A few years ago, I was what you would call a morning person, more specifically a morning exerciser. I would wake up 5 or 5:30 a.m. every weekday morning, whether it was dark or light, summer or winter, to go for a run before work. A lot of people used to ask me: how do you do it?! And, more often than not that was followed by a ‘why do you do it’?!
I’m implementing some strategies to get back that will help me establish healthier and lasting habits.
First of all, I need to be clear that I didn’t start off bouncing out of bed in the mornings – not even close. It took a while before I warmed up and adjusted to the early morning rises, but adjust I did and soon they became so routine that I did them whether I wanted to or not (more on that soon).
To answer the why, I wanted to exercise early so I could ensure I’d get my workout in during the day. It eliminated the chance of me being stuck late at work or, most likely, stuck in traffic and coming up with an excuse to not get a full workout in later or giving in to eating dinner on time instead of late.
But I came to find out there was a stronger and even better reason to be a morning exerciser: you can feel really good both physically and mentally when you move your body first thing in the morning!
Exercising early in the morning serves to wake your body and mind up and gives you time to do something for yourself before the demands of the day set in. I always felt like I could focus better and think more clearly when I exercised early in the morning, my attention was set on the tasks in front of me, I was able to be ‘in the moment’ more because I wasn’t worrying about squeezing in a run or gym session later that day.
Lately, I’ve gotten away from morning workouts. Moving to a much colder climate and dark days in the winter combined with injuries left me coming up with too many excuses not to get up early. This in turn, I’ve noticed, has left me feeling lackluster. My energy is lower, my attention isn’t as focused as it should be during the day and I just feel…blah. Extremely blah.
So, how will I get back into the early-morning workout groove? I’m implementing some strategies to get back that will help me establish healthier and lasting habits. With summer fast approaching, it’s an ideal time to do so what with the brighter mornings and warmer temperatures. But don’t be fooled, you can carry over these tips to the winter as well.
1. SET THE ALARM 5 TIMES
My alarm clock is set for 5:30, 5:45, 6:00, 6:10 and 6:20 a.m (that’s the latest I can possibly get up and squeeze in 30 minutes of something). Hitting snooze once may send you back under the covers, but I find once the second or third time comes you start thinking about the consequences of not getting up and you’ll find a way to drag yourself out of the covers.
Consider putting your alarm across the room as well; that will force you to get out of bed to shut it off.
2. HAVE A LIST OF REASONS WHY
The why’s are the core of your ability to get up early. If I think about how I’ll feel later (anxious, lethargic) if I don’t exercise first thing, that’s almost always enough to get me up and going.
3. FIND AN ACTIVITY YOU LIKE/ LOVE
I like to get up early and run, even though I shuffle for the first 10-15 minutes, it doesn’t matter. The fresh air, quiet streets and movement allow me time to be in the moment and think or even meditate. It’s much harder to convince myself to get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning. However, it may be different for you.
Getting a friend to workout with you first thing in the morning or finding a group exercise class may also be the thing that gets you excited to wake up bright and early to get a move on.
4. PLAN AHEAD
Planning and preparation will make a world of difference in helping you establish early-morning routines. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it may just take some time, but getting to bed earlier as well as eating a lighter dinner earlier will help you sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed.
5. IT’S ABOUT DISCIPLINE AND COMMITMENT
The #1 reason I managed to get up consistently every morning for years to exercise is quite simple: Discipline and Commitment. If we waited to do things because we wanted to do them, we would likely be left waiting a long time.
Sure, there were plenty of mornings I wanted to stay in, sleep in, and snuggle up in bed. But I got up anyways because I established a habit, and the more I did it, the more it became second-nature.