If you asked me my most favorite thing, it would be a toss up between going to bed & sleeping in. There’s no denying – I. Love. Sleep.
As a teenager I could sleep easily for 15-16 hours. As an adult, I realize I am still one of those people who needs more sleep as opposed to less. Some of you are out there choosing to operate regularly on 5-6 hours (not counting you nursing mamas) & I simply don’t know how. I can’t function without my sleep.
You can imagine, as a person who loves her sleep, I would probably be the least likely person to want to wake up at any ungodly hour to exercise. Especially if it involves waking up before the sun comes up! I mean, who are these people at the gym before the sun comes up? Turns out, it took me all of 34 years to realize, I actually, am one of them.
Over the years I’d tried to exercise early. I had a couple of false starts in the early morning exercise department. They usually involved me thinking it sounded like a good idea, signing up for some high intensity, bootcamp, killer spin class. That would last about a week & then, it might get chilly outside & I just couldn’t manage to get myself out of bed. Fizzle, fizzle, fizzle…
But then a friend asked if I wanted to meet her for a 545am run & my first answer was um, no. My second answer was, not a chance. My 3rd answer was… what time again…?
One day I decided to meet her for an early morning run & something miraculous happened. I discovered I was an early morning exerciser!
After 34 years I’ve discovered I love waking up early to work out. Here’s why:
Why I Exercise First Thing in the Morning
1. I Get to Decide How I Wake Up
Are your kids instantly hungry the second their little eyes snap open? Mine is. I can’t help but feel a bit hurried, a bit rushed, a tiny bit annoyed when my youngest can’t help but cry & throw a fit until he’s in a chair with food in his mouth. He’s starving. He’s hungry. He can’t possibly wait another second & will scream & cry until I’ve gotten out of bed, gone downstairs & cooked his breakfast. He seems to think I control elements of the world that are out of my reach like the amount of time it takes an egg to cook. Clearly, he can’t be reasoned with.
When my alarm goes off a little after 5am, I get to decide how I wake up. I get my running shoes on & hit the door. I don’t have anyone screaming at me or demanding anything. I can get dressed & be out the door before anyone even knows I’m up. By the time I’m home I usually have time to get his meal made before he’s woken up & we can all wake up happier.
2. I Set the Tone for the Rest of the Day
By the time I’ve made it home from the gym it’s time to get my kids ready for school. Some days they are up happily eating breakfast with their dad. Some days I’m waking them from a deep sleep. Either way, getting up early & working out lets me feel like Ive got more of a handle on my day. I walk into the kitchen, into a situation I have a full understanding about. We need breakfast, hair brushed, bags packed, kids out the door on time. Oh & speaking of being on time! My kids are rarely late to school because I’m already awake! By getting up early, I’m setting the tone for the rest of the day. My day might be packed with appointments & over scheduled but it usually won’t be rushed because I’m walking in prepared.
3. I’m Much More Productive
When I was working out during the day it usually meant I’d have to drive to the gym, kids in tow. Drop them at a nursery & squeeze a workout in while I watched the clock to make sure they weren’t going over their time slot. Other days I’d set up a movie so I could work out at home or I’d have to wait till the afternoon when they were finally napping. Can I tell you there’s nothing I’d rather do less than exercise during nap time! All the getting ready & making it to the gym with the kids really took a huge chunk out of my day. If I also had to hit the grocery store that day forget it! My day was gone! I love that now I can get my workout in before my kids are even away. By the time I’ve sent my big kids to school I’ve already gotten my schedule written down & I can go about my day. Laundry? Check. Dinner prep? Check. What else can I squeeze in before 9 am? When I work out early I take on the rest of my day like I can do everything!
4. My Endorphins Are Going & I’m Ready to Eat
There’s nothing better than greeting your family with a smile. It’s not that I’m not always happy to see my family. I am. But some people wake up with a less than cheerful disposition. I’m not the type of person who enjoys being pulled in a million different directions the minute my feet hit the ground & anyone who has small children know that’s the way most mornings go down. Now I get to have a drive to the gym where I wake up. A quick workout where I put in my earphones & get to jam to my tunes. Then I have a drive home when I can listen to my music as loud as I want & sing at the top of my voice. By the time I hit the door I’m ready to great my family & take on the day. Another bonus: I’m ready for my cup of coffee & a bite to eat. By admission, I am an under eater. It’s not something I try to do, it’s just something that happens. I’m that person who forgets to eat. Who has a cup of coffee, makes a full breakfast for the kids & then realizes I didn’t eat a thing as I’m washing dishes an hour later. I’m not, by nature, a morning eater so by getting up & moving, I’m getting my appetite ready & I can handle a small bite to eat in the morning without gagging. This sets me up for a really great cycle of eating throughout the day. I try to only eat when I’m hungry so I appreciate that on workout days, my body gives me cues to eat. That results in natural hunger cues for the rest of the day as well. It allows me to plan to eat what I choose instead of suddenly realizing I’m starving at 11am & eating half a bag of tortilla chips.
5. I’m Getting to Work Out
It seems like these days, skipping a workout doesn’t take much of an excuse. All of my excuses are valid. I’m busy. I have to run to the grocery store. I have errands. The kids are sick. The list can go on & on. If I leave my workout until later in the day I can come up with a million valid reasons to skip it. But if I workout first thing in the morning, I’m getting up with the purpose of going to the gym or getting my feet on the pavement. I’m devoting time to that & that alone. It ensures I get to work out on days I don’t have the time or even the want.
6. I Make Myself Go to Sleep
Remember how much I love sleep? I’m not sure why, but the fear of not getting enough sleep added to the fact that I’m waking up before dawn is enough to force me to go to bed at night. I used to stay up super late – I could stay up till midnight some nights! I’d be on the computer or just watching late night tv with the husband. Now that I know I’m going to be getting up early (& moving!) I make sure I’m in bed by 9. I have made a conscience decision to walk away from the electronics & get in bed. Since I’ve added at least 2 hours to my day on the front half, I’m tired & ready for bed when the time comes.
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Who’s with me? Are you an early morning exerciser? What are the benefits you’ve seen?
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