Conquering Your Inner Night Owl
How to Get up Early to Work Out and Love it!
To the people that know me best, I may seem grossly unqualified to share tips on how to get up early. As a teenager, I would often sleep through my blaring radio alarm clock, not to mention smoke alarms. Getting up early was non-existent in my teenage life, it was quite a miracle if I managed to get up in time to make it to the school bus. To say that I’ve never been a morning person is the understatement of the year.
As I got older I had more responsibilities that hinged on me getting places on time, for example, my first real job. I would somehow manage to get up on time, but would never get up one second earlier than was required. I would hit hit snooze on the alarm for an hour and a half before finally rolling out of bed. I often would negotiate with myself for more sleep.
- If I don’t wash my hair today, I can sleep for an extra 30 minutes.
- If I skip breakfast, I can sleep for 15 more minutes
- If I don’t take a shower at all, that gives me an extra 15.
I’m just kidding about that last one (as far as you know).
So how did I, a self-proclaimed sleeping queen, transition from a night owl to a morning person? These are the things that helped me become a morning person who really loves it.
There are plenty of acceptable reasons to sleep in: It is your rest day, you slept considerably less than 7 hours the night before, your baby spent the better part of the night decorating the walls with vomit. “I don’t feel like it,” is not a good reason.
To Get up or Not to Get up, That is NOT the Question:
Stop thinking of getting up early as a choice. If you are anything like me, you probably have to work a day job. I haven’t found anyone yet willing to pay me a decent salary to write all day, so I will likely punch the proverbial time clock until my blog starts to make millions (read: for the rest of my adult life). There are many mornings when the alarm goes off and I think, “I don’t feel like going to work today.” But I do it anyway, because like most people, I have to. I don’t have a choice. My boss wouldn’t take too kindly with me staying home from work every time I didn’t feel like going into the office. In fact, I would probably never go at all if I only based my decision on how I felt.
I go to work because I need the money. The job requires me to arrive at a certain hour. You can apply the same principle to getting up early to work out.
Working out isn’t a choice. It is for your health. It is for your body. It is for your mental sanity. It’s for you. In fact, it might be some of the only “me time” you get all day.
Don’t Lose Sleep Over it:
Shoot for eight hours of sleep. If you are going to bed at midnight and getting up at 5 every day, you are not doing yourself any favors. Losing precious sleep to get up early to work out is counterproductive. The more rested you are, the easier it will be to get up early. One of the first things you need to do is get used to going to bed early, the exact same time every night.
Don’t Negotiate with the Enemy:
You are your own worst enemy. Only you can talk yourself out of getting out of bed. Stop the negotiating. I have learned to turn my brain on autopilot. Don’t think about it, just do it. If you listen to your thoughts at 5am, you almost will always go back to bed. Sometimes I turn on my headphones to upbeat music shortly after waking to distract from my own self-sabotaging thoughts.
As I learned in the Girl Scouts many moons ago,
To ensure that no brain power will be required in the wee hours of the morning, lay out your workout clothes the night before. I’ve even heard people say that they sleep in their workout clothes so that in the morning, they just have to slip on their shoes and they are out the door.
Plan your workout the night before. Know exactly what you want to accomplish. Write it down. Don’t rely on your 5am brain to think clearly enough to come up with a plan.
Waking up is Hard to Do:
Isn’t that a song? Waking Up is Hard to Do? Oh no, wait, that is breaking up. Well, getting up is hard too. Getting up out of bed is usually the hardest part. Once I’m up, I usually good enough to keep going. Try setting the alarm clock in another room so that when it goes off, you have no choice but to get up and turn it off. Sometimes hubby has to give me a gentle nudge under the covers, but I have to get up out of bed and turn the alarm off. You’re up.You might as well stay up. Don’t talk yourself out of it.
If You Snooze, You Lose:
I was the snoozing queen until I got married. Turns out hubby didn’t really like waking up every nine minutes for no apparent reason, who knew? That snooze button isn’t helping. You will never be more rested from nine more minutes of sleep. The interrupted sleep actually makes it worse. Just get up.
Don’t Be a Feign for Caffeine:
I know what you must be thinking, “You want me to get up early and give up caffeine? This is crazy talk!” Hear me out.
You know that feeling you get when you first wake up? You're exhausted, You have no energy, you’re achy, you kind of feel like a truck hit you? I know it well. I was having so much trouble getting up in the morning, even after 7-8 hours of well-rested sleep. Someone suggested that I give up caffeine, because sometimes that tired feeling is actually caffeine withdrawal. Once you have your coffee you feel better, but if you didn’t drink the coffee in the first place, you wouldn’t need it to feel better, because you would already feel great.
