If you’ve ever found yourself with a mouthful of cookies in the middle of your diet, skipping the gym or procrastinating on that work project, you’ve probably experienced a bit of regret at some point afterwards. While we usually begin each day with the best of intentions, more often than not we’ll find ourselves facing the mental battle of choosing between what we know is best and what we actually want to do.
Unlucky for us, one of the most challenging battles begins before we even start the day:
Deciding to wake up early.
No matter what time your day begins, hitting snooze always sounds irresistible when the sky is dark and your bed feels cozy.
Making the decision to roll out of bed and pour some coffee in the wee hours of the morning is challenging enough as it is – so how in the world are some people able to convince themselves to wake up early and work out?!
Becoming a morning exerciser is not a skill that you are born with. While some people naturally wake up earlier than others, finding the discipline to workout in the morning is a skill that requires great practice.
Starting the day with an early morning workout is a goal shared by many.
The thought of arriving at work after burning calories, eating a nutritious breakfast and having enough time to fully wake up is a vision that many of us feel is unrealistic.
However, it doesn’t have to be. Starting a morning workout habit is challenging, sure. But it is not impossible.
No matter how tempted you feel by that snooze button, developing an early morning exercise routine is well within your realm of possibility.
So, how do we make it happen? After many failed attempts stemming from the best of intentions, you may be feeling that the early morning life is just not for you.
I spent many, many years telling myself that tomorrow would be the day that I finally got it together and started that morning exercise routine I’d been dreaming about for so long. After tons of snoozed alarms and late morning failures, I’d just about admitted defeat until I gave it one last try.
Committing to a full month of early morning workouts at 4:30 am taught me so much about the early morning exercisers. Creating a morning workout routine is challenging – no matter which way you look at it. But it is possible. And if you stick to it, you might just discover how to live your healthiest life.
How to Start a Successful Morning Workout Habit
Commit to a designated trial period.
Planning to wake up early for the rest of your life sounds awfully intimidating. As you roll out of bed feeling miserable, the thought of feeling this way every single day might be enough to change your mind all together.
Rather than setting this goal with an indefinite time frame, begin with a “trail period” for a designated amount of time. Make this time period long enough to really establish a routine and allow your body to adjust, but short enough that it sounds manageable.
It’s a lot easier to force yourself out of bed knowing that if you still hate it at the end of this time frame, you can call it quits.
Decide to exercise in the morning for anywhere from two weeks to two months to allow your body time to adjust to this new lifestyle. At the end of your “trial period”, you can decide whether this is a lifestyle change that you’d like to keep. Chances are – once your body has gotten used to it, you might find that the results are motivating enough to continue.
Prepare everything the night before.
There is absolutely nothing worse that finally convincing yourself to get out of bed, only to feel frazzled and rushed as you go about your morning routine.
Prepare everything you will need for the morning the night before. This includes your workout clothes, equipment, breakfast, snacks, work clothes, work bag, shoes, lunch, and anything else you can think of. Lay your workout clothes next to your bed and change into them immediately once you wake up.
Heading downstairs to complete a morning workout will feel much easier when you can get started without needing to round up your equipment. Doing what you can to take away any unnecessary obstacles will help your morning run smoothly and as easily as possible.
Go to bed before you plan to be asleep.
If you’re planning to wake up earlier that usual, you’ve likely realized that you’ll probably need to go to bed earlier than usual as well. Knowing that you’ll be waking up at 4:30 am might motivate you to hit the hay half an hour earlier so you can still get 7 hours of sleep.
Decide how much sleep you really need to function at your peak the next day, and plan to get into bed before you’ll need to be asleep each night. If getting 7 hours of sleep means that you’ll need to be sleeping from 9:30 pm to 4:30 am, don’t jump in bed at 9:29 and plan to be asleep within a minute.
Head to bed at least 15 minutes prior to the time you’d like to be asleep. Not only does this help ensure you maintain a healthy sleep schedule, but it also allows your body some time to wind down each night.
Don’t hit snooze.
We’ve all heard this one before, but it’s certainly true – the best thing you can do in the morning is avoid hitting snooze. Hitting snooze is a recipe for disaster. Once you hit that snooze button, you’re telling your body that your morning workout goals are okay to miss.
Find a strategy that works for you to get up with your first alarm. Maybe that means putting your alarm on the opposite side of the bedroom, sitting up as soon as it goes off, or just mentally committing to getting up when the first alarm goes off.
After the first few days, getting up without hitting snooze will begin to feel easier and easier.
Have a morning plan.
While getting out of bed may be the most difficult hurdle of the morning, conquering this obstacle doesn’t mean you can just give up afterwards. Becoming a morning exerciser means that you need to do more than just wake up early.
Go to bed each night with a plan for your morning. Plan not only what time your alarm is going to go off, but what workout you will complete, how long it will take, what you’ll do to get ready afterwards and what you’re going to have for breakfast.
Failing to plan for even just one of these activities will add stress to your morning and ruin any morning workout motivation that you’ve been feeling. Having a plan for the morning means thinking through your entire routine and getting ready in advance.
Creating a plan helps you feel prepared, accomplished and less stressed as you attempt to create a morning workout habit.
Turn on the lights.
Just because you’re able to successfully drag yourself out of bed each morning doesn’t mean that you’ll feel awake and alert right from the get go.
For some people, getting out of bed feels easy compared to trying to wake up once you’re moving. To avoid feeling tired and lethargic throughout your morning workout, turn your lights on as soon as your alarm goes off.
Light has been shown to trigger feelings of alertness in the brain and help you quickly rid any lingering sleepiness. When it’s dark outside, trick your mind by turning on as many bright lights as possible.
Start out slow.
No matter how prepared and mentally motivated you feel, our bodies just aren’t meant to feel instantly energetic once we get out of bed. Planning some early morning exercise is a great way to fuel your body with energy right away, but it still may take some time before you truly feel alert.
During the first few weeks of starting a morning workout routine, it’s especially important to take it slow. Even if you love HIIT workouts and intense cardio sessions, your body might not feel ready to jump around your living room right off the bat.
Plan your workouts to gradually increase in intensity the longer you continue your morning exercise habit. Expect to take things slow the first few days as your body adjusts to this new routine. Incorporate workouts like yoga or floor exercises as you begin your routine, and gradually increase the intensity as you progress.
Finding some way to treat yourself might add all the extra motivation you need to continue in the early phases when waking up early feels tough. Plan a delicious breakfast, time to read your favorite book, or some extra relaxation after work.
Make this experience a little sweeter by incorporating a few things you love each morning – things you may not have had time for when you woke up later.
Mentally commit – and just do it.
Ultimately, developing a successful early morning exercise routine comes down to how committed you really are. Conquering a new goal is challenging even when you’re feeling motivated – let alone when you’re not entirely sure you want to do it.
Deciding to start working out in the morning is a great first step towards creating a healthy routine and improving your lifestyle. Once you’ve made this decision, mentally commit and be willing to conquer any temptations along the way.
The beginning is always the hardest part. Don’t expect things to feel easy right off the bat. But once you’ve made it past those first few days, things will likely start to feel a little easier. Your body can adjust to just about anything if you give it enough time.
Stick with it, persevere, and make sacrifices to become the best version of yourself – I bet you won’t regret it.