Can a leopard change its spots?
Or, in my case, I wanted to know can a dyed in the wool night owl change their nocturnal preference to become an early bird?
So, to find out if it really was possible to change after 53 years of telling everyone how much I hate mornings, I decided to dive into The Miracle Morning 30 Day Challenge.
If you’re not familiar with the Miracle Morning let me start off by giving you some context.
The Miracle Morning is a book written by Hal Elrod. In his book he claims to be able to ‘Transform Your Life Before 8am’ using the 6 Habits that he has developed following his own personal journey. He is on a ‘mission to change one million lives, one morning at a time’ which is a pretty big goal!
I have to say I did enjoy reading the book and found his story quite inspirational. He was a pretty high flyer at a young age but was brought back down to earth with a bang when he was hit head on by a truck. What followed caused medical staff to pronounce him ‘clinically dead’ for 6 minutes before paramedics brought him back to life, where he remained in a coma for 6 days. He eventually learned to walk again, despite much doubt that he ever would, and has gone on to become an international best-selling author, coach, motivational speaker and internet celebrity .
As someone who has ‘had’ to get up early to go to a job for almost all of my adult life I’ve never ever been a fan of the alarm clock and would claw back every possible last minute. The snooze button was the most well-worn button on the clock! At weekends I would happily lie in until gone 10am given half a chance.
When I was studying for my degree I would feel my brain fire up into action in the evening, and I’d often work through from 8pm until well gone midnight and have to get up for work at 6 the following morning. I’d be groggy and grumpy and really not very pleasant to be around. Add to that the fact that I had a 40-minute drive to work, despite being shattered, and it probably wasn’t the best combination.
I’d talked about how I wanted to get more productive too the members in my Facebook group Fifty, Fit and Fabulous and thought a better morning routine would help. I’d read Mel Robbin’s book ‘The 5 Second Rule’ which told of how she had conquered her snooze button habit by counting backwards from 5 to 1, and I’d started to use the rule in lots of areas in my day but hadn’t managed to apply it to getting my sorry ass out of bed in the mornings.
A member of the Group very kindly sent me a copy of Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning and as I read it I kept thinking I could never stick to getting up at a ridiculous hour to do the habits he mentioned. Apart from that, I was pretty much doing them anyway, just not first thing in the morning. But as I read on and he talked about a 30 day challenge, I thought ‘what the hell’ at least it’ll prove that whatever Mr Elrod says, not everyone is good in the morning. It’s all about our circadian rhythms after all, and we’re all unique so what works for one doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone.
So I committed to doing at least 30 days – more to prove him wrong and me right if I’m honest!
Before I go any further, let me tell you what the 6 habits are. He calls them ‘LifeSAVERS’ a handy little acronym to remind us what to do. They stand for:
He gives you a link to download some resources for the Challenge on his website which include his Fast Start Kit, his recommended book list and a few PDFs with various affirmations.
So, on Friday 25th January 2019 I started my day with the alarm clock going off at 5.30am. Maybe it was novelty or that initial burst of motivation you get when you start something new, but I literally flew out of bed. I dived into the bathroom to brush my teeth as recommended. However, in my sleepy haze I managed to put toddler toothpaste on my brush and it tasted vile!
I then changed into workout gear that I’d set aside the night before, at the same time as I’d recited out loud the recommended ‘bedtime’ affirmations which reminded me that some of the most successful people have managed on 4 hours sleep a night and we only need as much as we tell ourselves we need!
I grabbed a glass of water and tried to down it as advised, although it tasted pretty yuk after having just brushed my teeth. I managed to finish it over the course of the next hour as drinking it in a oner was making me feel quite sick.
I set the alarm on my phone to go off after 5 minutes so that I could do my Silence (meditation) and again for my Affirmations (I didn’t use my own, but read out loud the ones suggested for the Challenge), followed that by some timed visualisation. The time went really quickly, it felt like I’d no sooner closed my eyes than the alarm was sounding (I’m pretty sure I didn’t keep falling back to sleep though!).
For the Exercise I’d decided to embark on a 30 day yoga challenge with a You Tuber called Adriene whom I’d followed off and on for the last few months. I knew from past experience that yoga helped a long-term back problem, but I’d been pretty sporadic at consistently sticking to a yoga routine, so it made sense to run the 2 challenges alongside each other. So I got my yoga mat out and did day one of Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Challenge. I finished feeling totally energised and eager to see how I would progress after 30 consistent days.
Finally I did my reading and journaling. I set a timer for 20 minutes on my phone and picked up the book I’d been reading – The Power is Within You by Louise Hay. I was already about half way through and I always have at least one book on the go (usually far more, plus audio books too!). But I really struggled to keep my eyes open to read. My head was nodding and I didn’t really feel like I was getting much understanding out of what I was reading. Plus, I was getting a little impatient and rushing to get to the end of the 20 minutes as my granddaughter was staying over and I knew she’d be waking up imminently.
By 11.30am I felt like I’d been up a whole day, although I can’t honestly say I felt I’d been any more productive than usual. Maybe my expectations were a tad unrealistic!
By the end of the day I was surprised I wasn’t feeling more tired when I headed off to bed at 10pm. I did my bedtime rituals of getting my workout gear ready, making sure my journal and affirmations were ready, along with my yoga mat and book and headed off to bed feeling quite positive about the next day.
