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Shame Yourself Into Good Health: A lazy man learns to love getting up at 6:30 a.m.

Okay, so I'm not lazy, per se. I'm just not a morning person. If I had my way I'd go to bed at 4:00 a.m. and wake up at noon every day. This is due to some weird quirk in my body chemistry which causes my overly-neurotic brain to stay fired-up until (and actually work better) well after midnight. Then, as a result, I'm unable to budge the next morning (any morning) when the alarm goes off. I hit the snooze an average of nine times per day. Average.

And yet...somehow for the past two weeks I've started learning how to wake up before dawn to go the gym. How is this possible? I'll give you the answer in one word: shame.

U.S. society is not geared for late sleepers. There's this whole "workday" business that starts at 9 and ends sometime after 5, with nothing so civilized as a seista built into it. Furthermore, we late-sleepers take a lot of flack from the rest of the seemingly-normal, early-rising world: "Oh, you just got up??" ... "You're still asleep??" etc. So you see there's this constant build-up of shame that happens over the years.  

Then of course, if you have some self-loathing tendencies to begin with, you naturally start to hate yourself for your late-sleeping habits. I've been trying for years (decades) to break myself of the luxury of late-morning sleep, but to no avail. I've never even been able to enjoy it (okay maybe a little) for all the shame I feel at being groggy and unkempt at 10:30 a.m. whilst others have had a four hour jump on the day.

Why was I never able to break myself of this habit? My desire to get the extra two or three hours of sleep simply out-weighed the shame I knew I would feel at waking up late. However, for some odd reason, now that I'm ## years old, the shame has built up to a point that I am now able to do it.

This very morning, I lay in bed -- wide awake -- at 6:15 a.m. trying to convince myself to go back to sleep and forget about going to the gym. But somehow I was able to talk myself around to realizing that if I stayed in bed and started my day my usual time, I'd so overcome with shame (I'm talking King Priam type shame) that my day would be ruined otherwise. And then there was the moment when my arm extended involuntarily and snapped-on my light, then involuntarily tore the covers off my body, and thrust me to my feet and it was too late to protest any more.

How did this happen? Shame, my friends. It's a powerful motivator.

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