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Morning habits ☼ 21 Day Morning Challenge

Morning habits ☼ 21 Day Morning Challenge

I have always been pro waking up at whatever time I feel like it; but when I became a digital entrepreneur, a year and a half ago, I knew I needed to establish a morning routine. You have probably heard of people waking up around 5 or 6 am as being a successful entrepreneur’s morning habit. To this day, I have yet to successfully wake up at 5 am, so it’s the perfect time to acquire some discipline!

I recently fell into a slump of mimicking my partner’s habits. I was never one to wake up super early, but I was also never one to wake up super late (consistently). With so much time flexibility in my hands, what better way to spend my mornings than cuddled up next to my boyfriend right? Not quite, I’ve been waking up around 11 am, sometimes even close to 12 pm! I was missing out on breakfast and, essentially, part of my day, so when I came across happily hedy’s ultimate guide to creating a morning routine, I decided it was time for a change & I decided to join her, along with a couple other bloggers, on a #21daymorningchallenge! The concept of the challenge is this: create our ideal morning routine and implement it into a habit in 21 days.

Here are a list of things I wrote down that would consist of my ideal morning:

x No time wasted (phone notifications don’t get checked)

x I get to run! + Get to stretch and move my body to get oxygen pumped and flowing to my brain

x Wake up @ 8 am

x Nighttime reflection to wake up and have clarity and direction (This would be a nighttime habit that would affect my morning routine)

x Hydrate & nourish

I know this sounds like a lot but guys: discipline is KEY + I’m holding myself self-accountable to myself, you guys and the rest of the 21 Day Morning Challenge blogger community since I will be updating this post daily until the challenge is completed!

Bloggers participating in this challenge:

  1. Real Nelle

  2. Eco Annie

  3. Karina Blackwood

Day 1:

Wed. August 21 2019.

I set an alarm for 7:15 am and when the alarm rang I debated waking up and starting my day, or resting for 45 more minutes. I set the alarm earlier than my 8 am goal since I had work at 11:30 am so I knew I would need the extra time to implement my morning routine and get ready. Okay so it was tough… the yawning got to me and back to bed I went, after a while of realizing that I was just wasting time because there was no way I was going to fall into a deep restful slumber in 45 minutes, I got back up and started filtering water (hydrate check box you’re the first to get completed). Then somehow I was dragged back into bed by seeing how cute my boyfriend looked while cuddled up in a blanket, (sorry couldn’t resist) so my official morning didn’t start until 7:45 am (p.s I was kind of late to work, whoops) But here’s what I did: I ate cereal with oat milk, cooked 4 eggs, 2 for me and 2 for Kev, stretched on a yoga mat we have in our bedroom, did a couple seal push-ups, (these are great for strengthening your back trap muscles by the way), drank 2 cups of water & got ready for work. The only phone notification that got my attention was the one from my agency recruiter confirming my gig for today, other than that, I was not trapped into wasting my precious morning time! I didn’t get to run this morning which I kind of knew would be impossible due to my work schedule but I did get to run and workout after work so I didn’t miss out on it! I’m trying to amp up my calories since I’ve missed so many breakfast meals these past few weeks, & because I started my morning off with breakfast, I pulled through to workout even though I felt like taking a nap after work. I find that if I already completed one goal for the day, it’s easier to stick through with the rest of my goals and complete another one! Breakfast in the am = workout later. Overall, accomplishing efficiently through simplicity today felt great!

Day 2:

Thurs. August 22 2019.

Happy to say I woke up on time today, stretched, hydrated and Kevin helped nourish me by cooking me some tilapia. No run today because of work at 11 am, and I have yet to nighttime reflect to set an intention & have direction for the next day. What do you guys think about nighttime reflecting? I got the concept from the book, The Bullet Journal Method; it is supposed to help you obtain clarity on your priorities for each day. I like the organization method, but I also like spontaneous days! How can one strike a balance?