Day 2 is a Saturday so the idea of getting up at 5.30 is a little bit weird. In fact I wake at 5am having slept very well. I get out of bed at 5.20, with a whole ten minutes to spare before the alarm is due to go off.
I go through the LifeSAVERS much as yesterday although it does feel strange being up so early at the weekend and leaving my other half in bed. He’s always been the early riser so being up and about before him is definitely odd. But I do all the things I’m meant to do and feel surprisingly ok.
I’m keeping a video diary of the Challenge for my Facebook page Floresco and have noticed a couple of people commenting and cheering me on (one of which was the lady who sent me the book!).
Day 3 and waking up at 5.30 on a Sunday is just totally wrong. I really struggled with the negative self-talk this morning. Although I got out of bed (hard not to when the alarm is strategically placed on the windowsill forcing me to have to get out of bed to switch it off) with relative ease, I found myself perched on the side of the bath, eyes closed, toothbrush buzzing away thinking ‘maybe this morning I’ll just do yoga in my PJs as it’s cold and I don’t feel like getting into workout gear’. Which quickly degenerated into ‘maybe I could just leave the yoga out this morning and do it later when I’m not so cold’. I even contemplated doing the LifeSAVERS and heading off back to bed for an extra bit of kip.
However, thanks to Mel Robbins I applied the 5 Second Rule and just got on with it (although I did do yoga in my PJs, which I found I much preferred, and continued to do for the rest of the 30 day challenge!).
So I’m not going go through every day in detail but I will, instead, give an overview of how the following 26 days panned out.
First off, I’m proud to say that I did, indeed, complete the challenge, finishing on Saturday 23 February. I’m now on day 33 and still getting up at 5.30 – it now feels totally normal and I can honestly say I can’t imagine going back to my lazy morning lie ins.
There have been some days that have been decidedly harder than others, but on the whole I would say the ratio of good to bad is about 90:10. There is no one more shocked than me that this has proven to be the case.
As for whether I need to be up at 5.30 each day, well, that’s debatable. I think it’s more important to focus on having a productive morning and being aware of how many hours sleep you’ve had than sticking rigidly to a set time. Life, invariably, throws us a curve ball from time to time which means a late night is inevitable. On a couple of occasions when this happened, I tried to force myself to get up at 5 or 5.30am despite only having had 5 hours sleep. This really did not work for me.
Hal Elrod suggests that how much sleep we require is mostly a case of believing we need more but I don’t agree that that’s true. I learned that I thrive on between 7 and 7 ½ hours. Anything less and I feel tired and grumpy – in fact I’d go as far as to say that it increased my morning anxiety and induced a depressed feeling. Anything more than 8 hours and I feel lethargic and groggy. Maybe when Hal is 53 he’ll change his opinion on whether or not we can truly perform well on 4 hour’s sleep!
I stopped doing the night time affirmations very early on in the Challenge (about day 4 I think). I actually just forgot about them and it didn’t seem to affect my ability to get up as planned. I also stopped changing into workout wear as I genuinely prefer doing yoga in my PJs.
I also changed the order of the LifeSAVERS to fit with my morning better – preferring to do them in the order of Affirmations, Reading, Scribing, Exercise, Silence and Visualisation. It made more sense to me to put the silence and visualisations at the end of my yoga practice as I lay, relaxed, in Shavasana. I don’t think there’s any reason to do them in the order Hal suggests, it just makes a nice, neat acronym. And my way spells ARSES-V which probably wouldn’t sell quite so many books.
I also added in taking my multivitamins as part of my morning routine which was good for me as I tended to be a bit forgetful. Linking the habit of taking my vits with the habit of drinking a glass of water each morning made sense and worked.
Also, in the last week of the challenge I started to add in a morning walk after my ARSES-V. In fact, I skipped the reading and silence and combined an audiobook and meditation with my walk. I got to see some amazing sunrises and also got to say good morning to lots of lovely people I don’t usually see during the day.
Finally, I stuck with the yoga challenge too and I’m now reaping the benefits of being able to sit cross legged for far longer without wanting to swear and cry than I could at the beginning. My back doesn’t seem to have improved too much though, so maybe another trip to the osteopath is on the cards. If you think you have to be flexible to do yoga, think again. Adriene has a fantastic way of making everything feel achievable. I’m hooked. I only wish she lived a bit closer but I think she’s a Texas gal!
So all in all, whilst I can’t say that The Miracle Morning has totally and utterly changed my life, it has certainly helped me to create a better sleep routine and a more productive morning routine. I think it’s important to not get too stressed about it all though. I have a saying that ‘stressing about eating the pizza will kill you quicker than eating the pizza will’ and I think it’s true of the Miracle Morning. By that, I mean stressing about trying to stick rigidly to a morning routine is probably more damaging than having no routine at all.
As for the future, I think I can well and truly say I no longer feel like I’m a devout night owl, and now consider myself to have joined weird and mystic clan formerly known as ‘happy morning people’!
Bev Thorogood is a Midlife Transition Coach and Trainer. A certified nutritionist, personal trainer and health coach specialising in helping women navigate their way through midlife and beyond. With a strong focus on mindset she offers personal and group coaching to help women remove the blocks that stop them from living their best midlife.
If you’re looking for help to move you towards a better midlife book a FREE breakthrough call – it might just change your life!
Oh, and just before you go, why not join our fabulous Facebook community ‘Fifty, Fit and Fabulous’ for support, help, inspiration and motivation from other women just like you?