- Go to bed earlier
This man is obviously a model -- his eyes have too much life in them
Ah man, one of those lists! Yes, you stubborn middle schooler, you need to go to sleep early if you want to wake up early. Chances are you aren't doing anything special after 9:30 anyway, so just hit the hay and fast forward to tomorrow. If you can’t get to sleep that early, then make sure you aren’t making one of these common mistakes:
1a. Too much phone before bed.
1b. Too much caffeine or tobacco.
1c. Eating too close to bedtime.
1e. Too many naps during the day.
1f. Anxiety from work or other obligations
- Exercise the day before.
The whole process of fitness is cyclical. You can’t sleep because you aren't tired, you aren’t tired because you didn’t exercise, you didn’t exercise because you didn’t get enough sleep -- or something like that. It’s very important that you insert yourself into this cycle, one way or another. It takes willpower, the type of willpower that breaks habits into tiny little bite size portions, then says “no thank you” to those bite size habits. Are you following me?
You might have trouble getting yourself up in the morning to workout, and one solution to that is … working out! The plans you made for your Tuesday night aren't worth your new juicy morning routine, so make the sacrifice. Drop and give me twenty.
Make it the only important part of your day.
Now these are some lifeless eyes
One expression I love is “Fix the roof while the sun is shining, don’t wait until it rains.” That’s paraphrased, don’t google it. The point is, don’t make this drastic change at the same time you have important deadline, a stressful week at work, or too many other changes in your routine. Set aside two weeks where this is simply the only goal you have each day. Yes, eventually you will try to wake up early and cook dinner, but go easy on yourself in the beginning stages.
There are two beautiful effects from this strategy.
- One accomplishment lasts from 7am - bedtime. Slacking off at work? That’s ok, you got in your workout for the day. Feel like watching T.V for 4 hours? That’s cool, you already won this morning.
- Productivity falls into place. Forget everything I just said, because those things probably won’t happen. When you get home from a workout you will be most likely be in a good mood (endorphins, people!) and have more energy. You won’t feel inclined to sit and watch T.V, so you get up and fold that laundry that’s been annoying you for a week. If you solely care about starting the morning healthy, the pressure is off to accomplish every single other thing.
Soon, you can restructure your mind to look at singular tasks as the most important thing in your life. That’s mindfulness in a nutshell, but that's not really this article. For now, just try to get up early.
- Work towards it incrementally.
There’s no shame in being too tired to get up at 5:15.. I remember what it was like, too. A great strategy is to work backwards to that point. What time do you wake up now, 6:30? Try 6:15, then spend that time doing a simple exercise routine like jumping jacks or pushups. The next day, 6:10. Take 5 minutes off every day or two after that until you find a time that works for you. You might get to 5:30 and realize it doesn’t work for you. At that point, sleeping until 6 feels like a huge luxury. Even if you decide to bail on the 5:15 dream, you’re still better off than you were a few weeks prior.
This is universal advice: No need for crazy and drastic change. It’s unsustainable, and the reason why many extreme diets don’t really work. There’s a balance that you need to find, and jumping too far will lead you right back into your bad habits.
- Eat a banana, you dunce
Bananas are crazy! Without going into too much depth, I’m just going to say that bananas are a cheap way to boost your mood and give you the energy you need to start exercising.
- Sign up with a friend
Or with a Hawaiian man you met at LAX
I can only say this because it worked for me. Assuming you have friends (if you don’t, skip this section before you cry on your tablet, making it impossible to scroll further) you should be able to find one who is also thinking about getting in shape. Pick a date to head to the gym and sign up together, then make sure you go the next day. If you bail now you’re not just letting yourself down, and that could be the extra little kick that gets you out of bed.
Alternatively, you could invite a rival of yours to come along. A little competitive spirit never hurt anybody, right? Missing a day would mean they win, and you don’t want them to win. This leads to an unending cycle of perfect gym attendance, fueled by jealousy and instinctual alpha-chasing hormones. Actually, I’m not too sure hormones have anything to do with it. It sure smells like it, though. What were we talking about?
- Go on the bike, play on your phone.
Oh! This guy is actually exercising off camera. Now it all makes sense.
Exercising while sitting?! What could possibly be more American? A lot of us get turned off by cardio, treadmills in particular, but there’s definitely a way to trick yourself into a full cardio regimen. Do what I do and play a game on your phone while pumping away mindlessly on the spin machine. Personally, I like to play Hearthstone, a free to play card game made by Blizzard. There are a ton of options out there, but I’m just going to assume that you have games on your phone already. Make sure it’s something that can hold your attention for more than 20 minutes.
You could also watch movies, listen to podcasts or an audiobook, or even catch up on the news from the night before. The point is to look forward to your cardio time as a guilt-free opportunity to dive into your hobbies. Once you really get into the rhythm, you’ll be knocking out half an hour of bike time before you even wanted to stop. That’s the real goal here, forgetting what the real goal is.
Hopefully you can use these tips and turn yourself into a consistent gym goer, the type of person who fights through the initial crappiness of early morning and achieves the health they’ve always wanted. There’s much more to health and wellness, of course, but this is a perfect way to start off your journey.