waking up early: what I've learned

Lifestyle Journal Entry #4: What I’ve Learned from Waking Up Early for One Month

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May, 10th 2023 – What I’ve Learned from Waking Up Early for One Month

In my previous lifestyle journal, I told you about my intention to wake up early for one month and finally become a morning person. The main reasons why I decided to challenge myself were three: becoming more productive, overcoming my limiting beliefs, and being overall healthier. The month has just ended. Here is how the challenge went and what I’ve learned from it!

Waking Up Early for One Month: developing a new morning routine 🌞

The main thing that helped me wake up early for one month straight was to develop a new morning routine. Having the accountability to get up in the morning at the same time, every day, has really made a difference for me. When my motivation for waking up at 6 a.m. was at an all-time low, having some structure in the day really helped me to stick to my final goal.

In addition to this, I’ve found that adopting new habits in the morning was a huge motivator for staying consistent and being excited to wake up without snoozing the alarm. ⏰

First of all, I started to consistently practice a 10-minute meditation – more specifically breath work and visualization – soon after I woke up. 🧘🏼‍♂️This really helped me to break the cycle of negative and anxious thoughts I often have in the morning and to gain some clarity for planning the day ahead.

Another good habit I picked up in the morning was to do some type of physical activity before noon. 🏃🏼‍♀️ Sometimes it was a run, and other times it was a bike ride or a hike. What mattered was that I did something most days. This really helped me learn to listen to my body and move more intentionally. Most times, small steps do really go a long way, especially if you tend to feel overwhelmed by “big” goals!

Lastly, I found that taking a cold shower, especially when I struggle to get up, is a real game-changer. Plus, it helps me recover with my runs and I swear my skin looked so amazing after I went for a speed workout and ended it with a cold shower! 🚿

But, most importantly, I started to remind myself that I have the power to change the story I’ve been telling myself for years about not being a morning person. Just because you’ve struggled with a habit or behavior for many years or even your whole life, that doesn’t mean that you can’t change. Whatever your habit is, go rewrite your narrative, and find what can motivate you to do so! For me, it was a day at the spa. 🤣 And, of course, being able to feel overall stronger and healthier. 💪🏼

Waking Up Early for One Month: how the challenge went ⏰

I am very proud to say that I successfully completed the challenge of waking up early for one month straight! To be completely honest, I am so glad it’s over! My husband lost a bet, and I had my spa day the other day. That combined with the self-satisfaction of proving to myself I could do it made it all worth it.

There were a lot of positive aspects to the challenge but there were also some aspects of early morning waking that I despised. So, does the early bird really get the worm? Let’s discover it together.

What I liked about waking up early ✔ 🟩

The most beneficial thing that happened when doing this challenge was that I was more easily able to set some time aside in the morning to move my body. Lately, with crazy working hours, the kids coming home after school, and the normal stress of life, I have been really struggling with getting in a run later in the day. This really has become the number one reason why getting up early is important for me!

Another aspect that was nice about waking up early was that I was up before my kids. This meant I didn’t have to rush to get them out the door because I couldn’t drag myself out of bed in time. Moreover, I could make my coffee and meditate before having to deal with the screaming, fighting, and the general hassle to get the kids ready for school. This had me a lot more able to keep my head on straight, which in turn set me out to have a better day

Finally, the last aspect I liked about waking up early was just the general sense of accomplishment for being able to do what I’ve always believed I could never do! By waking up early consistently, I proved myself wrong and, along with it, I was able to pick up all the other healthy habits I mentioned above. Some mornings, not hitting the snooze button seemed easier than others. But, regardless of how I felt when I had to sit up and turn the alarm off, I quickly learned that that feeling of just wanting to die because you’re so tired fades away quickly as the morning progresses!

Overall, the fact that I have learned that I am more than capable of attaining what I set my mind to is the thing I loved the most about this challenge.

What I hated about waking up early ❌

There were many benefits to this experiment, but with it, there were a lot of things I loathed!

I thought waking up early would be the hardest part but what I quickly learned was that going to bed early was the hardest part. I generally need 8, ideally 8 and a half, hours of sleep a night and sometimes even more. To be honest, I hate this fact about myself! When people tell me they only need six hours of sleep, I am supremely jealous. Getting to bed early enough to get the sleep I require to be healthy (and not hate everybody around me 🤣) meant going to bed just after telling the kids to go to bed. This was severely challenging in several ways.

