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How To Become a Morning Exerciser in 9 Easy Steps

Raise your hand if the only time of day that you could possibly squeeze in a workout coincides precisely with the time of day in which you are catching those last few precious moments of sleep before the kids start demanding breakfast. Keep your hand up if you’re pretty sure that “early morning workout” is something you’re never going to experience.

Yeah. I hear you. In fact, I spent most of my life actively avoiding setting an alarm. But then life conspired against me and I had no choice but to wake up to the dark of morning to squeeze in a run before my husband left for work. Believe me, if I could have figured out another way, I would have done it. However, having managed to wake up before my kids at least 3 days a week for the past 3 months, I feel fairly confident in saying that you can do it too.

It’s tricky, and it’s not always easy, but I will vouch for it being worth it to start the day with a burst of energy and exhilaration that comes with doing something difficult. Not to mention having some time to hear myself think before I start in on 12 hours of, “Mo-om, I want something . . . white to eat. Maybe that comes in a yellow wrapper.”

So here’s what you do:


  • 1. Have A Goal 1 of 9
    1. Have A Goal
    Working out to work out is a nice thought, and maybe it works for you. But if you're just getting started it might help to have something more concrete and measurable: maybe a race you want to run, a weight you want to be at by a certain date, a yoga pose you want to master. Eventually, you might love it so much that you do wake up and work out just to work out but it helps to have something to motivate you to get the habit started.
  • 2. Set out your clothes/gear. 2 of 9
    2. Set out your clothes/gear.
    Who wants to be rummaging around in the dark for the sports bra they swear they just washed? Or just try to not wake the baby when fumbling around in the closet for shoes. Also: you're wasting precious minutes if you don't have to gather the goods before you go.
  • 3. Set Your Alarm 3 of 9
    3. Set Your Alarm
    Then set another one for a few minutes later. And maybe another for a few minutes after that.
  • 4. Call a Friend and Make a Date 4 of 9
    4. Call a Friend and Make a Date
    Because how much more fun is yoga at 6:00am going to be if you can make faces at your friend on the other mat while struggling through another sun salutation? And how much do you not want to be the one to stand someone else up.
  • 5. Go To Bed On Time 5 of 9
    5. Go To Bed On Time
    Take a minute to do the math: if you need 8 hours of sleep, and you need to wake up at 6:30, that's . . . 6:30 . . . 5:30 . . . 4:30 . . . 10:30! Go to bed at 10:30.
  • 6. Fuel Up Right 6 of 9
    6. Fuel Up Right
    If you're planning to wake up and workout tomorrow, it's probably not the best idea to top off that bottle of wine, or eat that slice of cheesecake right before bed. And have a quick something ready to go in the morning, too: half a bagel with jam or a banana with yogurt.
  • 7. Be Consistent 7 of 9
    7. Be Consistent
    It's a lot easier to do something if you do it regularly. Make a habit of setting that alarm and pretty soon it's not going to feel so foreign/hostile.
  • 8. Be Accountable 8 of 9
    8. Be Accountable
    Ask someone to be your "check-in" buddy. Have them ask you how things are going once a week, or every few days. Talk to them about problems you're having, or celebrate your success with them.
  • 9. Forgive Yourself 9 of 9
    9. Forgive Yourself
    If it doesn't work out one day, don't let it stop you from trying again the next. Even if it takes you a week of trying to get in one workout, hey! That's better than none. And you'll feel awesome having started the day doing something difficult.

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