Early rising

I am not what you would call “a morning person”. So don’t disregard my comments here as the words of a crazy person who loves waking up before the sun rises. Do those crazy people really exist? Could it be that they don’t love waking up they just see the practicality in being out of bed that early in order to get certain things done? If that’s the more reasonable definition of a morning person, then I guess I have recently become one. For the past two months I have been waking up at 5 AM Monday through Thursday to drive to the gym and fit in my workouts before I go to work.

I think that no matter how much difficulty you have waking up in the morning it is possible to train yourself to be an early riser. It just takes a fair amount of self discipline. The real challenge is to talk yourself out of the comfort of your bed and stand up. That’s all. After that everything very much falls into place. I have found that if I can just talk myself out of bed then, before I am even truly alert as to what is going on, I have changed clothes, put on deodorant, and even brushed my hair (maybe). No way I am getting back in bed at that point, so I sure as hell am going to go to the gym. One thing that I did starting out that really helped me mentally to fight the urge to just keep sleeping was to find a routine or program that I was really excited about. The first few times when it would have been the most difficult to wake up I was at least looking forward to trying out something new and seeing what sort of results it brought. After a while, even though the routine may have been less exciting, my body was getting used to early rising. So I’m not saying I now LOVE waking up at 5, but I can without a doubt say that it has made a world of difference in my exercise routine and in my day to day life.

First and foremost, I actually make it to the gym four out of five work days a week now. Trying to exercise in the evening, this would be almost impossible for me. There are just way too many things that can happen between the time I wake up for work and the time I get home that find a way (or I find a way to use as an excuse) to keep me from working out. There’s almost always something: I’m tired, grouchy, hungry, or distracted by things that seem more interesting at the time like playing with the puppy or laying on the couch with the boyfriend. Maybe I get caught in traffic and don’t make it home until 40 minutes later than I expected. Regardless of what it is, it’s always something. I feel like if I plan to go to the gym after I get off work it’s about a 50/50 toss up whether I will actually go.

I also don’t have to put up with the absolute chaos that is the gym on a weekday between 5:30 and 7:00. These are peak time at every gym I have ever been to and the result is total madness. Out of three rows of treadmills there may be two open (one of them is broken). If you are trying to get on a weight machine then you have to stalk it for half an hour and compete with three other people who are also stalking it. Between the ratio of people to equipment, the testosterone, and the endorphins pumping in that place I’m surprised there aren’t more peak time brawls. Going right after work always somehow puts me home at 8 or later and not eating dinner until almost 9. So obviously going any later to avoid the masses is out of the question.

Instead of dealing with these nuisances that make exercising into a chore I sacrifice a few hours of sleeping in and get to enjoy doing my workout crowd-free. I actually have energy when I get to work at 9:00 in the morning instead of feeling like I just crawled out of bed. When I go home in the evening I can make dinner early and relax with my dog and boyfriend feeling accomplished and strong and knowing that I did everything I needed and wanted to do during the day. Do I always feel sociable and cheery in the free weight area at 6 AM? No. In fact I really want nothing to do with anyone. But this is what headphones are for.

If you struggle with the same issues I did when it comes to fitting exercise into your 9-5 life and you haven’t tried early morning workouts (more than once!) then I’d really suggest giving it a go for about a week. It’s surprising how good it can make you feel.

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