I personally have a love-hate relationship with the gym. I will work out every day for three weeks straight and then quit. The last time I went to the gym was about four months ago. It's not like I haven't been trying to go either. I have had my alarm set for 6 AM for the past four months in hopes of actually getting out of bed and going to the gym. I have even gone so far as to sleep in my gym clothes so that I would wake up ready in the morning, yet I still hit that snooze button every morning until I have to get ready for work.
I was so happy when I came across an online article posted by Fitness Magazine that explained step-by-step how to transform yourself into a morning workout person. If you have no problem going for a run before the sun rises, that's great, but for the rest of us that are actually human, here are some tips that sleep and exercise experts suggest may help you adapt to a new routine of exercising before work.
It turns out that I'm not alone in my failed attempts to exercise in the morning. A lot of people can't seem to change their habits because, like myself, they think that their body clock will automatically change overnight. It doesn't work like that. This is a big change that should happen gradually. It can take some getting used to but if you keep at it, you will succeed.
The first reason why my efforts haven't been successful is that I have been trying to wake up 90 minutes earlier than I usually do. Neil Stanley, Ph.D., a sleep expert who's studied the area for 33 years, recommends that this should be a gradual change. Start by setting your alarm only 15 minutes earlier each day. By doing this, waking up earlier becomes more manageable because it isn't done all at once. This helps give your body time to adjust. Once you reach your desired wake-up time, keep setting your alarm for that time until you get used to it.
Don't forget to replace the amount of time you're missing out on by going to sleep that much earlier. "Most people need between seven and nine hours to feel at their best, but some need more or less—whatever allows you to feel awake, alert, and focused during the day," said Stanley.
Before you go to bed, place a glass of water on your bedside table. When you wake up in the morning, sit up in bed and sip on the water until you finish the whole glass. Sitting up in bed and drinking water will help wake you up, as well as, increase your metabolism for the day. A study found that drinking water first thing in the morning will increase your metabolic rate by 30%.
After opening your eyes, getting your body moving is the next challenge. Jen Esquer, physical therapist and Pilates instructor in LA, recommends that you start stretching your body in bed right away. This will help wake up your mind and get your blood flowing. If you're like me and would likely fall back asleep doing yoga in bed, try getting out of bed and doing some stretches standing up.
"There's a reason we naturally want to stretch in the morning. Your body has been locked up and stiff all night. The connective tissue covering the muscles (fascia) is highly innervated and responds well to stretch and movement, making this a great way to jump-start movement for the day," said Jen.
POP A MINT
This is an easy step to help wake yourself up for the day. A study found that the smell of peppermint can boost mood and mental awareness. Another study found that ingesting peppermint can significantly improve your exercise performance. Leave a container of peppermints next to your bed and have one once you finish your water in the morning.
There's no rule that you have to go to the gym to workout. If you find it more convenient to workout at home, feel free to. Gymtimidation is real and if you're more comfortable doing a workout at home, that is completely fine! There are endless videos on Youtube of different workouts that you can follow. Short on time? Try a short, high-intensity workout. This will get your blood pumping and calories burning in a shorter amount of time.
MAKE YOUR BED
Some people, like myself, are already in the habit of making their bed every morning. For those of you who don't do this, you may want to reconsider. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their bed every morning get a good night's sleep more often than those who don't. It will take less than a minute to make and will help you feel more productive.
WIND DOWN BEFORE BED
What you do before bed will affect how easy it is for you to wake up. "Avoid bright light, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and exercise near bedtime. Make sure your sleep environment is dark, cool, and quiet," said Jocelyn Cheng, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center—Sleep Center. You should get yourself into the habit of turning off all of your electronic devices at least one hour before going to sleep. These small changes will have a strong, positive effect on your overall sleep.
PREP YOUR COFFEE
If you can't start your day without your coffee, prepare it the night before. If cold brew is your thing, make your coffee the night before and then pop it into your fridge overnight. If you prefer hot coffee, put the filter and coffee grounds in the machine the night before and set the timer so that the coffee is already made for you in the morning. This will help you save time. Getting out of bed will seem easier too when your coffee is already waiting for you when you wake up! If you're someone who can't start their day without breakfast, then prep that the night before too or grab a healthy protein cookie.
This tip is not for the fainthearted. Nike trainer, Joe Holder, recommends taking a quick, cold shower before exercising in the morning. There's no doubt that will wake you up. A less painful alternative could be to splash cold water on to your face to wake you up.
DO WORKOUTS YOU ENJOY
You will be more motivated and excited to get out of bed when you have fun exercises planned. Simple as that. Don't like lifting weights or running? Try taking a Zumba dance class or a spinning class. Make sure you also have a great playlist or podcast to listen to because that has the power to make or break workouts.
Once you have officially switched your wake-up time and have a new morning routine, keep it up! Even on your rest days, you should still stick to your usual workout wake-up time. It will make it so much easier on yourself once you have to workout again. Use that extra time in the morning to check some tasks off your to-do list or treat yourself and watch an episode in bed. Make it easier on yourself and create a workout schedule based on your fitness goals. This way you don't let your tired self make the decision as to whether today is a workout morning or Netflix morning.
In need of healthy snacks to fuel your workouts? The answer is here!