I am not a morning person. I repeat. I am NOT a morning person. But I have adapted my routine to ensure that 95% of the time, I get my workout in, first thing in the morning. Otherwise, it just doesn’t get done. And this adaptation has truly changed my life. If you asked me 10 years ago, when I was still in college banging a volleyball around the court almost every day, if I would ever be able to workout before noon, I would have laughed in your face – are you insane? Give up the comfort of my amazing, warm, comfy bed before I have to?!?! Ha!
Even after graduation, when I held a full time job working 8 hours a day, I would actually get to work earlier so I that I could clock out and hit the gym before the rush hour crowds. Then I went to law school. And I still refused to even consider starting my day with a workout. But then, I started studying for Bar exam. For those of you who know the torturous hell that is studying for the Bar, I’m sorry for even dredging up those memories. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, just imagine confining yourself to your room, cut off from the outside world, and banging your head (figuratively) against a stack of books, all day, every day, for three months straight and you’ll start to get an idea of what it’s like.
In the dark period that was studying for the Bar, I needed the freedom and release of my workouts more than ever. But after hours of online lectures and practice exams, I was left with a slight headache and no motivation to bust out my activewear and break into a sweat.
Again, I am NOT a morning person. But desperate times, call for desperate measures. So I purchased an at home, DVD workout program, set my alarm, and . . . hit snooze about 6 times. But I did eventually get up, pull on my cutest leggings, tighten my sneakers, hit play, and voila! There I was busting a move, feeling the endorphins, breaking a sweat, first thing in the morning. Afterwards, I was free to make my breakfast and coffee, sit down to my online coursework, and focus in on the grueling task at hand. And I started doing this every damn day. For three months. Until I took the Bar exam.
After celebrating this milestone (and recovering from the hangover), I discovered that the first thing I wanted to do in the morning was workout. So even though I had to return to my law clerk job, I set my alarm extra early so that I could nail my workout before I reported to work at 8:00 a.m.
I’ve been subscribing to this morning workout routine for almost 5 years now and I cannot imagine it any other way. I’m addicted. Not only do I have more energy throughout the entire day, but I begin the day in a better mood. No matter what else happens and how crazy the day may get, I’ve already given myself the gift of a head start by getting my mind and body focused and energized. And I can check the exercise box off my to-do list for the day.
Plus, and perhaps most importantly, my afternoons and evenings are so much more enjoyable because I have the time and freedom to do what I want to do. Whether it’s meeting my girlfriends for happy hour or cooking a wonderful meal for my husband, I have the time (and energy!) to partake in such amazing, precious moments. Yes, there are alternatives, but none are appealing. If I skip my evening activities in favor of the gym, I’d feel so bummed to miss out and frustrated that I can’t do everything that I want. Or if I forego my workout and indulge with friends and family, I’d feel anxious and guilty that I missed my workout. And weekends are no different. If I don’t bust my workout out before noon – it just ain’t happening and that’s (usually) unacceptable to my Type A personality.
So what can you do to try and be the diva of your mornings and go crush your workout first thing? Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful:
1. Figure out what time you HAVE to wake up to get a workout in, the night before.
I usually do this by identifying what time I need to be somewhere or do something and then backtrack from there, incrementally adding time for what needs to be done beforehand, including your workout.
2. Keep your workout between 20 mins and one hour.
I know some exercise addicts feel they need hours in the gym, so if they can’t spend that much time crushing weights, they throw in the towel and skip the workout all together. Keeping your workout shorter will actually ensure you have time to get it done first thing and it will force you to make that time really count. And isn’t 20 minutes hustlin’ on the elliptical is better than nothing?
3. Do not hit snooze!
I am guilty of breaking this rule (actually I obliterate it sometimes), but I promise, it is easier to jump up and get to it before your brain even realizes what you are up to.
4. Schedule a morning workout with a friend.
Having a buddy makes you accountable and is something fun to look forward to. Actually, the only reason I started incorporating 5:45 a.m. spin classes twice a week into my schedule was because I made a pact with my best friend that we both we’re going to do it. When the alarm went off that first time, I was so unmotivated, but the second I remembered I had to meet my friend, I jumped out of bed, pulled on my gear and got my butt out the door.
Working out in the mornings truly changed my life for the better. I’ve even converted a few of my very resistant friends to the morning workout ritual, and though they complained at first, they have since fallen in love with this routine and can’t imagine life any other way.
Rise and grind, my friends!