Cryotherapy vs. Infrared Sauna

I’ve been exercising way more than any non-athletic person would ever exercise. I’ve shaved 4-6 minutes off of my mile time and I actually have endurance. The downside is the fact that my body isn’t very resilient (read: herniated back discs, weak knees, weak hip flexors, overuse of right leg, etc). I wouldn’t have been able to make all the progress that I have over the past few months if it weren’t for cryotherapy. The idea of stepping into a -150 F to -240 F chamber is horrific but the benefits outweigh the cons.
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(worst photo of me to exist in the universe lol)
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CRYO
-You start at 1 minute 30 seconds and work your way up to 3 minutes (I usually do 1 minute 30 to 2 minutes. I had to start at 45 seconds because I couldn’t deal)
-There’s a “sauna” which is the one where your head is exposed. This is used more for claustrophobic people (aka me) and it also happens to not get as cold as the chamber. The chamber is the more popular choice at the LA location and it gets to about -240 F.
-You go in with your underwear on and you’re given a robe, socks, gloves and shoes. You take the robe off once you’re inside (if you choose the chamber, you’re given ear muffs and a mask for your mouth and nose).
-I’ve done the chamber and I’m sure it works wonders for your face but athletes use the sauna so I’ve decided to stick with it. (I’m not sure if they use the sauna because that’s all they have or if it’s the better choice for muscle recovery…) Cryohealthcare was the first cryotherapy location in the U.S. so they have these two options in addition to their local cryo (handheld machine for small areas–this is what I started with).
-Find a mantra or a happy place. You have to get out of your head and focus on breathing deeply and slowly. I’ve learned (through intense exercise) that your mind gives up before your body does and if you think about it too much, you’ll just psych yourself out (I had a panic attack in the sauna once–but I went right back to it a week later).
-You get immediate relief. It cuts your recovery time down so that you can work out again sooner. It heals inflammation. My herniated back disc hasn’t been much of a problem since I started cryo. If someone told me I’d be running at 8.5 mph a few months ago, I would have never believed them (I thought 5.5 mph was fast…)
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INFRARED
-I went to Hotbox in DTLA for a 40 minute session. First impression: 40 minutes is a lot but I’m glad that electronics can be taken into this type of sauna.
-The location is so pretty and clean. There’s a shower in the little room to rinse off before and after.
-I probably should’ve done more research… because apparently this is bad for people with eczema and rosacea–both of which I have in mild forms.
-You can choose the color of the light in the room which, according to the attendant, doesn’t really have any effects on the body. He said it’s just for “meditation purposes.” I chose orange but it was more of a tiny dot of light–nothing I’d notice otherwise.
-The room was warm but not burning hot like regular saunas. The idea behind this is that it heats your body–not the air. I only started sweating about 18 minutes into it. I figured this sauna would be a good choice to lose some water weight before a shoot but I just didn’t sweat that much (I was expecting hot yoga level sweating but it was more so light jog level sweating).
-At the end of it, my body didn’t feel energized as it does with cryo and I was still completely sore the next day.
-This may be a good choice as a low-cost relaxation/meditation activity (especially in the winter)–but that’s about it.

TL;DR Go to cryo!!!

P.S. A work out and diet post is coming soon!

Guide to Iceland

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View of Reykjavík from Hallgrímskirkja

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Dyrhólaey

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Grillmarkaðurinn

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Apotek Kitchen + Bar

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Langjökull

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Hidden Mine//Oxidized Iron

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Blue Lagoon (super touristy–but totally worth it)
swimsuit-Goodwin
necklace-Mr. Kate

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Hallgrímskirkja

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Jökulsárlón

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Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon: Where JB shot some of “I’ll Show You”
necklace-The M Jewelers

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Diamond Beach (one of my favorite places–it looked like someone had hand placed the rocks and ice [melted/washed up glacier pieces] on the beach)

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Mýrdalsjökull

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Dyrhólaey
earrings-Natalie Joy
top-TOPSHOP
jacket-Henry Holland

