Like some of you, I live in my workout clothes (even more so the last few years). As someone who works from home, I have the luxury of sneaking in a workout during the day.
Sometimes I work out after I drop my son off at school while other times, I jump on a live Peloton class around lunchtime. I’ve exercised as late as 10 pm and yet despite my best intentions, I’ve also failed to get a workout in at all.
My only regret is that I wish I switched to early morning workouts sooner. This is what happened when I started waking up at 5:30 am to exercise.
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- 12 Things I Noticed When I Started Working Out Early:
- 1. Drink More Water
- 2. Make Healthier Eating Choices
- 3. Consistency
- 4. Better Sleep
- 5. Longer Workouts
- 6. More Varied Workouts
- 7. More Energy
- 8. Greater Focus
- 9. More Productive
- 10. Feeling Accomplished
- 11. More Confidence
- 12. Connecting With Friends More Often
- 13. Better Mom and Wife
- Final Thoughts
12 Things I Noticed When I Started Working Out Early:
1. Drink More Water
I struggle to drink enough water throughout the day. When I exercise early in the morning, I’ve already consumed an entire 20 ounces of water by 6:30 am. This keeps me on track for the rest of the day.
Many days, the only thing I drink is coffee until my workout. This means that if I don’t work out until the afternoon, that’s when I have my first bottle of water for the day. You know what this means. I start drinking water way too late in the day to meet my hydration goal and I’m up all night running to the bathroom. I value my sleep too much.
2. Make Healthier Eating Choices
Now that I begin my day on a positive note, I want to continue making healthy choices.
I’m refilling my water bottle more often and realize that many times when I think I’m hungry, I’m actually thirsty. I eat fewer snacks and plan my meals more. I don’t want to sabotage my healthy wins for the day by succumbing to unnecessary calories or boredom eating.
Except for the weekends when I allow myself to sleep in, I do not skip an early morning workout. Out of all the plans, goals, and challenges I’ve created for myself, this by far has been the easiest to implement and maintain.
I think this is true because the ROI is so high. Sure, I may want to stay in bed while it’s still dark outside but the benefits so outweigh everything else.
4. Better Sleep
I’m not even getting less sleep. I’m actually getting the same amount or maybe even more sleep than before.
I’m a night owl. I cannot fall asleep before midnight. And if I do, I’m up for hours in the middle of the night. I now fall asleep closer to 11 or 11:30 pm and often wake up a few minutes before my alarm!
My new nighttime routine includes listening to a sleep meditation on my phone for 5 to 10-minutes. This really helps me to fall asleep quicker.
5. Longer Workouts
Rather than simply squeezing in a workout when I find a free minute, waking up early gives me the ability to set more time aside for working out. Every morning, I have at least an hour with nothing to do but exercise.
6. More Varied Workouts
On a related note, having more time to work out allows me to vary the types of classes I take. For example, when normally I only had time for a 20 or 30-minute class, I now have another 5 or 10 minutes to stretch, do strength training, or even do a short yoga class. All this variety in under an hour.
7. More Energy
You would think the opposite would be true but I for sure have more energy. I don’t have the same mental slump that I used to feel midday. I’m even drinking fewer cups of coffee.
Granted, I do feel more sluggish when I begin my workouts but I believe it’s mainly because I haven’t had any coffee yet. After a few minutes, I feel the adrenaline kick in.
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8. Greater Focus
Perhaps because I physically have more time in my day, I can spend more time on more items on my to-do list. And I don’t feel so scattered. I can actually see tasks through to completion.
I have more time to give things, kids and animals included, the attention they need.
9. More Productive
When I get really engrossed in something, I find that something else suffered. I posted a funny meme a few years ago, “It’s either me or the house. We both can’t look good at the same time.”
Yet, I’m getting more housework done, more work done, and even getting to those little chores I always put off.
Part of it may have to do with one of my favorite sayings, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.” I’ve taken up more work lately (for example, launched a second site, started freelancing, and doing Amazon Lives) than usual, and still not feeling (entirely) overwhelmed.
10. Feeling Accomplished
With all that productivity, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Waking up early takes self-discipline, something that I don’t always have.
For the first time in a long while, I feel like I can handle more of what life throws at me. And, I’m finding more opportunities to challenge myself both physically and mentally, and feeling great about it all.
I don’t work out to lose weight. I work out to stay strong, fit, healthy, and to be an example to my kids. I love this Peloton quote by Emma Lovewell, “Work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.”
However, when I don’t work out, I feel like I’ve let my body down. So knowing that I’ve checked that off my list before even sitting for my morning coffee feels pretty damn good!
11. More Confidence
Back to what I just said, it’s not the physical transformations from exercise that I’m focusing on, it’s the mental transformation for me. That said, there is a physical transformation that occurs every single day since I switched to early morning workouts.
When you are self-employed and work from a home office, you don’t need to put much effort into your physical appearance. Before my new routine, I’d wear my sports bra, sweatshirt, and leggings the entire day. I never wore makeup, and I twisted my hair into a messy bun. This has been my uniform for the last few years.
I made a comment to my friend that whenever I see her, she looks put together. I’m not talking about over-the-top put-together. I mean that she’s wearing real clothes, a little bit of makeup, and doesn’t look like she’s rolled out of bed as I do. She told me that she has a rule. No matter what, she has to get dressed and put on some makeup by noon.
Now, I’m showered, in real clothes, hair done, and even wearing makeup by 7:30 am!
12. Connecting With Friends More Often
One of my best friends also has a Peloton. We’re in two different time zones and find it hard to connect due to our busy lives. Now, a few times per week, we take a ride together. Not only do we motivate each other but we also check in with each other much more throughout the week.
Also, since I do miraculously seem to have more time in my day, I don’t feel as guilty spending some time catching up on the phone with an old friend or meeting a local friend for lunch.
13. Better Mom and Wife
I know this sounds like a ridiculous statement but my family has noticed the change in me and it’s well-received.
I’m definitely snippety and short with everyone when I don’t get a chance to exercise. When I’m in an especially bad mood, my kids notice and will ask me if I’ve worked out yet. They know.
I’m a happier, less grumpy person today. Maybe it’s because I’m not always internally scheduling my next workout. Or resentful when my kids’ activities get in the way of my me-time.
I’ve completed my workout before my family members even get out of bed.
I’m cooking more, spending more time with my kids and husband, and generally, just a more patient and relaxed person.
I know this article seems like a lot of overpromising and overarching statements, but it’s all true. I cannot believe how many things in my life fell into place all by changing my morning routine.
And, I realize that to many of you, 5:30 is not early enough. Or you have little children who wake up repeatedly through the night and you’re exhausted.
I’ve been there. I worked as New York City teacher and had an hour-plus commute. I also had babies who never napped or slept through the night no matter what I tried. In fact, my daughter and husband both have real sleep issues that affect me to this day.
I’m not saying this will work for you. But if you can try to do this, maybe even at a different stage in your life, I highly recommend this change.
I’m interested. For those of you who exercise regularly, what time works best for you? Let me know in the comments.
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Michelle Platt is a content creator and certified personal trainer. Proving it’s never to late to reinvent yourself, she’s a former attorney and teacher who loves to do the research so you don’t have to. She takes a deep dive into each topic and writes about her wellness journey here. She loves trying out new workouts, fitness tips, healthy foods, and products to share with you. This native New Yorker recently made the move to the suburbs of Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.