It is no secret, I wake up and am angry for no apparent reason. Examples of this: in high school my mom would try to joke with me before school, I told her “Mom, I know you think you’re funny, but in the morning you’re really not”. Boyfriend used to wake me up at 5:30am to drive him to work after I went to bed at 2:00am.. I would sulk in the car and go straight back home, curl up with The Bellah, and go to sleep. Knowing this, one would be surprised to know that less than 3 months later I began waking up and working out before work at 6am.
How did I accomplish this? Magic.
No, really it’s pretty simple. I’ll outline my steps to transition from Night Owl to Early Bird.
– Go to bed earlier. In the winter this is really easy because it is dark well before 7pm. The first two weeks are not fun, they’re terrible. Expect to lay in bed awake for at least an hour.
– Figure out how long you need to sleep to feel “refreshed” or “not terrible”. For me that’s 6-7 hours. Determine what time you will need to go to bed and wake up based on these factors.
– Set an alarm. Actually, set multiple alarms. Yes, sleep experts say no alarms, but it’ll probably be dark when you wake up so unless you have no obligations, alarms at least for back up…especially during the terrible two weeks. Also put your alarm on the other side of the room, so you HAVE to get up. – Less computer, tv, and electronic time. Don’t keep those things on your bed, don’t watch TV shows/movies you’ve never seen before to fall asleep. If you’re a light sleeper (I’m not) no music, no tv, silence your phone except alarms.
– Prior to bed plan your morning. So my morning: Alarms at 3:10, 3:20, 3:42 >> I usually get up on the first or second; grab giant water bottle (1.5L) & phone, head to kitchen; pour bowl of cereal + milk (I like mushy cereal) and drink water; pack lunch & snacks for work (I usually have left overs or precooked meals); brush hair, get dressed; sit down and eat breakfast (I usually catch up on facebook & instagram and get my mind wrapped around the fact that yes its not even 4am yet); I drink water and then drink my preworkout most mornings; brush my teeth; say bye to boyfriend and The Bellah; and drive to work/the gym.
– Give yourself a little extra time in the morning to “come to terms with being awake”. For me that’s when I eat my breakfast.
– A little caffeine, assuming you are healthy/tolerate caffeine well, can give you a little boost. Don’t abuse it. Aim for less frequency…the less you use regularly, the less you’ll need to feel the affect. No caffeine boost later in the day allowed. I only consume caffeine before 5am most days. (although when I worked 70 hour weeks I needed a second hit.. that doesn’t count though, most people don’t regularly work 16-18 hours in a day)
– Find time to get a work-out in. By waking up early, I make my workouts more efficient.. There is NO way I am waking up at 2 something so I can workout longer. I prioritize. Sometimes, I do just end up talking, but that’s okay…the point in the habit of waking up and getting there. (the gym is also my place of work so distractions do abound, but the convenience is huge).
– Eat before your work-out.. just something small if you aren’t an eater in the morning. I used to just eat 5-10 cashews or a 1/4-1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats…fruit is fine too. I’m on a cereal kick right now. The point is to eat some carbs before you work-out. That way you can work harder and your body has a little fuel. I eat again, something high and protein, after my workout. Research goes back and forth on fasted cardio, but I can tell you carbs make me happy…therefore I am happier to workout (happier being a relative term here, I’m not spewing sunshine and rainbows). If I am happier to workout I will stick to it and push harder. I choose carbs because they are readily digested, followed by fat, and then protein is the hardest to breakdown. (while nuts are high in fat, they do contain a decent amount of carbs and I just munched them while I got ready)
– If you have more time than I do, do small errands like the bank, paying bills, quick homework assignments, clean your car, and whatever else you can do, just get things done.
– Avoid time wasters: TV, lines at the bank, traffic, computers, etc. TV is easy, don’t turn it on until AFTER work/school or watch TV while you workout. Figure out peak times at places like the grocery store, pharmacy, and bank. I’ll help you out here:
+ Bank–first open hour, lunch, 1 hour before close, first Friday of the Month, Last Friday of the Month, 3rd of the month.
+ Grocery: evenings after work, 3rd of the month, first weekend of the month, near major family holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc). Weekend (especially Saturday).
+ Traffic: GET YOUR BUTT OUT OF BED BEFORE 6am. 3-6am has substantially less traffic than 7-10am. As for evening rush hour…either leave work before rush hour or after, if possible. If this isn’t possible begin testing different routes. If it’s bad all around, factor it in. If you rely on public transport use this time well..get things done like reading, finding recipes, emails, homework, plan workouts, just please don’t make phone calls.
– Precook lunch. This way you can eat healthier, save money, and avoid cooking in the morning. Actually, you could even precook a few meals for dinner to reduce temptation of fast food on the drive home.
– Create a bedtime routine, after a while just starting this routine will allow you to fall asleep easier. I eat dinner & watch a movie/tv with Boyfriend, and take a bath/shower. After that I typically go to bed. And yes I do eat in front of the TV, I just portion control my plate…after I finish the first I am usually too lazy to get up and get more food right away, then I realize I am full. Boyfriend goes to bed after me and usually finishes the movie, I go to sleep before it is over. (I’m also kind of a brat and don’t like it when he falls asleep first. haha)
Becoming a morning person is all about changing your routine.. That’s tough at first, but once your body acclimates it’ll be less painful. I still don’t wake up like lady Miss Sunshine but my routine allows me enough time to perk up. Figure out what will work best for you.