My Miracle Morning – From snoozer to 5am in two months

Since I was a teenager, my morning routine has consisted of predominantly snoozing until its too late, then rushing to get ready and missing breakfast. Leaving the house in a rush being the norm, knowing I’ll be late to wherever I’m headed regardless of where. And god forbid I haven’t ironed something I need, because there is no time for that, so then I’m definitely late and pissed off now too. Time has never been on my side, lets put it that way.

I have always wanted to changed this over the years and have watched countless YouTubers tell me about their great morning routines, have read blogs about successful people rising early and I have felt inspired as it all sounded great. But did I ever make a change? Nope. (Sound familiar?!).

In January 2017, I got a puppy and I did find myself waking up with enough time to walk him (since that was a commitment I made to myself before getting him), but I found I was still rushed for everything else as I still snoozed for far too long and didn’t have time for breakfast. In September 2017, I became vegan and realised I needed to have breakfast now since I knew I wouldn’t be able to easily grab food on the go. Once again I added time into my morning for breakfast (finally at the age of 28!). It was nice having time for breakfast, but it still didn’t feel great waking up early, groggy and wanting nothing more to do than to just go back to sleep. Breakfast was sometimes rushed too as I never quite got my timings right of how long I would need. That rushed feeling isn’t a great one but I still had it every morning, and yes it was self inflicted!

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

I came across Hal Elrod’s book the Miracle Morning on one of my routine searches for morning routine ideas I was never going to implement (as you do!) and gave the book a read. I had made a goal to read for personal development and growth at this time so the book fit the bill.

Out of 10, I’d give this book a 8. It did begin my journey of changing my morning routine and developing habits to incorporate which means it did something right because I have never changed my routine after watching/ reading anything else so that speaks volumes, he speaks in a very informal, easy to follow way too and lays out his routine in a way you can pick it up and add it straight into your routine. It’s a short book so it also won’t take that long to get through. Sometimes being given too many different ideas can be overwhelming, so his simple method of here are 6 things to add was helpful for me. I didn’t give it a 10 because for me parts were overinflated, and there was way too much spiel before getting to the actual routine but this is a personal reflection of course. I have to give the book credit though for changing my routine as it did. I guess it worked out well I read this over Christmas too as with the new year goal focus, it seemed only too apt to give it a go! I was intrigued at reading the reviews online of people’s ‘miracle mornings’ and since wanting to live more intentionally and carve my way to greater self-discovery have been my main whys in 2017 to now, it seemed that people were really benefitting. However you’ll see I didn’t actually do it until 16th Jan because I was “thinking” about it. So as my tip below suggests, just do it! I waited a bit too long.

The Miracle Morning Breakdown

So Hal gave me some structure as to what should go in my morning routine and with his help and that of individuals reviewing their miracle morning experience, I was spurred on. He calls the six habits to incorporate S.A.V.E.R.S for short. You can see below what these stand for and what I decided to do for each. The great thing is you can be flexible with the how, if you have a specific goal see if it fits and you can incorporate this. I haven’t gone into the definitions of each in too much details here because I’ll create a separate post on how I carved to my routine. But a tip is to just spend an hour on these initially. I say this because I found that by just experiencing it, you will begin to reshape it to work for you and really create your best morning.

Silence – meditation

Affirmations – positive present tense statements focused on my goals and creating more positivity

Visualisation

Exercise – I walk the dog or run with him

Reading – the focus is on reading for personal development. I have a list of books I want to read.

Scribing – journaling 

My Initial Morning Routine

I planned these six habits into my routine. My initial routine went as follows:

  • 6am – Wake up, walk/ run with Baxter
  • 7am – Shower, Get ready for work
  • 7.45am – Make breakfast
  • 8am – Meditation
  • 8.10-8.15am – Affirmations and Visualisation
  • 8.15am-8.30am – Reading
  • 8.30am-8.40am – Journal

Now I know for me, the idea of running is worse than the run itself as British winters aren’t all that great, so getting the exercise done first stops me thinking about it so I decided to put that first. Since exercise means I need a shower, the rest of the SAVERS were kept for when I’m ready. Be flexible to meet your needs.

