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livelaughlove21's avatar

How does one find the motivation to get up early to exercise?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (14620 points ) January 13th, 2014 from iPhone

I started exercising on a regular basis (5 days per week) about 8 months ago. I was still in school and either worked out at 9 am when I had late classes or 3 pm when I had early classes. Now I’m working 8:30–5:30 downtown, so I have to wake up at 6 am just to get there on time (no exercise) and I don’t get home until 6:15 pm. Working out at night after working all day just isn’t going to happen – I have to cook, do dishes, and finally relax for a little while with my husband before we go to bed at 9 pm. Going to bed later would make it even harder to get up in the morning. My only option, it seems, is to get up at 5:30 am to exercise. Today was my first attempt at doing so and it was a failure. I ended up re-setting my alarm for 6:15, resulting in the best 45 minutes of sleep I’ve ever had. 5:30 am is just such a horrible time to be awake.

I never skipped a day of exercise when my schedule was light, but now it’s so hard to fit it in. I work too far away to bike or walk there and getting sweaty at lunch is out of the question. How do you motivate yourself to get out of bed early to exercise?

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26 Answers

Smitha's avatar

It is sheer determination in the beginning. Creating and sticking to new habits is not an easy task, but still we must force ourselves to stick with it and over time our body will adjust with it. Try focusing on how good you will feel after your workout. The benefits afterwords are so fantastic. So all we need to have is a strong willpower and start working out before our brain catches up and tells us to crawl back to bed, Its so hard though but morning workout really gets you going!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^ Totally agree with Smitha. The first month is torture. After that, I got addicted to the endorphins and couldn’t stay away from the gym. I once almost blew an interview to a really good research position—the lab was right next to a 24-hour gym—by asking to get a three-hour daily hiatus in the gym from noon to 3pm, then make up the three hours from 6pm to 9pm in what I promised to be extremely productive work. My interviewer was a very conservatively dressed, overweight couch potato who looked like she never took a risk in her life. I back pedaled like hell when I saw the look on her face. That’s when I realized that I was addicted to working out. She later said the only thing that saved me was that she liked my shirt. All the candidates were qualified, but I was better dressed.

Pachy's avatar

Sheer will, plus a two-year old photo of myself weighing 25 pounds more.

JLeslie's avatar

I could never do it, especially when I was in my 20’s. Mornings were especially difficult for me when I was younger. As I age I wak up earlier and need a little less sleep, and it would be easier now. Many people who do exercise in the morning are morning people to begin with. My husband goes to the gym before work, but he is crashing by 9pm, and if we go out with friends on the weekend he is exhausted so early it annoys me. I try to force him to nap when I know we are going out that night.

My one suggestion if you want to consider working out at night would be to cook on Sunday for meals that you can eat two or three days during the week so you don’t have to cook every night. Can your husband take over cooking one or two nights? Also, what about a walk after dinner when the weather allows, rather than the gym every day. That can be nice couple time and you save commuting to the gym.

geeky_mama's avatar

@livelaughlove21 – I was in exactly the same boat, and add on top of it 3 young children that needed to be dropped off at 3 different day care / school locations and my commute to my job downtown was between 1 hr and 2 hours one way (that’s 2 to 4 hours per day) each day.

Here’s what I did that made it work. I went to bed as early as possible (I’d try go to bed when I put our youngest child to bed) and I traded drop-offs for pick ups with my husband (of course, this only worked when he was not traveling for work).

I found that I could save some time on my commute if I left my house before 5am. (Less traffic.) I rolled out of bed un-showered, threw on my work out clothes, drove downtown and was working out at 5:45am.
I’d work out for about an hour, usually finished by swimming laps as my “cool down” and then shower and get ready for work at the gym. Then I’d stash my workout bag in my car and get to work on time. (7:30am start so I could be done at 4:30.)

So – if you can find a gym near work and get really diligent about picking out your work outfits the day before – you can do it.

Seek's avatar

Lazy person response: One doesn’t find the motivation. One simply doesn’t exercise.

Actual response: If I were serious about both wanting reasonable sleeping time and getting exercise in, I’d look for ways to cut down my getting-ready time. How much exercise are we talking? 20 minutes a morning? You’ve already proven you have 15 extra minutes by waking up at 6:15. Can you get five more out of your hair and makeup routine?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It really helps to have your gym either close to work or close to home. I went to a brand-new YMCA with a swimming pool, whirlpool, and sauna, besides a great weight room. It was equidistant between work and home. The pool got me through those initial, overheated workouts. I would go from the weight room, quick shower to rinse away the sweat, and slide into the pool. Aaaaah. Just sit there for awhile. Then I would do an easy kilometer, breaststroke. The perfect cooldown. Then a warm, soapy shower. I’d come out of there famished and the place was surrounded by fastfood restaurants. I girded my loins and held out for real food. That kind of food—greasy, fatty, sugary food—would just make my workouts even harder. Everything was about the workout. And within a month, I felt more energy, did things faster and more efficiently and therefore had more time to do more things. The pool was a big benefit, though.

