Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” For years, I’d start my day scarfing down sugar in the form of cereal before crashing on the couch where I’d mindlessly scroll through social media and emails. By the end of the hour I would feel empty, unmotivated and unprepared to start my day. You can imagine how the rest of my day went. Never in-the-moment, I would over-react when things didn’t go my way and under-react when things did. I was busy, but accomplished very little, often going to bed feeling like I had wasted another day. Know the feeling? It sucks.
This feeling eventually inspired me to commit to something I call Waking Hour. The concept is simple. If we are going to take back our day, we need to start by taking back the first hour. Here’s what it looks like for me. I hope you will join me as we take back our lives together!
Note: Upon waking, it is crucial that you resist the urge to check your phone. This includes texts, social media, email and especially the News. It’ll all be waiting for you once your Waking Hour is completed.
Get up at the same time each day. A lot of new research is showing this simple commitment is critical to keeping both our bodies and minds in good shape. It doesn’t have to be 500am, but it should be a specific time. Pick a time and stick to it.
Drink a glass of water as soon as your alarm goes off. Not only will this eliminate morning nausea and mental fog, it will give your body what it needs to get moving. I take a glass of water to bed at night so I can hydrate when I inevitably wake up at 3am but also to make my morning ritual easier.
Put on your workout clothes (more on this later). I lay mine out at the foot of the bed the night before so my mind knows upon waking, “we’re doing this.”
Make a cup of coffee (black is best) or tea and grab a piece of fruit (banana, apple or piece of sprouted grain toast). Stay away from cereal/ processed sugar. The caffeine will help bring your mind back online.
Sit in a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Make sure you choose the right space as it will be your new morning space. You may want to inform the rest of the household of your Waking Hour commitment so they won’t disturb you. This is one advantage to waking up earlier than everyone else.
Start with a morning meditation/ prayer that works for you. If you struggle with meditating on your own, I recommend Headspace and Waking Up with Sam Harris. These are easy to use apps for your phone or tablet and they will guide you through 10-20 minutes of focused thought. Both are currently offering free trials on their membership. The benefits of meditation are too numerous to list, although the top two are likely: increased focus, decreased reaction (anger, anxiety, etc.)
Reading/Journaling time. Meditation will massage your mind readying it for inspiration and challenge. Take 15-20 min and intentionally read through a chapter (or two) of a book that speaks to you, challenges you, inspires you. If you loathe reading, listen to a TED talk as most authors have given talks on their work. The nice thing about the TED website is you can search for those subjects or issues that connect with you. I like to take notes using Evernote as I find it stays with me longer and is always there to remind me when I forget. It also syncs with all my devices.
Emotional Planning. This is exactly what it sounds like. Emotional planning is a logical extension of meditation and your inspirational reading time. Take 5 min and visualize your day. Picture how you will respond to the inevitable unreasonable child, needy co-worker, insensitive boss, idiot driver, distracted partner, important presentation, disappointing news, etc. Visualize yourself responding calmly rather than over-reacting. It’s amazing the difference this makes.
High Intensity Workout. Your mind should now feel calm, focused and ready for the day. Now it’s time to ready your body which is easier because you’re already wearing your workout clothes! The fact is, our body needs 30-40 min of heart pounding exercise, sweat and physical challenge at least 4-5 days a week for us to continue to age safely and function efficiently. Note: Depending on your blood sugar levels, you may want to grab another piece of toast or fruit before your workout. I currently do my sweating at Monkey Bar , but there’s literally a million free workouts on YouTube you can stream at home if going to the gym is not your thing. My go-to at home workout is anything by Shaun T, especially his Insanity program. As good as it feels to see your body respond, I workout primarily for the unrivalled dopamine rush I get and the reservoir of energy it gives me for the rest of the day. A wise person once said, “Exercise is not what I do but it makes everything else I do ok.” Exactly.
Cold Shower.Now that you’re soaked with sweat, it’s time to shower. While finishing your shower turn the water all the way to cold. Here’s where your meditation will come in. Calm your mind and allow the frigid temperatures to complete the healing work on your body. The benefits of cold showers are too important to ignore. I’ve been taking 1-2 min freezing cold showers for years and in that time I have noticed a dramatic difference! My ADHD/Type A personality has levelled, my muscle soreness has disappeared and I have not gotten sick even though all my family and friends have been sick around me. If you’re a naturally anxious/high strung person, this could change your life!
Protein Rich Breakfast.If you’re anything like me, you’ll be starving by now. Resist the temptation to go through a drive thru or scarf down processed sugar/white flour in the form of cereal/bagels. Yes you “earned it” with your workout but you still need to fuel properly. Besides, an influx of sugar could send your mind reeling, undoing all the great work you’ve done in Waking Hour. Protein smoothies are a great option if you have dietary restrictions but if not, I prefer 3-4 soft boiled cage free eggs on sprouted grain toast. Boil the eggs for exactly 4 and half minutes. Silver Hills makes great bread.
Start your day! Congratulations!! Your mind should feel focused yet calm. Your body should be surging with energy. You are now ready to start your day!
Conclusion: The 12 steps outlined above usually take me 90-120 mins. You can and should adapt these steps to fit your own schedule. I’d rather you have a Waking 30 Min then none at all. The point of Waking Hour is to ready your body and mind for your day and ultimately live a life of greater meaning, purpose and fulfillment. So let’s get started! I’m right here with you. In the words of my fitness guru Shaun T, “come on yall, let’s goooooo!”