You LIKE the idea of starting your day off with exercise first thing.
Perhaps you’ve even heard the facts around the benefits of morning exercise such as:
- Better long-term results
- Improved productivity (Working out can increase your mental clarity for four to 10 hours post-exercise)
- Boosted metabolism
- Enhanced mood
BUTTTTT…It’s just so hard to get going for the day…until it becomes part of your routine.
I love getting my day started by moving.
That being said, there was a time in my life that my morning exercise routine was an unhealthy part of my day.
Up at 4 a.m. every morning (after going to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. most nights), my morning exercise routine was an obsession.
I’d hit the gym every morning at 4:45 a.m. sharp to spend 90 minutes on my Stairmaster, coupled with another hour or two of weights and magazine workout routines, all before 8 a.m.
Morning exercise was a labor, a chore—and even though I dreaded my long routine most days, I didn’t let myself think TWICE about anything BUT accomplishing my 2-3 hour morning workout (no sleep, no morning quiet time, no other fitness activity of any sort included).
Fast-forward to today and my morning exercise routine is refreshing, enlivening and my time to gather my thoughts and get ready for the day ahead.
How did it change from drudgery and slavery to refreshment and gusto?
A handful of things:
Sleep. If I go to bed later than usual, I wake up a little later than usual. I give myself this grace—I know I am nothing without sleep.
4 a.m. Does NOT Exist. No more 4 a.m. wakeup calls for me. That hour, in my opinion, is ungodly now and if I even have to wake up for an airplane flight at that time, I get bad memories of all those years spent waking up—ready for my own beat-up session.
Start the Day Off Right. The FIRST thing I used to do back in my unhealthy exercise days was roll out of bed, onto my back, and perform at least 10-minutes of abdominal exercises. It was a MUST before I even thought of getting ready, brushing my teeth or going to the restroom. I would perform my crunches, situps, leg lifts, then quickly slap on some makeup, brush my teeth and hair, and bolt out the door to the gym to claim my StairMaster. Today, when I wake up, I generally take the first hour of my day to quiet my thoughts, get in the Word, listen to an uplifting Podcast, make my breakfast and pack my lunch for the day and make a short list of my intentions and top three to-dos for the day. ALL this before hitting the gym.
Time Cap. Three hours is such a waste of time. Today, no matter what, I keep my time in the gym to no longer than 60-90 minutes—stretching, warm-ups and cool-downs included. Ain’t no body got time for that (3 hours!).
Today, I look forward to my morning workout sessions…and you SHOULD TRY IT TOO…
Here are a few tips to make early mornings work for you (if you are a new kid on the block):
- Be Prepared. Lay out your sports bra and Lulu crops the night before. Have your breakfast or pre-workout snack ready. Set your bags by the door, and your lunchbox packed in the fridge. Set yourself up for morning efficiency and success by being prepared.
- Get Your Mind Right. Wake up on the right side of the bed by feeding your mind with positivity! Get going with scripture, a devotional (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is awesome!), podcast or Audible book that attunes your mind to thinking happy thoughts—and get PUMPED UP for gym time.
- Recruit a Friend. There’s strength in numbers, and if you’re new to morning workouts, consider recruiting a buddy to join in on the fun. The bonus: You both keep each other accountable to your goals for A.M. workouts and you make it a social gathering as well.
- Stop Telling Yourself You’re NOT a Morning Person. As we think, therefore we become. Instead tell yourself you are TOTALLY a morning person (now)—brand new you starts today!
- Bottoms Up. Water is natural energizer and body booster! Set a bottle or cup of water on your sink so you can ensure to drink 16 ounces of water to get your body energized and jumpstart your digestion for the day. In fact, before drinking ANYTHING else, drink water (yes even before coffee). After 6-8 hours at least of not eating and your body repairing (during sleep), your body is THIRSTY. Bonus: add lemon and sea salt for extra energy and refreshment.
- Self-Care. When thoughts about “missing out” on work, e-mails and tackling to-dos first thing, remind yourself to PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK FIRST. In order to help others (or accomplish great things), you must first take care of yourself. Morning exercise is a beautiful (selfless) act of bringing the best you—mentally and productively—to your day ahead.
- Just Do Something. Every morning your workout and routine does NOT have to look the same. Some days, if time is really limited, or if you really DO LIKE afternoon routines better, you may just start it off with 15-30 minutes of doing something: Rowing, a light jog or walk, a yoga practice. You don’t have to go ALL OUT if morning is not your best time, but by doing something, you boost your brain, think through things for the day and get your body, if anything, prepared physically for the day ahead.