Thursday, June 19, 2014

How To Wake Up To Work Out: Tips & Tricks For Getting Out of Bed & To The Gym

About 2 years ago I transitioned into a  morning exerciser. I used to HATE working out in the morning. In fact, I would have sworn that I actually got a better workout later in the day and that switching to AM sweat sessions would have been to my physical detriment...too sleepy, not enough energy, blah blah blah. Then I started CF Elements. My class was at 6:30am and I HAD to go. You couldn't skip. If a class was missed you were required to make up the lesson and pay a fee! EEK. However, those 4 weeks really helped me get into the morning workout groove and now I am hooked. Of course there are still days when I can't pull myself out of bed and I still have times where I workout in the evening instead. But, for the most part I am a morning exerciser. Some of the top benefits to a morning sweat session are:

1. You are less likely to have something come up at the last minute. 
In my line of work last minute meetings, happy hours or conference calls happen on a regular basis; but, since I go to the gym in the morning these last minute events never derail my fitness schedule.

2. There is more time to get ready and enjoy your morning. 
One of the biggest benefits to working out in the AM is that I get more time before work. Instead of staying in bed till the last possible second, I am forced to start my day the second the alarm goes off. Then when I get back from my sweat session I have more time to shower, get dressed, indulge in some GMA, and drink my coffee. Those peaceful moments before a hectic day on The Hill really do wonders for my mood and sanity.

3. It is better for you. 
Working out in the morning boosts your metabolism all day long and keeps you burning more calories even when you are stationed in front of your computer. Plus after putting in that tough WOD/run/spin class, who wants to ruin it with a Big Mac or Frappaccino? Not me!

4. You sleep like a baby.
When you wake up at the crack of dawn, it is way easier to fall asleep at 10:00 PM. Honestly, most nights I struggle to stay up till even then, and once my head hits the pillow I am out. Sleeping well and getting enough rest tie into a whole other list of health benefits. I will save that for another post.

Honestly this list can go on and on. So instead of pounding you with reasons why you should do it, I will tell you how to make it easier to wake up and get hot and sweaty in the AM:

1. Schedule Your Workouts Around Your Life
Every Sunday, I get a general sense of my week and plan my workouts accordingly. If I am going to have a late night at work or a late evening event, I try to make sure that I schedule a workout that morning and then maybe a rest day the following day. This will ensure that I get as many morning sessions in as possible and also makes it easier to stay accountable. When you have a plan you are much more likely to follow through. Here is an example of my schedule:
Day of the Week
Evening Event
Morning CrossFit WOD
Morning CrossFit WOD
Yes (but will be home before 8)
Morning Spin Class
Book Club (Home Past 10)
Rest Day
Morning CrossFit WOD
Morning CrossFit WOD
Rest Day

 Obviously life happens so things can change; but for the the most part, planning things out helps me stay on track and be more prepared for morning exercise. In a perfect week I workout five times with some combination of CF, Spin, or a run (running is few and far between as of late though haha). However, four times is usually much more likely and when I get the five in I am super happy!

2. Go To Bed Early
Picture Source
This may seem like a "duh" point, but honestly it is the most important. Going to bed at a reasonable hour will ensure that you are rested and ready to work your heart and muscles the following morning. I am the type of person that needs at least 6 1/2 hours of sleep. If I am working out at 5:30am the next morning, I need to be in bed by at least 9:45pm to start my unwind for sleep ritual. Dim the lights. Turn off the TV/iPad and put down the phone (all which are proven to keep you from falling asleep). Get out a book. Make sure your room is cold and relax. When I have done all of these things it only takes about 10 minutes before my eyes start to get heavy, and I am ready to conk out for the night. 

3. Move the Alarm Away from the Bed
If you are like me (and everyone else in the US), you probably use your cell phone as your alarm clock and sleep with your phone. As a morning exerciser, you need to STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE. Having that blaring phone ring right by your pillow at 4:50am makes it much easier to just turn it off and go right back to sleep. But if it is across the room, you HAVE to get out of bed and turn off the noise. Getting out of bed is the first step. 
My alarms 

Sometimes I will have the urge to climb right back into bed even after getting up to turn off my alarm. FIGHT THIS! One, way I am able to do that is by remembering that in all likelihood I will just lie there until it is time to get ready for work anyway (which really does happen because my mind starts racing). So you might as well get on out the door and get your sweat on. 

4. Lay Out Your Clothes The Night Before
Taking the 5 extra minutes to lay your clothes out the night before will give you 5 more minutes to sleep the next morning (At 4:50am, five extra minutes is like a lifetime). You will be ready to get up and go, and it eliminates any extra decision making when you are still in that half-awake/half-asleep state. 
This is from a race, but it is similar to what I do the night before a workout too. 

5. Have An Accountability Partner
Make a deal with a friend to meet at a class or the gym in the mornings. As a rule, if someone does not cancel by 8pm the night before, there is no turning back. Having that person count on you will help you get up and follow through with your workout. There are a lot of times when I don't want to get out of bed, but luckily, I have Josh to encourage me to get up and out the door. I also think of the money I am spending as an accountability partner too. My spin class charges you for classes that are skipped; and at CrossFit, if I do not use all of my sessions in a certain month, they do not carry over into the next. Knowing that money is going down the drain when I miss a class or session really gives me extra incentive to get my money's worth and go to the gym. 
My Accountability Partner
Photo Courtesy of  Keith with Kx Photos

So there you have it! A few tips to help you become a morning exerciser. As you get into a routine it gets easier and easier to get out of bed and off to the gym. I would love to hear some of your tips too.

What helps you get out of bed in the morning?

What time of day do you workout?

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