It's like this: if I burn some calories when I first wake up, then I can feel fully justified in spending a good two hours on the couch watching a movie or binging on the latest television show I've discovered with my Amazon Prime membership (hellooooooo American Horror Story). If I don't workout, then I'll spend that time on the couch saying how I should be working out instead, thereby distracting me from the awesome fabulousness of Jessica Lange as Sister Jude or the fact that Frances Conroy's Angel of Death would make a bad ass Halloween costume (yes, it's January but I love All Hallows Eve so much I think this far ahead).
To get the most out of your am workout, you're going to need to be well-rested. Without a good night's sleep you will have an even more difficult time waking up early, plus once you start working out you'll be sluggish and tired and probably not pushing yourself as much as you need to. Perhaps even to the point where the entire workout is counterproductive. This means that you may need to embrace your inner old man or old woman and go to sleep at an absurdly early time.
Best way to do this is work backwards: For starters, figure out what time you'll need to wake up to give yourself enough time to get ready and get in a decent workout while also taking into account possible travel time. (Give yourself time to actually wake up, too. Even though my alarm goes off at 6:30, I still probably spend another 5-7 minutes in bed before I get up and at 'em.) Then figure out what time you'll need to go to sleep to get in a good seven to eight hours. From there start small: if you're used to going to bed after midnight, you aren't going to suddenly transition to a 10:30 pm curfew. Each night try going to bed fifteen minutes earlier than the night before until you find the right bedtime that leaves you feeling well rested enough in the morning to get your fitness on.
I paid off my car loan last week and the first thing I thought was "Oh! I can afford a gym membership now! How great would it be if I started going before work a couple times a week?"
Allow me a moment to once again laugh hysterically at the absurdity of that thought process. Please. Look, I know people who love going to the gym before work. Friends who get up at, like, dawn or something ridiculous. Me? Oh, hell no. I don't always like waking up at 6:30 to do a workout in my apartment, let alone wake up at something like 5am to drive to the gym, workout, shower and change there, then figure out breakfast before driving to work. Yeah, right. So, instead, I bought the kettlebell set and use that in my living room.
Just because something sounds good in theory doesn't mean it will work in practice. If that's you, then invest in some DVDs, smartphone apps, or equipment that allow you to workout from the comfort of your home.
Before I go to bed I make sure all of my equipment is ready and waiting. This includes clothes, SPIBelt, headphones, Polar HRM, towel, and I have a full water bottle in the fridge. Do whatever it takes to minimize the amount of time between waking up and working out. (Confession: some nights I'll even sleep in my workout clothes. Makes the whole thing just a smidge easier since it's one less thing I have to think about in my pre-coffee haze.)
Put It In Writing
One of the best things about following a training plan is the fact that there is a clear schedule to follow. I know what days are running days and what days are cross training days and having the schedule printed out and hanging on my fridge makes it so much easier to follow because there's no guesswork involved. (Plus, who doesn't love getting to cross out a completed task?) When I go to bed each night, I already know what I'll be doing the next morning. I find this helps keep me on task, as I am far more likely to follow through on the morning workout if I already know what is expected. Best thing I can tell you is to sit down on Saturday or Sunday, look at your upcoming work and event schedule and write a workout plan for the week. Just saying "I'm going to work out on Tuesday" isn't enough, so be specific about what activity you'll do and for how long.
Have A Plan B
Shit happens. You tell yourself you'll go outside for a run in the morning and then you wake up to thunder and lightning. Maybe your walking partner got sick or they are doing repairs at your gym. Try and have an arsenal of alternative options in case something happens (this is when those workout DVDs and home equipment comes in handy!)
A skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks is one of my favorite indulgences, and while I only have them, like, once or twice a month, I make sure it's only on a day I've worked out. At 120 calories for a grande, the calories aren't really that much of an issue, but if I were to have one all the time they kind of lose their value. This way, knowing I'll get one if I workout is a nice to treat to keep me motivated those mornings when I really want to stay in my nice warm bed.
Bigger rewards can work just as well, too: Promise yourself you'll get a manicure if you stick to your workout plan for an entire month. Find something that will inspire you to get up and workout, but be careful with food rewards: don't sweat your heart out and then turn around and eat something that is just going to undo all of your hard work.
Pump Up the Volume
I love my running playlist. Love it. Want to marry it. It might have some odd choices (most recent addition is Adele's Skyfall), but I've spent hours cultivating a mix of songs that not only gets me moving but keeps me moving. Figure out what songs motivate and inspire you to want to burn calories and put them together into a playlist you'll listen to while working out. Go through every once in awhile and change songs out, too: maybe that song you loved a month ago suddenly has lost its power, so replace it with something else.
Are you a morning or an evening exerciser? Any other morning exercisers have tips for someone wanting to make the switch?
Love from the ashes,