Day 3:

Fri. August 23 2019

Not sure if this means challenge failed because I did not wake up at the time I said I would! My alarm rang at 8 am and there I was, contemplating getting up or going back to sleep (does this bad habit sound familiar to any of you?). I did not think about the challenge and commitment I had made to myself. All I could think about was how tired I was from overworking my mind the night before. You see, I went to sleep at 1 am because I was up editing this blog post and wanted to write my blog entry for the day. I did some editing and got distracted creating a list of blogging resources that I didn’t get my entry for day 2 in & with my horrible memory, I can’t recall much of how yesterday’s morning went *eye roll*. If anybody has recommendations for improving memory, please leave them in the comments section below, Kevin and I could use some help with that. Anyway I realize that in order to successfully create a morning routine, you need a nighttime routine. Even though I had been going to sleep late the first 2 days and I woke up on time, there is only so much your body and mind can take before you push it to the limit. I also realized something else, I ate a really heavy meal before bed last night, so I did not wake up hungry. Why the heck does this matter? Because my main motivation to wake up early the first two days was the fact that I would be nourishing myself and consuming more calories throughout my day, also the thought of food just perks me up. Key take away so far:

In order to build a successful morning routine you need:

  • morning motivation

  • a nighttime routine

  • morning goals

  • discipline

With that being said, I also failed to nourish my body this morning. Today was another work morning and my first priority was to get ready for work, this is my typical auto pilot mode that I am trying to kill- the first priority in your mornings should be yourself, plain and simple. I hydrated, but this is already a typical habit of mine. And I stretched minimally. Tomorrow morning I have physical therapy, my challenge will be to excel at what I failed at today and finally get my morning run in just how I’ve been wanting.

Day 4:

Sat. August 24 2019.

Went to bed late last night checking emails and working on future Instagram posts, I did not have time for nighttime self-reflection and naturally it was easier for me to go back to my old habits of turning off the alarm and going back to sleep. What a horrible idea. I was late to my PT session, had to reschedule and felt a deep disappointment in myself as I had been waiting for this appointment for a whole month! Besides my disappointment I realized that there were various outcomes to this day. Meaning that in one of those outcomes I could’ve woken up at 8 am and completed my whole morning routine with time to run and make my appointment on time. I can clearly see that the outcome that I live out is dependent on the choices I make. I also realize that waking up on time is an inner struggle between the body and mind. In my head I know I have to wake up, no matter what I know it’s the best option, however my body fights and urges me back to sleep. I need to set myself up for success not for failure; I can’t just randomly wake up and have discipline, it doesn’t work that way. If I went to sleep at midnight and have no problem waking up at 10 am, then I need to sleep 2 hours earlier if I want to wake up 2 hours earlier, everything is a balancing act- you can’t have one without the other. And you can’t function well if you are constantly forcing yourself to wake up even though you are tired. All my life habits currently led me here, to break the cycle and start a new page I have to do something different now not later.

Day 5:

Sun. August 25 2019.

  • Did not wake up on time

  • Got a little distracted with Instagram this morning but nothing major

  • Had no self control the night prior with establishing a nighttime routine (stayed up too late working on a preset)

  • Stretched, ate yogurt with granola, cinnamon, bananas and bee pollen & hydrated :)

Even though I am not killing it at this challenge & accomplishing everything I said I would everyday, writing down my behavior patterns each day has given me the tool I need to dig deep and uncover the reasons behind my habits: what is causing what, what I succeeded at, where I failed and most importantly why. I knew I needed to be more organized, but it seemed the more I stressed about figuring out the right way to do the next thing, the more time I wasted trying to find the perfect solution. It wasn’t until I was working out, fully immersed in moving my body, heart pumping & allowing the flow of blood and oxygen to my brain- it wasn’t until then, that I received clarity; “for every task that you perform, set a time limit.” This is what I told myself. It’s easy for me to start a task and not allow myself to get up, or even eat, if the task at hand is not completed to my liking, some call this determination, I think it’s a mix of stubborness with perfectionism. This leads to frustration, malnourished evenings, and a lot of time spent on one task. Maybe it’s not so much that I have a lot to do, maybe it’s that I am not managing my time accordingly and allowing proper time slots for tasks and priorities.

