This morning I woke up with 4.5 hrs of awful sleep; went straight into a 45 minute boxing class and then worked flat out until the late hours.
Disclaimer – that was not at all intended as a way of ‘showing off’ or trying to earn your respect. I actually want to just let it set in that for the previous 365+ days I’ve set endless early morning alarms at horrifying hours which every single time I’ve slept through.
Another disclaimer – some of you may find it laughable I’m even making a point out of the above and it may be entirely normal for you. I do not blame you. As mere mortals, we must learn to embrace any and all successes and this was personally a big one!
What was different today?
I knew I had to write this article.
Jokes aside, finally I asked the question that we all have to do when trying to break or start any habit – what is the marginal gain in me doing what I wanted to do vs doing the same thing I’ve always done?
In this case, I had just enough brain cells active when waking up to debate how I’d feel with another 45 minutes of broken sleep just to hear that lovely Sonar alarm clock on the iPhone that has probably traumatised the lives of millions around the world. I paused, realised the endorphin rush would comfortably conquer it and then slept walked over to the gym.
The number of active and deliberate mental decisions we all need to take before we get into the momentum state of cracking on with it varies person to person, but looks a little like this:
Initially your resistance to action is incredibly high – everything is fighting against you, and you’re at peak uncertainty of whether or not your newfound love (quitting smoking, saying no to the chips, starting a new skill) will actually make you feel good.
Thanks to feedback loops, muscle memory and neurochemistry, the slope will flatten if what you’re doing is in fact adding significant marginal gain. What do I mean by this?
If you’re eating well, and you trata yourself to a doughnut once a week (modest, I know). What gain do you get from removing it?
On your body fat? None
On your quality of life? Negative
On your hormones? Negative – leptin and ghrelin levels move in your favour during actions like this, to regulate your hunger and stop you from craving more later on
On your stress? Negative, you probably very much look forward to that donut and perhaps improve your mood from the experience you get from the sugar burst
Probably the only benefit of cutting that donut is your psychological gain in thinking you’re a step closer to being that Instagram star you admire. Is that worth all the pain?
You may be thinking I’m a huge hypocrite – what marginal gain did I get from that workout vs not setting the alarm at all? Honestly, I was thinking longer term here. If i can train myself to become OK at working out in the morning with little sleep (OK, not a huge fan, not in love with it, just OK), then imagine how much more efficient my day could become?
Just a few of the benefits would include the time saved in the evening to do/enjoy other things, productivity gains during the day from the endorphin releases, a real appetite for breakfast and – at a push – perhaps overall better health from the added stressors applied to the cells in short bursts from both the reduction of sleep and faster exercise – find out more about that in the ‘knowledge’ highlight reel of our Instagram.
So, the next time you’re looking to break or start a new habit (New Years Resolutions?), just consider the long term value add it has to offer to your life. Don’t be afraid to try it, and experiment with different things. Never do things for the sake of it. If it’s not adding that marginal benefit, leave it out!
Have a wonderful weekend and as always drop us a line directly here if you ever have any questions. Just please don’t hold me accountable to doing this again tomorrow…