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A few words about getting up - and working out - at 5am

"Small daily, seemingly insignificant improvements, when done consistently over time, yield staggering results. [...] What looks to the human eye like invisible and infinitesimal optimisations around your willpower - when performed daily - are what makes you into a Michel-Angelo or a da Vinci or a Disney or a Chopin or a Coco Chanel or a Roger Bannister or a Pelé or a Marcus Aurelius or a Copernicus over extended periods of training. The true geniuses all start out as ordinary people. But they practiced building up their strength so much and so often that showing up at world-class became automated." Robin Sharma

I recently started to get up at 5am, way before the rest of the family wakes up. I've always liked to be the first one awake, to get a bit of time to myself early in the morning and before I go to bed at night. But reading Robin Sharma's 'The 5am Club' has motivated me to push this a little further.

Even though it took me a while to get into the book, I now find it very inspiring and, after a few weeks of applying the advice given by Robin Sharma, I can honestly say that it makes a lot of sense to me and a big difference to how I feel during the day.

At the core of the book is a simple concept called 'the 20/20/20 formula', which basically consists of spending the first hour of your day (from 5am to 6am) moving (for 20 minutes), reflecting (for 20 minutes) and on an activity that makes you grow (that's the last 20-minute pocket).

Here's the deconstruction of the formula, as shown in the book:

Source: 'The 5am Club', Robin Sharma

While this can seem a bit crazy at first and you might wonder how on earth it is possible to do all of this before 6am, it really does make a huge difference to your day and it does get easier and easier the more often you do it (Robin Sharma recommends to stick to the formula for a minimum of 66 days to reach the automaticity point and to implement it as a new habit).

I also adapted the content of 'The Victory Hour', as the author calls it, to make it enjoyable for me. I usually start with writing morning pages, which is basically just free writing for 20 minutes. Sometimes, I include a short meditation or breathing technique. Then, I read for the next 20 minutes. Currently, I am finishing Rangan Chatterjee's 'The Stress Solution', another book I strongly recommend. I always finish with a short strength workout and, often, I include some jumping jacks, skipping etc. to make sure I sweat.

Now, is it hard to get up at 5am? Yes. Sometimes. The thing is that the rewards I get from doing it are so much bigger, their voice so much stronger than the voice in my head that tells me to choose the easy road. Not to put in the effort today.

I sometimes have to push through the initial resistance (that’s why I make sure I jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off). BUT I also know that I will GET to feel full of energy, more concentrated and ready to take on the day when I am done. I will GET to look more toned. And to greet my kids with a big smile at 6.30am when they wake up. I GET this time for myself, before I give my time to anybody else.

Here are a few simple things I implemented that help me get up - and work out - at 5am:

✨ I make sure I am in bed at around 9.30/45pm and the lights go off at 10pm at the latest.

✨ I start fasting 3h before I go to bed, so that means 7pm for me.

✨ Fasting also means that I don't drink anything else than water and unsweetened tea at night, especially no alcohol. Ideally, no alcohol during the week and a limited amount on the weekend (and not in the evening).

✨Ideally (and I say ideally cause it’s one of the hardest ones for me) no work on the laptop or mindless scrolling on my phone after dinner. I manage to do this more often these days or at least, to limit it. I also put on blue light blocking glasses at 8pm and until I go to bed.

✨ I prepare my workout gear, a full water bottle, dumbbells, workout mat and everything else I might need for my morning workout before I go to bed so that I don’t disturb anybody at 5am.

✨ I plan the exercises I want to do (and the meditation music, notebook for my morning pages and the book I want to read during my Victory Hour, for that matter) before I go to bed.

✨ Equally important for me to feel I know where to start when I wake up: I write everything down in a few words on my daily schedule that I print out before I go to bed. It’s a representation of how I would like my day to be, what I want to do and achieve at what time of the day. My ideal scenario. Even though I know that I am rarely able to follow it hour by hour and that unforeseen things can come up, it gives me a plan.

✨Having a mantra for the day also helps! I actually write my current mantra on a post-it and stick it on to the bathroom mirror and on my office table so that I see it first thing in the morning.

✨No reading the news, scanning social feeds or emails during the first hour of the day.

✨ I also take a few pictures after each workout and post them on Instagram to wish you all a good morning and to keep myself accountable. This makes a big difference, I feel.

I think that’s pretty much it 🤷🏼‍♀️😉 Hope it can be useful to some of you.

Finally, I should say that I don't stick to getting up at 5am religiously. If I feel super tired, I usually listen to my body and give it the rest it needs. Especially on the weekend, I might make it 6am instead of 5am. I think that, if my body tells me to prioritise rest, then there's a reason for it. And I should listen. Having said that, in that case, I would above all work on going to bed earlier, on slowing down strength workouts (and do more qigong and breathing techniques instead, for example) and on reducing stress overall.

Overall, I know that getting up early works for me. My main focus (and biggest challenge) is to be in bed before 10pm. This changes everything.

Now, tell me: Have you tried getting up at 5am, before everyone else in the house and before the day really starts? What's your experience? I'd love to know.

Love, Tani xx

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