“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear Author of Atomic Habits
I have known this simple truth for sooooo long; I knew that if I wanted to work out consistently every day, the only time I would be able to get my exercise in, would be at 5am in the morning. This had been a routine of mine in the past and I’ve had this plan to start it up again for what feels like forever.
It sounded so doable to me. Without the workout, I needed to wake up between 6:00am and 6:30am to get myself and the kids ready for the day and make it to work on time. So if I wake up at 5am and work out first, I’ll only have to get up an hour earlier and I will start my day off right. Not only was this a day dream or theory, I knew for a fact my body could do this because I used to get up at exactly that time and head to the gym before work in my pre baby days. So, this will easy peasy. I just set my alarm for 5am and get started.
The road blocks popped up almost as soon as I thought the thought.
Sleep regressions, potty training, the two babies catching every single virus within breathing distance… the babies became a reason I just couldn’t get up that early, because I just wasn’t getting enough sleep. Then when they finally got back to a good sleep routine, they decided 4am was a good time to start the day for three long weeks in a row. I was tired, that was my excuse. OK fair; I was legit sleep deprived.
Then they did sleep fine, from 7pm – 6:30am, perfect sleeping angels. But instead of getting to bed early, I wanted to spend time with my partner in the evening, we stayed up late watching Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. I wanted to wind down, to relax, and to decompress after the long day. I deserved that time, and one thing that always went with it was a glass of wine.
I didn’t drink alcohol for over 2.5 year since I had back to back pregnancies followed by breast feeding, followed by sleep deprivation. So when I did re-introduce wine into my evening, I enjoyed it and it quickly became a habit. The day was completely filled with activities before I pour that glass, the wine to me, was my treat. I got up early, got the kids ready for day care, dropped them off, commuted to work, worked 8 hours, commuted home, cooked dinner, cleaned up, bathed the kids, and got the kids to bed. Now it was my chance to FINALLY kick back and relax, the kids were sleeping, the day was ending. The glass of wine helped me chill out and sleep better, I deserved that wine! #selfcare right? (Or that’s what I told myself)
I wasn’t getting drunk and I didn’t have a hang over or anything like that, so even though it should have been, it wasn’t immediately obvious that the glass of wine and my non existent 5am work out were directly related. I had to reframe the question that I was asking myself, to really figure it out. I went from thinking “How do I get my ass up at 5am to work out?” to “How come I am not?”
I have already decided it’s what I want to do. Health and fitness ARE a priority in my life. Other options DO NOT fit on a consistent basis with my routine of working full time, coaching part time, raising two toddlers with love and purpose as well as giving focus to my relationship with my partner. I enjoy running. I love the energy I feel when I work out in the morning. I love the competition with myself to run further or faster than my previous run before. I want to fit into all my clothes that are too tight. I want the energy to chase after my kids and run around the house with them fully charged, even after a long day at work. I WANT to get up at 5am and work out. So again “How come I am not?”
This is where I got really honest with myself. It’s the wine, it’s the fucking wine. Well fuck…….. that sucks ‘cause if you know me, you know I love that evening wine. But; the more I thought about why I wasn’t getting up at 5am to workout, the harder it was to ignore the effects of that one habit of having a glass of wine before bed had.
First of all; a glass of wine, a few nights a week easily turned into a glass of wine every night of the week. Some nights, a glass of wine easily turned into two glasses of wine. Some nights, a snack went with the wine (which is a whole other habit chain I don’t want). Some nights, one more episode on Netflix coincided with “ok, I guess I’ll have one more glass of wine then.” (Double whammy, I am staying up later AND having more wine at the same time.) I can think back and picture nights that I was tired and could of just went to bed as soon as the kids passed out, but it was a LOOOOOOOOONG day and I deserved that glass of wine to wind down. WRONG again, because I actually deserved MUCH better.
Stayed up later
Was more tired in the morning
Got less sleep
Got less restful sleep
Did NOT get up at 5am to work out
As much as I wanted to convince myself that wine would help me sleep, it’s a total lie. There are a total of zero creditable resources on healthy sleeping habits that would recommend drinking wine before bed on one of their lists.
So, I said goodbye to my beloved glass of wine on week nights, in exchange for better sleep and to remove that real road block that I built for myself. That one habit that was preventing me from reaching a goal I had, while at the same time preventing me from becoming the best version of myself I could be.
Is wine terrible? NO! Are you terrible if you drink a glass of wine every night? NO! Will I drink wine again? YES, BUT not through the week and not when I plan on waking up at 5am to work out, because that just wasn’t working FOR ME. I’ll save my wine for special occasions or the weekend.
What habits took its place?
Well perhaps obviously, I started working out at 5am…or I probably wouldn’t be writing this 😉
To make this easier I lay out my workout clothes the night before so my brain knows THIS IS happening, and also to make it super easy to just get into them and head down stairs.
My partner and I don’t binge watch TV for all hours, I go to bed around 9pm, no later than 10…versus 11pm or midnight in the past.
I set my alarm for 5am with a message “Let’s Run!”
I listen to guided sleep meditations to wind down and fall asleep. I put my noise cancelling head phones on and a lavender eye sash over my eyes and lay comfy in my bed, totally oblivious to anything else around me.
The alarm goes off and I put the clothes on right away. This is key. Once you’re in the work out clothes you might as well work out, right? Get them on before you convince yourself to stay in bed.
I get on the treadmill with my awesome playlist that I made before hand and do whatever I can do for 30 minutes.
I get showered and ready before the kids need to wake up.
I have more time in the morning to prepare for the day and I have more energy all day long. I might be getting up “earlier” than I used to, but I am getting to bed earlier and having a restful sleep. I am actually not only getting MORE sleep than before, but better quality sleep. On top of that, my morning run gives me more energy through out the day and I feel WAY better and more energized than I have in a long time.
So I’ll ask you;
Do you have a “bad” habit? What might change in your life if you removed it?
If you want coaching and support through this, set up a FREE call with me and we can chat and see if my programs are a good fit for you.
If you’re not already signed up for my newsletter, “Mindful &Thought-Filled” click below and leave me your email. Spoiler Alert, this weeks topic will be about…..you guessed it; “Habits!”