First of all, if you are not a morning person, you likely want to find another time to fit in your workout! We all need to work within our strengths, and determine who we actually are as people, what feels good, what we enjoy, how to be kind to ourselves, and fit life in within those parameters. Otherwise, meeting goals will feel too exhausting, finding a healthy lifestyle will feel tortuous, and you will be more likely to give up.
If you enjoy mornings, morning workouts can be a great way to start your day. Even for morning people it can be a habit to get used to, but once you do, it is amazing how it can change your life for the better. When I wake up at 5 am, engage in my preferred morning routine, and get in that workout… my mood is instantly better, I feel energized for the day, and I am much more productive throughout my day. Sleep also comes easier at night, and it is easier to get to bed early and get in my full 8 hours before I am up at 5 am again.
And, I have 2 biological (both with chronic illness) and 3 step-children, so it can be done! In fact, I am a better parent, more on task, and more efficient and patient with my children, spouse, and just with life in general when I stick to my routine. There aren’t many excuses I won’t challenge my patients, and you!, on!
How about some ways to help make that morning routine a bit easier…
- Sleep. Achieving a full night rest makes a huge difference with having the energy to get up in the morning.
- Case example here… yesterday morning I woke up from a restful 8 hours, leaped out of bed, had my pre-workout breakfast and coffee, wrote a blog post, did a lifting circuit, ran 3 miles, made breakfast and packed lunches (pre-prepared Sunday for ease) for myself and my husband, and was still to work by 8 AM! And I felt terrific and like a super-woman!
- This morning… after working more than 10 hours yesterday (yes, I see an issue there and it is not my usual to work such long hours!)… I did not sleep well (stress… grrr!) and the alarm came much too early. BUT, I knew I would be tossing and turning if I kept hitting snooze, so in this case getting out of bed was better than trying to sleep more (not always the case… see below…). So, I compromised… I drug myself out of bed, drank my coffee (no pre-workout food) and told myself I would walk for 30 minutes. And I did! I still was able to make breakfast and pack lunches, and get my kids off to school and into work by 8 AM. And I felt MUCH more energized after that walk, and my cranky, not enough sleep mood became less cranky!
- Make it your habit. When we really want to stick to a goal, it is a great idea to think of it as a habit. Just like it is your habit to brush your teeth in the morning (you don’t think, “should I brush or shouldn’t I,” you just find the time!), make it your habit to get out of bed at a certain time. My habit is to be out of bed at 5 AM every morning. It is rare that I am not, and even on rest days I get up and enjoy my coffee in peace!
- Pair it with something pleasant! I actually enjoy getting up in the morning because I am the only one awake, I look forward to my morning cup of coffee, and I can spend time reading a book or magazine in quiet. Once the kids are awake, even after a good workout, the morning routine really sets in gear and I am a bit more on edge. So, having that time in the morning truly is rewarding!
- Prepare something to eat the night before. If I am just getting up to walk or do a light circuit, I can often manage without food. But, I have learned over time I just don’t have the energy to work out the way I want in the morning unless I have something in my tummy. I am up at 5 am, eat some granola and a protein drink (portioned out the night before makes this easier!), and have my coffee until 530 am. By then my food is settled and I am ready to burn some calories!
- Oh… and water! Hydrating also gives you more energy for that workout and perks up the mind and body a bit!
- Plan your workouts in advance, but be flexible. If you wake up in the morning and just aren’t feeling up to whatever you had planned, do something simpler. Maybe you can fit in your lift or run later in the day, or push it to tomorrow and swap a light day somewhere else. Pay attention to your mind and body… they really do know what’s best for you!
- Remember: any amount of time is good time. Even a short workout or a less intense workout is better than nothing and will provide physical and psychological benefit.
- Breathe. Have patience. In the morning, sometimes I begin to feel rushed as it nears 7:00 and the 7:30. But, when I feel rushed I get less done. If I take a beat, breathe, re-center, and remind myself to focus on one thing at a time and just keep going, I get it done sooner and with less feeling of overwhelm.
- And it helps that I’ve perfected a super quick getting ready routine! If it takes you more then 20-30 minutes to get ready, start thinking of what you can cut out!!
Reminder: When you really have not slept enough, sleep can be more important than exercise. Check out this article by SELF from blog.myfitnesspal.com reposted by @FitBottomedGirl about the importance of sleep, and when to choose sleep over that morning workout! I certainly choose sleep over my 5 am wake time when I know I truly need it.