The first day 

So the night before my first day, I was already giving myself the negative talk of waking up at 6am and being tired. However, I prepped my running gear, set my alarm and read Hal’s night before affirmations (though I thought it was all a load of garbage at this stage!). But I went to bed and have to admit I was a little excited that I was about to have my first “Miracle morning”.

I had an accountability group to screenshot my wake up time to. I found having to be up to screenshot and take a photo of my made bed to prove I was up, helped me to just get out of bed without thinking as I didn’t want to fail now did I! It made it that bit easier in those first 5 seconds.

And the outcome of my first Miracle morning? Just having that hour to do things un work related was great. Meditating and reading are my favourite parts and I now give myself an hour for these. It feels so good to work on me before my work day begins.

I kept it up because the feeling I had going to work that day was one of feeling good, inspired and totally motivated. Now I haven’t perfected it (I’m human) and I haven’t done this on weekends but for now, I’m okay with the progress and the feeling you get….seriously it is worth it!

Now when February began, I started to think hmm its too rushed fitting all of this in, how can I improve on my routine. I initially tried different SAVERS on different days to have more time on one activity. Then someone gave me the idea to plan an “ideal week” and then to live it for a week as a challenge and so that is my current goal (I’l post on this soon). My point is the SAVERS are a great start and they opened the way for me to really think about what I wanted out of mornings.

So where am I Today?

Today is my first day of waking up at 5am with my new Ideal week challenge (which I’ll post about soon) but what a change! From January to February I have moved my wake up time from snoozing until 7.30am to waking up at 5am by choice, now that surely is a miracle!!

The great thing is I’m writing this blog post during my writing block and really making progress towards my blogging goals. I decided journaling is great, but having time to write blog content is personally important as I struggle to commit otherwise so I’ve really began to make the routine work for me. I think it helped to have a structure to start with to then build on.

And the great thing? Its seriously not unachievable for you, if I can do it so can you. I hope hearing my story can help spur you on as others stories helped me. I hope the tips below can help you begin to create your miracle morning.

If you have any questions about my miracle morning, or have some obstacles you want to discuss, comment below. You will have your miracle morning!

Tips for beginning to create your Miracle Morning

  • Read the book – it’ll help spur you on
  • Find your why. Why do you want a better morning? What’s in it for you? Waking up to something you can’t wait to do helps.
  • Find an accountability buddy or share your plan on social media so you can upload your timestamps and photos to keep yourself accountable
  • Start small – don’t go from 10am to 5am. Try and do an hour and see what happens. Can’t manage that? Do 20-30 minutes.
  • Just do it – prep is great, but sometimes you just have to do it! The good feeling from doing it will help you commit too. Just plan one day. I can procrastinate and think, this is definitely a time to do.
  • Prep the night before so you have less decisions to make in the morning
  • Get to sleep at a reasonable time and if you don’t still get up!
  • Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you snooze one day, life happens and sometimes we really can talk ourselves out of it, just remember tomorrow is a new day and so you get another chance to live out your Miracle morning. You get to try again each day, so don’t be too harsh or self-critical. Accept the fact you didn’t get up, and focus on getting up tomorrow.
  • Enjoy your mornings! If you aren’t getting any feel good feelings, it just isn’t going to stick! I mean why wake up at 5am if you don’t feel great by the end of it? Make your routine one you want to wake up for.

I hope this has helped to express just how possible it is to go from snoozer to 5am in two months. Will I keep it up? Only time will tell!

Enjoy the journey!

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Goals Review

So I began this blog with four main areas for goals – diet, physical health, budgeting and more productive time. So how am I getting on?

Diet:

I’ve been vegan since 24/09/17. It has been going better than I expected. I thought I would have caved but I haven’t. I started with buying two recipe books, and have now reached a stage where I feel more comfortable knowing what I can eat. I have also learnt some lessons around being vegan which I will share in a separate post. All in all, the vegan change is going well however being vegan and eating healthy aren’t the same thing. I have been getting way more fruit and veg, but I have also being eating junk too. It’s easy to eat more gluten and wheat when vegan and so I am conscious that this isn’t the greatest change for me either as wheat isn’t great for me digestively. So part of my journey now is to eat well and not restrict but also to be mindful of what I snack on. I find I can make bad decisions here.

