Almost every morning I crack two trays of ice into a smoothie jug, lovingly cascade creamy milk over the crystalised cubes, scoop some protein powder on top, along with extra flavour like cinnamon, cocoa or desiccated coconut, then add a banana and something from the repertoire of mango, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries or grapes. I put some tunes on. I pour another 200g of low fat, vanilla yogurt on top of everything and then blend for thirty seconds on “crush” followed by another little while on “pulse” and finally three to five minutes on “blend” - with a break at some point to pour excess fluid into the first of three large cups, as the two litre jug is not tall enough to handle the total volume of a blended Brad breakfast. I then proceed to drink this concoction through the thinnest of straws available, occasionally choosing to scoop it with the tiny spoon on the end of the straw while I read the news, or watch TV.
The whole process, particularly in winter, can take from twenty, up to over forty minutes. COVID19 related working from home arrangements have not helped with this. That’s a considerable portion of my waking hours, all things considered. A very enjoyable portion, for sure.
I’ve been listening off and on to an audiobook that is essentially a short summary of tricks and tools that a bunch of rich and successful people attribute to their wealth and prosperity. It has provided some fascinating insights into what life could involve if I was loaded enough. Fasting, ice baths, psychedelic trips, holding your breath, fancy teas, hanging upside down, meditation and underwater deadlifts to name just a few of the “tools” that these powerhouses of technology, business and recreation believe gives them an edge in life. I’m not rich enough myself to dedicate fully to any of these approaches, but among them one consistent theme which comes up throughout this very long book is that many successful interviewees have a very quick breakfast, or skip it entirely.
As a man with fifteen pages of journal entries tagged “breakfast” I found this concept particularly confronting. But what is 2020 other than a chance for everybody to subvert their own tropes? So I decided to set myself a goal of one work week where I consumed a balanced breakfast as absolutely fucking quick as possible, to see how my life would change.
To justify this experiment I knew I’d need to approach it scientifically and part of that was recording before I started what I would do with the forty minutes I gained each day. I elected to split it: twenty minutes would go towards extra sleep, and twenty minutes would go towards dedicated personal development time.
According to my sleep tracker my average nightly shut-eye is six hours and forty-three minutes, and I figured this was a chance to see if a round seven would have any benefits to my health.
The personal development time would be spent on things I wanted to understand at a higher level for my career, like octagonal microservice architecture patterns, and OpenAPI modelling best practices.
After a long bike ride and big lunch on a sunny day last Sunday, I was able to have a reasonably early night and set my alarm for 6:40am - seven hours of sleep later.
On Monday morning I woke, dressed for work, and walked downstairs. Initially I’d wanted to replace my breakfast with a single protein/health bar that I could ideally eat on that walk downstairs. Something with 35 grams of protein, some carbs, no added sugar and a little bit of fat. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find anything suitable in the discount chemists or supermarkets of Adelaide. Perhaps I wasn’t rich enough yet to find the vegan protein breakfast bars that met these conditions and that had been mentioned in the book. So instead I ate a decent-sized banana, and a big scoop of protein powder in a shaker full of skim milk. I got through it all in less than three minutes. I didn’t even sit down. It was a little daunting to realise just how quickly you can insert 450 calories into your body, almost without even noticing.
And then an energy crept into me. I was done. I was ready for work and it was barely 7am. So Monday was a bit of a misfire, as I spent another ten minutes working out if I should ride my bike to the office straight away. (I wanted to save the personal development portion of the day for a time separate from breakfast). In the end I took the dog for a walk, then took off down the greenway. I arrived in town slightly before 8am and spent more time maneuvering my bike into the bike cage and getting the lock through the various bits than I did eating my breakfast.
I repeated this recipe for the remainder of the week, and I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the benefits of a quick breakfast. The energy I mentioned only grew and I can only assume it is due to going almost immediately from slumber to my daily tasks and goals. I don’t believe this energy is related to the extra sleep. In fact, I found that aspect to be the most challenging of the whole experiment. Because I am used to 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep, each night I found it harder and harder to fall asleep, and thus my sleep time and eventual waking time crept forward each day. There are potentially health benefits to the extra sleep I was getting, but at the rate our planet twirls on its access they risk pushing me into my own sleep orbit which - despite COVID’s new work schedules flexibility - I don’t think I want to try.
Personal development wise I did learn things and it was nice to feel like I had twenty “bonus” minutes each day to focus purely on education and learning. Sure, I could dedicate twenty minutes a day to that anyway, but there was a vibe knowing I’d earned that twenty minutes by smashing a banana down my throat earlier that morning which made it easier to learn, and also I guess helped me commit to focusing, otherwise what was the sacrifice of a relaxed and delicious breakfast experience for?
I think I’ll keep doing this on work days until my brain adjusts and the energy dissipates. Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich and successful following this in just a few short weeks. Maybe then I’ll be interviewed, and you’ll find me inside the big book of tools.