My Failed Morning Workout Experiment
For years I have envied those who are morning worker-outers. The thought of starting my day with a workout and then not having to worry about it for the remainder of the day is really appealing to me.
And from what I can tell about all the recommendations to make working out a morning habit, it sounds like it’s appealing to a lot of people.
I even used to be one of those people (sort of) – I was getting up at 5am so I could be at the gym by 5:30 and subsequently still make it into the office by 8am.
But it sucked.
Sure, I was making it a priority and a non-negotiable, so that part was a win. But I didn’t like getting up that early or forcing myself to head to the gym, drinking pre-workout on the drive there. (pre-workout is lots of caffeine and stuff to get you pumped up and ready for a workout)
It took the joy out of it. Making myself do it was an exercise in discipline instead of creating a lifestyle that had me feeling good about moving my body.
Because it had been a few years since my 5am days, I decided to see what would happen if I tried working out in the morning again.
I’m talking morning as in, before the work day… not just morning as in, 9 or 10am.
It wasn’t 5am, but it was still out of my comfort zone.
And I did the workout. As in, I completed it.
But my heart wasn’t in it.
I wasn’t fully awake yet so I felt as though I was going through the motions rather than feeling the power and strength of my body.
I was also lamenting the skipping of my afternoon runs that I enjoy so much – it’s usually the best part of the day to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Now that I was working out first thing, I knew I wouldn’t run in the afternoon.
While I admit that yes, it was a one day experiment, I had enough realizations that I didn’t need to continue the experiment to know that morning workouts aren’t for me (right now anyways).
My Body (and Brain) Told Me So
As I mentioned above, I knew I wasn’t totally into the workout, and there were several things I missed about my normal workout time.
My normal workout time is after the work day (usually between 4pm and 5pm). It’s my transition activity between work and ‘the rest of my day,’ and especially working from home, having that separation keeps me from working well into the evenings.
Those afternoon/early evening workouts are how I wrap up the work day – both mentally and physically – by alleviating any stress from the day, mull over ideas and happenings from the day, and most importantly to me, I get ready for time with my favorite human.
It’s a time of joy for me – getting to soak up the sunshine, feel the challenge I place on my body, and know that at the end of the sweat sesh there’s even more joy awaiting my evening with my boyfriend.
Because I have a definable transition, I’m able to leave work at work, despite my office being a few feet away.
Why It Matters
Conventional wisdom telling us to get a workout done and over with first thing so it’s out of the way and we don’t have to worry about it is another way of saying you just have to push through the suck because the workout itself is beneficial.
But to really build a lifestyle where taking care of your body and mind is a priority, it takes more than just getting through the suck.
It’s embracing that your body was meant to move, and experiencing that movement can be joyful, not something you have to grind through.
It means incorporating movement into your day where it fits best. Yes, sometimes that will be in the wee hours of the morning, but it doesn’t mean it’s that way for life unless you want it to be.
I know plenty of people who LOVE starting their day with movement, it IS their joyful time to move.
But if you’re like me and tired of the ‘rise and grind’ workout culture telling you it has to be a certain way, then I’m writing specifically for you.
Your lifestyle and how you incorporate health into it is up to you. If you find a way to do that which you enjoy, then don’t let the noise get into your head telling you it should be a certain way. If you’re moving, it counts. And that’s what I plan to keep doing… in the afternoon!
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