Physical Health:

Since December I have been running weekly. After Christmas, its been 3-4 times a week and it’s been great. I’ve hit 5k, I actually go running in the mornings (totally alien to me!) and I really do enjoy running now. I’ve ran in the snow and rain and have really committed. That’s greta progress for me. Unfortunately I had someone hit me in the leg which resulted in a haemotoma at the beginning of February and so have been out of running for the past few weeks. Its healing well though and I’m looking forward to running again. I never thought I would say that, so thats real progress!

I’m also wanting to build up on toning and weight exercises, I have purchased dumbbells and ankle weights (I’m never going to go to a gym so home workouts for me!) and so now its about incorporating this into my routine.

Budgeting:

I have now paid off my car! That’s one less debt. I still have debt, but I’m working at reducing it. Every time I have money leftover out of my monthly budget for social stuff etc. goes straight towards paying off debt. It feels like it is taking forever but it is progressing….

Better Spent Time:

So I can waste time pretty easily. With mindless tv and social media, I can easily feel like I am losing time. So I set myself a challenge to think about my ‘Ideal Week’ and make it happen! This comes after beginning to carve my morning routine (I’ll post more about this soon!) and beginning the year with a list of things I wish I had time for. I’ll share a post about my ideal week soon. As a result of thinking about my time, below you’ll see some more goals I’ve set. All in all, I think my goal setting and achieving is going well. Now to keep it going!

Other Goals:

Since I have started to make changes, I have also began to add to my goals with the following on my list:

  • Create my Ideal week and Miracle Morning
  • Spend more time reading – personal development and fiction
  • Hit 10k
  • Meditate daily

 

What are the goals you are currently working on? Are any similar? It would be great to share tips.

 

C25k – Can you really run 5k in 30 minutes? A Couch25k Review

So when I began my running journey in the summer of 2016, I was totally new to running and generally exercise. My idea of exercise was always sporadic yoga sessions at home and the occasional badminton game. I had had a number of gym memberships which basically went unused. Sound familiar?! I’ve always been slim so I guess it made me think exercise wasn’t necessary. I can’t remember what prompted me but I decided to give running a try in 2016. I had decided that I could not take out a new membership and running was therefore a free alternative!

I downloaded the Couch25k 5k Trainer app. The Couch25k app is an 8 week programme designed to have you running 5k at the end of 8 weeks. The programme uses a mixture of walking and running to build up to continuous running – great for newbie runners. Each run has a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down and is roughly 30 minutes in length. There is audio which tells you when to walk/ jog and each week there is more jogging and less walking.

So how was it?

It felt great on weeks 1-3. I was able to walk and run, and generally thought hey I can do this! I had downloaded the Nike Running Club App to also monitor distance. Week 4 required more jogging – the sequence was warm up, 3 min jog, 90 sec walk, jog 5 mins, walk 2.5 min, jog 3mins, walk 90secs, jog 5 mins, cool down. At this stage I began to struggle. Running for 5 minutes was hard and I was no where where 5k! Reached week 5 – it felt worse. I began to wonder why people like running? I mean it didn’t feel good. I was literally out of breath and not enjoying it one bit! And thats where my journey ended for 2016. Thats the honest truth. I gave up. Not what you wanted to hear? Don’t lose faith, I did finally it 5k but not within 8 weeks…

2017

In 2017, I once again decided to start running, a whole year later. My sister and her partner were living with us temporarily and we had started attending a personal trainer. As a way to enhance those sessions, I decided cardio was important and I came back to the idea of running. I now had a dog and so running made even more sense since I would be walking him anyway. Initially I focused on the app again and after a week decided I needed a different tactic. I wasn’t enjoying it and I needed to in order to make it a habit.

The problem I figured was my pace. I was trying to run too fast too soon. Outdoor running means that we have to self-monitor our pace which can make it harder. I was generally running more like a sprint. I then committed to just running, not fast but just running. And do you know what? Less pressure on running quickly was great. I hit 20 minutes of running and I was enjoying my progress, rather than waiting for it to finish. I continued following the app and reached the final run. I completed the 8 week programme!

