The Truth About Being a Morning Person

My alarm goes off at 4:36 a.m. most weekdays, I physically jump out of bed to make sure I don’t snooze, and I question all of my life choices that brought me here.

It’s a nice ritual.

After waving goodbye to my sleepy dog snuggled in her crate, who gives me a little wag in return, I awkwardly cart my bike out the door with the grace of a bull in a china shop. I then hop onto my bike at 4:55 and pedal 7 miles to arrive at Corepower just before my 5:30 a.m. desk time.

By the end of mile one, I remember how much I love mornings. Some days, I have a visceral reaction to how uncomfortable bike seats are. But most days, I spend 7 miles admiring the various angles of the sunrise. After wondering if I’m missing my calling as a sunrise photographer, I’m there. I’m energized with a clear mind, and that shell-shocked 4:36 a.m. Sarah is nowhere to be found.

bridge

Recently, I was listening to the Ted Radio Hour episode A Better You and was introduced to Matt Cutts, who committed to taking on a new habit for 30 days, every month. As he got into the swing of things, this commitment became less daunting. Rather than altering his life drastically every month, he made small changes. Some stuck, some didn’t.

But that wasn’t what he would focus on. He wouldn’t think about the level of commitment a new habit would be, he just thinks about what would be a good shift to make, and tries it out. One day at a time.

Mornings come naturally to me. But that doesn’t mean the first five minutes of being awake aren’t as hellish for me as they are for the rest of the population. I’m not immune to that, I just see past it.

People often claim they “just can’t do mornings,” and while there’s truth to when we feel our best, I have a feeling these night owls take those first five hellish minutes as a foreshadowing for the day.

They don’t wake up with a smile on their face, stretching their arms overhead with the joy of every person in any coffee or face wash commercial. But here’s the secret- as a lifelong morning person and early riser- neither do I.

But I bounce back, and I think it’s because I don’t have a story that goes along with getting up early. I don’t start the morning telling myself how tired I am, how much coffee I should consume or how to get it in IV form.

To me, mornings represent possibility. It’s a blank slate for my long to-do list, which I can optimistically look at and plan to demolish. Night time is when I feel the tendency to stress about all the boxes that were left unchecked. For some, it’s the opposite. Mornings are daunting and night is the time to revel in your accomplishments.

pilsbury

But it doesn’t take long scrolling through your LinkedIn newsfeed to find out that being on the sunny side has it’s advantages.

8 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Before 8 AM

Create a Meaningful Morning Routine by Making These Two Key Changes

10 Tweaks To Your Morning Routine That Will Transform Your Entire Day

Rather than being another person to list the 19 things you now need to do every morning (even though you hate mornings and everything of that list), I’d like to share that how you’re looking at motivation is likely all wrong.

While I’ve always been an early riser, my routine of morning workouts began because I was motivated to not shower at the Fraternity house I was living in that summer. Every morning, I’d wake up and go to a 6 a.m, yoga class, so I could use the Corepower showers instead of the ones I was sharing with five sorority sisters and 25 guys.

Somehow that inspiring tale isn’t made into a motivational poster.

I used to live less than a mile away from my yoga studio. I would always say one of these mornings, I’ll bike there, rather than drive the short distance, to teach my 6 a.m. class.

That never happened.

That’s because I’m not motivated by biking. I don’t have dreams to be the best biker, in fact, I enjoy being pretty mediocre. I don’t enjoy biking in spite of being the fastest one on the trail, I enjoy it because I don’t have to be.

I am motivated to bike because I don’t like sitting in traffic while Minneapolis reconstructs every street and highway at the same time. I probably wouldn’t have taken this on if it wasn’t a healthy habit, but what motivates me more than getting back that #thighgap is not paying $9 to park downtown on the daily.

That’s really it. It’s not inspiring, but it’s true.

