Here’s something you may not know about me: I have narcolepsy.
I am also the textbook definition of a night-owl. I’m the kind of person who craves the peacefulness of the late, late night when the rest of the world is asleep and it’s just me, Netflix, and whatever I’m working on. If I could follow my body’s clock the way it WANTS to run, I would go to sleep between 11 and 1 at night, and wake up between 9 and 11. I’m a full-time teacher so that’s just not a thing, but that’s the way my body naturally likes to do it’s thing.
All this to say: I am not a morning person. I am literally the opposite of a morning person.
Mornings stress me out. I have the WORST time getting out of bed in the morning. In short, I’m the last person I would have ever expected to be in a studio working out at 5:30am.
So when I say this, I mean it: If I can do it, so can you.
There are so many reasons why I think you should give this a try. I’ll explain them in a minute, but first I want you to know I was not, am not, and will never be one of those gym buffs with the overwhelming passion for fitness. A lot of the posts I’ve read about this are written by “those” kinds of people. And while I think that’s awesome, it just never felt like it applied to me. There’s just never going to be a time when I like getting up early in the morning.
So that’s where I’m coming from, sister. I’m a snooze-hitting, sleep-walking, barely-conscious-before-10am, night owl of a girl that wants to tell you how getting up early to go to yoga completely, totally changed my life.
1. I don’t look like a slob at work anymore.
Left to my own devices this is how my morning goes: I get out of bed at the absolute last possible second, throw on whatever I nab out of my closet, twist my hair into a bun, smear lipstick on at stoplights, skip eye shadow and throw on my glasses instead…the whole nine yards, guys. It’s the stupidest, absolute worst way to start my day.
Here’s why early morning yoga helps this: currently I go to a 5:30am class and am usually home by 6:45…leaving me an entire HOUR before I need to leave for work. I have plenty of time to eat something, sit on the couch and thumb around on my computer, and still get completely ready for work. My mornings are slower, more peaceful, and so much less stressful. Plus if I’m especially tired, then I can take a 30-minute power nap on the couch and still make it to work.
It’s gotten to the point where my coworkers can tell immediately whether it was a yoga morning or not based on my appearance when I walk into the building. Great.
2. I actually get enough sleep now.
I know, seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? But the deal is that if I’m going to get out of bed by 5 in order to get to class, a midnight bedtime is not an option. We’re talking 9 or 9:30 at the latest. But that’s a whole three hours earlier than I would normally have convinced myself to go to sleep, and my alarm is only going off about an hour and a half earlier than it would if I weren’t going to exercise.
The thing is, having an early morning commitment is hard, and in order to pull it off the real secret is that you need a routine. In this case, that routine makes it so that sleep deprivation isn’t an option. You and I both know what a difference getting enough sleep makes in your entire day!
To make sure I’m not overdoing it or straying too far away from my night-owl roots, I only do early morning workouts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday every week. I sleep in on Monday and Thursday (my toughest days of the week) and resurrect my hair from the day before so I don’t have to get up as early. I generally don’t work out on the weekends at all, unless I just want to.
3. I’m in shape!
This one kind of goes without saying, I think. When you exercise, you get in shape. When you don’t exercise, you’re not going to be in shape, even if you’re still thin. I’m way too tired after I finish an 11-12 hour day at school to even think about exercise so this is the only option I had, plain and simple.
4. I still get sleepy at work, but I’m not exhausted.
As I sit here right now, I could definitely lay my head down on my desk and fall asleep. This was an excuse I used to avoid working out in the morning for years; I would be way too tired all day for it to be worth it.
At some point though, I realized that I was going to be tired ANYWAY, no matter what I did. Remember how I said I’m not a morning person? I meant it. I’m sleepy regardless of how much sleep I got if I had to wake up before 9am. I think some of that may be the narcolepsy talking, but either way it’s a fact of my life. Not to mention, I work wild hours. So I made the decision that if I was going to be tired regardless, then I may as well be tired because I got up and did something worthwhile.
There’s a difference, too. I’m sleepy right now because I got up early, not because I was rushing around in a daze all morning, not because I was stressed about being late to work, and not because I feel sloppy. Those are two very, very different kinds of tired.
The endorphins don’t hurt either!
5. I’m doing a workout that doesn’t drive me crazy.
I’m a huge fan of yoga, and I recently started Pure Barre, so I’ll tell you how that goes! But the idea of running on a treadmill or lifting weights at 5:30 in the morning sounds like its own kind of hell to me. You may not be a yoga person (though I would encourage you to try it, if you haven’t!) and that’s totally fine, but my point is that I want you to find something to do that you don’t hate, or else there’s no way you’re getting your cute butt out of bed to do it week after week.
I benefit a lot from being in a class instead of on my own. Looking forward to seeing the women in my class, and having them notice when I’m gone, is a nice dose of accountability. I also like the feel of a yoga or barre class first thing in the morning since the movement tends to be more sustained and breath-focused, and as a result I feel like I’m easing into the workout, rather than jumping straight in. Running is something that I actually enjoy very much, but it doesn’t work for me in the morning. I need buddies, and I need something more interesting. Find what works for you, and do it!
6. I eat so much healthier.
I love breakfast food but I hate breakfast time, if you know what I mean. I’m so slow to get moving in the morning that eating right away actually makes me feel sick, but I can’t go work out on a totally empty stomach either. What I normally do is munch on a banana on the way to yoga class, and once I’m home eat a piece of toast with peanut butter, an egg, or something to do with an avocado. Again, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t eat a thing until about 11:30. Not healthy!
Another thing: I’m making much healthier choices at lunch time. I’m still riding those post-workout-healthy vibes, and I’ve noticed that I’m way less likely to make a bad fast food choice. Getting up early is hard, and I don’t want to taint the work I’m doing by binge-eating Wendy’s.
Lastly, water. I am so much more hydrated now that I exercise in the morning. I drink at least 20 oz. in class and about 10-15 oz. immediately after. That’s already almost half of my daily water intake before I’ve even gotten to work! I bring my water bottle with me everywhere I go and keep sipping on it all day and there you have it: I’m hydrated.
7. My mornings are peaceful, not stressful.
Getting up at 5am is low-level torture for most of us, I get that. It is for me, and I do have to fight to get myself out of bed. But knowing that all I really have to do is throw on workout clothes and brush my teeth is way less overwhelming. It’s not easy, but you can keep your routine pretty simple.
And then once I get out of class? That’s when it’s so, so worth it. When else in my life do I have a full hour to myself before I need to go anywhere or do anything? I don’t. I can curl up on the couch and watch the news, make waffles, drink a hot cup of tea, curl my hair… and whatever I do, I still make it to work on time. I’m not sprinting out of the house, already running five minutes late. Best of all, I’m not starting my day already feeling like a mess, before anything has even happened yet.
As a lifelong night-owl, I never would’ve seen myself having a morning routine that I would describe as peaceful and relaxing. Surprise, surprise!
See how just one decision, to get up early and go to yoga class before work, has rippled out into so many areas of my life? I used to think that kind of thing was reserved for fitness nuts and morning stars, but it isn’t. You can do it too. It’s a big commitment to make, but the thing is, you deserve to have a happy and peaceful life. It made all the difference for me. Try it!