Often times when I talk to my friends or co-workers about getting up in the morning and completing a workout before work they wonder how I do it consistently, and how long it took for me to get used to it. Listen, it was really hard to go from college and being able to go to the gym or on a run essentially whenever I wanted to, to entering the full-time workforce with a very rigid and unpredictable schedule. My first year after graduation I still acted like I was in college – I’d go to work and then immediately to happy hour or over friends’ places to socialize and drink. There was no way I’d be that person who missed out on a party or juicy gossip because I had to go to the gym, and it was equally unlikely for me to get up a few hours before work to do much of anything after a late night. I didn’t want it enough and prioritized my social activities over fitness. Sometimes my friends and I would combine the two and go for a reluctant half hour on the elliptical in our apartment building and then immediately head over to someone’s apartment to drink wine. Needless to say, working out wasn’t the main purpose of those sessions!
It wasn’t until I started seeing my boyfriend get up early on scheduled gym days and treat it as part of his day that I decided to try it out for myself. I basically had no other choice, as I frequently had to work late or had plans after work or simply felt exhausted after a long day, and with a late start to my job (I get in around 9:30am), it was time. Honestly, the first few weeks were the worst – it didn’t help that I started this transformation during the winter months and I would have to wake up when it was still completely dark out. To ease myself into it, I started by going to the little gym in my apartment building, which involved minimal effort and had enough equipment for a beginner. By January 2012, I had enough confidence to join a gym about half a mile away, and more importantly, I knew that I would actually go.
Things that helped me get up in the morning:
1) My boyfriend waking me up and, for the first few months, walking with me in the freezing darkness to the gym
2) Feeling invigorated, energized, and accomplished before a long day of sitting at my desk and not moving for hours on end
3) Enjoying the workouts I was doing and looking forward to them
Now this might be controversial but a lot of negative thoughts get my butt moving in the mornings too. I say this half jokingly, but shaming myself into going on that run or to lift when I just don’t feel like it (not for any real reason), works like a charm. It’s a combination of this, you-ate-too-much blame game, and the positive encouragement that motivates me to wake up early and start my day off active.
Take today for example. I’ve done my morning workouts as I wanted to this week, and I was up and dressed at 6:50am (this is not early for some people I know), but I kept hesitating and making excuses as to why I couldn’t. I had planned on doing a short run outside and set my alarm accordingly – but I was uncomfortable running with it so dark outside. But there’s a 50% chance of rain in the next hour. My legs are sore. My back is even more sore. I could walk to the gym and do cardio but by the time I get there I’ll only have 25 minutes, that’s not enough time. Maybe I’ll just do yoga in my living room. I should do more yoga but I’m not in the mood and at that rate I might as well sleep another 90 minutes. My thoughts were brimming with doubt and uncertainty and the more time I spent indecisive and unwilling, the less time I’d have to workout or sleep. A negative thought crept into my head and literally guilt-tripped me into getting out the door.
You’ve eaten such ginormous lunches as to be uncomfortable the whole afternoon at work (hello Indian food buffets), and then “skipped” dinner only to snack on Pirate’s Booty and ice cream the rest of the night…
Before that thought even finished materializing, I had my shoes on and was ready to go on a run and conquer the world afterwards. I brought my phone with me for once, and took some pictures of the more scenic parts of my run.
I’m sure there are dozens of cutely photoshopped quotes on Pinterest and Tumblr that say it better, but the point is, I always feel infinitely better after a workout, regardless of how begrudgingly I did it, or how much I struggled during it.