Before I kick off this episode I have a couple resources I wanted to share that I talk more about in this episode.
The first being Harvest Hosts is offering a 30% off sale until January 6th if you use my link you’ll need to use my link and code FRIEND30 at checkout. Harvest Hosts membership offers over 4,000 spots to park your RV or enclosed camper at breweries, wineries, farms, even museums across North America. They also include Boondockers Welcome which are Hosts who offer a free place to park your RV on private residents while road tripping. If you are not listening to this in real time when it publishes on January 4th, then you can still use my link for 15% off starting January 7th. This is an affiliate link as I have been working with Harvest Hosts to offer you better deals, especially since many of you have an interest in a potential first time Family RV trip in your travel plans.
The second is to share about a podcast I have been enjoying that helps support moms who ski. Nicole was a guest on my podcast on episode 059 in practicing the Sherpa Philosophy we agreed to cross-promote each others shows since our audiences have similar interests. (Insert Ad) I really appreciate what Nicole has been doing and if you like this type of cross-promotion let me know I’ll explore more content creation promotion.
We are on 3 days of dreary damp rain and 30 degree temperatures which can send many clamoring for the southern sun. I am a fan of winter when it’s easy to play outside in the cold when the weather offers some sun and fluffy snow, but when it’s dreary, damp and grey it’s much harder. Challenging yourself to experience cold has many benefits for your physical and mental well-being. There is significant value to cold and why I wanted to offer an episode to consider cold weather adventures in your 2023 plans.
Yesterday on my quest to kick off the new year right and our new 2023 1000 Outside Tracker, I volunteered to go outside with my 7 YO. I was a bit dumbfounded with boredom as I tried to figure out what to do to fill in the one-hour mark. With the recent rain, melting snow and cold weather the world around had bits of hard snow amidst sections of thick ice. It took 30 seconds for him to slide across the ice and make a claim for his outdoor activity. At 42, the thought of following his lead was quickly halted by my fear of getting hurt and how turning the calendar meant a reset on our health insurance deductible. Cold has a way of stopping us in our tracks – rethinking our next steps and keeping us in our place. But it also has a way of rebalancing homeostasis and getting us out of our comfort zone – which I declare is the true definition of adventure. On of the benefits of challenging yourself to experience cold.
While I was recording this episode I felt the onset of a migraine. Things weren’t flowing. I was trying to force something that wasn’t there. I decided even though it was rainy and cold I needed to get outside. Within minutes I could feel the cold fresh air work it’s magic through my body. Even as it started to rain again it didn’t feel damp and downtrodden, it felt refreshing. REFRESHING – that’s it. The word refreshing take me immediately to our Whitewater rafting experiences on Kananaskis River near Banff. It was our first day in the Banff area and the weather was a bit like it is here. Overcast and dreary (not raining) and Banff had a historically cold and wet spring, combined with the mountain run off of June, the rivers were the coldest temperatures I have ever felt in nature. Our guide overheard our family small talk about the cold water and quickly remarked “It not cold, it’s refreshing.” That simple mindshift from cold to refreshing has stuck with me. As a family that mindset of freshing has stuck with us, when anyone states how cold something is they are often corrected that it’s not cold it’s refreshing.
Through the empathetic nature of that family adventure experience, the Whitewater rafting company knew if guests are uncomfortable for an extended period of time, it overshadows the experience. Our family was up for an adventure and placed us in the front of the raft (AKA the most likely to get wet) and immediately had us practice getting wet with our first position run in a small falls. They understand the benefits of cold, but too much for too long and we move from adventure to trauma. The rafting guides are very skilled in making sure we had the right gear to have fun and stay warm amidst the 2+ hour excursion down the frigid Kananaskis river. We were instructed to show up in a swimming suit, which was the whitewater rafting version of a base layer and they outfitted us with an under layer (like a fleece or long sleeve shirt) and insulated later in a wetsuit and booties, and a waterproof top which was a splash guard. I did a reel on Instagram on how they outfitted us for the experience if you want to see how that played out, one of my uncertainties going into the experience is how would we keep the kids comfortable and safe – which is why I created the reel. It’s linked here.
