Discover how joining the 5:00 am club allowed me to reclaim my time while significantly improving my health.
I’ve always been a night owl and never liked getting up early. I resent whatever worm was causing those self-assured early birds to get up before dawn and start their days before the sun had even had a chance to pour a cup of coffee. But, with the start of a new year, I wanted to make a New Year’s resolution that would benefit both my productivity and my personal health and wellness goals.
However, after reading a few tips on how to make my New Year’s resolutions more sustainable and conducting some research on eating times about appetite and energy expenditure, I came up with an actionable solution that I decided to start early in December: I would try waking up at 5:00 am every day for 30 consecutive weekdays to see if changing this one aspect of my routine would produce any noticeable differences in my mental and physical health.
Why I Became a Member of the ‘5 am Club’
While my ability to cram a lot into one day is impressive, my ambition has been known to override my need for self-care. As a result, something as simple as remembering to eat a full meal and drink water throughout the day may fall by the wayside. Though I wouldn’t eat much in a single day, you wouldn’t know it based on the number on the scale or my blood pressure, which can be a little high. In general, I just wanted to be nicer to myself. Rather than doing things on autopilot, I wanted to give myself the gift of more time and execute with more purpose.
Eating later may increase hunger throughout the day, which explains some of my impulsive snacking. The study’s findings also suggested that late-night eating may increase one’s risk of obesity due to a potentially slower caloric burn and more calories stored in fat tissues—which could explain why I was having difficulty losing weight. Other scientific studies have previously found a link between circadian rhythms and appetite, blood sugar, and metabolism. That’s when I realized it wasn’t what I was doing preventing me from achieving my goals, but rather when I chose to take action that could make a difference.
Most successful people share the habit of rising at 5 am. Furthermore, having realistic expectations for yourself and the effort to make gradual progress toward a goal can be more beneficial and long-lasting than expecting instant results.
Because I was used to waking up around 6:30 am, I was skeptical that this minor change in my routine would help improve my lifestyle, particularly my eating and drinking habits. Who, after all, wants to be less successful? If I wanted to reap the benefits that members of this “club” were allegedly reaping, I needed to find new ways to step outside of my comfort zone—another principle Sharma emphasizes as essential to success.
Some people may find it easier to stick to healthy habits in the morning. Giving yourself more time during that time of day may allow for more cooking, exercising, meditation, or creating a conducive environment to a person’s needs.
I recommend trying it for 66 days. Here’s how waking up at 5 am has already improved my eating and drinking habits 30 days in—and why I intend to stick with it for another 36 days to ensure this new positive habit sticks.
More well-rounded, wholesome meals each day—including breakfast
Before waking up at 5 am every day, I understood and respected the importance of breakfast. Still, my weekday attitude was more like, Get anything into your body ASAP to kickstart your metabolism and keep it moving—hustle!
If I did eat breakfast, it was often a very nutritionally one-sided meal rather than a full, well-balanced meal. For example, one day, I’d eat only a protein bar, a plain cup of vanilla Greek yogurt, or just a piece of hand fruit. When I couldn’t think of anything to eat that was easy to grab and go in under 10 minutes or less, I’d sometimes skip this meal altogether, opting for a cup of coffee with
These effects then trickled down into how I approached lunch and dinner because I didn’t have to think too deeply about compensating for any daily nutritional value I may have glossed over or missed during my haphazard attempt at breakfast. Instead of constantly trying to self-correct earlier shortsighted, impulsive eating or drinking decisions, each new meal felt like a fresh start I could prepare and enjoy on my terms.
More meal prep & less food waste
To successfully meal prep, you must block out weekend hours to prepare everything for the upcoming week. However, by starting the day at 5 am every day, I could be more strategic with my meal planning and prep, organizing things day by day. I love to cook, and having a quiet morning of chopping, slicing, and sautéing felt very meditative without the pressure of worrying about what time.
This meal prep also enabled me to cook more frequently rather than ordering takeout—and because I was cooking more, I was wasting less food, resulting in less financial stress. But, more importantly, the ability to plan enabled me to make smarter choices about what I ate and when, so my meals, snacks, and beverages supported and sustained my energy throughout the day.
More healthy hydration & less desire for alcohol
Before this experiment, I used to surround myself with multiple glasses of water and then set alarms to remind myself to drink them. At the time, I didn’t realize that the reason I was neglecting to drink water had something to do with how rushed I was feeling in my everyday life, but starting my day at 5 am relieved some of this pressure. As a result, I drank more water when I was naturally thirsty.
Also, I’ve always been a big fan of a nightcap with dinner, and drinking a glass of rosé with my evening meal was a ritual I looked forward to every night as a reward for surviving another tough day. However, once I started waking up at 5 am every day, drinking a glass of wine or any other alcohol during the week lost its appeal.
Reclaiming my time & health
Once tricky things became easy because I used waking up at 5 am to set myself up for healthy choices throughout the day. In addition to regulating my circadian rhythms—even instinctively waking up at 5 am on weekends without an alarm—joining the 5 am club has benefited me in a few ways. First, it’s allowed me to reclaim more time for myself, ultimately minimizing some of my daily stress and helping curb my anxiety.
Unsurprisingly, people may feel better when they wake up earlier—as long as they allow their bodies to get enough sleep by going to bed earlier. Inadequate sleep has been linked to weight gain, difficulty focusing, and irritability over time. So, if a person is getting enough sleep, waking up earlier can have positive health effects.
Furthermore, my blood pressure readings over the last few days have been around a healthy 120/80, and although weight loss was not my primary goal, it was nice to see that I’ve lost a little over four pounds. These positive changes have occurred due to a tiny, uncomfortable adjustment to my routine.
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