On Wednesday, I wrote about making little changes to have a big impact. In that post, I focused on keystone habits – like how I now automatically hit play on a TED talk as part of my getting ready morning ritual. (This morning’s talk: How to become more confident — lay down on the street for 30 seconds. Basically encourages you to get comfortable being uncomfortable, which relates well to this post, though it’s not the main point.) However, I read a cool article last night that made me think about a new little change I’d like to try.
I have always been someone who gets cold easily, and also usually has a low body temperature. (I usually hover somewhere in the 97 degree range.) I remember one time, when I was a little kid, my mom kept me home from school because my temperature was 98.7 – that was high for me! I don’t really do anything special to make up for the fact that I am apparently slightly cold-blooded; I am just always the one in the room who has a pashmina wrapped around my neck for extra warmth (or sometimes am even using it as a blanket).
Now that I live in my own apartment, I can keep the thermostat at any temperature I like… and it’s kind of embarrassing how hot I like it to be in here. I think nothing of keeping the thermostat set at 74° F during the day, especially because my laptop workspace is in a corner flanked by two huge picture windows, so it’s one of the colder parts of the home. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself to pretend I’m not just elderly in my thermostat preferences.) At night, I do drop it down to 67° F when I start getting ready for bed, but that’s also in large part because I love curling up with a big stack of blankets on top of me. Right now, I have a regular comforter and a down comforter on my bed, because I love the extra weight of having both. At hotels, I’ve also been known to request a room with two queen beds, then steal the comforter from the other bed and double up on mine.
However, yesterday I read James Hamblin’s article in The Atlantic, Does Global Warming Make Me Look Fat? He talks about the health benefits of being cold, and in particular, the research of Wayne Hayes and Ray Cronise. I had heard of Ray Cronise before through Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body, but when I learned that he has a TED talk, of course I clicked right over. Here’s Cronise’s talk on What’s the Coolest Way to Lose Weight:
As I mentioned, I had read Four-Hour Body a few years ago, so I was already familiar with the concept of cold thermogenesis to boost metabolism. However, it honestly sounded too uncomfortable. I like to be warm, and even after all that evidence, I just don’t believe that being cold would have enough of an impact on my weight to trade in my comfort! But something about reading Hamblin’s article yesterday gave me pause. (Perhaps because last week a friend poked fun at me for just how hot my apartment is?) I’m not going to go full-on ice vest, but I’m going to start gradually dropping the temperature in small incremental phases.
1. Immediately stop setting the thermostat anywhere above 70° F. Allow myself to wear whatever extra layers I want to “survive.”
2. Start shedding layers until I’m comfortable hanging out in the apartment with the thermostat at 69° F, with regular clothes on.
3. Start slowly decreasing the thermostat one degree at a time. Like a lobster in a pot of water, I’m hoping that change will be imperceptible to me, but that my body will naturally adjust. (Speaking of water: not going to take cold showers, because I love hot showers too much, but I’m going to try to not set it quite as high and also limit my time in there.)
How low will I go with the thermostat? Not the rather crazy 50° F that Cronise has become accustomed to! But I’d be happy if I were comfortable in my apartment around 65°/66° F. Still totally reasonable!
1. Immediately stop setting the thermostat anywhere above 65°.
2. Ditch my down comforter so I am sleeping under just a regular comforter.
3. Like Cronise, start folding down my regular comforter so I’m using less and less of it each night.
Probably super pathetic that I have to lay out a game plan for myself to make this adjustment, I know! But hey, goals are much easier to achieve when you stop to think about your exact gameplan to reach them, so I’m spelling it out.
As I mentioned, I don’t expect this to really impact my weight, but I am hoping it will make me a tiny bit healthier – and the nighttime cold will probably help me sleep better too. (Great when I am not getting enough sleep lately! Work and house hunting is keeping me way too busy.) I have always thought of myself as someone who is just “naturally cold all the time”, but this article/video makes me think I might have some control over that. Even if there are no changes to my health, it would be nice to not be uncomfortable when I’m in an environment where I can’t control the temp (e.g., draft restaurant)… and it’s definitely going to be good for my home utility bill 🙂
Full disclosure: I am going to Puerto Rico/Florida later this week for work, so really only have to “endure” a few days of low temperatures before I jump on a plane to warm weather and get a break. But as I’ve written before, sometimes the best time to commit is when you can delay starting!