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The Early Bird Gets Sweaty

June 13, 2011

Last week I posted my views on balance, and I noted that the two “non-negotiables” in my life are generally sleep and exercise. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that, at one point or another, those two non-negotiables were inevitably going to interfere with each other! Well, today proved that point for me.

My graduate summer semester started two weeks ago, and unlike the last two semesters (where I only had class one night a week), I have to attend class two nights a week. Generally on those nights, I don’t get home until around 7:30pm, at which point I need to eat dinner, catch up on emails, prep my breakfast/lunch for school the following day, and have at least a half hour of “wind-down” time. I’ve realized pretty quickly that on nights I have class, exercise really isn’t an option (the best I’ve been able to squeeze in is a twenty minute walk, and that was pushing it).
Obviously, missing two days of exercise a week is not a huge deal, but as I mentioned last week, I genuinely enjoy getting in at least a half hour of activity a day. I just feel BETTER afterwards, and I can feel a marked difference in my mood/sleep habits/etc. on days that I don’t work out. The only option left for these two days a week that I have night class was to try working out in the morning, so today I decided I would suck it up and (gasp!) cut into my sleep time to fit in a workout.


(No, this is not really my alarm clock, but I so wish it was. How retro!).

Instead of waking up at my usual 5:50, I crawled out of bed at 5:10, threw on some workout clothes and sneakers, turned on the news, and made my way through a thirty minute interval workout very loosely based on the typical Jillian Michaels format (two minutes of cardo blasts–jumping jacks, jump squats, punches, etc. alternated with two minutes of weights–biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, back, lunges).


(Oh, Jillian. I really do have a love-hate relationship with you, especially before dawn).
The results? A pretty heart-pumping, sweaty workout in just a half hour, if I do say so myself! Plus, I felt pretty badass getting that much accomplished before 6 am even rolled around. As for missing out on an extra forty minutes of sleep, I will say that I’m sleepy, but really no more than I would be on a normal day.

I know that this whole “working out in the morning” thing is nothing new for many, many people, but for me to give up ANY sleep time on a work day is a groundbreaking phenomenon in my little world. I’m going to give it another try on Wednesday (the other night I have class), and maybe (just maybe!) discover that this is a routine I can stick to.

How about you? Are you a morning exerciser or, like me, do you find it difficult to get your heart rate pumping before the sun comes up?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2011 3:57 pm

    So I totally would love to work out in the A.M. but it has not happened yet. I have tried a couple times; set the alarm, hit the alarm off button, and kept on sleeping. One time it was for a spin class and a couple times it was for running. The running I have done, but I must admit I have always, always hit snooze or just turned off the alarm and re-set it for a later time. I cannot workout before 6 am. It seems to be just impossible for me. I sleep when it is dark, or gray, and if the sun is not fully shining through yet at least for me my eyes are still closed. It does make things hard when I have busy nights then I just do not get the workout in. But because of balance and compromise sometimes I just have to go with the flow. I may not get a workout in but I try to practice meditation or self Reiki or at least just read. That way even if I am not getting in physical exercise at least my mind is getting a workout; which sometimes for me, is even more needed! Thanks for writing this it was nice to share on this topic.

    • June 13, 2011 8:18 pm

      That’s generally how I am, too. I love working out on the weekend, but that’s around 9am, not FIVE! If I’m really exhausted, I won’t push it. Today, I actually felt ok getting up, and I surprisingly am not feeling all that tired. We’ll see how I feel on Weds!

  2. June 13, 2011 7:25 pm

    I totally bought that Jillian Michaels workout dvd last week. Love it – it really is such a workout – I was kind of surprised!

    • June 13, 2011 8:18 pm

      She’s so hardcore, it’s ridiculous. One of my favorite comments on one of her DVDs is “I want you to be choking on your heart right now!!!”

      Um. Intense, much?

  3. June 14, 2011 9:56 am

    It’s so funny how our lives seem to be the same right now. I’m taking a grad class two nights a week and realized I have zero time between work/class to workout, so I started going for walks in the morning. It has done amazing things for my attitude during the day – I’m shocked! I don’t have to wake up that early – only 6am, but it’s definitely changing my attitude about morning exercise. I never thought I could “do” it!

    • June 14, 2011 12:42 pm

      Haha that is really bizarre! It’s amazing how breaking your routine can surprise you, huh? I never thought I could wake up that early either, and I’m sure some days will be harder than others, but for the most part I think it might be ok!

  4. June 14, 2011 10:36 am

    Crazy… I also use that video to squeeze in a morning workout! I have summer classes 3 nights a week from 4:30-7:00pm, and I don’t get home until nearly 8pm. 3 weeks in and I’m still adjusting. It’s such a weird time-block, in terms of meals. I basically have to eat before I leave for school, make sure I pack a snack, and then scramble home to try to whip up a super quick dinner. Can’t wait for this session to be over! 🙂

    • June 14, 2011 12:42 pm

      I feel the SAME WAY! I have to eat a snack at the beginning of class, but not a big enough snack that it can be considered “dinner.” Then, by the time I get home, I’m famished! I can’t wait to be done either!

  5. David permalink
    June 15, 2011 2:19 am

    I take the approach of going to sleep around 5:10-5:50 A.M. and then waking up with just enough time to sprint to whatever class/teaching/office hours/meeting I happen to have on a particular day. Since that doesn’t leave time for breakfast or (usually) lunch, it works surprisingly well as a diet/exercise plan. So does not having a car. Groceries are heavy. The orange juice was the first to go, with milk finishing in a close second and canned soups bringing up the rear.

  6. June 15, 2011 7:11 am

    I’m pretty sure that working out THAT early would make me puke, but I can’t really prove that.

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