By this point in the day (10am EST), I've typically spent an hour at the gym, eaten breakfast, and showered. Two years ago, that would have been a joke.
My sleep cycles have definitely changed as I've become more of a crotchety old person and less of a college student, but even though I enjoy getting up around 8:30 nowadays, that doesn't mean I'm usually egging to stumble out of bed into my workout clothes and down the stairs to the gym. Ever since forcing myself to get my ass on the elliptical in the early hours, though, I haven't been able to stop.
My schedule at Bryn Mawr is pretty demanding, even now, as a senior, when most of my work is done independently. I can expect to be working (either in class or self-supervised) an average of 6-7 hours a day. Directly after class or a few hours in the library, I'm usually on my way to rehearsal, which can fluctuate in intensity and time commitment. There are little pockets in there where I used to try to fit in workouts (before dinner, between classes, after rehearsal), but I was always pretty low energy by the time I got to the gym. I also ran into the pesky problem of needing to bring clothes with me, needing to freshen up before going out again, and never really falling into a routine.
Routine is really big with exercise. Once you've established your exercise schedule, there's definitely some amount of self-deprecating guilt you assign to yourself when you skip. But it's not only the guilt that keeps me waking up early every day; I just feel good after I go to the gym. I don't know if it's the fact that I feel some sense of accomplishment, or just physiological reasons alone (you know, getting oxygen pumping throughout my body, increasing my metabolism, yada yada), but when I don't do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day (the bare minimum and base of my workout), I'm a low energy, grumpy lady.
Something that is a little tricky for me with morning workouts is what to eat before and after, but I've gradually worked out foods for pre and post workout consumption that will both energize me help my muscles recover.*
For some people a morning workout might be a little difficult to get into at first, but it has really changed my lifestyle entirely. Now that the first thing I accomplish every day is my workout, not only does the threat of it hanging over my head as the day goes on disappear, but I'm left energized and ready to accomplish whatever else the day brings. Morning workouts are also proven to
speed up your metabolism
help your body regulate its circadian rhythm (that annoying little guy who tells you when to go to sleep and wakes you up around the same time every day)
burn more stored calories than workouts done later in the day (since you're coming off 8 hours [mostly] without food, your body taps into fat reserves to fuel your workout)
help you get to sleep more quickly at night
Try out a morning workout this week and see if you feel a difference- for me it was the difference between working out and not. It could do even better for you.
*I'm going to detail eating around workouts in a later post, so stay tuned!