Which frog do you eat in the morning?
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it First Thing in the Morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the BIGGEST one first.” — Mark Twain
When our ancestors chased rabbits for their meal, and in turn had to defend themselves from the tigers, there was stress.
- The rabbit was stressed by the threat of death
- The hunter was stressed trying to obtain life sustenance
- The tiger was most stressed because not only was there another creature trying to take away its rabbit, it had to figure out what to do with this human competitor who exhibited irrational behaviour… What was this ‘Tiger King’ going to do?
Stress is a part of life.
And the question is what kind of stress do we have to embrace?
I would like to be in the position of the hunter. Stresses that make a creature stronger means being able in to stay and play effectively in the game of life until the final whistle.
As people around the world started dying from COVID-19, governments had to wake up and make an ugly decision.
Some immediately swallowed the bigger frog and went into extreme lockdown.
Trump hit the snooze button and USA went back to bed. They were the biggest and the strongest and their job was to inflict pain – not receive it.
Months deep into this crisis, we are still asking:
- What sort of stress does this virus put the world in and how early should we have eaten this frog?
- Is total early lockdown the right choice?
Because this world is full of ‘unintended consequences’ – only time will tell.
The morning routine
I have two strategies for getting up in the morning. One of them involves hitting the snooze button. I have never found that this option makes my day any easier to get through.
The morning routine is like the opening scene in a 007 movie. It sets the tone for what is expected for the rest of the day.
I am up at 5am seven days a week.
Half a lemon squeezed onto a pinch of salt in a glass filled with water almost to the brim. This is my morning hydration.
This tiny habit brings on “the morning dump”. Like clockwork, the bowels tickle and the Sydney Water sewerage system gets to do its job.
I check the weather, briefly check my calendar for the day and start getting dressed for my morning ride. With winter approaching, it would be almost 10 degrees colder outside my front door.
My morning ride is high intensity. 40 minutes around “anaerobic threshold” at Sydney Olympic Park. I guarantee that I would be fully awake after this session. Some people do meditation to wake up. I just work my body and find that my mind is a lot quieter in a body that is awake.
The emphasis of my morning routine is not “mind over matter”.
The body comes before the mind. Whilst a body can function happily without a mind (when you are fast asleep), a mind without a body is a ghost (nothing).
Make the body strong and the fun part of the mind comes along for a ride – leaving its brooding partner scheming in the roost .
What is the frog?
They found one of my ex- roofers wandering in the streets around outside his home, naked in the middle of the night. He died in hospital the other day.
Current evidence indicate that people of sub-par health are more prone to dying from the COVID-19 virus. Whilst it is our personal responsibility to work on our health – it is the frog that no one likes to eat. It is bloody hard to keep our bodies fully functional for a full century. Yet, it is our body that supports the framework for a life.
The majority of people in the world are suffering. There are so many distractions cutting into the sleep cycle and it is so hard to get up in the morning. Hard exercise on a cold winter morning can surely be put off until it gets more pleasant. The suffering of having to buy another pair of pants with a bigger waist is only a credit card away compared to the hassle and pain of an early morning workout.
…Maybe a gym session after work will work better. Like the snooze button, this strategy rarely works.
Mark Twain had it right. If the frog is our physical health – then it is best to bite into it first thing in the morning.
What is good and bad stress?
There is ordinary steel and there is the type that my steel racing bike was made of. High tensile steel is ordinary steel that has been ‘cold worked’ – a process of pushing steel through a high pressure process.
Our bodies behave in the same way. It needs the discomfort of high pressure to become strong.
When I smacked into a crash barrier on my brand new racing bike, the Columbus SL high tensile frame buckled. The stress was too much and the frame was never the same again.
We must treat our bodies in the framework of this observation. A certain level of stress will make us stronger. Stress with no chance of recovery will make it a wobbly ride to the recycling station.
When the rabbit is forced to run for its life – that is bad stress.
When the tiger is confused as to where the food and the enemy is – that is bad stress.
When the hunter is working hard on learning how to track and hunt down his meal and execute successfully on the kill – that is good stress.
Go and play
“The only reason to play any game is to have the opportunity to be asked back to play again”
It is for this reason that we must eat the frog that makes us smarter and stronger and not eat the poisonous one that will kill us. Looks deceive.
The nicer frog usually carries the poison.