are done, take a few breaths and then do it over.  I say two prayers, a favorite poem & an inspirational quote, but you could just do one long or short memorization over and over.  As your mind wanders (and it will), calmly and gently bring your focus back to your words.

I started at 5 minutes, then 10 and then 15 minutes.  If I don't have a full 15 minutes of time available, I shoot for at least 10 minutes.

Over time you will learn a couple of things from this type of meditation.  First you will become more aware of your own thoughts as they enter your consciousness.  This is beneficial in that the earlier you can spot a triggering thought, the better.  The second is that you will get better and better at focusing your attention where you want it.  In the end, that is the true benefit.  We are all going to get triggered, either from outside influences or thoughts that just pop into our heads.  The ability to consciously choose to direct our thoughts elsewhere is a HUGE key in becoming the master of our actions.

I wish I embraced meditation earlier on.  Like too many other folks, I thought the answer was to fight the invasive thoughts...to kill, crush, erase, defeat and conquer them.  I wanted to rip them from my brain.  In the end, it just simply doesn't work that way.  They key to overcoming the thought is to not give them any of your focus.  Meditation can be a very powerful tool in helping you get to a place where your prefrontal cortex is directing what you pay attention to rather than your reward system calling the shots.

Remember this as well.  The part of the brain that is suggesting porn over and over isn't the enemy.  As a matter of fact it is trying to protect you...to make you feel better by taking you to a happy place.  When the thoughts arise, acknowledge them and simply choose not to act on them...focus you attention somewhere else.  Thank your brain for the suggestion and say "I think we'll do something else".  You don't have to fight the thoughts....doing so only keeps them in your focus.  If you try to smash them it becomes like a game of Whack-A-Mole.  They just keep coming and coming.

38
Ages 40 and up / Re: 45 and up until yesterday had no idea!?
« on: January 27, 2016, 05:30:37 PM »
For me, coming clean to the wife was hugely beneficial.  It helps to have someone to talk to...someone who cares for you as you attempt to get clean.  Believe me, quitting any addiction can be a very tough path.  There were times during withdrawal that I thought I was going to loose my mind.  The anxiety was torture.  Having someone to simply hold on to made all the difference in the world.  I don't see how the moments she supported me would have been possible if she didn't know about the addiction...she probably just would have thought I was a nut.

39
Thanks Leon. It seems that I've gotten to a place that I spend more time focussing on my thoughts than anything physical...but that doesn't mean the worries of my physical healing has left me completely.  I will say that the evidence seems conclusive...if we fix the mental problems then the physical will take care of themselves.

I'm on (and have been) on a bit of a vacation.  Its been fun and tough at the same time. I've come to rely on my routine and threre's nothing like a vacation to mess up a routine...just like messing up a diet or exercise routine.  I've been with the family in Orlando. We've been going to the Disney parks.  It has been fun, busy, wonderful, ,stressful.  I have been physically & emotionally tired.  I've been hungry, mad, stressed, happly, embarassed, excited, extremely tired and even bored (standing in countless lines). Thankfully, I have barriers in place or I would have probably self medicated after the family was all in bed.


40
Ages 40 and up / Re: 48 years old and tired of PIED
« on: January 25, 2016, 02:40:56 PM »
It can be a struggle to find your way through the maze of PMO addiction.  I know too well how it felt to want to stay away from porn but was in constant anxiety about whether the erection would work or not.  My advise to you is this...if you want to heal, truly heal, then cut out the porn... completely.  The fact you didn't MO is great, but porn is the poison that is ruining your erection.

It doesn't matter what the stimulus is, if it's anything other than being with your wife it is training your brain to get turned on by things other than her.  Fastest way to heal is to relax, stay away from porn and make her your only sexual outlet.  I understand that it is easier said than done, believe me when I say I wish I had taken my own advise countless times, but it is the truth.

41
Ages 40 and up / Re: 321 Connect
« on: January 20, 2016, 04:49:02 PM »
I have committed to being honest and to return even if i dont do this perfectly.  I think I may be a perfectionist who would bolt if I cant do this well, whatever 'WELL' is...who knows.

I've heard Matt say from pornfreeradio (which is a free podcast) that just because you can't do it perfect doesn't mean you can't do it.

Stay strong

42
Ages 40 and up / Re: Hoples
« on: January 20, 2016, 01:40:30 PM »
Withdrawal effects us all differently.  My anxiety was so bad that I thought I was going crazy.  For me the worst part lasted about 2 weeks.  It started at about 2 weeks and lasted until about week 4 or 5.  After that, it still sucked, but was much more manageable.

Since then I've had a few resets, but fortunately none were long enough to really cause me to have to go through withdrawal again.

