How I became one of those obnoxious “6am workout” persons
I have never been one to live an active lifestyle. I am 25 years old, grew up in a household with two working parents, have an older sister and was told from a very young age that academics mattered more than sports or arts.
Sports were activities reserved for the summer, in that sense, I have practiced soccer, basketball, tennis, table tennis, ran track, I took swimming and for a brief period of time I was able to balance myself on a skateboard which is now collecting dust in a corner of my bedroom. My life revolved, and in a way still does, over books and good greats; being “fit” or even active was never a priority and since no one pushed it on me I found myself not caring for it.
Between the years of 2008, when I ran my first 10k race, and the year 2013, when I ran my last 10k, I would go out for a run every now and then. I’d call myself a runner when somebody asked but never quite believed I was, I was only good at faking being a runner because being an actual one took too much effort.
“I just don’t have the time anymore”
I told myself that excuse over and over again all through November 2014. I told myself that I didn’t have the time to train every time a race was coming up or I felt heavier or just unhealthy. And then, on December (which is probably the worst time of the year to get into fitness because of the holidays) I joined the gym… which was fun until I realized that once my break was over, I’d have to either go to the gym before work or after work.
So this is what happened, I went to the gym after work one time and decided that it wasn’t for me: the option of staying at home was too tempting, I had even more excuses to miss the gym because I was “tired after work” and thought “about how crowded it was”, specially for “a newbie like me, I’m going to look ridiculous”. So that left option 2: Waking up at 5:30am to hit the gym from 6 to 7:30 in the morning, something that I thought would never work for me but here I am, a year later, telling my story.
So, how did it happen? What switch did I turn on to be able to go to the gym Monday through Saturday at an ungodly hour of the morning? Well, I had to rewire my life.
I learned that sleep isn’t overrated. If you want to make it not only through your morning workout but also through the day - hopefully without snapping at someone - you need to head to bed early. Aim to get at least seven hours of sleep and go to bed with the idea that you’ll work out early the next day; believe me, after a few weeks you will eventually think about it without dread.
Also, it turns out that eating right really is key. Working out in the morning will give you a boost until about midday, when you realize you’re starving because you’ve been awake and running around for about 6 hours. Yes, you could go for that cheeseburger but a) why throw away that workout and b) if you eat badly, you’ll feel like crap.
Another thing that helped me commit to my routine was thinking of my main goal: I wanted to feel fit; I did not want to look skinny, I was not aiming to being able to lift a cow over my head, I wanted to feel good. So when I had to pass on a party or go to bed at a time when my younger cousins were still allowed to stay up, I thought of why I was doing it. A tip: do it for yourself. Do it because you want to prove to yourself that you can, because you want to prove yourself wrong, because you want to look good when you step out of the shower and no one is looking… looking good in front of others will just be an added bonus from the boost in self confidence.
Finally, all those places that say that it takes 21 days to build a habit might be right but they might also be wrong. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll master the art of waking up early to workout in x amount of time; there will be days in which you’ll still have to literally drag yourself out of bed at 5:30am even if you went to sleep early, ate right and your goal still motivates you. But guess what, someday your alarm will go off after a bad night of sleep or after a late night drinking with friends or when you’re feeling down and it’s still dark outside and you’ll get up without hitting the snooze button and you’ll get changed and lace your trainers and you’ll know that you made it, that you joined the club of the obnoxious 6am work out people.
And if you don’t… remember that some people actually function better at night. I’m just not one of those people.