I also would squeeze in an extra workout on Fridays on my way home after work, knowing I would be going out that night. Fridays are great—the place was deserted. I’d go in completely drained from that week’s work and come out feeling like a Pamplona bull, eat a steak, check on the cat, then head out. Workouts give you energy, once your body has adapted. You’re pumped up, you can walk through walls. The Seratonin is flowing, the oxytocin is flowing, and the endorphins are flowing. There is nothing you can’t do when you feel like this.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I’m a lazy person. I don’t like exercise. But at the military camp I was always enthusiastic when it came to exercise in the early morning (5a.m). My motivation: anyone who didn’t exercise would be punished by running around the camp 5 times. Who would ever like that?

After the course I went back to my lazy habit of not doing exercise. And now I don’t feel like doing exercise at all.

dxs's avatar

I used to do morning work-outs for a while. I would get up at 6:37am and be in the gym when it opened at 7:00am. But I realized that I would not only always be so exhausted from just waking up (I swear I’d be out in less than a minute if I laid my head on one of those bench press benches), but also drained from not having eaten anything since last night, so I stopped. [wimp here] I prefer working out after I’ve eaten a decent meal, so now I go in the late afternoons.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I suspected that “force yourself until it’s a habit” was the answer. Boo! ;)

I probably should’ve mentioned that I’m not going to the gym to work out. I’m doing HIIT routines in the privacy of my own home. I will be going to the gym on Friday nights with my husband, but I need to get up early to exercise Monday-Thursday. I could go to the gym, as it’s about 2 minutes from my house, but it’s just faster to do it at home and I get a much better cardio workout there (I hate cardio machines. I can’t stand being on the treadmill or elliptical – boring!). I really only use the gym for strength training, and that’s only because I’ll feel bad not going at all when I have a 2-year contract. I could really do it all from home, but at least I can sleep in a bit on Fridays!

@JLeslie Walking after dinner is something I may be able to do once it warms up (and stops getting dark before I even get home), but that’s not really going to cut it as far as calorie burn goes. I like to do workouts that burn 8–10 calories per minute, not 4–5.

@Seek_Kolinahr I’d love to be able to shave time off of getting ready, but it’s just not going to happen. I did wake up 15 minutes later this morning, and was 15 minutes late getting out the door even though I rushed. Luckily, I leave plenty of time for traffic/accidents, so I got to work on time, but I can’t do that every day. I’m looking to get in about 30 minutes of exercise each morning. I can do that if I get up at 5:30, but no later. 5:15 would actually be better, but that’s just not going to happen.

Coloma's avatar

Given your new job and schedule I say go easy on yourself for awhile. Really, a 20 minute brisk walk after dinner every night or 4 times a week with maybe another 10–15 minutes of a home based workout session is more than enough, unless you want to train for a marathon or something.
Personally I don’t like gyms and the few memberships I’ve had over the years ended up unused.

I walk 20–30 minutes a day now and do floor exercises, leg lifts, etc.
Good enough.
I’d opt for some after dinner walks and you can always ramp up your workouts on the weekends. 2 days of more intensive workouts and another 3–4 walks during the week is good enough if you ask me.

Don’t forget maybe having a monthly massage too, you deserve it!

Leanne1986's avatar

When do you walk your dog? Obviously, it depends on the kind of exercise you miss, if weights etc was your thing then walking the dog is not going to satisfy that but I work similar daytime hours to you and do anywhere between half hour and 2 hours dog walking per day and so I don’t miss the gym at all and still consider myself to be quite fit (I used to go when I was at my old job but, like you, my new job makes it very difficult to go to the gym because of timings etc).

If weights were your thing (I did light weights during my gym visits from time to time) why not invest in some hand weights that you can use to build arm strength while watching TV etc? They are quite easy to get hold of.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Leanne1986 My husband walks the dog because he gets home between 2:30 and 3:30. I wish I had time to take her on a two-hour walk. She’d love that!

I do both cardio and strength training. As I stated two answers ago, I do all of my working out at home Monday-Thursday. I do have/use weights at home during my workouts. I’m not really looking for workout advice, though. I have a very effective routine – it’s getting up to do it that I’m having trouble with.

Judi's avatar

Accountability. Either have a workout buddy or a trainer who will notice if you’re not there. It’s a matter of priorities. You have to decide if the health benefits are great enough to make it non negotiable.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Judi I work out at home, where I’m alone in the mornings. I definitely can’t afford to have a trainer come to my home (and the gym becomes staffed at 7am, so I couldn’t get one there even if I could afford the $100/week) and I have no friends that live close enough to me to come over that early in the morning, even if they had the motivation to do so (and none do). Anyway, I work out alone, and that’s the way I like it. I’ve never needed someone noticing I’m not there to work out before, and I shouldn’t need it now. I just need to get my lazy ass out of bed, as others have said, by forcing myself until it becomes second nature. I’ll be trying again tomorrow morning.

jca's avatar

When I used to walk 4 miles daily, I would come home from work, and feel very much like I wanted to sit around and chill. I used to tell myself “Don’t listen to the lazy voice in your head!” Then I would put my shoes on and drive to the track. Once I started, I was fine.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jca Superwoman! I haven’t walked four miles in…well, ever. I actually really hate walking in circles by myself, which is why I stick to HIIT in my spare bedroom, but go you for getting out there and doing it! :)

glacial's avatar

Well, don’t shoot the messenger, but it sounds to me like you are aggressively resisting any suggestion that pulls you away from having to wake up at 5:15 in the morning. That means you need to ignore every impulse that keeps you from waking up at that time, and simply do it. There are no tricks that will make it easier – in fact, I’ll make it harder for you – you’ve got to also make sure you’re getting enough sleep, so go to bed on time.

