It started with a drink of water.
Never in a million years did I think something as simple as a drink of water could do anything to improve my life. Sure, water kept me clean and satisfied thirst, but they made it sound like a glass of water in the morning would cure all my life problems.
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Launched in 2014, the app was developed on principals of behavioral economics at Duke University’s Center for Advanced Hindsight, overseen by behavior change scientist and New York Times best-selling author Dan Ariely. It’s presently used by millions of people, with over 175,000 enthusiastic reviews on Apple Store and Google Play.
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It’s not like I had anything to lose. So, I went with it. I filled up a water bottle and set it by my nightstand before I went to sleep.
The logic was sound enough. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep leaves you dehydrated, they told me. It’s one of the reasons you feel so groggy and gross when you wake up in the morning. Drinking water not only replenishes your fluid levels, it activates your digestive system and helps it wake up faster. The sooner your body wakes up, the sooner your can get your day started, and the better you’ll feel about it.
I remember the first morning. My alarm went off and the only thing on my mind was rolling over and going back to sleep. But I could see the words from my first letter materialize in front of my eyes. All I had to do was sit up and drink water. Everything after that was up to me.
So, I sat up. My stomach churned, and I thought there was no way I would get even a sip down, but once I started drinking, I didn’t stop until the bottle was empty. Turns out I was much thirstier than I had originally thought.
Before I knew it, I was out of bed. I was already awake and upright, I’d reasoned, so I might as well get up. Once I was up, I figured I might as well go shower and brush my teeth. By then, I was wide awake, dressed, and ready to go… with nearly an hour of time to spare before I had to leave for work!
That was when I knew I was onto something.
For three days, I drank water each morning upon waking. I thought the first must have been a fluke, that I was just excited to try something new, that the shake-up of my routine was just a temporary fix to an underlying, permanent problem of chronic laziness. That’s what everyone always told me: I was just too lazy to get up on time, too lazy to be a morning person, too lazy to do anything.
But by day four, I knew better. I wasn’t lazy; I just didn’t know how to be a morning person. At least, not until now.
The next task they gave me was breakfast. Eat a good breakfast, they said, with protein and “slow carbs” like fruits and whole grains. My instinct was to recoil in horror at the thought of having to eat so early in the morning, but I was no fool. I saw the benefits of drinking water and was ready to believe these people knew what they were talking about. They were different from the self-help books and personal development websites and apps I’d tried before. Instead of pop psychology and cheesy affirmations, they had the power of science on their side. They learned how people think and act and train people like me to use our predictably irrational behavior to our advantage instead of trying to fight it. The more I read, the more it made sense.
My first day of eating breakfast was like pulling teeth. A few bites of toast and I was ready to pack it in. But I persisted, and by the end of that challenge, I was waking up hungry!
Before I knew it, I was at the final challenge: Exercise. Before my journey began, I would have been horrified at the idea of exercising every morning. I hadn’t needed exercise clothes since physical education class in high school! Nevertheless, I was prepared to make the commitment. I’d been building a solid morning routine for weeks; I was a pro at it, now.
Even if it was just for a minute, they told me, get moving. So, I did. Every day. Even if it was just for a minute.
The changes had been so small and gradual that after a while, I hardly noticed the differences in my attitude and behavior, but other people did. I was more energetic, my friends told me, and seemed way happier. They were right; since I was getting up earlier, I had more time in the morning to get ready. I had finally learned what my body needed to feel energized in the morning and stay energized all day. It was as I’d been sitting in a dark room my whole life and someone finally turned on the light.
My friends and family used to tell me I was lazy. They told me I’d never be a morning person and I had no reason not to believe them.
But Fabulous believed in me when no one else did.
They told me I could be anything.
They were right.