As the days get shorter and the sun begins to rise later and later, we’re approaching the season where motivation is tough to come by. Getting motivated for a workout is one thing when the sun is shining and birds are chirping, but it’s an entirely different challenge when we wake up to a chilly, dark morning. Fitting in a morning workout feels nearly impossible this time of year.
One of the most common goals set by those hoping to improve the quality of their lives is to wake up earlier. So many people want their day to start off on a positive note, opening their eyes full of energy and motivation.
But instead, many of us find ourselves turning our alarm off each morning as we desperately plead for just a few more minutes of sleep. We are tempted to avoid all responsibilities and just turn the alarm off altogether.
And with this feeling comes the far off dream that one day we might not only wake up with ease, but wake up and workout in the morning.
Working out in the morning continues to be a popular goal.
Nothing sounds more appealing than starting the day off on a productive note – getting something crossed off your to do list right away and feeling accomplished and proud before you’ve eaten breakfast.
Last year, I decided to finally put my excuses aside and complete my own experiment with working out in the morning. This experience is one I continue to receive questions about, and as we head into the colder months, I wanted to share what I’ve learned.
What Happened When I Worked Out Every Morning at 4:30 am
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 started. 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, leading me to believe 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 test it out myself and find out once and for all: How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit?
I told myself that no matter what I was waking up early.
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 experienced before. It seems that each time I decide to give early morning workouts a try, I experience the same initial excitement levels, but am unable to carry this excitement over to the early mornings.
This time though, was finally different. I was proud (and a bit surprised) to have completed a full month of morning workouts. I finally defeated that little voice in my head that kept telling me I’d feel better if I slept in longer.
After completing a 5 am morning workout for 30 days, here’s what I learned.
Getting up and moving right away does get significantly easier – you just have to power through the first few days to find this out. Although the moment the alarm goes off is never easy, each time ended up being worth it.
Each morning I faced a mental battle when my alarm went off, and I questioned my decision to wake up early. Fortunately, the time it took me to feel fully awake in the morning decreased from 30 minutes to just a few.
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. Evenings were exponentially more relaxing, as I was able to return from work knowing that I had time to sit down and make dinner.
My initial worry was that I would be so tired by the end of the day that I’d have no energy to workout again the next morning. While the first few minutes of the mornings were never easy, I actually noticed an increase in my energy during the day.
The secret to completing my workout in the morning is to literally just do it.
(>>Plus these 20 strategies were game changing for my early morning success)
I’ve finally proven to myself that it is worth it. The struggle I faced when the alarm went off was a battle worth fighting, and each day the struggle decreased just a little more. The more often I woke up early, the easier it was for me to do the next 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 a morning workout had been a dream of mine. After many, many failed attempts, I nearly gave up. Until I found that last ounce of motivation and finally just made it happen.
And I am so glad I did.