You know you should exercise. You know it would help you feel good about yourself, improve your mood, and increase your energy levels. And you could really use some extra energy to chase after your kids all day.
But when you’re a mom, it can be hard to find the time to exercise. Come on—some days, it can be hard to find time to sleep or use the bathroom, let alone work out. And when you make the time, you’re interrupted by crying or nagging requests for snacks. So, how do we get around these roadblocks?
The answer: Work out in the morning before everyone else wakes up.
Ugh. I know, I hate mornings too.
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Although 3 years ago, I wrote a post called “How and Why I Became a Morning Person,” I would not call myself a “morning person.” I’m more of a “sleep” person, meaning that if I were asked for my Top 5 Favorite Activities, sleep would make that list.
I’m not sure how you define “morning person” actually, but if it means someone who is at their best in the morning and finds it easy to wake up early— then no, I’m not that.
I’m proud to say, however, that despite my natural affinity to sleep in, I wake up early almost every day to work out. If I can do it, so can you.
So, Why Exercise in the Morning?
I choose to check my workout off my list first thing because it makes the rest of my day more productive. My workouts are non-negotiable, so if I don’t do them early, they end up taking time away from the rest of my day.
I have about a million other things fighting for my attention (what mom doesn’t?) and I don’t allow my daily workout to fall into that battle.
Not to mention, my routine helps me beat the morning blues, increases my energy, and helps me take better care of myself the rest of the day. If I think about how much I busted my butt that morning, I’m more likely to say “no” to the donuts in the kitchen.
You might be thinking that the only time you have is after work or after the kids are in bed. You do you, Boo. The best time to work out is unquestionably WHENEVER YOU’LL GET IT DONE.
That being said, I have experimented with different timings in my own life and I’ve found that first thing in the morning is, without a doubt, the best time.
How to Wake Up and Get Moving
So, the big question is: How do you make waking up easier? Here are my foolproof tips to help anyone become an early morning exerciser.
1. Put your phone or alarm clock across the room.
Like most people, I use my phone as my alarm clock. I keep it in the bathroom attached to my bedroom overnight so that it’s close enough that I can hear it in the morning but I’m forced to get out of bed to turn it off. I have to be quick, otherwise, I risk waking up the munchkins. No good. Forcing yourself to get out of bed quickly removes the temptation to hit snooze. Once you’re up, you’re more likely to stay up.
2. If you’re worried, set a backup alarm.
I used to constantly hit the snooze button. Or worse, oversleep and never hear my alarm clock in the first place. So, I bought a “backup” alarm clock. I recommend getting an old school, analog twin bell clock— the kind that will have you feeling like there might be a fire in your high school, until you gain enough consciousness to recognize that you’re in your bedroom and it’s just this stupid alarm clock again (oh, and you haven’t been in high school for over 10 years).
You can find a cheap one on Amazon here. Set your backup alarm to 5 or 10 minutes after your first. After a few weeks of setting this clock, I was jumping up ferociously just to avoid hearing it.
3. Try the 5 Second Rule.
If the alarm clock thing just doesn’t cut it, try Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. Basically, you give yourself a countdown to action. As you’re lying in bed, contemplating existence, start counting down “5-4-3-2-1” and then GET UP! No excuses, no deals with yourself. When you get to 0, UP!
4. Sleep in your workout clothes.
Sleeping in your workout clothes might seem strange, but it works. If you know that you’re going to have a hard time getting up, suit up in your comfiest workout gear before bed. That way, you’ll have one less thing to think about in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to excuse myself from my workout and sleep in, only to think “But I’m already dressed for it.” And that silly little fact is enough to get me moving.
If you can’t fathom sleeping in a sports bra, fine. Just make sure you have it set out the night before.
5. Find a pre-workout drink that you love.
I would never be able to get through my morning workouts without my pre-workout drink. OK, maybe I could, but I would probably hate everything until about halfway through.
Maybe you have one that you love already. If you haven’t, then find one. I am obsessed with Beachbody’s Energize. It’s amazing— I love the taste, it gets me moving quickly, and I don’t feel itchy or jittery at all. You can also check out your local GNC and try a few to figure out what you like.