Along the way, of course, I’ve found countless benefits. I really can’t get over that sunrise. My legs are looking and feeling more like they did when I was an avid runner. I feel more awake on the days I bike, despite the 30 minutes of sleep I sacrifice, than when I drive. I don’t have to worry about keeping my sleepy eyes open while being on the highway. I get to spend more time outside, and less money on gas.

bike
Crazy yoga pants recommended for being seen by rush hour drivers

Biking has become a moving meditation for me, and is the rare quiet space I have throughout the day. It’s revived a creativity and thoughtfulness in me, hence why you’re ready this blog post.

Rather than focusing on the 180 degree changes you need to make, tap into what exactly you are unhappy with, and what healthy change you could make to fix just that. The life changing transformation you’ve heard so much about will unfold naturally, once you create the space for it.

bootcamp

Parents Weekend

Despite the cold winters, most Twin City residents can’t get enough of Minneapolis and St. Paul. As a result, the hipsters in uptown, the professionals power-walking down Nicollet, and even the retirees relaxing on Grand Ave can come off as a bit annoying.

Each year I live here, I become a bigger part of the problem.

This weekend, I was able to host my parents and show them all the reasons they should be drinking the Kool-Aid as well. Interested visitors and proud residents looking for a staycation, here’s a few things from my Thursday-Monday you can’t miss:

1. Find a fair– The Uptown Art Fair was a perfect snapshot of the Twin Cities for my parents to experience. Even though not all the vendors are from Minnesota, the people, abundance of dogs and relaxed atmosphere rang true to the Cities. Even if you’re not an art expert, there’s something to be said for adventuring out of your comfort zone. It’s not too late to fit some culture into your summer, visit the Irish Fair this weekend, take throwbacks to a new level with the Renaissance Festival, mix things up with the Japanese Lighting Lantern Festival, celebrate my favorite fast-food place at the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, or of course, go big at the Minnesota State Fair!

The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie
The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie

2. Mill City & St. Anthony Main- Visiting the Stone Arch Bridge is a staple of a stroll in Minneapolis. However, the bookends of the bridge are rarely given as much attention. After we watched some kayakers get lowered down by the lock (new bucket list item) we wandered over to the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theatre. This area is the place to be Saturday mornings for the farmer’s market, but it was stunning on a Monday afternoon as well. The biking and walking trails are perfect for exercising or enjoying the view of the Mississippi River. On the St. Anthony Main side of the River, enjoy wonderful restaurants, exploring trails and people watching. Farther Northeast, you’ll find my favorite meditation spot- Boom Island Park- perfect for picnics, laying out and bike rides.

3. Party with the whole block– Northeast, my favorite neighborhood, hosted In Cahoots this weekend at the Red Stag. Eight local breweries combined into four teams, each team then collaborated to create a new beer. Attendees of the event voted on the best brew, and a portion of the proceeds went to the winning team’s charity of choice. From the live music, to the people-watching, to our delicious dinner at nearby Gorkha Palace, Northeast did it again.

4. Easy Ride– Available everywhere across the Twin Cities, this self-service bike rental system is perfect for exploring different areas of the cities, while getting some exercise and a true MSP experience. My parents and I biked over to West Bank, looped through campus and rode along the East River Parkway trail- all areas we wouldn’t have had time to see on foot. You can drop the bikes off at any station throughout the city, making it as much of a commitment as you’d like.

5. Drink local– My roommates and I really out-Minneapolised ourselves and biked to the photo 1microbrewery, Dangerous Man. Upon our arrival, we found ourselves in the middle of a Donut Showdown viewing party. The head baker of the downtown shop, Angel Food, was featured on the Cooking Channel show and gathered family and friends at DM for the episode premiere. Although we weren’t aware of this event, by the end of the episode we were personally invested in her success. The evening of community engagement, biking, amazing craft beers, and samples of Angel Food donuts was the Twin Cities in a nutshell. Microbreweries are perfect for small parties, large receptions or networking events; and in case you were worried, your options aren’t limited.

For the record, I love me some St. Paul, but I didn’t venture there this weekend. Luckily, the parents are obligated to visit me throughout senior year, and that wonderful city will be at the top of the to-do list.