Anyone who follows me on instagram will by now have realised that when it comes to exercise I’m a morning person. This is because my job requires me to work long hours, I feel more motivated to be active in the morning as opposed to after work, and I personally feel less tired and prone to making unhealthy choices if I start the day well. If I know I’m exercising after work I will subconsciously decide I’m carb loading, regardless of the intensity or lack thereof or what I’m doing, and then I’ll more often than not cancel the workout because I’m tired.
However, just because I accept these facts, combine them with the desire to workout and reach the natural conclusion that working out in the morning is the best way to achieve my exercise goals, does not mean I like waking up before 6am to exercise. In fact, I really really don’t like it. However, I have practiced it as a lifestyle and have strengthened my willpower through habit.
People often say that they can’t get out of bed in the mornings and I will agree that it is hard, but the ability to get up early to exercise is a habit that you can train yourself into – it is never enjoyable but it is rewarding. It’s a lifestyle rather than a regime so you just have to work hard to form habits. It is these habits and strengthened willpower that will keep you going when motivation fades.
If you want to try being an exercise lark here are my three best tips to get yourself moving:
- Set a time, commit to it and remove the ‘maybe’
This means choosing what you will get up, but also what time you will run, swim, gym etc. Pre-decide what you’ll do and how you’ll do it (how far you will run, what you will do in the gym) and don’t discuss it in the speculative sense. If you think you might wake up at 6 and go for a run depending on how you feel, the chances are you won’t feel like it.
Set a start time, a specific activity, and, just as importantly, an end time. This means dragging yourself away from your duvet is a more decisive action with a clear end point, rather than a blurry vision of unknown hell that you could do without. It also means you’ll allow enough time for your chosen form of exercise and getting to work.
- Pack your bag and know where breakfast is coming from
This is pure common sense, but it will save you time and decision making in the morning. It also reduces the chance of forgetting something important, like underwear (we’ve all done it).
Are you going to buy breakfast on your way to work? Do you keep food at work? Are you taking in a packed breakfast like overnight oats? Decide and have your preparations ready as the more routine exercising before work feels the more likely you are to enjoy the experience and not have a massive faff or stress about it.
- Know when to stay in bed
This sounds counter-productive, but there will be times when you’re faced with burning out and you would benefit physically and psychologically from an extra 20 minutes in bed.
I find it useful to mentally rehearse the morning when I wake up, and think about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to feel when I’ve finished. If at the end of that I still feel tired I stay in bed, but if I know I’m going to feel better for it then I get up and go.
This may seem in conflict with removing the ‘maybe’ that I spoke about in point one, but actually knowing that you’re listening to your body strengthens your resolve and relationship with your body. This isn’t about wanting to stay in bed versus leaving, but understanding what’s the best decision for your body and day.
P.S. You get the best views.