So did I hit 5k in 30 minutes? No. The bottom line is I never hit 5k following this app. I hit 2.8 miles in 40 minutes but never 5k within the 30 minutes. Bummer right? Initially I thought so and lost motivation to continue running. However my running journey doesn’t end there. I started running again without the app and I did hit 5k! I am now well on my way to running 10k and it feels great! However, I thought it was important for me to share a genuine experience of Couch25k. I didn’t hit 5k, I didn’t initially find it easy however the app got me started and so I think it’s a great tool to get you going. It is just being advertised in a way which meant I didn’t feel I met the goal by the end. Read below about the lessons I’ve learnt from starting my running journey using C25k.

Lessons Learnt 

  • Don’t focus on distance, focus on running for the entire time you need to – When you begin running, your body just needs to focus on getting used to running. Don’t put too much pressure on making distance.
  • It’s okay to not hit 5k in 30 minutes. The app gets you running and that’s great, but if you don’t hit 5k by week 8 it’s okay. If you do then great, I know many people do, but I didn’t and that’s okay. Initially I had thought that I had failed because I didn’t hit 5k, but just know its okay if you don’t hit it. The main thing is that you are running the entire time by week 8. When I focused on this, it kept me going!
  • Enjoy each run. By letting go of expectations around hitting 5k in 30 minutes and making headway with speed, you can let yourself enjoy the run. Enjoying it will help make it a habit.
  • Don’t let 30 minutes restrict you – after you complete the app, keep going. Trying to run 5k within 30 minutes was unachievable for me initially. After I completed the 8 weeks, I initially went running for 30 minutes three times a week. One day I decided to just run 5 k and see how long it took. What do you know I hit it in 34 minutes! Don’t let time restrict you. You can reduce time afterwards. I still haven’t got 5k under 30 minutes but I’m at 30.25.
  • Don’t rely on other people to go running with you – this is your journey. Initially I went with my sister but she was unreliable. Find your why and go it alone!
  • Don’t compare yourself to other runners – you’re new to this, it’s going to be tough. Running seems so easy but when you are running, its hard and that means that you will not be as fit or fast as those who have been running for years. Don’t compare yourself to all of those park runners!
  • Use C25k as a starter, but don’t let it define whether you can run. Initially when I followed the app I thought maybe I just wasn’t cut out for running when I didn’t hit 5k but after months of running now I am making progress. Don’t let the app define you or set your expectations. Use the app as a starter.
  • Using an app like Nike Run Club or Strava can help you monitor your progress. You’ll realise that you are improving and this is a great way to then continue your running journey past C25k. The C25k app does not monitor your distance, so a second app can.

 

Bottom line is Couch25k got me into running and it’s a great way to start. It has its downsides but I realised the pressure I put on myself to hit 5k was my biggest obstacle. So if you are thinking about running, go for it and don’t let your worst thoughts stop you!

The Minimalism Game – My challenge and result!

So in October I set myself the challenge of completing the Minimalism game. Read more about it here. So how did I do?

I initially found that doing an item a day etc was something I easily forgot and wasn’t going to work for me which is fine as we all have our own styles so I began to group the days together which worked better for me. See my progress in photos below!

I ended the challenge with doing a major bedroom clear out which gave me my grand total and way over!

I ended the challenge donating 8 black bags to charity, shredding a black bag worth of paper for recycling and getting rid of old sentimental things which were gathering dust. I also got rid of shoes which were nearly new but not ever used. Competing the challenge felt good and just look at the change in my space!

No more randomly stuffed clothes/ bags and instead I have organised jewellery for the first time in ages! I went down from a drawer full, a hanging rail and a 5 tier jewellery box to this.

My dressing table had also become a hoarding ground and it’s now clear.

All in all, I’m really happy with the outcome of the challenge. I think the day thing didn’t work for me but I made the game work and got a great outcome! I’d really recommend giving it a go if you’re new to Minimalism too. It really helped me just begin to get rid of all of the maybes I’d been holding on to and I’m so so glad my space is now accessible and clean!