Day 6:

Mon. August 26 2019.

Snoozed 10 mins today but not more than that so hooray for progress! I thought about what I wanted to eat for breakfast the night before, so today when I woke up it was easier for me to remember my morning nourish goal. I was too lazy to tie my curtain and let sunlight in to hit my eyes, so I reached for the screen of my phone to allow the blue light to wake me up. Not the best option obviously, but I was desperate to not go back to sleep again. I hydrated throughout my whole morning and I had a large breakfast, including leftovers from a home cooked meal last night; I love when I can eat till my little heart’s content & not have to worry about not having enough time to fill up because I have to go to work. I woke up with some mild upper back pain so I made sure to stretch that out to the best of my ability. Also, I was not able to run today due to the rain. :(

P.S how do you guys feel about fall approaching? Our Chicago summer went by so fast. I have mixed emotions about it, I like fall but I also really appreciate summer nights and the extended daylight we get in the summer. And with fall approaching you know winter will soon be here. Thoughts?

P.P.S I nighttime reflected the day before so I set up a schedule for today based on my priorities. Sadly they involved outdoor photoshoots and the rain did not allow for that so things didn’t go as planned. My practice basically consists of writing down my list of tasks for the day, I wrote around 4, and giving them an approximate time frame and noting down that they should be completed or I should stop by 6 pm so that my work doesn’t consume my whole day.

Day 7:

Tue. August 27 2019.

  • Hydrated & nourished today ✓

  • Kevin tried so hard to wake me up at 8 am but I woke up at 9

  • Need to practice cutting off checking my phone after a certain time, 1 hour before bed would be best, so at 9 pm. Ideally, 9-10 pm would be when my nighttime routine takes place.

  • Glanced at notifications on my phone but didn’t open any of them, so cheers for that! ✓

  • I ran today and pushed myself to keep going even when I got tired; it’s surprising how much further you can go when you don’t limit yourself. I was also able to stretch and get in some body workouts during this time. (Disclaimer: This wasn’t part of my morning routine, but I did accomplish it for today).

Day 8:

Wed. August 28 2019.

  • Woke up around 6:15 am & surprisingly, I didn’t have trouble waking up today ✓

  • Did not have time for my full morning routine since I had an oral surgery follow up appointment

  • Stretched a little before getting ready for my appointment ッ✓

  • My hydration today was a Topo Chico with a chocolate doughnut for breakfast - not my best nourishment but it’s something ✓

Day 9:

Thurs. August 29 2019.

  • Nourished with oatmeal & leftover mac and cheese ✓

  • Got a workout in ✓

  • Hydrated while working out ✓

  • Woke up at 8 am with ease ツ ✓

  • I did check a message on Instagram DM, but I did not respond to the full message until after I got home from my workout

  • Didn’t run but I did 6 sets of stairs leg workouts ✓

  • The night before I unwinded with a sleep story on the Insight Timer app & by laying on my yoga mat. In case you haven’t heard of Insight Timer, it’s a free meditation app that plays full meditations. I highly recommend it for a relaxing nighttime routine. My favorite mediation at the moment is Moon Dreams for Sleep. (p.s although this isn’t pen to paper reflection, meditation does allow you to reflect and let go of any nervous & negative energy you encountered throughout the day). ✓

I also wanted to share this article for 13 nighttime yoga poses to try before going to sleep, Kevin sent it to me and it’s something I’ve been wanting to implement into my nighttime routine. Through personal experience, I can say that finding a way to unwind at night helps you wake up with more energy.

Day 10:

Fri. August 30 2019.

