In April 2017, while on vacation, my husband and I decided that we were going to return from our trip to put excuses aside and finally do something we’d been telling ourselves we’d do all year: workout in the morning. It’s really quite a simple goal, but in order to achieve it we need to first succeed at something else: waking up earlier. We had repeatedly failed at waking up earlier, leading us to believe we would never become people who workout in the morning, despite our best efforts.
On our vacation, we were inspired by a couple on the trip with us who casually mentioned that they wake up at 4:30 am every day. As we inquired further, we discovered that they wake up at this time to complete their workout before leaving for work. We asked if it was challenging for them to wake up so early or if they had gotten used to it, and they expressed that it was still very difficult but always worth it. Inspired by their motivation, my husband and I set a goal for ourselves to work out in the morning before our day starts. We decided that once and for all, we were going to ignore our excuses and begin working out in the morning. We were motivated.
Deciding to workout in the morning was the easy part … now how to actually make it happen?
When I was in college marching band, our director would remind us daily that the hardest things you have to do in life are often the best for you. He infused motivational tips into our rehearsals, and one that has stuck with me ever since is that challenging tasks get easier each time you complete them. Creating a habit from scratch always seems like an insurmountable challenge at first, but gradually gets easier and easier the more you do it.
I think about this quite often, but have never actually put it to the test. I’ve failed at so many attempts to workout in the morning that I’ve never actually gotten the chance to see whether it does in fact get easier. The challenge of the first day has always stopped me in my tracks, leaving me believing that I am incapable of becoming an early morning riser.
The Huffington Post wrote an article about creating a new habit that really resonated with me. They discuss the beginning of habit formation, and how our brain adapts. They mention the “21 day” rule, and what it actually takes to make something a habit. This article motivated me to finally just do it: How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit?
I decided that the best way to workout in the morning was to tell myself that no matter what I was waking up early. No excuses.
My goal was to wake up at 4:30 am in order to begin my early morning workout by 5 am. The plan was to complete this for an entire month to see if it ever actually got easier to workout in the morning. As I began this process I felt excited and motivated, all of which I have felt before. It seems that each time I decide to begin early morning workouts, I experience the same initial excitement levels, but had been unable to carry this excitement over to the early mornings.
This time though, was finally different. This morning was the final day of my trial month, and 30th day of working out at 5 am! I am happy to have completed a full month and am not going to lie, part of me thought I wouldn’t actually go through with it. I finally defeated that little voice in my head that kept telling me I’d feel better if I slept in longer.
So, after completing a 5 am morning workout for 30 days…
Getting up and moving right away has gotten significantly easier each morning! Although the moment my alarm goes off is never easy, it’s always worth it (and I finally have proof)! Each morning I face a mental battle when my alarm goes off and I question my decision to wake up early. Fortunately, the time it takes me to feel fully awake in the morning has decreased from 30 minutes to 3. After the first few days of completing my workout in the morning, I noticed a huge decrease in my stress level. The early mornings were spent productively, and I felt proud of myself before even leaving my house. Working out in the morning has also dramatically increased the amount of free time I have each evening.
My initial worry was that I would be so tired by the end of the day that I’d have no energy to workout in the morning the next day. While I did feel ready for bed each night, I actually noticed an increase in my energy during the day. There’s been a huge change in my attitude lately, and I 100% believe that this new habit is responsible.
I discovered that the secret to completing my workout in the morning is literally to just do it.
I’ve finally proved to myself that it is worth it. The struggle I face when the alarm goes off is a battle worth fighting, and each day the struggle gets a little less. The more I woke up early, the easier it was for me to do. While getting out of bed before the sun was never an easy task, it took less and less time to feel alert each day.
Whatever it is you’ve longed to do but haven’t found the motivation to try – just start it. It is always hardest the first time, but it gets easier and easier after that. Give it a fair shot. Don’t give up after just one try. Be realistic with yourself in the fact that it will take a while for your mind to get used to it.
For years, completing my workout in the morning has been a dream of mine. After a multitude of failed attempts, I had nearly given up, figuring it was something that was never meant for me. I’d hear others who loved it and figured it just wasn’t my thing. Just about when I was ready to give up completely, I found that one last ounce of motivation and made it happen.
And I am so glad I did.
If you need an extra boost: Motivation for When You Doubt Yourself