If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my 5:30 a.m. stories getting ready to go to the gym. Lauren and I go to the gym together two times per week for a weight lifting session with our trainer, Jake. Unfortunately, the gym we workout at is a 30-minute drive from my house. The gym used to be less than five miles from the house I grew up in as I started working out with Jake in 2005. Since then, not only have I moved (a few times), but so did the gym. As I battle chronic issues with my lower back (and have since 2002), Jake is pretty much the only trainer I trust with my back when it comes to weight lifting. That is why I continue to drive 30-minutes each way in the early, and very dark hours, of the morning.
Since getting back to the gym on a regular basis three years ago, I have found improvement in my back pain, improved strength, a drastically stronger core, and a deeper love for working out! My husband was hesitant for me to get back to working out with Jake again related to the associated cost. However, with the improvements that have come from regular sessions, the cost is more than worth it. Plus, the training sessions are by far cheaper than regular physical therapy, the possibility of future surgery, and the physical and mental frustrations caused by chronic low back pain.
But the 5:13 a.m. alarm clock (okay, seriously, who doesn’t set their alarm to soak in every minute they can?!) was not easy to get used to. Heck, some mornings are still a struggle! However, after some time and a regular routine, I found that the dread of the early morning workout came to an end and a strong desire to be consistent evolved.
Whether you are trying to make early morning workouts, or workouts in general, a routine, here are the 7 things that have helped me make 6:00 a.m. workouts a routine:
1. Find a workout partner.
I know it would have been a bigger struggle to start a routine without Lauren. My husband is most certainly not one for early morning workouts--although, I wish he were, so he isn’t my workout partner (In his defense, he doesn’t get home from work until 11:00 p.m. a few nights a week.). Find a sister, friend, neighbor, spouse, SOMEONE that can be your workout partner.
Once you establish a good routine, you’ll be much better at going on our own if your workout partner is sick, on vacation, etc.
Don’t know anyone? Join a gym, try some classes, and I’m certain you’ll meet other regulars that will be looking for you if you miss a day in class. Plus, if you have a trainer or class instructor, they will start to hold you accountable as well!
2. Schedule it.
I know you. You are busy! You most likely have one or more of the following [or, all!]: job, family, children, volunteer activities, home to care for, people to feed, etc. But just like you put a doctor appointment, dentist appointment, or coffee-date in your calendar, you need to schedule your workouts! Lauren and I have made Monday and Wednesdays our usual gym days. However, things come up and not every week is the same. But if you know your regular days are Monday and Wednesday mornings, you will learn not to schedule other engagements at that time. If things do need to change, Lauren and I communicate early in the week. For example, next week, I know I have a meeting early Wednesday morning, so we have to rescheduled our gym time for Thursday morning instead. [Lauren, this is me telling you next week has to be Monday and Thursday :)]
3. Lay out your clothes the night before.
My routine for the gym starts the night before. After putting Baby Girl to bed, I head straight to my bedroom to pack my gym bag and set out my workout clothes in the bathroom. If I spend five minutes doing this the night before it saves me time in the morning, plus, I don’t wake my husband up. I then place my work and clothes bag in the car the night before.
Pro Tip: I shower at the gym after the workout and before I head to work. There are a couple showers and lockers. To make things even easier, I have a second set of everything: hair dryer, make-up, toothbrush, shampoo, body wash, etc. I keep all of this in a locked locker at the gym so I only have to bring clothes each time and nothing else.
4. Pack your pre-workout, post-workout, breakfast, and lunch the night before.
Even if someone doesn’t workout in the morning, I recommend getting this all ready the night before. If my pre-workout is something that doesn’t require any advance prep (i.e. toast), I just make sure I decide what I’m having. I’ll also make sure I pack a quick post-workout snack (i.e. banana), breakfast (i.e. oatmeal), and my lunch. Often times, I’ll even fill up my water bottle with ice and place it in the fridge next to my packed lunch box.
5. Go to bed early.
Research shows it truly is best to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day--even on the weekends. For those of you who have young children like we do, you don’t really need to force yourself into this routine so much. However, it is so very important to get enough quality sleep. With my alarm set at 5:13 a.m., I make sure I am in bed no later than 9:30 p.m. I typically read a novel before bed, even if it’s just a page or two, as it has simply become my routine. Previously, I would read a nutrition book (if you don’t know by know, I’m a total #nutritionnerd), but it kept my mind too awake. No more nutrition books before bed allowed.
6. Positive Self-Talk.
This piece is key. Especially in the beginning, so many thoughts would occur in my head when my alarm would go off at 5:13 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. [Yes, I have two alarms only two minutes apart, but that’s it!]. I often say things such as:
I am way too tired.
Ugh, Alison, just wake up and go...Oh, but my bed is so warm.
Hmm, maybe I could go on (insert day) instead.
You will feel so much better when you are done.
If I didn’t go, I could sleep at least two more hours!
Alison. Just. Go.
I have gotten better at this self-talk. Actually, in the past month or so, I have had little to no negative self-talk about getting up to go. It just feels so routine now.
7. Remind yourself why you are doing it.
We all know exercise is important and a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only do I exercise because I know it is good for my physical health, it is SO good for my mental health. On the days I exercise, I am more productive, happier, have more patience, and most certainly a better mother and wife. I truly believe the better you care for yourself, the better we can care for others around us.
You and me...we are a lot a like. We live busy lives that leave little to no extra time in the day. If you are telling yourself, “I can’t wake up early to exercise” think about it, are you actually saying “I won’t wake up early to exercise”?
Every single one of us have 24 hours in a day. It is the common denominator among every.single.person. So, how do you make use of your 24 hours?
I hope these tips can help you regularly incorporate exercise (or, other healthy habits) into your week, so you too can live a more Wholesome life.
Let me know: What are your biggest struggles to making exercise routine? And/or, what other tips do you have for incorporating exercise into your day?
Join me next week, Friday, March 23rd, for my new favorite soup recipe!