Hang in there, it will ease.  The better you do at staying away from porn then the faster you will get past the withdrawal.  Slipping back in to porn binges will just make it take that much longer.

43
Ages 40 and up / Re: 40 yo Starting from the beginning
« on: January 19, 2016, 05:05:04 PM »
Watch for H.A.L.T. - hunger is a strong trigger. We need to take care of ourselves.

I've read about the B.L.A.S.T. acronym

Bored
Lonely
Angry
Stressed
Tired

I've noticed H to be a strong trigger, too.  Lastly, I'm triggered if I feel ill.  Could use an I or possibly a second S for sick (which in my case includes a good ole hangover as well).

Anyone good at making a word from H - B - L - A - S - T - I(or S) ?


44
Ages 40 and up / Re: Enhancement Drugs
« on: January 19, 2016, 04:29:56 PM »
I'm with you on that.  If your erection works, I'd use it.

It's often stated that limiting orgasms does speed progress.  So, if you have any ED issues you may heal quicker if you limit your sexual activity.

45
Ages 40 and up / Re: Enhancement Drugs
« on: January 19, 2016, 03:51:04 PM »
what exactly is hard mode.

Hard mode is a complete hands off...no orgasm, no nothing.

Soft mode is staying away from porn, but allowing occasional MO or sex with a partner.

46
Thanks Leon.  I really feel like a change in perception is happening in my head.  It's a whole lot of little things that add up to make big differences in the overall picture.

I kind-of want to share my thinking for the benefit of new guys (who don't really want to read through 12 pages of history) as well as to organize my own thoughts in my journal.

I started trying to quit PMO in April 2014.  At that time the only thing I cared about was getting my dick to work again 100% of the time.  I scoured through journals looking for information.  All of the other guys were talking about so many other aspects of quitting that I didn't really care about; how their lives have changed, how their relationships have changed, the million things that tripped them up along the way, the need to pursue new hobbies, the need to build a structured system, the need to have a plan in the event powerful trigger, etc, etc.  I remember thinking "hobby?? really? I can't get porn out of my head long enough to concentrate on anything..let alone learn how to play some freakin' instrument!!!!".  I was focussed on just one thing...how many days before my erections work?  All of the work that others were putting into recovery was beyond my comprehension at that time.  I really just wanted to clinch my fists through some pre-determined number of days to fix my wang and thought that once my PIED was gone that I would miraculously not be drawn to porn ever again.  I thought that if the ED was fixed, then all of my problems would be fixed and porn would be just an old memory that would slowly fade away.

It's been a year and 9 months since I found YBOP which led me here.  I lurked, read and had a few short streaks until I began working in ernest in September 2014.  I spent more time here, started a journal and began absorbing what other men (and women) were contributing.  My streaks got longer and longer, but I still didn't have a thorough plan in place.  I was learning but my approach was still relying on avoiding porn & triggers, focussed on will power and counting days in belief of the idea that after some magical day count would put this all behind me.  After stumbles, resets and falls I slowly began building my own system.  I've read several books on quitting (just ask if you want any recommendations), bought and began working the InnerGold system and truly started the process of healing...not just my erections but rather breaking the chains of addiction.

I would like to say that at some point I just put it down and walked away.  I've read journals and there seems to be a lucky few who can just quit when they realize that PMO caused their ED.  Unfortunately, that has not been my story.  If I were to take this journal back in time to almost 2 years ago and show it to myself at that time, I know without a doubt that the 2014 me would probably go into a depression with the knowledge that I am still engaged in this process this far down the road.  However, I am feeling quite positive.  I am proud of what I have accomplished so far and am excited about the direction I am headed.  I am proud that I haven't given up...I am not defeated.

The perception change that I mentioned at the first is something that came on slowly and I've just noticed it recently.  Some folks may read this and yawn, roll their eyes or think "whatever", but somewhere along the line my mindset has shifted away from "I am doing these things to keep porn from beating me" to "I am doing these things because I want to win".  It may not sound monumental, but for me it is huge.  It gives me a whole new sense of clarity to my purpose.  I don't want to work hard so that my life doesn't suck, I want to work hard so that it is great.  It changes the focus of the hard work, the cold showers, the time in prayer, the meditating, the journaling, the reading, the listening, the constant mindfulness of my moods, emotions, physical feelings, etc (all of the things I've focused on to stay clean) into a positive investment in my self rather than constructing some type of shield to hide behind.

