I am a self-proclaimed exceptionalist at being mediocre. I eat healthy enough. I get enough sleep to make it through the day. I workout when I have the time or feel motivated. I do my homework when I have to. It’s like I’m lazy, but not too lazy. I’m in a permanent state of doing everything to be the point of being enough, but no more.
So I wondered, what would I feel like if I spent one week attempting to do everything I needed to the fullest. I would attain the recommended nine hours of sleep, complete all my homework, exercise everyday, eat healthy, not procrastinate and only succumb to luxuries like watching TV when I finished all my work.
I didn’t know if there were even enough hours in the day to complete it all, but I was determined to reject every subpar bone in my body and try.
4:30 a.m. my alarm blared, and despite having gone to bed at 7:30 p.m., I woke up in a mood parallel to Satan’s. My bed was a plush paradise, and it was pitch-black outside, which only made me want wrap myself in my comforter and continue my dream where I had befriended an extraterrestrial that completed all my homework (don’t judge me, it would be cool, okay).
But unfortunately, I was going to a 5:00 a.m. workout class because it was the only time I could workout that day. I laid there with an impending sense of doom, knowing that I was going to do something painful like running or push-ups in the next 30 minutes. But in the name of journalism, I got myself up.
Once I got myself to the gym, I was glad I went. Although when I came home I was a little tired, I knew committing truancy to go back to sleep didn’t coincide with perfection and I had to go to class.
By the time second hour rolled around, my sleepiness had worn away. I felt refreshed and focused, a feeling that was a stranger to me on a Monday morning. It surprisingly lasted throughout the day.
My day was bleh. As much as I would like to say I felt exceptional and refreshed, I really didn’t. I woke up at 6:30 a.m., which was a gift after Monday, but I was lethargic all day.
Lunch came and I really hadn’t struggled with eating healthy until then. I was full but not really satisfied after finishing my salad, when my friend asked if I wanted her peanut butter pretzels. But I somehow I summoned will power from the darkest cavern of my brain and limply said no thank you.
After my feat in the peanut-butter-pretzel-war, I was feeling like a new woman. I worked out after school because I didn’t have to nanny. Then I came home, did my homework and was in bed by 8:00 p.m. to bed. Netflix’s distant calls were ignored by my superego reminding me to get my nine hours of sleep in. Sigh.
I decided to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and ride my mom’s bike to get in my exercise. I didn’t go to bed early enough to make it to the 5 a.m. class and still get my nine hours of sleep in, and I honestly just wanted to get it out of the way before I was awake enough to comprehend this self-inflicted torture.
As my day progressed, I noticed a change in my mood; I was awake and happy to be at school. I think I actually even laughed in English — God forbid. I didn’t even have my afternoon slump that leaves me wanting to crawl up into a ball during Physics. I knew my good night’s sleep, early morning exercise and healthy diet were responsible for new-found energy.
When my alarm rang and ripped me out of my blissful sleep state at 4:30 a.m., I surprisingly didn’t feel like I was going to commit homicide. It was easier this time to get up because, unlike Monday, I knew the benefits of getting my heart rate up early.
From there on, my day was great. I was in a good mood and productive — I even got stuff done in seminar.
But then came lunch, when I ruined it. I had done well all week eating healthy and not binging on junk, but I cracked while out to lunch and got pizza and ice cream. Believe me, I tried to resist, but it was impossible to sit there watching my friends chow down on cheesy, greasy pizza and not join in. Then once I ate pizza, I somehow justified to myself that I couldn’t make it much worse by eating ice cream.
I paid for my error for the rest of the day, feeling like a bomb had gone off in my stomach. I completely regretted the splurge and mentally reaffirmed my commitment to eat healthy.
I worked out again in the morning and got to spend the rest of my day kind of on a high from my week of good sleep and my workout in the morning.
By the end of the day, I was definitely a little worn out from my week. But I felt accomplished, I had done all my homework all week, gotten five days of exercise and wasn’t completely dead because I made an effort to go to bed early.
What I learned:
After my attempt at being perfect, I came to the non-original conclusion that perfection is overrated, but a good night’s sleep, eating healthy and exercise are not.
I was energetic, happy, focused and more productive at school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not miserable at school 24/7, but having consistently good days is rare. I felt like I was the best version of myself. I’d also like to think others around me appreciated my cheery attitude, as opposed to my maybe not so low-key death glares I can shoot when I’m tired or grumpy.
The best part of it is, I don’t have to wonder what made me feel so excellent. I know it was due to the trifecta of consistent amounts of sleep, eating healthy and exercise. All those things are usually controllable, exempting the occasional super busy day. It might mean I have to save my Netflix for the weekend in exchange for an hour of sleep, but it really is worth it.
It was also completely worth the early morning agony, and I plan to continue working out in the morning when my schedule allows for it.