Fortunately, there are probably as many so-called diet plans out there as there are ways that you can exercise, so ultimately, it boils down to you finding your best “fit.” What works for you may not work so well, if at all, for another person. If, for example, you hate spending hours on the elliptical, then you will probably not be enthusiastic to go to the gym each day to get your workout in. Find something that you love doing -- take risks! Experiment! There are so many options out there! -- and it’ll make your life so much easier (and probably, happier).
While there is value to my recommendations above, it’s also important to note that for some people -- scratch that, a lot of people -- it’s really hard to get started with some type of exercise routine. A lot of people have mental scars from PE classes growing up, where they were forced to do things they absolutely hated at the time, and they’ve grown up with a narrative that dictates that they’ll never be _________ in their lives. The good thing, of course, is that you don’t have to run tons of miles, or swim lots of laps, or lift god-awful heavy weights all the time to be healthy and to get your weight under control. That is to say, you can exercise in all manner of ways, and your waistline will still confer the benefits of your movement. Again: you just have to find what you enjoy doing most because, simply put, it’ll be that activity that will help you to ultimately be more successful in your endeavors.
Similarly, the time of day you work-out isn’t as important as some people might make you believe. The best time of day you should exercise is the time that you’re most likely to stick with it, and studies have shown that for most people, their resolve, self-control, and drive are highest in the morning, making it an ideal time for them to work-out. Logistically, too, morning workouts seem to make the most sense when you’ve got a packed day and night schedule with career and family obligations.
Below, I’ll describe some tips that’ll help you become a morning exerciser for good. More than anything, please be patient with yourself and give yourself the opportunity to at least try this new-to-you thing. Don’t expect success overnight, but instead, expect it to come slowly, a day at a time.
- Get your alarms in order. Perhaps it’s not even worth mentioning because it’s so obvious, but if you’re not used to already waking up really early each day, you’ll need to use at least one, maybe multiple, alarms to get you up and moving in the morning. Remember to set it for the correct time, too -- AM, not PM -- or else you’ll miss your workout opportunity (I’ve done that before!). You may even want to put your alarm far away from your bed so you can’t easily slap it off mid-snooze, too.
- Put it all out the night before. Don’t waste time in the morning scrambling around for your shoes and gear; instead, lay everything out at night, before you get into bed, so you can easily wake up, get dressed, and get going. Make sure all your devices are charged, your keys are readily accessible, your pre- and post-workout fuel is ready (including your coffee!), and make your morning routine as idiot-proof as possible. Streamlining everything is key here just because the minutes you spend in the morning looking for errant socks or shoes are minutes that you’ll have to eliminate from your workout, which isn’t ideal.
- Go to bed. Really. Once you’re in bed, wind down with a book. Skip “just checking” social media because ultimately, it’s just a huge timesuck. If you’re waking up earlier than ever before, you need the extra sleep.
- In the morning, anticipate that the first few days will suck. If you’re not used to the early morning wakeups, expect that the first few days will not feel so great, and you may even wonder why you’re doing this in the first place. Relax! You’ll be fine! The first few times we do anything usually don’t feel that great, but in time, our bodies and our minds acclimate, and we are able to basically go through our routines on autopilot. You probably don’t think about brushing your teeth each day, right? It’s just something that you do. Believe it or not, the same goes for exercising in the morning. In time, it’ll become such a part of your ritual that you won’t have to think twice about it. In fact, not doing it will feel more foreign than actually doing it. (True story!) You’ll get there; just give yourself time.
- Get a buddy. Having a friend meet you to exercise in the early morning will be a great way for you to not only cultivate your relationship, but you and your friend will also act as great accountability buddies to each other. You don’t want to be the jerk that stands up your friend for a 6am kickboxing class, right? Even if your friend is your dog who looks forward to a morning run, having company can be the difference between doing a workout and bagging it entirely. Plus, there’s the safety in numbers component, particularly if you’re running or walking outside in the early dark hours.
- Don’t waste time in the morning; get up and get going. When your alarm sounds, move it. Don’t think that two more minutes of sleep is going to make you feel that much more rested (it won’t) or that you can quickly look at social media and emails and then get going (you’ll lose 20+ minutes right there). Instead, get up when your alarm sounds, and get ready to roll. Check the weather if you must, but otherwise, it can all wait until after you’ve rocked your morning sweat sesh.
- Do what makes you happy. This final tip is really the most important. If you’re exercising to help you lose weight or to help you maintain your weight, the exercise that you’re most likely to do over and over again is the one that you actually enjoy doing. If you hate running, don’t make yourself run! If you hate swimming, don’t think that one day you’ll magically wake up and become a mermaid who swims for hours on end. While there is certainly a ton of value to mixing things up from time to time, and to trying things that you thought you never really liked, at least when you’re first getting started in your morning exercise routine, give yourself some permission to do the stuff you like doing. You may even consider working with a fitness professional, like a personal trainer, who can help guide you in your exercise routine and ensure that you’re meeting your weight loss/weight maintenance health and fitness goals.
It takes time and energy to become someone who regularly exercises each morning, just as it also takes concerted time and energy to lose weight, to maintain weight, and to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s immensely gratifying to empower yourself to do something that you love each day and to ultimately take care of yourself, of your body, so that you can be the very best version of yourself as possible. Give yourself the opportunity to try, and I bet you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
Writer's Bio: Dan Chabert
An entrepreneur and a husband, Dan hails from Copenhagen, Denmark. He loves to join ultramarathon races and travel to popular running destinations together with his wife. During regular days, he manages his websites, Runnerclick, That Sweet Gift, Nicershoes and GearWeAre. Dan has also been featured in several popular running blogs across the world.