So this post is a bit more personal than what I usually post, but important to me so I thought I would share. I recently made an Instagram post about my life-changing experience of becoming a morning person, and more importantly, a morning exercise person. A friend commented on the post, wanting to know some tips about how I did this, so I thought I would write this post about my experience so far.
So at the end of last year I joined a gym. Nothing special, just your standard gym with cardio machines and a weights area. At the time, I was struggling quite a bit with fatigue/low in energy and was quite depressed at the time as well. Nothing in comparison to previous times in my life, but definitely a lot less happier than I knew I could be.
So after joining the gym, I started exercising after work. I would go to gym straight after work around 6:30/7:30pm, would be there til around 8:30ish and then had to go home make dinner then go back to sleep. After doing this for a few months I felt like I had no life and was either at work, gym, eating or sleeping. Contrary to what I hoped exercising a bit more would do, I found that it completely put my eating and sleeping patterns out of whack. I would end up going to bed around 10/11, wake up in a hurry in the morning, snoozing my alarm for as long as I could and giving myself about 20-30 minutes to get ready for work (makeup, shower, eat, pack everything). A pretty stressful morning. What's more, I was not consistent with my exercise patterns.I like to go to a lot of networking or professional development events (which were always at night) or sometimes see friends for dinner. I found exercising at night really restricting on my social life/professional development opportunities. So most of the time I would not go.
So I decided to change gyms (again, yes I know I now have three gym memberships, two which I am trying to get rid of), and joined Fitstop, a group-training gym that mainly focuses on HIIT (high intensity interval training) with some heavy weight days as well. At the time, I had never even thought to wake up early. But I thought I would give it a try, thinking that having someone else plan exercises for me would be a lot easier instead of trying to motivate myself at 5am to go for a run. So, I started going at 5am, waking up at 4:40am to get there on time. Now to be completely honest at the started it really sucked. Waking up at 4:40am is not fun, especially when you've never had to wake up that early before. To make it worse, the workouts were hard, so being pretty unfit at the time, I died every session and then I would be super sore when I woke up at 4:40am again the next day.
But IT GET'S BETTER! My body clock started to change, and I would go to bed at 9pm, and be easily able to wake up at 4:40am. My eating patterns improved, because I didn't have to eat and 9pm at night, so now I eat all my meals at relatively normal times. This also meant I wouldn' feel super sick and tired in the morning from eating late at night. I also made friends at my gym, this makes a huge difference because having people waiting for you makes you A LOT more accountable. I had more time in the morning - so I was able to enjoy my morning, watching the sun rise, eating my breakfast slowly and not in the car, and was able to walk my dog (and love of my life) Luna. Most importantly for me though, it improved my energy and my mood. My mood is the one thing that was especially amazing for me, it felt like my brain was completely rewired in a different way - I don't know how this happened, and I honestly haven't looked into the research behind it, but the difference is insane. One of the best outcomes above everything is that I am now able to see results - I am getting a lot stronger and fitter a lot faster than I used to, because of one main thing - CONSISTENCY.
So if you are struggling, like I was for many years. Here are a few of my top tips for getting started:
1. Find an exercise you like
I cannot stress that enough. I never was a person who LOVED exercise, I enjoyed it, and especially how it made me feel after. But I could never get past the dread of spending an hour at the gym and having to run on the treadmill. I am also extremely uncoordinated and run into walls frequently. Experiment with different activities. There are so many different things to try - HIIT, yoga, pilates, barre, swimming, running, hiking, rock climbing and plenty of others. The only way to find out what you enjoy, is to try.
2. Remember that waking up early is going to suck
But not forever! Changing your body clock is never fun. However after a while, your body get’s used to it! Prior to this I would go to bed around 10/11pm, and wake up around 7am (pressing snooze multiple times) and be tired, constantly. Now I wake up before my alarm at 4:40am and it’s super easy! It’s not always easy (especially after the weekend of sleeping in), but by far it is a lot easier now, than when I first started this new routine a few months ago.
3. Be consistent
Consistency is the key to everything. Whether it be trying to eat better or lose weight, you won’t lose 10kg from having one salad, just like you won’t get fit after one gym session. Getting there every day, and working hard every day with sweat and the (occasional - but don't recommend) vomit when the session is too hard will get you results. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like fad diet's don't work, 1 -2 weeks of exercise won't change much either.
4. Enjoy your mornings and appreciate the beautiful earth!
Waking up earlier now allows me to have a whole hour before I have to leave for work (I previously had a rushed 20 minutes). I now can walk my dog after gym, get some well needed vitamin D, have a nice coffee, sit down and enjoy my breakfast, and write my ebook/reply to emails. All before 7am.
5. Make some friends - and have an accountability partner
This is also a key factor. Getting up and going to gym when you have no one there waiting for you relies on a lot of self-motivation. Having a friend or partner that goes to gym with you keeps you a lot more accountable because a) you don’t want to let them down b) you want to see your friends and c) they push you harder during the session.
6. Set goals that are achievable - and don’t make them weight related.
Set small goals every week that are measurable and realistic to achieve. Do not just set them around weight loss. Set them around your eating habits (like eating slower, drinking more water or having 2 pieces of fruit per day) or exercise habits (10 chin ups or 5 full push ups). Do not define yourself by the weight on the scale. That is just one measure and not the best measure measure of health and fitness.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me - let me know how you go by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me on Instagram @plantnutritionwellness.
Kiah Paetz is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and founder of Plant Nutrition and Wellness. She operates her private practice clinic at North Lakes, Carseldine and Hamilton and offers online consultations via Skype/Facetime. For bookings, please call 3040 6911 or contact email@example.com