Think that was a success 😊

Have you completed the mins game yet?

October’s Healthfully Happy Challenge – The 30 day Minimalism Game – Are you in?

So what is it? 

A 30 day challenge which helps you to begin to physically declutter. Get rid of 1 item on day 1, 2 items on day 2 all the way to day 30 where you have to get rid of 30 items in one day. You can read more about the game on the Minimalists website here.  

It’s even better as a group so you can all be held accountable to each other, share your progress and play a “game” of who can last the longest. 

A fun way to begin to declutter physically and one I thought would be a great way to begin to think about the physical side of living happier in a non-threatening way. The thought of clearing out my whole house is too much to handle right now so this game sounds like a good way in!

When?

I thought setting monthly challenges like this would be motivating for me and so this is the Healthfully Happy October challenge! 

Can I join? 

Of course! It would be great to have you on board! I asked my household and everyone said no. Disheartening and shouldn’t stop me but I always find group effort and support helpful. 

I have set this challenge on the Minimalist Life Facebook page and will be posting a photo a day of my items to get rid of on there. You can join the group by signing up here. This is not my group but has been so helpful to me. Lots of people have already signed up so join us! I will also be doing a blog post a day for it so why not join in and share your items on here? 

Keep accountable and join in! 
Let the games begin!

Budget Planning – the road to no debt 

Why budget? 

I don’t know when my budgeting got so out of hand. I didn’t want to “miss out” ever really and I ignored the fact that maybe others could afford these things without being in debt whenever I said “yes”. As a result, over the last two years I’ve gone through four balance transfer credit cards. Moving debt from one pot to another. Each month slowly building up my credit card out of overspending and having another £1000 to add to my transfers each year easily. 

Now buying things can be nice and living the “high life” but the feeling of knowing you’re always in the minus? Not so good. I’m 27. I feel like I shouldn’t be in this much debt but somehow here I am and the thoughts of it are consuming me. So finally I decided to sit down and work out my monthly spend and budget plan! It’s something I want to get a hold on.

Now I know some minimalists may say student loan debt is bad, but right now for me it’s not. Here in the UK, for the years I studied anyway, student debt gets cleared off after 25 years and comes straight out of my pay. I don’t miss it at all and will unlikely ever pay it off but that’s one debt I’m okay with. My feelings on it might change but right now no….

My budget spreadsheet 

So to budget, I created my own spreadsheet. I included:

  • My income 
  • My necessary outgoings (house/ bills, mobile, current debt payments, food)
  • My car expenses (car payments – I know!!! But it has 7 months left ?!, petrol)
  • My dog (food, insurance, grooming) 

The sad thing was what I had left when I subtracted it from my salary.

£190. When I saw that my heart sunk but it also made me realise that this is why I keep going into more and more debt. I’m living on way more than £190 and way out of my means and this is with me NOT saving! It shocked me but it was definitely what I needed!

What next? 

So I looked at all of my outgoings and considered how realistic or inflated each one was, potentially hoping I could find places to save. 

The following areas were ones I thought would be the easiest to change: Food, household bills and potentially dog grooming. I share a house so bills aren’t just my responsibility so it can be difficult when I thought I can get rid of Sky (cable) as it will need to be agreed but food could be re-thought of definitely!

I also wondered whether £25 a week could be enough for socialising? I mean I’d accounted for my basics – shelter, food, petrol for the car – so wasn’t the rest additional rather than necessary? I then thought the extra £90 could be my savings, small but something.

I also get expenses from work and I thought they could go directly into savings to start creating my emergency fund. I definitely need one as I recently had to have repairs done on my car and the £250 knocked my balance even further down! 

I forecasted my debt returns and could have them all paid by 2019. At first I thought 2019 is so far ahead but actually I’d feel so happy if I could clear them in 2 years! But it’s going to require commitment and willpower. A change from having whatever I want to considering my situation at every turn. 

But here goes! 

I will put up my end of month outcome in October! 

What are your budget planning tips? 

