Let’s be clear: I have never been a morning person. There have been periods of time in my life where I’ve had tremendous trouble sleeping and, thus, terrible trouble waking up in the morning. I can remember times in my life where I’d either hit snooze a million times or set my alarm for the very last minute possible in order for me to have enough time to get ready in the morning.
Because of this the truth was...I didn’t actually know if I could be a morning person because I had convinced myself so deeply that I simply was not one. However, what I’ve found is that, with the right mindset and routine, waking up at a consistent time and getting your day started can be incredibly fulfilling and even kind of addicting (in a good way).
At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to focus on my physical and mental health more. An important part of this goal included working out. While there have been times in recent years where I worked out consistently in the afternoons, this just wasn’t practical with my current lifestyle. In the afternoons, there is more of a chance that you’ll be exhausted from the day or that something unexpected will come up. However, a morning workout is less negotiable - there’s really very little that can interfere with it as most people won’t even be up. Before you know it, you’ll actually begin to enjoy (even crave) your morning workout. Don’t believe me, follow my tips for becoming a morning workout junkie:
Start a routine. Your routine starts the night before. Be sure you get in bed early enough to wind down and to get enough sleep. You’ll be off to a terrible start if you don’t let your body rest. This is a difficult first step for some as adjusting your bedtime schedule can take some work. However, you’ll be full of excuses when the alarm goes off if you haven’t allocated enough time for sleep. In addition to healthy sleeping patterns, I recommend being pretty strict with getting your body in routine at first. For me, this meant consistent Monday - Friday workouts - my body needed to be in the same sleep/wake/move routine each day in order for me to get used to this process. Overall, I’ve stuck to this routine because I find my body responds best to staying on a schedule.
Find your soulmate workout. Having the motivation to get up and get your booty moving can have a lot to do with how much you love your workout. Years ago, when I was working out at home, I did two BeachBody programs with trainer Chalene Johnson ( Chalean Extreme & Turbofire). At this time in my life, working out from home was most practical and I came to really enjoy getting up and doing these programs. Today, I go to a functional training group fitness class at a small local gym that I L-O-V-E. The program is primarily weight focused, but the trainers do mix in a healthy amount of cardio. For me, I prefer slower, controlled, technique-focused movements; so this type of class works best for me. To boot, I also love the owners and other trainers at the gym - they’ve all worked hard to cultivate a specific culture, and it shows. To find your soulmate workout, you may have to bounce around a little bit; consider joining ClassPass so that you can scope out several different gyms and class formats. Maybe you’ll enjoy the variety and stick to it. Or, maybe you’ll be like me and come across something you want to stick with consistently.
Use the buddy system. It’s very important to remember that you probably won’t dig some of the same workouts your friends are into. For example, many of my girlfriends are into CrossFit or spin; neither are my thing, and that’s okay. However, don’t let that stop you from finding an accountability buddy to attend some classes with here and there. Knowing you’ll be leaving your friend hanging if you don’t show up will be motivation enough to get your booty out of bed. I read an interesting (yet extreme) solution recently from two friends: They’d each take a shoe from the other at the end of their workouts. That way, if one of them didn’t show up the next day, the other would be without her other shoe. Whatever works, friends.
Track your progress. One thing I forgot to do at the beginning of the year was take before photos and measurements to help track my progress (bummer). While I can absolutely see the change and could tell when my clothes started to fit differently, I would have liked to have a visual and written before (though I do plan to piece a little something together, still!). However, one thing I do not recommend is relying on the scale. In fact, I’ve barely even weighed myself all year. Why? Scale weight is not the most efficient way to track progress. In fact, though I know I’ve gained tons of muscle and lost several inches here and there, the scale hasn’t really moved much for me (remember, muscle weighs more than fat. So, unless you had A LOT of fat to drop, you may not see much of a difference).
Document your achievement. Documenting your achievement is different than tracking your progress. Progress is more about how far you’ve come. Achievement is what you did to get there. My tried-and-true method is very rudimentary: Every day, I fill out my workout on a dry erase calendar. At the end of the month, I take a photo and then wipe the slate clean. While there are definitely more high-tech ways to achieve the same result, there is something therapeutic and satisfying about physically writing out my workout each day and wiping the slate clean at the end of the month.
Be practical. Set workout goals that are reasonable and achievable for you. If you don’t think you can make it to the gym, choose a home workout. If you feel working out alone won’t be motivating enough, try a new gym or join ClassPass. Don’t set yourself up for failure by choosing a time, duration, format or location that just won’t jive for you.
While I fully support that you should workout at the time of day that best fits your schedule and your physical capacity, if you’re hoping to become a “morning workout person” and it just hasn’t happened yet, following the above tips can help. Most days, I wake up before my alarm, ready and excited to get to my workout. On days I’m not feeling it mentally, I remind myself that my morning workout really does set my day up for success - and that I’ll feel much better if I get to the gym. If i’m not feeling it physically, I take a moment to reevaluate why that is. Some days, I make a judgement call and go back to bed - you absolutely don’t want to overexert an already exhausted body. If I check-in and realize I’m just feeling sore and creaky, I’ll typically follow through with my workout and build some extra time in to stretch out my muscles while they’re nice and warm. Overall, getting into a morning routine has helped me to feel stronger and more resilient both mentally and physically. On the weekdays I skip the gym, I typically find myself feeling a bit off for the remainder of the day. Now that I’ve fully restructured my social and sleep schedule to make room for my AM sweat session, I find waking up to get to the gym to be something I do because I want to, not because I have to. I think if you have the desire to start a morning routine of your own and you give these tips a try, you’ll find yourself wanting to get out of bed when the alarm clock goes off too!