It was amazing, once I switched to decaf I stopped having those morning withdrawals, I woke up feeling well-rested and great almost every morning. Don’t knock it until you try it. Give it a couple of weeks and see if it makes a difference for you.
If not, drink and your coffee and go.
Love it or Leave it:
I am willing to bet that most kids don’t have any trouble waking up super early on Christmas morning. They are genuinely excited about starting their day. I’m not suggesting that the gym is like Christmas morning to an 8 year old, I’m just saying that it is all perspective. If you are generally happy to get up and do something you enjoy, you are more likely to do it.
Do you dread the treadmill? Well, by no means should you drag yourself out of bed everyday to run for an hour on the treadmill, especially not in the beginning while you are still adjusting. Find something that you genuinely enjoy to do while you are making the transition into an early bird.
Misery Loves Company:
|The awesome ladies of CrossFit SuperSport in North Richland Hills (not me)|
Getting up in the morning doesn’t have to be miserable, but if you are going to be miserable, it is better to do it with good company. I have found that having an early morning running partner got me up and going every time. It is not right, but we often feel more accountable to others than we do ourselves. My running partner and I had a no-texting rule. This meant if one of us decided to sleep in, we were not allowed to text the other one to tell them we weren’t coming, as to not influence their own choice. Turns out that the very thought of leaving my friend out there wondering if I would show up or not was enough for me to never miss a workout. I always went, even when I really didn’t want to go.
If you don’t have a friend
Having an accountability partner works too. In my short time writing this blog, I have learned the internet fitness community is a vast place of liked-minded supportive men and women. Find an online friend and promise to text or email each other early in the morning confirming you are up and ready to work out, then email again when you are done. Sometimes just having someone to
Fake it ‘til You Make it:
You hate the mornings? Keep telling yourself that and you it will always be hard for you. The trick is to lie to yourself. Tell yourself how much you love to work out in the morning. Get an index card and try writing down some positive thoughts, even if you don’t believe them at first.
- I love to get up early to work out.
- Morning workouts set the tone for my whole day.
- I totally rock!
- While most people are sleeping, I am making myself a better person, inside and out.
- I love the time to myself in the mornings.
- I can’t wait to get my workout started today.
- I will feel so amazing when I am done.
Put your index card by your alarm clock. When the alarm goes off, read your positive thoughts, even say them out loud. Since I can’t rely on my memory at 5am to remember these positive thoughts, it helps to have them written down. I also read them before I go to bed. Your mind believes what you tell it, so if you tell yourself you are tired, and miserable, and you hate morning workouts, you will believe it. If you tell yourself repeatedly that you love morning workouts, you also eventually will believe it. So much of this is a mental battle. It may sound a little hokey, but it really worked for me.
Consistency is Key:
At first it might be hard while you are adjusting, but the key here is consistency. Make an effort to go to bed at the same time every night. Get up the same time each morning, even if you are not working out. Maybe Thursday is your rest day, stay on schedule by getting up early anyway and getting a head start on your day. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish while everyone else is sleeping. You could spend the time to get caught up on personal bills, paperwork, a cleaning project, school assignment, or a blog post. Maybe you just want to spend some alone time reading, relaxing, or meditating before the kids get up. The idea is that you get used to the routine of getting up early, even when it is not to work out. The more routine it is, the easier it becomes.
Even if it is not a scheduled rest day, tell yourself that even if you don’t workout, you still have to get up. Then the choice of getting up or not is already made. Even if you don’t work out, you can still get up and be productive. Chances are once you are up, you will get to the gym after all.
Remember the 99% Rule:
I can tell you from experience that no matter how crappy I feel when I get out of bed, 99% of the time I feel better once I get to the gym. 100% of the time, when it is over, I am glad I did it. That feeling you get after completing a morning workout is way better than the feeling you get from sleeping in an extra hour.
Just getting there is half the battle. Tell yourself you can quit after 15 minutes if you are not feeling it, most of the time once you get going, you will be fine. What about those off days, where you really do want to quit after 15 minutes? Sit in the sauna or go home and read a good book. Don't be too hard on yourself, as these days are likely few and far between, and a 15 minute workout is still better than a 0 minute workout.
Are you ready to do this? What time is your alarm set for tomorrow? Do you have any tips to share?
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