Cold gets a bad rap. The benefits of cold and numerous cold weather adventures can feed your soul and offer a reset. Believe it or not, cold weather adventures improve mental and physical health benefits. I have a number of friends with autoimmune disorders who use cold-therapy to help with inflammation. Even Tim Ferriss is a strong believer in cold, however most of that is manufactured and controlled by cold sources such as cold showers or ice baths. You can also experience those benefits by having a daily dose of outdoor cold as well. Even as little as 20 minutes outside during the cold weather months can offer a reset to your systems to help raise the floor on your dopamine levels to reduce the space between massive highs and lows swing in our hormones. Whenever I complete a cold weather adventure I feel better, not only physically, but cold adds another barrier to adventure so when I complete it in my confidence and self esteem are elevated. It seems like the stakes to simply get outside are high with cold, so the summit of completion comes with a greater reward.
Cold weather adds an element of challenge to try new things and find ways to experience getting out of our comfort zones. We continue to seek adventures in our own backyard and in 2022 that meant building an igloo. While there is skiing, snowshoeing and sledding, there is something valuable about making visual progress on a challenge. We had to drop the practical nature of “But it’s going to melt” and embrace the mindset of “but it will be a great experience today.” As amatuer igloo builders it’s a long game commitment as there are conditions outside of our control, like turning water into ice and preventing each stage of bottom igloo build from melting with the daily changes in temperature. We actually never completed the full igloo in 2022, but it is a memory that I am proud of and something that inspired many other families to explore “How can we build an igloo” or go find an igloo to experience as a family.
Overcoming Challenges can be easier with a few tips on understanding cold weather gear and a few mindset hacks. As I mentioned in the rafting story and as I reference the zone of dysregulation in my book (Beyond Normal: A Field Guide to Embrace Adventure, Explore the Wilderness and Design an Extraordinary Life with Kids) too much for too long and the cold moves us from the discomfortable to overshadowing the experience and possibly panic. We aren’t designed to be in prolonged uncomfortable environments for too long, but the timer of discomfort is a little different for everyone. Having a few key pieces of clothing can make a big difference and extend the experience. While a thin base layer and good wool socks are in our cold weather wardrobe there are also a few key places on your body that respond to cold more drastically. I remember in 2018 my husband and I were out west skiing in Utah with friends for our anniversary. It was cold, and unfortunately I had passed my breaking point. I could NOT warm up and it was only 9 AM. I am often the girl with 2 hoodie sweatshirts over a base layer – as much as I have an appreciation for the cold I don’t actually acclimate as well as my kids do. I made one last ditch effort to warm up in the chalet bathroom usng the hand dryers (I may have experience this from a Yellowstone camping experience on the motorcycle). I instinctively grabbed a couple extra hand warmers and held them in various locations on my body. When I placed them on the small of my back on either side (as my brother would say, just over the kidneys) there was an instant warmth that spread through my body. I had an idea – I’d place the sticky toe warmers on my back. It worked and was a game changer for me that kept me out on the slopes for longer. Every time I went on the chairlift a surge of warmth went through my body rather than the traditional chill. I also learned that the tops of toes and tops of fingers have more nerve endings so it’s best to place warm sources on top of your fingers and toes not on the bottom of your feet or inside your hands. Recently, I was in Park City Utah cheering on the U.S. Olympic Luge team and my friend shared that she had battery powered heaters in her gloves and socks. I wouldn’t go crazy buying all kinds of gear but having a good base layer and a waterproof and/or windproof outer layer are the key to being comfortable in the cold.
