Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to be a morning person

If you're like me, you love bed.  Man, do I love it!  I have a Sears-O-Pedic with memory foam topper, Tempurpedic pillows for neck support, and dark gray, light-blocker drapes.  I dream like a pro, and I love all dreams, including nightmares.  I just find it so cool that my brain conjures up elaborate stories while I'm asleep.  Why does that happen?  Because the unconscious mind never shuts off.  It's always working. So, I suspect that deciding to wake up early is about tapping into that.  If you want to wake up earlier, and you love bed like I do, then some serious mental determination must be required.

I'm starting to figure out some practical steps that I'd like to share.  Step 1, figure out what time you're going to start waking up.  To begin my new workout-and-be-mindful morning regimen, I need to get up at 6:30. This is 2 hours earlier than I've been able to get up in a long while.  I've been staying up too late, because I'm also a night owl, and because I can work from home and wake up at 8:30 some days, so why not stay up til 12:30am?  Well, not no more!  I want to get in tune with my circadian rhythm and benefit from more hours of endorphin-inducing daylight.

"Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes."
-- National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Last night, I was having all together too much fun. I remembered to set my alarm before I went to sleep at 11, but somehow I did not actually set it to ON.  So, of course, it did not go off.  Yet, amazingly, my eyes opened at 6:30am and I felt fairly awake!  Again, because my unconscious mind knew the plan, and because our biological clocks drive our circadian rhythms.

But clearly, waking up and feeling fairly awake does not always lead to getting out of bed. Sometimes I roll over and see my snuggly cat, Moose, and then I hit Snooze and say, "10 more minutes."  And then, usually once I fall back asleep, the next time I wake up I don't feel ready to get up in the slightest.  This behavior can initiate an hour of Snoozing until I have to rush once I finally do get up.  This is what I've been doing lately, so my mornings have felt grumpy and groggy, definitely not empowered, energized, or thoughtful.

This morning was so different!  Here's what I did once my eyes opened:
  1. I said, "Self, c'mon, stick to the plan.  Get up."  And I pulled back the covers, put my feet on the floor, and opened the drapes.  That hit of sun, and seeing that it was a beautiful morning, energized me just a little.  (By the way, I think rainy mornings are a cruel joke made by God to test the resolve of wannabe morning people.)
  2. I drank all of the 8oz glass of water I had placed on my nightstand the night before.  Just Google "drink water wake up" and you'll see countless articles on this being a healthful practice, for hydration, digestion, and making you feel energized.  Here's what has to say about it.  (I always trust them as a resource for health questions.)  
  3. I washed my face, circulating blood in my hands and face and washing off the sleepies.  
  4. I made the bed.  No option of getting back in at that point.
  5. I left the room.  On to bigger and better things and away from the temptation of lying back down.
  6. I made breakfast, which lately has been a smoothie.
Vanilla Almond Smoothie
  • Ice
  • Almond milk
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 1 tsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Handful of berries, fresh or frozen (I used raspberries today)
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Shakeology* (or protein and probiotic/fiber supplement)
Blended with the glorious Magic Bullet. *Shakeology is a nutritional supplement sold by Beachbody, the people behind the workout program I'm doing, T25.  I'm trying a one-month supply of Shakeology because I'm in a Team Beachbdoy T25 challenge group.  (More on that in another post.)  Shakeology contains a balanced amount of protein and carbohydrates, plus a lot of vitamins and so-called super food ingredients, all mixed together in what is called a "proprietary blend."  A proprietary blend means that they won't tell you exactly how this stuff is made or what amounts of each ingredient goes into the final product.  Beachbody makes a lot of claims about the power of this powder, but I do not think it's worth the ridiculously high cost of $130 for a one-month supply.  I will be trying Green Vibrance when I'm done with this bag of Shakeology, sold at Whole Foods for a third of the price (and no shipping).

Once you've hydrated with water, washed with water, and are sipping on an ice cold smoothie, you'll start to feel pretty awake!  Keep doing this and your rhythm will change... or so I'm hoping.  :)

And of course, becoming a morning person starts with getting enough sleep, and sleeping well.  Check out this article entitled, Sleeping beauty: How to sleep better and awaken your beauty.  It has some tips on preparing your body and your sleep environment for good sleep!

Notes on challenges: Despite my epic win at waking up this morning, I haven't really sat and meditated in the morning yet.  The problem is, I'm trying so hard to get myself to feel awake that sitting down and focusing on my breathing seems like a guaranteed way to accidentally nod off and wake up 3 hours later, late for work.  One idea I have for lessening this risk is to plan to meditate in another room of the house (not the bedroom, as planned).  I think designating some nice spot in another room will help me feel more like my day has started.  I also plan to put on my workout clothes before I meditate so that I feel dressed, and hopefully more awake.  Trying again tomorrow!

Today's workout went well: Total Body Circuit, a whole body calorie burn with push-ups, burpees, lunges, squats and more!  I'm a little sore today after 3 consecutive morning workouts, and I'm looking forward to writing about the T25 schedule and regimen once I've completed the first week.  In T25, Saturday is "STAT"urday: you take new measurements and weight, so I'll be updating the blog with those numbers then, too.  Hopefully, my next entry will be about having nailed some morning meditation sessions in addition to nailing these sweat-inducing, challenging 25 minute workouts!

Red and sweaty?  Job well done.

Final thoughts: Win, or fail, fat, strong, or frail; it's what's in your heart that matters.  You can be happy or unhappy no matter what time of day you wake up.  Do your best, and aim for success.  If you welcome the challenge, then you've passed the test.  Love, for yourself and for others.  That's all you really need.

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