 

My Current Healthfully Happy Goals

So this journey isn’t just going to be about these points as I imagine new goals and wants will come out of starting this process but these are some of the things I want to change on this journey right now and no doubt will be my focus for awhile.

My diet: 

I can keep fooling myself but my diet isn’t helping me. Not getting enough fruit and veg, not even actively trying to be honest, eating way too many biscuits and even getting to the stage where I’m not even taking lunch to work so cafes (and more junk) are the only option. After going gluten free a few years ago for 6 months, I noticed a difference. Quite a big difference really. I had more energy, I would wake up feeling refreshed rather than tired and I didn’t bloat after meals. Yet I still went back to eating gluten, fully knowing its effects on my body (why do we do this to ourselves?!). Diet can also impact on my skin and after watching ‘what the health’ I have become interested in the plant based way. I always say ‘I’ll eat better’ but let’s be honest, I don’t! I hold negative feelings about not changing my diet though – I feel guilty, I think ‘I should’ and these thoughts are weighing me down. What better way to begin my healthfully happy journey than to just try it and see what happens! This will involve me searching for the way and documenting my progress.

My debt

Having listened to the Minimalists podcast on budgeting, I realised that I am in so much debt that I’m just in denial about it now. I spend too much and am constantly spending more than my salary. Its led me to two balance transfer credit cards I am paying off, racking up the bill on a third (which no doubt will become another transferred balance!) and I owe family money for furnishing when I moved home. In total I have debts of over 5000 and I have tried to pretend it will all be okay. That’s not even included my student debts and I don’t even earn a mega salary (I work for the NHS!)….The reason I want to change my debt situation is because it niggles at me constantly. I feel so stressed and worried when I think about it and ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. Though I have tried….! I need to act and just hearing Ryan and Joshua talk about how liberating it is to spend money you have rather than are in debt of just sounds amazing! I have already begun this step and worked out my monthly expenses. It was dire and made my heart sink literally when I realised how little actual ‘spend’ I have left after necessities and paying debts, but its the hard truth I needed. I’m in debt because I have spent way more than what I have left over each month. My budget is tiny (no more Starbucks or Costas on impulse!) but in reality, it is manageable if getting out of debt is important to me. The thought of being out of debt is incredible. My budget spreadsheet will be my next post.

My Physical health:

I’m naturally slim – 5ft 7, size 8/10 – and have generally never worried about my weight. I am one of those types who can eat what she wants and stay slim (sorry!) so I’ve never thought about keeping fit (this probably influenced my diet too!). Ever since moving house (2015), I have become a comfortable size 10. Now being a size 10 isn’t the problem and I’m okay with my size but I know I’m not toned and I definitely need cardio in my life! I have done yoga in the past but I cannot remember the last time I truly committed to exercise!

In 2016, I actually began Couch25k in an attempt to get active. However after week 5 I gave up. This is what happens to me, I start, I stop. I get a new goal – I start, I stop. This year I actually re started it and have begun to run for 20 minutes straight which for me is fantastic! I haven’t reached the 5k mark on straight jogging yet and so this time I don’t want to start and stop, I want to reach my goal and continue! I want to also tone and just keep my body physically fit.

My time:

Too much of my time at home is spent watching TV. One week away from home with only a Portuguese TV and I haven’t missed the TV once. It’s incredible how much time we can waste on meaningless activities when given the chance. I’m not saying I don’t like watching TV – there are quite a few TV shows I like – but it does take up far too much of my time and I allow it to out of convenience and routine. What’s wrong with watching too much TV? For me, what’s wrong is it takes time away from me reading, doing yoga, meditating, blogging even and spending time on the things I keep saying I want to do. These are things I said I didn’t have time for but the reality is my time is badly spent and needs to be reshuffled! I’ve began to priorities my jogging so now it’s time to priorities doing things I value. That way I can stop feeling guilty about not doing them and feel good about doing them.

 

So these are just a start to my goals. I want to feel less stressed but I feel the way to get there is by living well which I hope these starter goals will help me work towards. They will take time but planning is all part of the journey.

So questions for you:

  • What are your goals?
  • Have you made changes? What made them stick?