As we round out November and head straight for December and the holiday season, none of us need the reminder that this is arguably the busiest time of year.
Between year-end deadlines, party after party, and meet-ups with family and friends — in addition to the usual obligations and duties of everyday life — many of us may find ourselves wishing that we had a 25th or 26th hour in each day so we could accomplish everything.
When our schedules get busy, many of us start cutting out things that we deem “inessential,” and for many people, one of the first tasks to get sent to the chopping block is exercising.
The thinking goes I don’t have enough time or energy to exercise, but interestingly, the opposite happens for many of us.
When we don’t exercise, we find that we also lack energy — the stuff we absolutely need to have all the time, especially when our days are as jam-packed as they are in the final months of the year.
And so it goes: the holidays come and go, we put on a bunch of weight and generally feel pretty lethargic and down on ourselves, and come January, we resolve that this year will be different and that we’ll get serious about exercising (again!) and lose all the weight that we were going to lose last year but never got around to.
As we begin the final month of the year, I’m here to tell you that there’s a better option out there. Sure, you may be the busiest person you know at this time of year, but guess what?
It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing any of us can do to get a 25th or 26th hour in each of our days, but there is a way that we can use time more wisely and more advantageously and get in our much-needed exercise. The trick: becoming an early morning exerciser.
Below, I’ll describe some tried-and-true tricks of the trade that’ll help you become a regular early-morning exerciser.
Remember to expect a learning curve here — you’re not going to be an expert at this right off the bat — and be patient with yourself accordingly. Hang in there, and I know you’ll be glad you did. Your health, happiness, and waistline will thank you for it, too.
Set your alarms. It goes without saying, but if you’re not used to waking up earlier than usual, don’t rely on your internal clock to get you up an extra hour or so earlier each day.
Set your alarms — for AM, not PM, of course — and put your alarm in a place where you can’t easily snooze it or whack it off the nightstand.
Prepare all your morning essentials before your slumber. It is really tedious to do this, but before you get in bed, lay out everything you’ll need for your morning: your work clothes, your workout clothes, your keys, your coffee, everything. Leave nothing to chance.
You’d be surprised at how much longer it takes you to get ready in the morning when you’re rummaging around for things than it does when you can just get up, get dressed, and get moving. In time, you’ll figure out ways to streamline this process.
Get in bed, and go to bed. For real. Just sleep. So many of us get in bed each night, tired as a dog, but then waste a bunch of time screwing around online.
Don’t be one of those people. When you’re waking up early to exercise, getting enough sleep becomes even more important than usual. Get in bed, and if you’re not totally whip tired, read a book — the old-fashioned kind — instead of playing on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Get to bed at least 15 minutes earlier than usual. One last thing: if you’re waking up earlier than usual, get to bed each night at least 15 minutes earlier.
In time, your body will adjust for your new schedule (making your bedtimes earlier than usual to accommodate your earlier-than-usual wake-ups), but it’ll take some effort on your part initially.
In the morning
Hear your alarm? It’s go time. You’ll waste a ton of time — time that you could potentially be exercising — if you allow yourself to stay in bed, check email, snooze, or otherwise waste time.
When you hear your alarm, simply stand up and get going. This is super hard, and chances are quite high that you’ll fail at this for a while, but seriously: just do it.
Get dressed, and go all-in on your routine. Whatever your pre-exercise routine is — getting dressed, getting coffee, whatever — get up, and get to it.
Hopefully, with your things laid out the night before, you should be able to do this stuff with your eyes closed. Don’t waste time checking your email or social media accounts before you exercise. I promise it can wait until after you’ve accomplished your exercise routine for the day.
Bring a buddy for extra fun. Having the extra accountability from working out with a buddy can be instrumental, particularly when you’re doing this stuff for the first time.
You don’t want to be that jerk who stands up his/her friend at 5am on a street corner because you were “too tired” to exercise, right? Don’t be that person.
Plus, exercising with a friend can yield a greater sense of safety, thanks to the idea of strength in numbers. You’ll have so much fun working hard and breaking a sweat with your friend that you won’t even notice how quickly time is flying by.
Be patient. Finally — and this is important — be patient with yourself when you’re doing this stuff for the first time. You’re not going to be an expert right away, and there may be some, or many, days when you decide that sleeping in is a better idea than getting up.
That’s ok. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and just try again the next day (or whenever the next opportunity to workout presents itself).
Motivation can be fleeting, but hopefully these tips — and your own trial and error — can help create systems in place that make it fairly foolproof for you to be successful in your early morning exercise endeavors.
Early morning workouts can be a lifesaver during this time of year, since you’re probably not going to have many obligations or parties at 5 or 6am, and who knows?
You may even decide you really like this stuff and want to keep doing it. Give yourself the chance to succeed and to create healthy habits this December, and I can all but guarantee that it’ll be one of the best, wisest decisions that you’ll make.