  • Got out of bed at 7:45 am, but was awake before this with energy & ideas to get my day started (I beat my goal today by 15 mins!😃) ✓

  • Mexican bread and oat milk was my light breakfast; I also ate a more fulfilling breakfast (omelet + toast and fruit) with my mom this morning at La Catedral. ✓

  • Started getting distracted with editing photos right away, but then stopped to get in my morning stretch. ✓

  • Drank water ✓ Easy peasy lemon squeezy

  • I did reply to some messages on my phone; eventually, I want to get to the point where I don’t check my phone at all in the mornings.

  • No nighttime routine the night before, but I have been keeping track of my priorities.

  • Morning runs are probably the hardest to accomplish, since I don’t live in a safe neighborhood, I have to drive out to get to a good running area. That being said, I wrote it down in my ideal morning routine for a reason, so I’m not going to let external factors limit me.

Day 11:

Sat. August 31 2019.

Your girl was wildin the night before. I was ordering wings from Wingstop past 10, I watched parts of John Wick with Kevin. I was editing photos when I should’ve been taking part in my nighttime routine. Jeez, what wasn’t I doing?! I swear, since developing this back to back level of consistency, I was yawning at 10 pm. However, and this is a big however here, I did unwind a bit before bed with some nighttime stretching and yoga- and it felt so good. Stretching at night helps unwind the body, but, I did not unwind my mind. Here’s a recap of my morning so far:

  • My alarm rang at 8 am and I wasn’t necessarily too tired to wake up, I just felt directionless & without a goal for today so I chose to sleep for a little more. Would’ve I reflected the night before, I know I would’ve woken up with ease.

  • I got out of bed at 8:50 am my mind and body felt disconnected from each other. I don’t know how to explain this, other than feeling like there is an energy blockage, I mostly felt this in my stomach, and a feeling of wanting to reconnect with my inner guidance. What do I want to do today and for what purpose?

Besides drinking a cup of water, I decided that the best way to get back in touch with myself was to take part in my morning routine and figure it out as I go. I had just started stretching and I got the strangest urge to write. Write to understand myself. I’m going to be honest I don’t usually like to write first thing in the morning- it feels too much like waking up and going straight into work-mode, but since I didn’t get that self-reflection the night before, my mind needed that reflection now.

Day 12-14:

Sep 1-3 2019.

I wasn’t able to keep track of my morning routine these mornings, I had a sleepover at my mom’s house and this threw off my nighttime and morning routine for days after. I realized that when you are trying to establish a habit, it’s important to stay consistent and committed throughout the entirety of the challenge, otherwise your actions won’t turn into one.

Day 15:

Sep 4 2019.

I woke up around 9 am today, hydrated, stretched and nourished. From this day on, my main routine has established into not making myself do too much in the mornings to not elongate the amount of time it takes to complete everything.

Day 16:

Sep 5 2019.

Today didn’t really have structure. I didn’t eat this morning either. After the 3 day break from my morning routine, it was like it never existed. It wasn’t a horrible morning, but it could’ve been a lot smoother. I do remember doing some blog work on the computer this morning.

Day 17:

Sep 6 2019.

This morning I had planned to attend a side hustle to success Chicago workshop at city hall. This was a workshop I was really looking forward to attending for entrepreneurs looking to make a full time income and become successful from their passion project. The workshop was at 9:30 am so if I wanted to go I had to be up earlier than 8 to be ready. The night before, I was overwhelmed by the amount of emails I had to check that I went to sleep late trying to get through as many as I could; and of course, like a domino effect, I didn’t wake up early because I felt drained early morning. Since this was something I was looking forward to for a whole week, I felt disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of an opportunity I was excited about… sometimes it’s difficult to manage everything.

Day 18:

Sep 7 2019.

Today was the morning of my rescheduled physical therapy appointment so I woke up at 6 am today to be there by 8! I didn’t eat breakfast before going to my appointment, & afterwards, the first thing I put into my body was Vitner’s, a Chicago based chip snack. I didn’t eat until 12:30 pm, which of course, is no longer considered breakfast. I didn’t stretch, but I did do some beneficial exercises at PT.

