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BHB4: 5:00 am – You Have to be Kidding

BHB4: 5:00 am – You Have to be Kidding

This is a routine I explored and supremely failed at roughly 15 plus years ago.  I can remember running on a cold dark morning when Ang and I were living in Toronto and saying to myself, “This F&%KING sucks, I’m just not a morning exerciser”.  So I stopped after 3 days.  Considering the experts say it takes anywhere from 30-66 days to create a lasting change, I may have missed the mark on that one.

So what do people mean by “own your morning, own your day”? In this whole complex journey of personal development, the biggest change I made was the simplest. I started getting up at 5:00am. Now I know that may sound totally out of character for some of you, but that’s the point, get uncomfortable.  If you have young kids, this may make even more sense.  Our house is literally a zoo in morning. 3 boys, a labradoodle, 2 cats, lunches, baths etc…. you get the idea.  A 5:00am wake up allows me some personal time before the chaos of the day begins.  Secondly it allows me time to practice two fundamental habits IMO; Reflection & Movement (and lots of coffee!).

Reflection can come in many different forms, meditation, journaling, gratitude.  The fact is, taking some time to reflect on what’s going on in your life, and what you are grateful for, can dramatically change your outlook for the day.  At the advice of my coach, I started journaling. Reluctantly by the way.  She asked me 3 times before I really committed to making it a regular habit.  Honestly, it was more of a pain in the ass at the start.  I’d rather sit, have my coffee and relax for a bit. But I sucked it up and started keeping a journal.  I free write about whatever is in my head for a few minutes, jot down 5 things I’m grateful for and identify three goals for the day.  It really does help reframe your day.  In my case, I get a chance to rant to myself and then refocus by reminding myself of how much I have to be grateful for.  Do I get this done every day, NO.  I used to beat myself up about that but now I’m completely OK with 3-4 times a week.  The other days I still get up early, but I just sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.  My mind is in full production mode most moments of the day, so I find I need a break from time to time.

Back to a familiar statement, faith and trust come into play once again; success leaves clues.  Too many high level performers (business leaders, athletes, entrepreneurs) keep journals for it to be just “fluff”.  Don’t believe me, search away, you’ll see it.  What’s in their journals?  Thoughts, goals, affirmations, gratitude lists, vision/dream boards, you name it.  It’s simply a place to organize thoughts or just rant.  The power of writing things down has been discussed for decades.

Ok time for the “big change” for some, movement!  Well, I use this term because as soon as you say exercise, many people run and hide (no pun intended).  I hate to break it to you but physical activity is a key.  For me, it is an absolute.  Being fit or buff is not the goal, there are numerous, positive chemical changes to your body that occur with physical activity.  Increase in endorphins (good chemical), decreases in cortisol (stress hormone) and so many more that it’s hard to keep track of.  The simplest way to look at morning exercise is it works like the primer on a snow blower.  It gets the right fuel pumping through your body, and as a result, it starts and runs more efficiently.

I know, that’s all great info and not overly new.  So why is it a must for me?  I have ups and downs, plain and simple.  It’s something I started to notice when I was in university.  I was fortunate enough to play university basketball and as result, exercise was always organized and scheduled for me; practice, games, training sessions etc… But when I came home after the season, I started to notice I would have “lows”.  At that point in my life I would have been less aware of it and probably partying and drinking too much as well.  That could last 3-4 weeks and then I would begin hitting the gym to get ready for the next season.  I would start running and lifting weights and soon enough, I would start to feel more “myself”.  Sound like some rather familiar routines I currently practice? If you’ve seen any of my posts on social media, that may help make a little more sense of the health and fitness focus.  It keeps me balanced, and my moods and emotions become much more consistent.  Now a days it’s a much easier topic to discuss, but 20 years ago it was not something you chat about with your friends over a beer.  Hey guys lets chat about my emotions and what my Psychologist and I discussed at our last session.  Not exactly the topic that you bring up at a pub.  I’m lucky though, I don’t suffer from anything in a clinical sense and the bit of anxiety I do have is managed easily by taking care of myself.  These Blogs are another form of self-care.  They are as much a personal reminder for me as anything else.  Writing about these topics helps me remember “why” I made changes.  I can tell you flat out that I haven’t been as diligent with my routine the last few weeks and I feel it.  I’ve noticed my stress levels increasing and I don’t feel as tolerant and energetic.

Ok that may be a long winded way of explaining why my morning routine is so important.  It’s taken almost 20 plus years to fully understand, but hey better late than never.  Healthy routines have honestly had the biggest impact on my life over the past year and half.  I can’t necessarily fully explain why, but I know with 100% certainty that I can operate at a higher level when I do and my family gets the best version of me.  The great thing about this is, it’s about developing routines that work for you.  Don’t try and make multiple changes at once, just make one small change at a time and see where it takes you.

See you in the AM,

Steve

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