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Reykjavík
jeans-TOPSHOP
bag-Balenciaga

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Þingvellir

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Midnight Sun in Reykjavík
dress-Realisation Par
heels-Zara

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Breakfast at our hotel, Canopy by Hilton

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Rooftop at our hotel // dress from Gylltikotturinn (in Reykjavík)

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pants-asos
top-J.Crew
shoes-Nike Cortez

Iceland is one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) country I’ve ever visited. It was totally worth getting bronchitis, losing my luggage, being flown to SFO instead of LAX on the way back and having Russian hackers get their hands on my Uber account, PayPal, credit and debit cards. (After a long and stressful phone conversation with a guy from PayPal, he said, “Now after we get off the phone, I want you to go put a kettle on and make yourself a cup of tea.” LOL).

Tips: Unless you know your way around inflating and deflating tires for certain terrain, how to use a GPS device (that isn’t an iPhone) and how to drive on glaciers and gravel paths on cliffs–I would recommend using a tour company (e.g. Viking Trips, Guide to Iceland, Reykjavik Excursions–we used multiple during our 6 night stay just in case one of them wasn’t good).

If you do decide to rent a car, you have to get an SUV. We went to so many places where there were signs prohibiting sedans from passing (though many tourists decided to ignore those signs and struggle their way to the destination).

Pack lots of snacks. Restaurants are pretty expensive in Iceland (mostly because tip is included and because of how many tourists they have). I went to a grocery store in Reykjavík and definitely paid about $50 for just a few Quest bars.

If you want a “luxurious” vacation–stay in Reykjavik and make day trips out to the southern part of Iceland/the Golden Circle/etc. Otherwise, there are many small, boutique hotels/bed and breakfasts inland.

Second Arrows

A few weeks ago I went to my first meditation class at The Den. The topic of focus was “second arrows”:

“When hit with discomfort, the conventional reaction is to whine and regret, kick oneself, take it hard. So we feel two afflictions: 1) the inevitable, physical feelings [a first arrow the world blasts us with] and 2) the additional, mental reactions [the second arrow we shoot into ourself]. We may fail to note any relief or escape from uncomfortable feelings [the first arrow] other than to distract ourselves with sensual pleasure. So we cling to diversions, rather than observing what is actually present, the arising and passing of feelings.”

—The Buddha, The Arrow Sutta

I think it’s important to allow that first “arrow” to hit you–a break up, the loss of a job, betrayal, etc but forbidding it from having a last effect. Initially, there will be that hollow feeling in your chest, a burning in your stomach and that rage that seems to envelop you (fight or flight response/sympathetic nervous system). But your thoughts surrounding these sensations either amplify them or control them. If you feel that burning sensation in your gut and say to yourself “I’m feeling rage,” you’re going to make it worse. It’s such a quick cycle so it takes a lot of practice but it is your choice as to which course of action to take.

I’ve had my fair share of these situations and I’ve definitely shot those second arrows–especially during my last breakup. A friend reminded me of this Buddhist ideal when I was feeling especially upset and it helped me check myself. I realized exactly what I was doing and how it wasn’t serving me in any way. This is where the buzzword we all love to hear people talk about–“mindfulness”–comes in. Something I practice often is getting myself out of unnecessary deep thought–if I’m driving, I drive; if I’m eating, I focus on that; if I’m reading, I pay attention to each word and process it. All of this takes concentration and practice but the physical sensations and reactions to situations do go away over time.

There are innumerable self-guided meditation videos and articles online but I highly encourage a group setting class. The social obligation of staying the entire time has prevented me from leaving classes when I’ve gotten anxious or lost my ability to concentrate. Because who wants to be that disruptive person that leaves early?

And if you’re like me, fresh out of a tumultuous relationship, don’t shoot those second arrows. Don’t go through old texts and think to yourself, “but he/she said…” Delete those messages and let it be. Understand that the only things you have control over are your actions and thoughts.