When I began working full-time last fall, I slowly eased in to the habit of working out before work. I didn’t do it everyday (I’m not that disciplined) but at least once or twice a week, I’d roll out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and hit the gym or run.
At first, I regarded my morning workouts as a necessary evil for those weeks when getting to the gym in the evening was just not feasible.
Over time, however, I began to actually appreciate my morning workouts. I liked the fact that I could get it over and done with and not have to worry about planning my evenings around my gym time.
Then summer rolled around. I have a part-time job as an after school tutor so with summer vacation in full swing, I suddenly had an abundance of spare time in the evenings. At the same time, I moved in with a night owl and began going to bed later than usual. Suffice to say, morning workouts became a thing of the past.
Until September happened.
I’m back to tutoring some evenings, the drive home is a lot more congested and now I have a household to manage on top of everything else. The harsh reality is that I’m going to have to get back into the habit of crack of dawn workouts.
I’ve started easing myself back into it. Yesterday morning, I did a hot yoga class. I’d like to tell you it wasn’t that bad once I got there but that would be a lie. I was so tired and miserable, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
But if my memory serves me correctly, that’s exactly how I felt the first time I attempted a 6 a.m. workout. The trick is to just keep doing it and it will eventually get easier.
For anyone else who’s in the same position, here are my tips for mastering the morning workout:
1) Make a firm decision the night before
The moment you start bargaining with yourself (“well, I’ll see how I feel when my alarm goes off”), you’ve already lost the battle.
Because, let me tell you, at 5:30 a.m., you will never, ever feel good enough to work out. It’s only once you’ve forced yourself out of bed that you realize you’re not actually that tired. So my first piece of advice would be to tell yourself the night before that you’re going no matter what.
2) Prepare everything
I’m not just talking about your workout gear, I mean everything. Lay out your work clothes as well as your gym clothes, have your lunches and snacks packed, take the garbage out, feed the cat… anything you would normally do in the morning, do it the night before.
Adding a workout to your pre-work routine means less time to get ready for work in the morning. Preparing the night before will make the transition to early morning workouts a lot easier.
3) Tell someone your plan
On Wednesday night, I told Josh I was planning to work out in the morning and had him help me switch our cars around so I could get out first thing in the morning (his car is standard so I can’t drive it). I also casually mentioned it to a co-worker earlier in the day. Plus, I signed up for the class online. I would have felt like kind of a turd if I’d hit the snooze button. Sharing your intention to workout creates accountability.
4) Go to bed when you normally would
The night before an early morning workout, I used to try to go to bed half an hour earlier to compensate for the half hour of sleep I would lose in the morning.
Until I figured out that this approach turns me into a crazy person. See, ‘cause if I don’t fall asleep immediately, I start worrying about not getting enough sleep, which makes it difficult to fall asleep – see the vicious cycle?
I function much better if I just set my alarm for when I need to wake up and go to bed when I’m tired. Sure, 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal, but you’re not going to die if you lose an hour one night. Ironically, when I tell myself this, I end up getting way more rest than when I panic about not getting enough sleep.
5) Figure out what to eat beforehand
This might take some trial and error but figure out what foods will give you enough energy to get through your workout without giving you indigestion. For me, it’s a banana or a piece of toast with nut butter. I then eat my full breakfast after my workout.
Has September brought any changes to your routine? How are you adjusting?