The Hidden Power of Mornings

Lacking energy and want to improve your productivity? Like to get fitter or want some ‘you time’? That's probably the case for many of us. Asian Express's Chad Forrest has a suggestion.

It all started three years ago when I took part in a seven-day, seven-stage mountain bike race in British Columbia, Canada.

Away from my work at Asian Express, I'm a keen cyclist and I trained for the event for 10 months. I had never ridden a mountain bike in British Columbia before and didn't know the trails; the climate is very different in Beijing, where I am based.

I finished in second place in the over-40s age category, beating some good riders who knew their local trails well. The guy in first place was a just-turned 40-year-old professional, who was also twice a mountain bike Olympian.

So what was my training secret (bearing in mind that, like most of us, I have a full-time job to maintain)? The simple answer: Going to bed earlier and getting up quite a bit earlier.

I think people in this industry work extremely hard - and often they don't seem to have time for themselves.

Training for the British Columbia race meant I needed to spend upwards of two hours a day on a bike trainer. Given the realities of our industry and life in China, training after work was not going to be possible from both a timing and an energy perspective.

So, I committed to waking up at 4am to allow enough time to get up and complete one-and-a-half to two hours of training.

What I found was that by moving evening time to morning time - going to bed at 9pm and getting up at 4am versus bed at 11pm and up at 6am - was that I not only had time to train for my race but created more time for myself.

The mornings are quiet and less stressful. They afford time for me to think about the day ahead, write letters to family, have that family meal (albeit breakfast), read, reflect, fix the leaky sink and exercise.

At the end of a work day in China, there's very little in the energy ‘tank’ left to do those things when I get home. The morning habit has stuck with me and I now appreciate even more the benefits that time transition has made in my life.

As an example, I love to eat - and, yes, my friends will know I am not a teetotaller. By transitioning evening time to morning, the added benefit is that I have now cut down the time when I would have been more likely to grab a bowl of ice cream or that third glass of beer.

I am not usually hungry in the morning and, if I am, I reach for a banana or apple and not ice cream and I am definitely not in the mood for a beer!

So, if your goal is to lose some weight, get fit, or whatever, if you are serious about that, then the best thing you can do is wake up 45 minutes earlier every morning so you have time to take that 30-minute walk, or read that book you always wanted to read. Make it a habit for life and maybe you'll surprise yourself, like I did in the race.

  Last updated: August 25, 2015