While chatting with a friend recently she mentioned a decision to set her alarm and get up early three days a week for yoga before work. For most people finding time to exercise is a challenge, for a single parent like my friend it’s very nearly impossible, so I was impressed with both her drive and dedication.
As I have countless times over the years I thought about how early morning workouts are impossible for me, since I already get up at 6:15AM to get on the road to work by 6:40AM. This means that my workouts occur after work and before my shower and bedtime – I have my morning routine streamlined down to a 25 minute science.
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of difficulty squeezing the workout in. I have a long commute and if it’s made longer by traffic I get home stressed and de-motivated. Or I get home very hungry and when Ted arrives interested solely in food it’s very easy to say to myself, “well – I have to feed him!” and get right to work on cooking, skipping the workout in the process. Suffice to say, once dinner is made, eaten, and cleaned up – I’m not doing anything but flopping on the sofa until bedtime. As a result my workouts have dropped lately to about three times a week, which may sound good but is entirely insufficient to remove weight from my particular body.
So I did it. I started getting up at 5:15AM and working out before a shower and the morning office departure.
I admit the first day was a bit of a shock, and since I spent the morning dragging around my office like a gigantic limp noodle I’m going to say that stories about having, “abundant energy all day!” after an ass-crack of dawn workout do not appear to hold true in my case.
However there are some really awesome benefits:
1) Regardless of how my day goes, my required workout is done by 6:15AM. Mission accomplished. Even if I’m busy/exhausted/ravenously hungry after work I already have the day’s exercise in the bag. The feeling of satisfaction knowing that is really nice.
2) It sets me up for a good day nutritionally, allowing me to say, “I already worked out today – I’m not going to spoil it by eating that junk.”
3) Although not energized, I’ve noticed that I do feel really relaxed and groovy. Morning traffic and office politics seem to bother me less with the post-workout endorphins buoying my mood.
4) If I do exercise after work, it’s a bonus workout!
5) The evening of my first early morning workout I was soundly, restfully asleep by 10:30PM.
6) Statistics prove that hyper motivated, annoying, morning-maniac exercisers have a higher success rate of following through with sustained weight loss. Probably for some of the reasons listed above.
Since our stomachs are relatively empty upon waking, some scientists suggest that kicking up the calorie burn on an empty tank forces the metabolism to dig into fat stores for energy, upping the amount of fat lost during a pre-breakfast burn. Others insist that the metabolism goes straight for our muscles, damaging them when there’s no food to burn and slowing our weight loss efforts.
The only thing everyone agrees on is that you should probably workout when it’s best for YOU, when you will consistently get it done.
So far I’m really liking my solitary, uninterrupted morning time to greet the rising sun.