Hormesis has become an entrenched part of Colson’s vocabulary. What is hormesis? According to Dr. Kurt Harris MD:
Hormesis is when a small stress induces a healthy response in an organism, such that the organism is healthier than without the stress exposure. Any stress that we have defenses for, that we would expect to encounter on an evolutionary basis, is a candidate to be hormetic. Think of this as a necessary, but not sufficient, set of conditions, though.
See Dr. Harris’ blog post for a more complete discussion: William Munny Eats His Vegetables.
Colson (see Cold Shower Hormesis the Colson Way) has been leading our hormesis journey and we have been playing around with it a bit in 2012, but hormesis has revved up in 2013 with great results.
My family’s major hormesis challenges have been overwhelmingly physical, and when in the challenge we are pulled into the moment, more aware than ever. Those 30 seconds in the cold shower, which Colson has reintroduced this winter, snap you right to the present. Over the summer they turned into full blown cold showers.
We took cold water a step further and headed out to Jordan Lake in early February on a 54° day (a pretty warm day, but the water was cold) with 15 – 20 MPH winds to take a swim.
Colson spends a lot of time in hormesis, which I am trying to learn from him. Almost every day he is challenging himself and having a ball. The challenge can be learning a new sports skill, climbing a tree or the climbing rock differently, leaping from higher heights and rolling better on landing, or learning how to cook. For Colson hormesis is fun ways to learn.
Adults spend a lot of time slogging through the day, trying to accomplish their list of tasks, always looking to the next thing. That sucks. Even with the break of a hormesis challenge I quickly fall back to my old hurry along patterns. Ryan, whose undergrad is Recreation and Leisure and who was a high adventure trip leader for the Army, doesn’t suffer from this problem nearly as much as most adults. I hope Ryan and I can help Colson hold on to his fun, in the moment self, but we have to make some changes to succeed.
More Colson Inspiration
You may recall that Colson was on a Quest to complete 10 challenges before he turned 10 (see Colson's Food Catastrophy Night). That was a lot of hormesis, some of it physical and some of it mental. Colson was successful and it was a transformative experience. As he was working through his challenges Colson decided he needed to challenge me by teaching me his version of parkour. He put a weekly lesson on the calendar. Next thing I know, at age 46, I am up in trees and tackling the climbing rock’s hard routes. I have a healthy fear of heights and the hard routes were not part of my reality (or being in trees).
Colson’s parkour lessons have been fantastic. On a regular basis they pull me out of my daily grind and into the moment. I enter into the lesson somewhat reluctantly because of all the stuff I have to do and I leave all smiles. I have accomplished things I never would have imagined, such as becoming confident and competent on the rock. As an added bonus, I am getting a bit of the MoveNat training I have wanted to try. It is a kick to see that all of those pull-ups and push-ups have paid off as I use the strength in unexpected ways to accomplish the challenges that Colson puts before me. Next I am going to learn to leap and roll – gulp! That is a big challenge for me because I fractured my back 17 years ago in another hormesis challenge. Colson plans to teach me rolls on the ground first, though. Whew!
I have to give Colson some serious appreciation for his teaching style. He is very patient and reassuring, he explains things well and he celebrates victories with me. I am so proud of him and the lessons that I learn from him. Because he teaches me I have become a better teacher for him
We took the height challenge to all new levels recently when we went on a 1.5 hour zipline tour. For Ryan it was cake, as he runs a 50 foot Alpine Tower, for Colson it was a challenge, and for me it was almost a no go. I seriously thought about backing out when we climbed to the top of the first tower, but a 72 year old woman was in our group and if she was going, I was going, darn it! Colson and I were the last two to leave the first tower, and we were nervous. He was gone and then it was just me. I couldn’t disappoint Colson, so I had to suck it up and go. It was a piece of cake, smooth as can be, but I was nauseatingly nervous and I had the sewing machine legs by the time I landed. It took me another zip until that stopped. The wind was howling and the platforms were swaying, making me dizzy. By the fifth platform I was certain I wasn’t going to throw up and by the tenth platform I was getting comfortable. By the last three I was having fun, looking around and relishing each flight. Colson and Ryan each had a blast and we can’t wait to go again. If you are curious, here is Colson taking a flight.
I have to give a shout out to Oscar, our flight captain who ensured we landed safely. He was as fun and awesome as we could hope.
The Eight Benefits of Hormesis
What are the eight benefits of hormesis (realizing that there are plenty more)?
- Having FUN
- Being in the moment
- Getting stronger
- Being surprised
- Building stronger relationships
- Growing respect for self and others
- Growing desire for more time living in the moment
- Having even more FUN!
How can you bring some wake-you-up hormesis challenges into your life? Hormesis means something different for everyone so choose according to your personality!