Mornings, how I love thee. There is no time in my day that is more serene than just after the sun has come up and everything is peaceful and quiet – though nature gets brownie points if there are birds chirping (and mega points taken off if there is snow…just saying). I haven’t always been a morning person, though. In fact, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a night-owl if left to my own devices. I know you’re probably thinking “But wait – you just said you’re a morning person!?!”. Let me explain.
In high school and university, if I didn’t have somewhere to be early in the morning, I would stay up as late as possible. I remember when my house shared 1 PC and I would make a ‘to read’ list of things I wanted to research on the internet once everyone went to bed. I would stay up until 3am reading about
world events the Backstreet Boys. By the way, staying up late makes you HUNGRY! No wonder I was obese. The problem with my nasty habit of staying up late was that I couldn’t manage to sleep in, no matter how I tried…which meant I was just tired ALL THE TIME.
I didn’t really transition from night-owl to morning-lark until I was about 6 months into 9-5 life, but once I made the switch, I never looked back. I get asked a lot how I started to love mornings, so here are some tips to help you make a habit of waking up earlier and not hate your life in the process
- The Slow Creep
It’s probably unrealistic to expect that after a lifetime of waking up ten minutes before you need to be out the door, you’ll suddenly spring out of bed, throw on your running shoes and knock out 5k. Instead, I always suggest people start by setting their alarm 5 minutes earlier than normal, and keep going in tiny increments week by week until you’re waking up an hour earlier (or however much earlier you’d like). The important thing here is consistency. I’ve found that people who decide to workout at 6am twice a week but sleep in the other three weekdays struggle waaaay more with waking up and lacking energy than those who make it a daily habit.
If you’re a real ‘rip the bandaid’ type person, you can try just getting up an hour earlier for a week. Some people do best with sweeping gestures, so if you know that you’re the go-big-or-go-home type, maybe it’s worth trying to suffer through a few sleepy days to shift your clock faster.
- Set Some Bait
Brainstorm some things that you can do/enjoy with all of your newfound morning time. Brownie points if these are things you wouldn’t normally do at night because then you’re not just shuffling things around, you’re actually adding productive things to your day. Some ideas here could be:
* Read that book that’s laying under an inch of dust on your bookshelf
* Go for a walk. For extra motivation, see if you can find a friend who is also wanting to take advantage of mornings and arrange to meet up and go for a walk together. Friend time and exercise? Check. Check.
* Make a delicious healthy breakfast
* Prepare some things for dinner that night so you have more time when you get home from work (double win!)
* Take a class at your gym that you’ve heard is great but always miss out on because you’re snoozing.
* Clean. I know this sounds torturous but trust me – you will feel so satisfied when you come home at the end of the day and your house is glistening!
I remember the first time I EVER worked out before work/class. A friend from work invited me to meet her at 7am (ungodly at the time) for a spin class that she heard was fabulous at the GoodLife Fitness near our workplace. I had been having a hard time making it to the gym after work, given the adjustment to my new 9-5 job and the brutal winter weather, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I showed up to that class, yawning and wondering what the @(*@$& I was thinking when I’d agreed to do a spin class at 7am…and my friend slept through her alarm and never showed up. But what do you know – I did the class, LOVED the feeling of having burned 450 calories by 8am, and was delighted at 3pm when I thought the usual “urrrghhhh I have to go to the gym” and then realized that I had already been.
- Burn a One-Ended Candle
I used to say that I wasn’t a morning person because I always felt sleepy when I woke up early. Well, it turns out I felt sleepy when I woke up early because I was staying up later than I should have. Say what? The morning wasn’t making me sleepy…the lack of sleep was. Insert *face palm* here. Once I started making an effort to get to bed earlier – just a 1/2 hour at first, and then eventually a couple hours – I realized that the mornings weren’t the enemy. In fact, they were AMAZING! I was won over pretty quickly by the sense of tranquility and calmness that you’ll find at 6am just about anywhere you go…except maybe Ibiza. Or a Full Moon Party. I digress.
- Treat Yo’ Self
Offer yourself a reward for waking up earlier. Tell yourself that if you wake up earlier every day for a week, you’ll get a massage on Saturday morning, or have pancakes, or get a pedicure. Eventually (and I can almost guarantee this) waking up early will be its own reward. Or hey, get a dog. I hear they’re great at ‘persuading’ people to wake up earlier ;)
So there you have it. A few tips to help you make the most of mornings. This habit, by the way, is a bajillion times easier to implement in the summer months when the sun rises at 5am and sets at 9 (just in time for bed, amiright?!). For myself, sleeping late feels like wasting precious summer sounds and sunshine, so I make early rises a priority. Give it a try!
* This post was written in contribution to the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program*