From your Fluther persona, you appear to be an extraordinarily determined and focused individual. I have no doubt whatsoever that you can simply decide to do a thing, and then make yourself do it.

So do it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@glacial “it sounds to me like you are aggressively resisting any suggestion that pulls you away from having to wake up at 5:15 in the morning”

I never asked for suggestions to pull me away from having to get up early.

I know that I’ll have to get up early and just do it. Not once in this thread have I suggested finding a way other than waking up early. This question is more of a “what’s your motivation and will it work for me” as opposed to “how can I get out of doing it.”

What I am rejecting is any suggestion that does not work into my budget/schedule. And there’s nothing “aggressive” about this rejection – I’m simply informing anyone else that may answer the question that these suggestions just won’t work for me for this reason or the next.

As I stated above, “I suspected that “force yourself until it’s a habit” was the answer. Boo! ;)”

Dutchess_III's avatar

Me finding the motivation to do something I don’t want to do goes like this “OK, just get up. That’s all. You don’t have to do anything else after that.” “OK. Just get dressed. Put on your shoes. That’s all. You don’t HAVE to go anywhere.” And so forth until I find my self doing what it is I needed to do, but knowing I could quit at any time.

snowberry's avatar

I took a part time job that involves a lot of walking. Since I hate to exercise just for the sake of it, this gives me a little extra money, and I still get the exercise.

Haleth's avatar

What if you went walking with your husband after work? When I used to work days, going for a long walk around the neighborhood was actually a great way to wind down the day. It’s relaxing and invigorating at the same time, especially if you also use the walk to have a nice talk with someone. That way you can combine exercise time and relaxing.

There are a few things you can do to cut down on cooking time. You can make food in advance on the weekends, like layering salad ingredients together. You can also cook ahead big batches of things that freeze well, like chili, spaghetti, or stew. Make a lot at a time, portion them out into tupperwares, and thaw and eat them throughout the week.

You could also make something simple and easy a few nights a week, and exercise on those days. I eat a LOT of dinners where salad is the entire dinner, but there are lots of interesting ingredients involved. (Chicken that I cooked in advance, avocado, bean sprouts, sunflower seeds, hardboiled eggs, olives, sliced apples/ pears, craisins, candied walnuts… whatever.) And on alternating nights, take the time to enjoy a “real” dinner, and don’t exercise on those days. Can’t your husband take care of the cooking or the dishes sometimes?

Blackberry's avatar

I was only able to after being in the military lol. You don’t really have to go in the morning, give yourself time to wake up first, or go at night. It’s not the end of the world if you go another time.

Leanne1986's avatar

Have you ever tried setting an alarm on the other side of the room so you have no choice but to get out of bed to switch the bloody thing off? Once your out of bed it may be easier to stay out of bed and get started with your day (which will include working out). That is the only way I would be able to do it since my will power is shocking and if the alarm was by the side of my bed I would simply switch it off and go back to sleep.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Leanne1986 Oh, I’d have no qualms about getting up, crossing the room, turning the alarm off, and crawling right back into bed. It’s not that I can’t wake up, it’s that I don’t want to. Blah.

I ended up working out last night instead and I didn’t hate it as much as I thought. (Damn it.) So, I didn’t wake up early enough today either. That means I’ll be doing a much more intense workout tonight after dinner. Maybe I can ease my way back into my workout schedule (after totally going off track during the holidays) and eventually switch to mornings so I have nothing to dread after dinner. We’ll see. I’m just glad I actually dragged my butt upstairs at 8:00 last night to do it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Night #2 of exercising is complete.

It occurred to me that I never responded to those of you that asked if my husband could cook or do dishes. Well, Josh has a degenerative retinal disorder that causes him to be almost completely colorblind and have poor central vision. Therefore, he can’t tell when meat is cooked all the way through. I’ve bitten into enough red burgers to realize that, even if he does cook, I need to be there. He works the grill whenever we use that, but he’s just not good at preparing much else. He can make a mean hot pocket, though!

Tonight he sprinkled mozzarella over a dish of leftover spaghetti I put in the fridge and stuck it in the oven so it would be done shortly after I got home. Tomorrow he’ll have burgers seasoned and on the grill with fries in the oven by the time I pull into the driveway. But if we’re having chicken or pasta, forget about it!

Now, dishes? No way, not if you want them done this century. I’m not sure if he’s do slow because his vision makes it hard to see if the dishes are clean (I suspect not since we have a dishwasher and they don’t need to be clean to put them in there), but the boy moves like molasses at the sink. I do dishes as I cook, anyway, and usually have it all cleaned up by the time we start to eat.

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