Let’s be real with each other: by now, we know how important it is to have some semblance of a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine.
We hear study after study on the measure; our mothers have told us to eat our greens our entire life; and every time we go to the doctor or turn on the TV, we consume some type of media that makes it abundantly clear that we absolutely need to take care of our health and our bodies, less something catastrophic will — not may, will — happen to us.
And yet, so many of us simply don’t. We don’t eat as well as we should; we certainly don’t exercise as much or as regularly as we should; and we can justify our behaviors to all ends of the earth, giving excuse after excuse as to why or how we just “can’t.”
While I won’t speak to the dietary side of the equation, I will speak to the exercise component. The fact of the matter is that we all have the same amount of time in any given day — 24 hours, in case you’ve forgotten — and the onus is obviously on us to determine how we want to spend our time.
Just like Sir Isaac Newton espoused way back when, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so every single choice we make will carry with it a consequence.
So it is with exercising: if we do it, we’ll improve our health. If we don’t, we won’t. This isn’t rocket science.
And yet — again — tons of just don’t do it. Then, later in life, when our health goes south, we suddenly wonder why we’re not as mobile or able-bodied or healthy as we used to be. It’s mind-boggling, to say the least.
The best piece of advice I can give you, related to exercise, is to create an early morning exercise routine.
There is supporting studies and research that shows that people’s willpower and motivation levels are at their highest in the morning hours, and if you also have a spouse, children, or care for aging parents, then chances are high that the early morning hours may be some of the only hours you’ll predictably have to yourself.
While I can’t give you a magical 25th or 26th hour in your day, I can give you some tips to create an early morning exercise routine, and I’ll do that below. I’ll preface my suggestions with the important caveat that this stuff takes time, so don’t give up.
Don’t think that you’re not a morning person, so this will never fly for you. Instead, give it a go for a while, and I am confident that you’ll surprise yourself.
Some tips to create an early morning exercise routine include the following, in no particular order:
Get to Bed Earlier, and Actually Sleep!
If you’re going to be awakening earlier than you’re accustomed to, you’ve absolutely got to get in bed earlier. Right when you start doing this, you probably won’t be tired, and that’s ok. If you’re not, pick up a book — the old fashioned kind — and just read.
It’ll relax you, and that will help you get to sleep.
Resist the temptation to watch a movie or play with your phone because before you know it, you’ll have pissed away over an hour of “just checking” all your social media accounts when you could have been — rather, should have been — trying to sleep.
Streamline Your Morning Routine
The best way to make your morning fly pre-workout is to streamline it.
What do I mean here?
Simple: prepare 99% of it the night before, right before you get to sleep. Put out all your workout clothes, your work clothes, your lunch, your breakfast, your shoes, your keys, everything so that when you wake up, you can get up and get going.
I know some people who will even wear their workout gear to bed; if it works for you, then by all means, do it. If you must have your obligatory cup of coffee in the morning, put it on a timer so it’s ready for you.
Get Your Alarms – Plural – Set and Ready!
If you’re not used to waking up an hour earlier than usual, then logic would dictate that your body isn’t going to magically wake up on its own earlier than normal. To be safe, set an alarm — a few, really — and out of arm’s reach so you’ll actually have to wake up and get up to silence it.
It will be tempting to sleep through your alarms or to try to squeeze out “just one more minute” in the morning, but realistically, you’re already awake.
Trying to fake-sleep for one more minute isn’t going to leave you any more refreshed.
The Buddy System Works
When you have a buddy waiting for you on the roads for a run or at the gym for a workout, sometimes that is all it’ll take for you to get your butt in gear and out the door on time.
I’d highly recommend finding a partner, at least until you’ve established your routines, because not only will it make it more fun, but you’ll also be giving yourselves fantastic accountability buddies. I can all but promise you that right now, you’re not the only person who’s struggling to find time to work out each day.
Ask around, and I’m confident that you’ll find someone who’s willing to meet up with you.
Finally, it’s so important to remember to be patient with yourself with this stuff. It takes time to create a new habit — some people suggest about 21 days — and when things don’t go perfectly right off the bat, many of us are inclined to get discouraged and throw in the towel.
Don’t do it! You have a ton to gain from this new habit that you’re cultivating, but like anything, it’ll take some time, trial and error, experimenting, and ultimately, patience. Hang in there, and if you sleep in one day, dust yourself off and try again. Every day is a new opportunity.
If you give yourself the permission to try, I’m confident that you’ll be able to successfully establish an early morning exercise routine.
I can promise you that it won’t happen overnight, and that you will fail sometimes, but that’s part of the process.
Nothing worthwhile comes easily or without hard work, right? You owe it to yourself, so really, friends: give yourself a chance. Go amaze yourself.
AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES
Bike and a fitness enthusiast.
Performing at the intersection of aesthetics to craft meaningful ideas that endure.