Friday, October 26, 2012

Fitness Friday: The Early Bird Gets the Workout

Alarm Clock 2
I've been a (mostly) early morning exerciser since I got married during my second year of law school.  As the years have passed, and responsibilities mounted, I've discovered that, for me, if it doesn't happen first thing, it probably doesn't happen at all.

Which is not to say that I'm all happy and rosy come 5 a.m. when that alarm goes off!

I've fallen off the morning (and therefore, exercise) wagon more than my share of times.  I mentioned the other day that I'm having a tough time finding a new rhythm since becoming a mom for the second time, and this especially pertains to my exercise time.  Despite the fact that Mouse is sleeping beautifully through the night (I swear, I've done nothing different with her than with Moose, who waited until 14 months to give me real sleep), I'm having a tough time conning myself into setting an alarm.

The great irony is that, while I did not have to gain any pregnancy pounds to have my child, I am starting to see and feel clothes fitting a bit tighter now that she's here! (Eek!)

But enough is enough, so today I am sharing some of my favorite tried-and-true ways to get back to an early morning exercise routine.  (As with so much, this is what works for me; my hope is that some nugget will work for you, too.)
  1. Small bites.  If my goal is to get back to waking up at 5 a.m., I may start with 5:45 first and schedule a 20 minute workout.  When that doesn't feel like torture, I dial it back to 5:30 and increase to a 30 minute workout.  Less shock to my system means I'm much more likely to stick with it.
  2. Dress for success.  Yep, this one is almost cliche, but it works for me.  I get dressed in my workout clothes before I go to bed.  Less excuses in the morning, plus a few extra minutes to slurp some coffee!
  3. Fuel up.  I'm not (too) ashamed to say that my coffee maker is set to start up when my alarm goes off.  By the time I'm up, teeth brushed, and contact lenses in, the pot is brewed and ready for me.    If you're not a coffee drinker or can't stomach it on an empty stomach (I used to be in this camp), try a little calorie boost.  A couple of energy chews (my favorite are from Honey Stinger) will help get the juices flowing without doing too much caloric damage.
  4. Start easy.  I know better than to jump right back into a 5 a.m. PlyoX wake-up call when I've been lazy for awhile!  When I'm easing back into the early a.m. routine, I give my body a break and start with a yoga warm-up.  Yes, it means less minutes sweating, but I'm way less likely to turn off the alarm altogether (which would mean zero minutes sweating).  When I don't mind spending the time, there's no better way to start the day than the A.M. Yoga for Your Week DVD (5 segments, each 20 min. with a different focus - e.g. hip openers, twists).  However, when I want to start easy but I still need to get down to business, a good 5-10 minutes (like the below five minute routine from Tara Stiles) does the trick.

What are your best tips to start (and stick to) an early morning exercise routine?

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

Disclaimer: this post contains a few Amazon affiliate links. 

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