Have to vs. Want to

I've been thinking about the natural rhythms of life and how we work against them.

For example, I wake up naturally at 7am. Doesn't matter if I went to bed at 9:30 pm or 4 am the the night before, that's what time I wake up naturally with no alarms (or cats on top of me, meowing to be fed).

But I don't allow myself to sleep in until 7. It feels wasteful. While I am not naturally an early riser--I bump into walls for the first 30 minutes I'm up--I do like being up early because I get so much done. I can eat breakfast, work out for an hour to an hour and a half, shower, meditate, and do a load of laundry all by 8:30. When I get up at 7, I feel like I'm playing catch-up all day, trying to regain those two lost hours.

But yet, doesn't it stand to reason that if my body clock is set to 7am, that's what time I should get up?

Part of it is I just feel the need to get everything done in the morning. Morning is my best time to write, meditate, and exercise. And while I really probably should just get out of bed and start writing in the morning, exercise takes precedence. I've discovered that if I don't work out in the morning, it won't get done.

The big thing for me is I don't like having to shower and get ready twice in one day. And I'm not all that high maintenance a gal. I can start from scratch and be showered, dressed, make-up'd, and hair styled in 30 minutes. I just don't like to.

I think a lot of women feel this way. I laugh at those commercials for the YMCA or Bowflex or whatever that promise you only "20 minutes a day" to a buffer bod.

Their products may lead to low body fat ratios, but any woman knows the 20-minute thing is a joke. Once you add in changing into exercise clothes, driving to the gym, working out, driving home, and showering and dressing again, you're generally up to a good hour. Not that this is too much too ask, but let's not kid ourselves that it's just "20 minutes" out of our busy lives.

Still, I'm grateful to exercise. A couple months ago I was flipping channels and Jamie Lee Curtis was on Dr. Phil. She made a statement to the effect that she switched her vocabulary from "have to" statements to "get to" statements, and described the impact on her life. I thought it a brilliant strategy and have been using it. And for the most part, it really is motivating.

For example, if I face the treadmill and find myself thinking, "Ugh. I have to exercise," I correct myself and say, "I get to exercise." It's a subtle reminder that I'm lucky enough to 1) be physically fit enough to partake in exercise, 2) have a home gym, 3) have the time to do so 4)have the motivation to challenge myself, etc.

Same thing with work. If I find myself thinking "I have to write this article," I switch it to "I get to write this article." Again, it's a reminder that I get to spend my time doing what I love, writing.

I've found it really does make a difference in how I perceive life.

Which is somewhat off track from where I started, with natural body rhythms. I'm curious for anyone out there reading who wants to comment...do you feel like you follow your body's natural schedule rhythms, or do you, perhaps by necessity, force yourself into sleeping, eating, waking patterns that don't come naturally? What do you think the long-term effects are, if any?

And now I must leave because I GET TO go program phone numbers into my new (and as of yet, unused) cell phone.