6. Know what workout you’re doing in advance.
I always know what workout I’m going to do the next day. It’s something I don’t have to think about because I follow calendars that come with my home workouts.
Whether you exercise at home or at a gym, plan it out. Don’t go into your workout with no clue what you should be doing. And (at least if you’re anything like me) definitely don’t leave it up to how you feel that day.
I would do yoga every day if I went this route (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I need more variety). I certainly would never be doing cardio, because there is never a time that I “feel” like doing cardio.
Even when I was running, I always knew what the next day’s run was going to look like. I used the “Couch to 5K” app when I was starting out. Then I moved on to a more advanced plan, which was simply a calendar that I found on Pinterest.
Follow a calendar, get a coach or a personal trainer, or get an app— no matter what you do, get a plan and stick to it.
7. Go to bed early!
This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. It’s crucial that you get enough sleep (insert the mom sarcastic laugh here). OK, I’ll rephrase—do your best to get enough sleep. Start by going to bed as early as possible. You may be up multiple times a night, but you can still try to get to bed earlier.
8. Set your mind to waking up early and getting it done!
When you’re going to bed, don’t be wishy-washy about getting up early the next day. If you think “I’ll see how I feel,” you’re not going to get up. You need to make the decision that “I am waking up early tomorrow and I’m crushing that workout!” Your morning self may try to argue, but remember, you made the decision—you’re doing this!
9. Give yourself plenty of extra time.
If you plan to do a 30-minute workout the next day, don’t set your alarm only a half an hour earlier. Give yourself an hour. This allows for accidental snoozing or some slow moving on a particularly tough morning.
I have found that the best routine for me is to turn off my alarm right away (no snoozing!) and brush my teeth. Since my phone is in the bathroom, this part is pretty easy.
Then I grab my workout clothes (if I’m not wearing them already) and head downstairs. Next, I drink my pre-workout while I read the Bible or something motivational. I don’t look at my phone, because that’ll easily distract me and waste time. I keep an eye on the clock though, and I know when I need to start my workout. Since my goal is to finish every day by 7, I usually start around 6:15.
10. Get an accountability buddy.
You are 100x more likely to succeed at this if you have someone to be accountable to (OK, I made the stat up, but I’m pretty sure it’s close to 100x). The “morning you” will have all kinds of cool reasons why you don’t really need to get up, how you need the extra sleep, how you can workout later, how you don’t really care about losing weight anyway, etc etc.
BUT, if you have someone to be accountable to, someone you’re meeting at the gym or texting that you are, in fact, up and at ‘em, then you will get up.
You could find one friend or get a group together on social media. I love having a support group on Facebook. Your spouse can also be your accountability. Or if you’re doing a program that offers a free coach or trainer, take them up on that offer! Beachbody offers free coaches for home workouts and some gyms offer personal trainers as part of your membership.
If you’ve tried to start the habit of waking up early in the past and failed, then you definitely need to get some accountability in place. It doesn’t matter what form it takes. If you’re serious about succeeding this time (you are, aren’t you?), why not set yourself up for success?
11. Don’t let one bad day throw you off track.
Spoiler alert: You’re going to sleep in sometimes. When it happens, brush it off, and try again the next morning. Someone much wiser than me once said, “The path to success is paved with failure.” Don’t let a slip up discourage you. It happens to everyone.
12. Keep at it until it becomes a habit.
Waking up early is going to be painful at first. Literally. Give it time. It gets easier.
Eventually, waking up early will become a habit and you won’t have to try so hard. Won’t that be nice? That doesn’t mean there won’t be days that you mess up and oversleep, but it won’t be as common because your body will be adjusted to its new wake up time.
Experts disagree about how long it takes to form a habit. Some say 21 days, some say 30, while others insist it’s over 60. In a study done at University London College, it took most people 66 days (although for some it took as long as 8 months). I can’t tell you exactly when it’ll get easier, but I promise you that it will. Keep at it. ♥
To read more about the power of a morning routine, check out The Miracle Morning.
To read more about Mel Robbin’s 5-4-3-2-1 countdown, check out her book The 5 Second Rule.
If you’re interested in some amazing workouts that you can do at home, check out Beachbody on Demand. You can get a year’s access to thousands of workouts for $99.
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