One year ago, and having recently listened to a podcast where Tim Ferriss and Jocko Willink discussed, among other things, getting up at 4:30a, my daughter woke up crying. I checked my phone to understand what ungodly hour of the morning it was, stumbled in the dark over to her bedroom, and tucked her back in.
Immediately afterwards, I tweeted this:
It had slipped my mind that I was using the wrong hashtag (
#0445club, which I didn’t change until summer of 2016) because it was too
early for my brain to function. Sheer will took over; I journeyed downstairs,
made myself a cup of coffee, and did what I usually did when I stayed up late.
I wrote software.
This began a journey into Elm, Haskell, Elixir, books on discipline, fiction, and fitness. But it all started with the discipline - the will - to get up, no matter when I went to bed, and no matter how much I craved to remain warm and in bed until the sun rose.
The more consecutive days I woke up at 4:30am, and as the streak of days grew, “strange” ideas started to creep into my brain, including “It’d feel like I’d be sleeping in if I slept past 5:00am”.
So I didn’t stop doing it. I attempted to thrive in this forced discipline. As I did, I grew.
By the summer, I’d snagged a few dumbbells and kettlebells and was practicing kettlebell swings and a handful of other movements. I’d spend 15 to 25 minutes in the morning, each morning, moving weight around.
By August, and after a conversation with a couple of my coworkers, I’d decided to try out a (mostly) Keto diet. The first week sucked, but I remembered how much I didn’t like waking up at 4:30am when I first started and willed my way through the “Keto flu.”
With the newfound energy from ditching carbs (no more post-lunch sleepiness!), I picked up T25 and started the program on September 5, 2016 (Labor Day). By December, I’d dropped from 185lbs to 155lbs.
Around Christmas, I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a CrossFit box and signed up for an introduction course, since I was going through a second round of T25 and was looking for something more varied and challenging. I recently graduated and signed up for a year membership because the workout style clicked, much more than anything I’ve done in the past.
With the introduction of discipline and will into one facet of my life, and one as simple as the time at which I wake up, I’ve taken more positive actions to improve mood, health, and well-being than in the previous who-knows-how-many years combined. If the trajectory of the past year indicates future changes, I expect more in the years to come.
The thing that I have to remind myself, and others, about this journey is that I spent an entire year on it. It takes more patience and grit than I ever expected, so if you decide to try any of this out, realize that nothing comes easy, and nothing comes overnight. Put in the work, and you’ll see the results. And if you don’t right away, PUT IN THE WORK ANYWAY.
My wife deserves a bunch of credit throughout this process; she put up with grumpiness on days where I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep, made odd food requests, or mornings I woke her up with my alarm. Thank you, and I love you!