One way we are practicing cold weather adventures is by kicking off our gap year by chasing snow and heading north. Considering our desire to get off the beaten path and travel differently through untourism we have been drawn to cold weather destinations. While most head south we are flipping the script knowing that there is beauty in the winter with frozen waterfalls, amazing sunrises against the ice and snow, and a desire to find and chase the best powder west of the Mississippi River. With our Indy Passes purchased and a desire to ski 25 different independently owned ski resorts this winter we have designed our family gap year around it. Our first stop will be to ski Lutsen in Northern Minnesota, literally the Northern tip near Lake Superior. To add to that we will be in an RV trying our hand at winter camping and thankfully the RV and Camping Industry is picking up on this. If you click over to the show notes website you will even see how our Harvest Hosts membership provides options for us to winter camp near ski resorts. This gives us a framework to start looking where we will park and hopefully have hook ups occasionally. Cold weather destinations are worth considering. I have been in communication with several friends who live in Florida for years about how their kids have a desire to experience snow. It’s extremely inexpensive to travel north when everyone is traveling south. Last year a friend of mine went to Fairbanks for spring break and her kids played ping pong on ice tables and experienced next level snow forts. Cold weather destinations have a unique value that many often think they have to flock to the Scandinavian countries or put Iceland on their bucket list.
I want to come back to touch on this idea of rebalancing homeostasis and the physiology of cold. Resetting Dopamine levels is often talked about in recovery after an addition. When there is an “high” experience weather it be an adrenaline rush, food, or substances dopamine floods your system which creates the euphoria feeling, however our bodies can’t replace the dopamine fast enough and we can experience these crashes. In the adventure spaces it’s sometimes referred to as adventure or travel depression. We aren’t prepared for the crash. So what does cold have to do with this? Well having a regular practice of exposing yourself to something uncomfortable, like the cold, helps raise the floor of your dopamine so the space between your peaks and crashes become less prominent over time. There are other ways we can do this, but I know Tim Ferriss in his interview with Brene Brown stated that Ice Baths saved his life as he was working through childhood trauma. In addition, we have long known the physical effects of cold. If I go back to my athletic training days in college, after an injury the guiding framework for inflammation was RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Cold Showers and ice baths also add to that by reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Challenging yourself to experience cold has many benefits for your physical and mental well-being. Sure try the cold shower method or ice bath, or just find some less than desirable cold weather location and challenge yourself to step outside. You don’t need to flock to Iceland (although much love to my Iceland listeners as I know there are some magical features that also attract travelers) there are many other cold weather destinations with hidden gems. You can also create simple backyard adventures by considering cold weather projects and activities that challenge you out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s simply going outside with your kids and sliding on the ice, or committing to experiencing an igloo in a location near or far – I encourage you to practice a little bit of adventure.
As a reminder make sure to check out Ski Moms Fun podcast if that interests you, or the Harvest Host Membership link for a discount. As I sign off I encourage you to Be Brave and Keep Going!
Resources mentioned in this Episode:
Harvest Hosts is offering a 30% off sale until January 6th if you use my link: https://harvesthosts.com/join-friends/ you must use my link and Code FRIEND30 at checkout. Harvest Hosts membership offers over 4,000 spots to park your RV or enclosed camper at breweries, wineries, farms, even museums across North America. They also include Boondockers Welcome which are Hosts who offer a free place to park your RV on private residents while road tripping. If you are not listening to this in real time when it publishes on January 4th, then you can still use my link for 15% off starting January 7th. This is an affiliate link as I have been working with Harvest Hosts to offer you better deals, especially since many of you have an interest in a potential first time Family RV trip in your travel plans.
Ski Moms Fun Podcast: a podcast I have been enjoying that helps support moms who ski. Nicole was a guest on my podcast on episode 059 in practicing the Sherpa Philosophy we agreed to cross-promote each others shows since our audiences have similar interests. https://skimomsfun.com/ I really appreciate what Nicole has been doing and if you like this type of cross-promotion let me know I’ll explore more content creation promotion.
Whitewater Rafting Instagram Reel: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CfgxdCIg5CS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
My Book: Beyond Normal a Field Guide to Embrace Adventure, Explore the Wilderness and Design an Extraordinary Life with Kids https://amzn.to/3vDTzb6