I'll admit it: Waking up at 5:30 a.m. is just not my thing and never has been. Even though I'm a wellness coach whose job is to help people start healthy habits, if you had asked me two months ago if I could become a regular 6 a.m. exerciser, the answer would have been a resounding "No way!" As much as I love exercise, sleep is just more important at that time of day. So I must say, I’ve quite surprised myself with this new early-morning workout habit that I’ve created over the past few weeks! Here’s how I've been able to achieve it; maybe these tips can work for you, too.
Start with one day a week.
Because I knew it wouldn’t be an easy goal to reach, I started small and told myself I would attend a TRX class every Tuesday at 6 a.m. for four weeks: a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goal. While it doesn’t sound like much, it was easy for my brain to wrap itself around waking early just ONE day a week. That’s doable, right? I could sleep until 7 the other six days of the week.
Prepay for your classes.
It is all too easy to roll over and hit the snooze button when the alarm rings early at 5:30 and the rest of the family is asleep, but since I had purchased an expensive monthly pass at my favorite studio, I knew I had to get up and go or lose out on that money I had invested. Had I committed to exercising at home, it would have been much easier to skip the early-morning workout.
Focus on how you feel afterward.
You know that incredible feeling you get after exercising, when all of those amazing endorphins are released? I've started taking a few moments to be mindful of this feeling after my workouts and really pay attention to how great I feel. This feeling, I was surprised to find, was even better than that extra hour of sleep! I discovered it felt great to work out at 6 a.m.
Notice how it improves your entire day.
By getting up an hour and half earlier and completing my workout by 7 a.m., I now have more time in the morning to pack my lunch without rushing around the house trying to get out the door on time. With more structure in my mornings, my stress levels have reduced dramatically as I start my workday. Some other benefits I've noticed: increased energy and better ability to stick to my healthy diet, as I don't want to undo all of the hard work from that morning. I try to stay mindful throughout my day of how that 6 a.m. workout continues to pay off.
Tell your co-workers.
When I started my new routine I made a point to tell my co-workers what I was attempting to do. That way, when I came into work on Tuesdays, I knew they would ask how my TRX class went. That extra bit of accountability continues to motivate me to get my booty to class at 6 a.m.
Up the ante after a few weeks.
After two weeks in, I discovered the pros of a 6 a.m. TRX class far outweighed the cons. So I signed up for a Thursday class, too. Again, by setting a small goal for myself it was easy to achieve. Had I started this process by saying I would wake up at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, I would have failed. Now, with success going two days a week, I am ready to consider a third day—which is still shocking to me!
Still going strong? Give yourself a reward!
Rewards are important to reinforce new habits. I made a deal with myself that if I am able to attend a certain number of classes this month, I will schedule a facial. Knowing I will be able to enjoy that relaxing self-care time for myself pushes me to keep going.
I am patting myself on the back for creating a new early-morning exercise habit—something I never thought would be possible. I have proven to myself that it is never too late to make changes in your life. By starting slowly, you build confidence in your abilities and can watch your healthy habits begin to multiply.