Then I took some time off to be on my own and visit a forest preserve to continue reading my book, The Bullet Journal Method. Coincidentally, the chapters that I read were about time, mindfulness and death. Three things that have been on my brain a lot and that I am currently writing about. In the chapter about time, Ryder suggests an activity called ‘time boxing’ to add motivation to tasks that we tend to put off. Time boxing, in essence, is allotting time slots for certain activities. What’s crazy is that I had talked about doing just that in my day 5 entry on this post! He also talks about flow, and how when we’re in flow we are fully present and in the moment because we are highly engaged/intrigued by what we are doing. And I just want to add, that when we are in that state, that’s when we create the most vivid memories. How do you guys feel about all these topics? I know it’s a lot but if you’re interested in mindfulness, productivity and intention than you would love The Bullet Journal Method as well!

Oh, before I forget- I want to share with you guys a video one of my friends created called morning routines for SUCCESS.

Day 19:

Sep 8 2019.

I woke up at 10 am this morning. I went to sleep feeling distressed & I tried to focus on just the act of sleeping, I remember when I was a child sleeping was a way to go to bed bothered, annoyed or sad and wake up feeling better. So I tried to focus on closing my eyes and not thinking but I still woke up sad, so I decided to listen to a morning meditation with gratitude affirmations! 🌞 I’ve been feeling out of rhythm lately and I’ve been having trouble pin pointing where all my emotions stem from; so far through writing, and trying to stay mindful, I realize that I’m sad because I don’t really feel connected to my family. I also feel anxious and stressed for the future. If anybody wants the link to the meditation just leave me a comment down below and I’ll drop it down. :)

Here’s how the rest of my routine goals went:

  • Kevin’s family had a cookout and I ate around 12:30 pm- 1 ish.

  • Hydrated in the morning and felt hydrated throughout the day

  • No stretching but I did plan to complete my PT exercises at night, although that didn’t happen due to some unforeseen circumstances.

  • I did not get to nighttime reflect.

I had another interruption during this challenge that has kind of thrown my routine off. I don’t want to comment on it, but it was not a positive experience. I’ve been finding it odd that every time I have a negative emotion like sadness or disappointment, for no apparent reason, it is my intuition serving as a predicament that something ‘bad’ is going to happen soon. I have already had this happen twice recently. Funny thing is that I said I missed my family and due to this unpleasant experience I am also closer to my mom and little brother now. So far I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason, that it’s important to be aware of my emotions, & that things will always work out in the end.

Day 20:

Sep 9 2019.

  • I had breakfast this morning with my mom and her friend in a little cafe

  • Today marked the start of my hot yoga classes! (I bought a package of unlimited hot yoga for a whole month!) I wish I had drank plenty of water this morning because I was severely dehydrated today until I got home at 5 pm, and since you sweat so much during Bikram, you need to go in well hydrated, or replenish the fluids and electrolytes you lost straight after.

  • I woke up at 8:30 am

  • The night before I did some laundry, showered and did a small amount of blog work. I wasn’t able to nighttime reflect.

Day 21:

Sep 10 2019.

Today was the last day of the challenge!!! I never thought I would say this but, I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss it because it was a way to document certain parts of my life that I otherwise wouldn’t of. And throughout this challenge, my #1 supporter was Kevin. Things didn’t go perfectly, I wasn’t able to wake up on time everyday, or complete everything I had originally set for myself. But I kept setting my alarm day in and day out (for the most part).

My last day recap:

My alarm rang at 8 and I got up to turn it off but laid back in bed for 30 mins. I was purposefully trying to just go back to sleep because I was upset about what happened on Sunday, that I didn’t feel like waking up yet. But guess what guys? I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, my body and mind didn’t want to! This is a win because it means I’m getting used to waking up at 8. I don’t have room to stretch where I currently am so I didn’t do that. My morning goals that got accomplished were hydrate and nourish. I spent a great deal of time this morning (2 hours) writing a letter to sort out all the emotions I was feeling and this has been a big help in relieving some tension I felt.

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