Being guys, we are all familiar with sports teams who find themselves in a position to win and instead of following through, they play "not to loose" rather than to win.  All too often when that happens, the team will let the victory that is in reach slip away.  That is an almost perfect analogy to my last few resets.  I end up playing defensively against porn instead of aggressively for a life worth living...all inside my head.  All of the things in my system worked, but I was doing them with the wrong mindset which is what eventually led to my failure.  Again, it may seem overly simplistic but I do believe it to be true.  It is much easier to walk into 40 degree F water when instead of convincing myself it will keep porn thoughts at bay I am telling myself  that I am doing this because I want a better me...I am working for an amazing life instead of against porn.

47
Unchained: Sorry for invading your journal so much, lol...

No problem.  I like an active thread.  At the very least it makes me feel like others out there here what I am going through.  It helps to not feel isolated.

I had a small victory this weekend that I attribute to consistent meditation practice.  I've been trying to go to bed a bit earlier than before.  I tend to get triggered if I'm up late at night.  Also, when I stay up too late I end up being tired the next day which can also cause the brain to go seeking pleasure as well.  The only negative with going to bed earlier is that I tend to wake up a lot earlier than I need to and end up laying in bed for a couple of hours trying to get back to sleep.  On Saturday I woke up with a raging hard-on in the middle of a dream that was an extremely sexually exciting.  To make matters worse, it was before 5AM and I didn't want to get out of bed until 7 at the earliest.  As I lay there, I began more or less meditating in bed in an attempt to direct my thoughts away from the dream.  It worked..I fell back asleep and unfortunately back into the same dream.  I woke up again with the same problem as before, but I redirected my thoughts again and went back to sleep.  This happened several times until I got out of bed at 7AM.

I actually felt pretty good about myself when I woke up.  The thoughts came, but I was able to take my mind where I wanted it.  I controlled my thoughts...they did not control me.  I decided if I can redirect my thoughts in the still of the night with little to no distractions available to focus on, then I can surely redirect them during the day.

Like I said...a small victory, but it sure felt good.  I feel empowered.

48
Ages 40 and up / Re: Third Edition
« on: January 15, 2016, 05:53:17 PM »
I am still dealing with a lot of thoughts that seem to come out of no where and I have trouble getting rid of them. I know this is just my addiction working on me and the longer I abstain the easier it will become.

Have you considered meditation?  I do a type of meditation that I learned through the InnerGold system where you sit comfortably, eyes closed and recite a favorite bible verse, poem, or quote over and over again.  The key is to totally fixate on each and every word as you say it.  If you catch your mind wandering, gently bring it back to your words and keep going.  It will quickly teach you to focus your attention where you want it.  I actually recite a couple of prayers, a poem and an inspirational quote in a specific order.  Between each one, I remain silent and do the typical "focus on your breathing" type of meditation for a few long breaths before I move on to the next piece.

The best way to overcome a unwanted thought is not to get rid of it, but replace it with another thought by focusing your attention where you want it to be focussed.  The more you meditate in this fashion the stronger you ability to direct you thoughts will become.  Some unwanted thoughts are very powerful...so your ability to direct your attention needs to become very powerful as well.

49
Ages 40 and up / Re: 48 years old and tired of PIED
« on: January 15, 2016, 03:52:47 PM »
While today is my 8th day without a PMO I did view some P the first 2 days but didn't PMO (mainly because my junk wasn't responsive and I was already trying not to masturbate to porn.  I think was hoping for a response to the porn but that didn't happen.

Please don't do that to yourself.  It's called "testing" and it almost never ends good.  One of two things will usually happen.  One is that your dick won't work and leaves you worried, depressed and anxious.  The other is that it does and you will most certainly end up PMO'ing.  I used to obsessively test in the shower when I first started trying to quit.  It almost always ended up going to porn fantasy and eventually back to porn.  As a matter of fact, I finally came to the conclusion that all MO eventually takes me back to porn so I am now strictly hands-off.

50
Ages 40 and up / Re: Starting Again
« on: January 15, 2016, 10:41:05 AM »
I have been trying unchained's suggestion of a cold shower and it does seem to make a difference. I started on Sunday and this week I seem to have more energy and better attitude. I can only do the Scottish shower, warm first then a blast of cold at the end. So far so good though.

Still doing the cold showers?  I feel that it is one of the most effective things you can do in early recovery.  Aside from improving mood & reducing stress, they are easy...all you have to do is stand there.  The benefits start almost immediately...for me there were improvements after the 1st one, but I really noticed a difference after about a week and once I was able to stand in the water for five minutes.  Now I shoot for ten if I'm not in a hurry.

Think of building up your cold water tolerance like any other for of training.  Start with a blast, then try to make it 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc., just like training for distance running by slowly increasing your distance when you exercise.  Most of what I have read indicates that the sweet spot for maximum benefits is a full five minutes.

Good luck and congratulations on three weeks!  I've had a few long streaks and for most folks it seems to really gets much easier once you get past the 4 week mark.

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