First, I have become quite accustomed to my hour of TV time before I go to bed. It helped me to relax and unwind after a hard day. Plus, my kids have nightly routines and chores to accomplish before they go to bed. As you might understand if you have kids, I always need to micromanage them and stay on top of them constantly to get them through their lists and shuffle them off. Lastly, having to enforce my husband put down whatever he was doing to come and sit down with me to watch a show was not always pleasant.

Then, there were evenings when I just didn’t do anything for myself so that I could get to bed early. This kept me really grumpy and dissatisfied with my schedule. I tried a few times to see if I could push the limit as to how much sleep I really did need and that rarely had a positive outcome. The foggy brain and moodiness that resulted from less sleep mitigated any positive benefit from waking up early!

Another aspect I did not like about waking up at 6:00 a.m. was that an earlier awakening did not necessarily equal more motivation to get moving earlier. With that, I mean that there were still several things I needed to do to feel alert enough to exercise or begin my work along with this challenge.

As I mentioned above, I started experimenting with several means to gain clarity earlier in the morning and make the challenge of getting up early a little bit more pleasant for me! One of them was cold showers. It’s almost like taking a shot of espresso, intravenously. It is very effective at giving you a jolt of energy and is proven many other benefits such as raising your endorphins, fighting inflammation, and making your skin look more plump and glowy.

I also tried eating something first thing in the morning like a banana to raise my blood sugar and also an energizing concoction of spirulina, beetroot powder, MCT oil, and other ingredients. I did also find those things to help, but in the end, what really got me out the door in the morning was a swift kick in the pants or some accountability. Neither of which I really had!

I do think it motivated me to get out for my runs in the morning when my neighbor noticed on Facebook that I announced I was doing this challenge and she saw that I was running outside at 7:00 AM a couple mornings in a row. She started cheering me on every morning she passed! Anyway, I still haven’t completely figured this out. If you have any suggestions on how to become an early runner, please tell me your much-desired secrets in the comments!

The last thing I loathed about this challenge, was that there were days on which my body really did need more sleep. Often that coincided with specific times in my menstrual cycle, or when I had been training fairly hard. The result is that on these days I consumed more caffeine than I should. I did allow myself to take naps when I really needed to but they just weren’t the same as getting a little more shut-eye at night. I’m not very good at the 30-minute power nap anymore!

What I’ve learned from waking up early and what’s next for me 📚

All in all, I learned a lot about myself during this challenge. First and foremost, I could be a morning person if I choose to follow the routines and rituals required to become one. This is an empowering feeling for someone who flunked out of high school and college classes because she couldn’t get to them on time (or at all). I was also able to learn how much sleep I really needed. This helped me to set a reasonable sleep schedule for myself instead of just sleeping until I had to wake up from kids or for other reasons, and dealing with grogginess as a result. 

At this point, I bet you’re wondering if I continued with my new habits after the challenge ended a couple of weeks ago. Well, not entirely, to be honest! I shifted my alarms 30 minutes ahead, so they are going off at 6:30 in the morning. However, unfortunately, I am once again hitting the snooze button.

I generally consider what needs to get done that morning and act accordingly. If I have a flexible morning and I’m feeling exhausted, then I will turn the alarm off or hit the snooze button. However, it is also been much easier for me to wake up early if I need it.

I’ve learned that I need to be more responsible about not staying up and sleeping too late on the weekends, because it always makes Monday harder. Regardless, I think that I just have to come to terms with the fact that waking up early Monday will always be more challenging. However, coupled with the other lifestyle change that I have made this year (i.e. not drinking alcoholic beverages, or engaging in family activities during the weekend), retaining a similar schedule across the entire week hasn’t been a big deal. 

In conclusion, if you’ve been struggling with waking up early and you feel like this would be the key to your success, I definitely suggest taking on this challenge! Make sure you stick to it for at least 21 days, as it takes at least this long to form a new habit. From there, you can discover what you like and don’t like about it. Regardless, you will definitely learn a thing or two about yourself. The early bird really can get the worm but not without sacrifices! 🦅

Do you think you need to try implementing this habit? How could your life improve if you were to wake up earlier? Or are you already a morning person and would like to share some tips with us? Let us know in the comments!  💗💗

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