What I do love, however, is how I FEEL after I’ve gotten up, exercised, and spent time reading/reflecting/writing/praying , all before 6:30 am. When my kids wake up, I’ve already taken time for myself. I love how I feel and know that whatever comes my way that day, I started off on the right foot.
I also love sleeping in. What I don’t love, however, is how I FEEL when I start my day waking up at 6:30 with the kids, who are demanding to be fed along with the dog who needs to eat and be let out. Once 6:3o am hits, chaos starts. And on the days where I haven’t taken time for myself first, I quickly become crabby, overwhelmed, and I tend to have less patience for the madness that ensues.
Physical health is not something to take for granted. There may come a day where I’m no longer able to run or exercise. Today is not that day. There are people who would give anything to spend a day in my shoes and have the physical ability to exercise. I choose not to waste my mornings sleeping in an extra hour. I choose to get up early, 3-4 days a week, and take time to better myself. Because I love how it FEELS.
Whatever your goals are, don’t think about what you have to do, think about how you will FEEL when you achieve them.
Here are a few helpful tips that have worked for me:
- Spend some time experimenting with your mornings. Find a routine that works for you. Ask yourself “What is the best way to start my day”? Try a variety of exercises until you find one that works. I’ve spend the last 6-7 years trying every type of exercise under the sun (hot yoga, barre, spin class, running clubs, exercise DVD’s, etc.). I like to change it up, so my current routine includes a mix of yoga, barre, TRX, pilates, and running. I can’t wait to wake up early because I’ve found exercises that I LOVE to do.
- Give yourself a “reward” for waking up early. I love music, so my reward is listening to my favorite new songs. When I find new songs that I love, I only allow myself to listen to them when I’m exercising. If it comes on while I’m driving or listening to music, I turn it off. That way it becomes a treat to listen to it during my runs.
- Give your exercise a purpose. Some of my best thinking comes when I’m in motion. It helps me think through things clearly and rationally. On my long runs, I will focus my thoughts on something specific. As soon as my run is over, I’ll write down all of the ideas. One of my best friends spends the first mile of her run praying for her friends and family before she turns on her music. Talk about purpose!
- Use apps to take free or very discounted classes. I use Mindbody to search for local studios. You can refine the search based on the type of exercise (yoga, barre, spin, etc). Many studios offer the first class for free or for a very low price, and they also offer a one week or one month unlimited membership for a steal. This allows you to try a new place every week or month for next to nothing.
- Set yourself up for success. Set out your workout gear the night before, and place your alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Half of the battle is just getting out of that warm, cozy bed. Once you are up, you might as well get your sweat on 🙂
I sometimes exercise in the afternoon or evenings. It depends on my day and when I can fit it in. But here’s the thing- the longer I wait to exercise, the less likely I am to do it. Kids get sick. Projects come up. Laundry doesn’t fold itself. Things get in the way. And once 9 pm hits, I’m ready to lay in bed.
Stop saying “I’m not a morning person”. Don’t waste that precious time getting a few extra minutes of sleep. Wake up early, and focus on how you will FEEL once you’ve taken the first hour of your day for yourself. If you are anything like me, you’ll find that you are a better parent, spouse, co-worker and friend on those days.