Monday, June 15, 2015

Becoming a Morning Worker Outer

If you told had college Carolyn that adult Carolyn would learn to wake up and work out before work five days a week, I would have laughed in your face. And yet here we are.

Whenever I mention working out before work, the #1 response I get is ooohs and aaaaahs of admiration. Just kidding. People usually tell me that I'm nuts and that they could never do that. Or, some people ask why in the hell I would want to do that. Why did I become a morning worker outer?
  • To get it out of the way 
  • So staying at work late doesn't cause me to skip the gym
  • Because there's never a conflict with other plans when you work out at 6:30am
  • So I can go to happy hour daily (just kidding)
  • Because I'm a much more pleasant person to be around after a morning workout
  • It's satisfying to rack up a couple thousand steps when everyone else is sleeping
  • The gym is less crowded
  • When work is over, I can do whatever I want for the rest of the night (usually exciting things like going to Target and then home to watch reality TV)
  • Because a Saturday morning workout is a really good excuse to get brunch afterward
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was a night owl and non-morning person my entire life. My mom still tells people that I would stay up until midnight reading books in my room when I was just a little rugrat. I basically went through high school and college on 5-6 hours of sleep a night, a habit I carried into my adult life when my first post-college job was waiting tables at a restaurant. So, converting myself to a morning worker-outer was a serious challenge. All this to say, if I can do it, anyone can do it. Here are a few tips:

Pack the Night Before
You know what's more annoying than packing a gym bag at night? Packing a gym bag at night and then having to UNPACK it because you skipped your morning workout and are now getting ready at home, and then having to REPACK it in the morning to work out after work instead. Ain't nobody got time for that. If you pack the night before, you're one step closer to taking away your excuses for not working out in the morning.

Give Yourself a Bedtime
This one was definitely the hardest for me. I used to routinely go to bed at 1am and snooze my alarm (x4) in the morning, getting out of bed at the last possible second. Now, because I'm typically waking up between 4:45 - 5:45am, my bedtime is 10pm. Shockingly, it's easier to wake up in the morning when you plan your sleep schedule to get in a full night of sleep. So if you find yourself snoozing on morning workouts because you're tired, that's probably a good sign that you should go to bed earlier.

Bribery Works
As I have said time and again, I am not above bribing myself because bribery works. So, on days when I know my morning workout will be a struggle (say, I am really sore or it's been a long week at work), I set a bribe. Maybe I can only stop at Starbucks if I make it to the gym first. Or, I can partake in bagel Friday as long as I get in a morning workout. If you're just getting started, I'd give yourself a target number of morning workouts in order to earn a reward, so you can better focus on building a long-term habit. So, maybe if you hit six morning workouts in two weeks, you can #treatyoself to a pedi. Hit 15 morning workouts in a month and reward yourself with a new workout outfit. Bribery. Embrace it because it works.

This is basically all of my favorite workouts all at good times this week. YES.
Do What You Love
You're 876x more likely to get up for a workout you don't hate (that's science). So, when planning your morning workout routine, pick something you actually like doing! Then, at least when you have to peel yourself out of your comfy bed at the crack of dawn, at least you will have a workout you actually enjoy to look forward to.

Tag Your Alarms
I cannot underscore enough the importance of this tip enough (and sorry if you're sick of me repeating it): change your alarm labels to say what time you need to leave the house to work out! Just because I wake up early every morning does not mean I am a perky happy morning person. So, I use the alarm labels to remind my half-asleep self when I need to leave, depending on my workout that morning.

How do you motivate yourself to work out in the mornings? Any other tips to share?


  1. You're a rockstar. I NEED to start working out in the AM, but I just can't get motivated... I'm going to try a few of these! :)

  2. I've recently started doing morning workouts. At the end of the day, I really do prefer them to the after work, busy gym workouts but man is it hard to get up at 5:30!