I Never Thought I Would Work Out In The Morning, But Here I Am

My mornings used to consist of sleeping until 10:00 AM, eating chocolate chip pancakes with strawberries and nuts with maple syrup on top while flipping through the comic section of The Boston Globe. I still do this, although only when I’m home because a) the pancakes are better and b) I don’t have a printed newspaper waiting for me at my doorstep every Sunday morning. However, I have recently been transformed into the person I used to envy and secretly hate: the morning workout person.

 

I used to save my ‘workout time’ for the late afternoon, around 4:00 or 5:00, as a midday break from studying and a way to build up an appetite before dinner, as well as, to justify eating three scoops of chocolate ice cream...and then three scoops of chocolate chips on top. What?! I deserved it! Lately though, my routine has changed. With the exception of Thursdays when I have class in the morning, I make the effort to wake up at 8:00 or 9:00 (depending on when the gym on campus is open) to fit in a good workout before starting my academic work.

 

I will tell you now ladies (and gentlemen), it ain’t always easy and it ain’t always pretty. But that’s life. Most mornings I wake up unable to move my limbs because I am so exhausted or my eyes are crusted over in goop. Or (my personal favorite) there is a nice little pond of drool beneath my mouth that has been growing into a lake over the course of the night. Most mornings I wake up wanting to stay in bed for another hour rather than getting out of bed, cramming my legs into a pair of leggings, and trekking across campus to the Athletic Center. It’s a haul. But in the end I am always thankful for pushing myself to take the time to sweat.

 

In his article fro Shape Magazine “Which is Better: A.M. vs P.M. Workouts,” Jay Cardiello breaks down the pros and cons of each workout time. He states that “it is easier for an individual to stay on track with a fitness regime first thing in the morning because there is less time for family, evening plans, commuting, late nights in the office, and other distractions to get in the way.” Getting your workout done first thing in the morning avoids intervention from outside influences such as meetings, phone calls, and homework that will derail your attention to hitting the gym. It can be hard to rationalize going to the gym for 50 minutes when you could just stay at your desk and finish a reading which if you are being honest with yourself doesn’t need to be done right this minute.

 

Afternoon workouts was my motivation throughout the day and a way of productively procrastinating work I was appalled by my best friend from home who would wake up at 6:00 AM in the morning to go to the gym before her job. Even on Sundays! The idea of getting up before the sun just to essentially conform to society’s expectations of fit women was not appealing to me. But this past winter break I crossed over to the dark (bright?) side.

 

I know this transformation may make me a hypocrite, but I am beginning to realize the pros of waking up early to work out. I am not going to lie when I say I miss sleeping in, but that’s what Spring Break is for! Now, I revel in not doing homework or checking my email first thing in the morning, but taking the time to listen to a podcast or music or watch a YouTube video while I run on the treadmill, go on the elliptical, spin, or lift some weights. This is a form of meditation that probably wouldn’t be approved by Buddhist monks, but I have tried real meditation and I can tell you right now, it’s not my strong suit. So, as a result I have formed my very own way of meditating and relaxing, and that is taking time for myself in the morning to go to the gym.

 

This is not an article about what gym routines you should carry out to achieve a flat tummy or the most intense Stairmaster workout that will reshape your entire body in under an hour. I do not have that information, but I do know that being active for at least 30 minutes a day is beneficial to your physical and mental health. Sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer or book, hunched over, and constantly stressed is not the way to spend your entire college career. Intead, you should carve time out of your day to be active. Whether this means going to the gym in the morning like me, or taking a walk, doing yoga, or going for a run around campus, remember that this time is for you and only you. It is hard not to compare yourself to others, especially at the gym when you are lifting 5 lb weights while the hockey player next to you is using the weight machines as dumbbells. To that hockey player I say: “give me a few months and maybe we can be on the same level.”

Meditation comes in all forms and sizes and happens at all times of the day. In an Instagram poll I posted on my story, 61% said they preferred working out in the morning. Others responded that while they prefer going to the gym in the morning, their work schedule is often the determinant factor. Working out in the morning has helped me become more motivated for the day ahead and deal with any stress inducers that may be thrown at me. Reflection paper due tomorrow? I got that. Ten emails to send out? No problem. Italian presentation tonight? Consider it done. Cardiello agrees, in his article he explains that “When a person starts her routine with exercise, she is typically setting herself up for a healthy domino effect throughout the day. Say, for example, you start the day at the gym. This is often followed by a healthy post-workout shake or snack and an increased water intake all morning long. Getting your workout in the morning makes it easier to incorporate a balanced breakfast into your schedule, setting you up for a day of healthy eating.” Don’t get me wrong, I still get stressed out and even working out for the entire morning wouldn’t solve that, but working out in the morning has become a form of self-care for me that doesn’t involve expensive face masks or laying on the floor trying to force my mind not to wander.

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