Garfield and I have a couple of things in common. First off, we both hate mornings. Secondly, we both love lasagna. Unfortunately (fortunately), now that I am a grown-up and am committed to building my business, I need to free up some extra time. And when better to do that than first thing in the morning? Ugh.
In the past, my mornings generally went like this:
- (starting the night before), I say to Slim as we’re going to bed, “I’ll totally get up with you at stupid early o’clock”.
- Stupid early o’clock arrives, I roll over and tell Slim to have a good day, that I’ll see him in 10 minutes, and hit the snooze button. (This was actually progress, since initially, I would just reset the alarm for an hour or two later).
- I hit the snooze again.
- I hit the snooze again.
- I hit the snooze again.
- Slim leaves , I drag my sorry ass into the shower to wake up, get dressed, boil the kettle, drink tea, leave for work.
This type of morning did not leave me with the sort of energy and sense of accomplishment that I’d like to start my day with. To be clear, I have NEVER been a morning person. My parents used to have to drag me out of bed as a child, in University I scheduled classes in the morning so that I wouldn’t just sleep the entire day through.
To manage this paradigm shift, I had to do a few things. Let’s refer back to Switch – I had to direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path. To shape the path (or change my environment), I became accountable to more than my alarm. Nowadays, when Slim wakes up, he bugs me until I actually get out of bed. Another way to shape the path would be to move the alarm clock to Slim’s side of the bed. We haven’t done that yet, but it would work.
Next, to direct the rider (or appeal to my logical mind), I gave myself a morning task to accomplish. I don’t train optimally in the mornings, I’ve tried, I just get cranky, so that couldn’t be the thing I did every morning. Instead, each night, I make a list (surprising!) of the tasks I’d like to complete and have them ready for me tackle in the morning. If they’re there staring at me, the desire to get them done will override the desire to snuggle in bed.
Finally, I needed to motivate my elephant (engage my emotional self). Lists are all well and good, but having random tasks on them wasn’t enough, since I didn’t actually care about accomplishing them. Without emotional engagement in the task, the snooze button/crap morning TV began to look more and more attractive.
I thought back to University, and even though I hated every second of the waking up early for class, once I was in the classroom I didn’t feel so bad. And by the time it was done, I felt like I’d accomplished more that day than my friends who were still tucked in their beds. So these days, I focus on my continuing education stuff every morning. First thing is when I watch videos, take online classes, study, and plan. I feel awesome when I can check things off my list before I’ve even finished my first cup of green tea.
Let’s recap: I wanted to make more time in the morning to get stuff done and feel good about myself. I am not a morning person. I changed my environment to help me along, I gave my logical mind a reason to get up and a task to accomplish, and I gave my emotional drive a reward (pride) to look forward to. Fantastic! I am most of the way to not hating mornings. Until the night that the dog barks for no reason for hours, or the time changes, or I was up late the night before.
I recently passed my Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coaching certification (for which I studied almost exclusively in the morning), and I learned a TON. One of the huge takeaways was the power of habit versus the power of intention. How many times have you decided that you were going to eat healthy/workout every day/start getting up earlier/etc. etc. only to be derailed when things get busy or you have a tough day?
I often have tough mornings.
Habits will carry you through (or drag you down) in the tough times. Don’t assume that your life will always operate under the best-case scenario; plan for things to get hairy once in a while. Take the time to ingrain healthy habits to replace less healthy ones, and you’ll be much better equipped to manage when things go pear-shaped.
To nail down my getting-shiz-done-in-the-morning habit, here are my actionable steps:
1) Wake up at roughly the same time every day (even if it’s a weekend). This helps more than you think it will. And you get TONS done on your days off, since you don’t spend half of it sleeping.
2) The Saturday Ritual (PN calls this the Sunday Ritual, but I have derby on Sundays) – Use whichever day you have the most time to commit to the task and give over a couple of hours to writing a menu, grocery shopping, and prepping your food for the week. You can chop veggies, cook proteins, make batch meals – like chili (or lasagna!), make dry mixes for shakes. Meal plans don’t have to be complicated, or detailed. For example, I have a shake for breakfast and a salad and a protein (usually eggs or cottage cheese) for lunch – I don’t really have to over-plan those, because they don’t change. Devote a couple of free hours that you would have spent on facebook, and you’ve got healthy meals for the week, and a WAY less stressful morning.
3) Eat Breakfast. I didn’t. For a very long time. I had myself convinced that breakfast made me feel sick and sluggish all day. So I just didn’t eat it. As I dug deeper into training and nutrition, I figured I should probably try a little harder to eat in the mornings, but it was so challenging to find the time that I’d end up just having instant oatmeal or a bagel. With no fruit or veggies. Or protein. So, not ideal. Enter the Super Shake. It’s an easy way to eat well in the morning that literally takes about 2 minutes. Here’s what you do:
In your blender, mix:
- ice – 1-10 cubes depending on the consistency you want
- a fruit – I like banana, it thickens up the shake
- a veggie – kale, swiss chard, spinach, pumpkin, sweet potato, beets (roast first), celery/cucumber (make sure to use less liquid because of the water content in these), greens powder
- a protein powder that you digest well – whey, rice, hemp, pea, or other
- a nut or seed – walnut, flax, hemp, chia, cashew, almond, nut butter
- a liquid – almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, green tea, water
- a topper – coconut, cacao nibs, dark chocolate, oats, granola, cinnamon
Yummy shakes, all the nutrients you need, no brain power required. My fave – 4 ice cubes, a banana, pumpkin puree, unflavoured (or vanilla) whey protein, almond butter (or crunchy peanut butter), almond milk, cinnamon. IT’S LIKE PIE FOR BREAKFAST.
4) The Power of Proximity. If you want to make healthy choices, make them the easiest choices to make. I know mornings are where I fall down, so my green tea is the foremost tea on my shelf, my blender is right out on the counter, and I don’t have bagels, or instant anything, in the house any more. This totally works if your issue is not breakfast, but rather post-work or late-night snacks too. Just have the healthy snacks in plain view. Don’t have questionable snacks in the house if you can manage it. If you’re actually hungry, you’ll go for the easy (healthy) choice.
I’m trying to be a little less Garfield-ish these days. I’m still a grumpus when I first get out of bed, but I’m getting out of that bed with a plan, some steps to take, and sound morning habits to support me.
I’m not going to stop loving lasagna though. Case in point, here’s a PN coach’s recipe for lasagna using zucchini strips for noodles (scroll to Anytime Lasagna) – genius!