As I’ve mentioned, for the last six weeks or so, I’ve maintained regular early morning workouts. Yes, I still have to talk myself into getting up sometimes (like this morning), but that happens more and more infrequently. I’ve grown to love and look forward to my early morning workouts. And with summer here ( = heat and humidity here in NYC), the wee hours are the only ones that I can comfortably work out.
Several friends and co-workers have said “I wish I could work out in the morning..” or “I’d love to do that but…” you get the idea. The truth is, you can do it! In fact, for those of us with busy schedules, who often find dragging ourselves to the gym after a full day of work gets skipped over, morning workouts are perfect! Here’s how to get started:
- Define early. How much time do you really need in the morning? Set a loose time line. For me, I like to walk out the door for work by 7. To do this, I need to get in the shower by 6, which means my workouts need to begin at 5-5:15 on any given morning.
- Once you set your time table, you can realistically see what parts of your morning routine you can shave down. For me, this means making my whole lunch the night before, laying out my work clothes (underwear, socks, the whole deal), and sleeping in my workout gear. I know that the minute I have any time to think, I may decide not to go. The idea is to take any thought out of your morning routine.
- Set your workouts. Mix up your strength and cardio as you see fit. Jillian’s 30 Day Shred is great is you are tight on time. On-Demand channels have many workout videos that you can often order for free (see FitTV, if you have it). I typically run outside 2 days/week, do circuits 1 day, and mix up the other two days with gym workouts (easy elliptical or strength stuff). It will take some trial and error to see what works best for you.
- Just do it. Really. Commit to at least a full week. It may take you a little time to adjust. Make sure you hit the hay earlier the night before and prep all of your clothes/food/etc…
- Reward yourself. Sure, I know as well as anyone that the true reward for being fit and healthy is, well, just being fit and healthy. But I also know that I love getting presents. Even if I’m getting them for myself and they are things that I’d buy myself anyway. It’s positive behavior reinforcement. Complete your first full week? Treat yourself to a new magazine, or latte at Starbucks – whatever floats your boat. Up the reward ante as you gain some momentum. The lure new workout gear keeps me going…
People who workout in the morning tend to have more energy throughout the day, and are more consistent in their exercise routine than those who workout at other times of the day (SparkPeople). My biggest reason? It frees up my evenings for social activities (I hated trying to juggle dinner plans with gym time).
Tomorrow’s post? How I eat for my early morning workouts.
So how about you – do you exercise in the morning? Would you like to? Will you try it?
Great read from the NYTimes about the “new” generation of foodies who are making a go of local farmer’s markets and festivals. Check it out!
Time Management and Sticking to Schedules
Easier said than done, right? Really the “secret” to time management may be simpler than you think. Sure, there are tools that can help us to make sure we’re at the right place at the right time, but what it comes down to is you. You make the commitment. If you are the type of person who volunteers (or gets “volunteered”) to do things that stretch you to the limit, then time management is less of a problem than learning how to say no.
That said, here are a few tips to help you organize and schedule the commitments that you do have.
- Schedule ‘Must-Do’s’ first. The first thing I always have on my calendar is work. Sure, it’s the same time every day from 7am-3pm, but I think seeing that chunk of time taken away puts the rest of my day into perspective. Your 9-5 job may seem like a no-brainer (it’s not like you’d forget to go one day), but it is probably your biggest time commitment.
- Exercise is a commitment. Falling under the ‘Must-Do’ category is exercise. I need it regularly during the week, and if I don’t purposely carve out time for it, it can be easy to skip it sometimes. On Sundays, I’ll look at my calendar and schedule runs, yoga classes, etc. based on my availability.
- Calendars are for fun stuff too. It can be really motivating during the week to know that on particular days/evenings you have a fun event. Seeing this on the calendar can help you push through the more tedious tasks. For example, I usually schedule “Pizza and Movie Date” for Friday nights. It’s really just pizza at home and some Netflix on Fridays after work with husbo, but I love it and I like to look forward to it at the end of the week.
- Leave free time, and if you have difficulty doing this, schedule it. I like to leave a little free time in the evenings after dinner if possible, and on weekends I strive to make my schedule pretty loose. ‘Free time’ could encompass anything – little tasks at home, reading, running some errands… having a chunk of time in which you don’t feel the need to do anything specific can be really restorative. If you are not the kind of person who deals well with downtime, schedule it. Have a favorite show? Schedule that viewing time as ‘free time.’ It’s a start.
- Be kind to yourself. No one is productive or happy when they are over-scheduled, over-worked, and exhausted. Know who you are. Are you happiest when you have lots of little tasks? Create to-do lists. Are you not really a morning person? Try not to schedule major events at that time. It seems obvious, but without realizing it, many of us (myself included) sometimes forget that we actually need to do the things we commit to.
One tool that really helps me schedule everything is Google Calendar. I love it, and seem to constantly find new ways it can help me stay on top of things. Talk about perfect timing, KathEats just posted a new KERF NERD video on using Google Calendar for time management. Whether GCal is new to you or not, it’s a really informative video. Check it out – it’s great.
A few other great posts on organizing, scheduling, and time management:
- Healthy Tipping Point posted a great entry about time management recently.
- Simple Mom has an excellent entry about tech tools to simplify life at home
- Here’s another Simple Mom post that focuses on managing emails. (Really love this blog – I’m certainly not a mom, but if anyone is an expert in organization it’s a mother.
I’m right on schedule today. With my free time this evening, I’ll be heading out to dinner with husbo. Have a good evening, and check in tomorrow for part IV which focuses on
I’m looking forward to this lovely Wednesday. I have a pretty relaxed schedule (excluding the busy one I have in work). Once 3pm comes, I have a few ‘me time’ events on the schedule.
There’s the schedule on my Google calendar. School until 3, then wrapping a few things up at the library. A nice run is on the agenda followed by some Ashtanga. Pretty great, I know. After yoga, I’ll make some dinner and relax a bit. Even go to bed a bit earlier. Mmmm, it’s already shaping up to be pretty great!
The last few weeks I’ve felt like a hamster on a wheel. I’ve been moving and moving and feel like I haven’t really gotten anywhere, and that the wheel won’t stop moving. I’m generally very good with time management both at work (especially) and at home. I am excellent at nicely saying “No” to extra activities that I can’t/won’t want to commit to.
And yet, I find myself distracted. It seems that there’s always something I have to do. As they say, when it rains it pours, and this fall 2009 it seems to be pouring on yours truly. This is not to say that my mood has been dampened, though. I’ve still be happily floating along… just carrying a heavier load.
I attribute this hamster-on-a-wheel feeling to a few things…
- It happens. As simple as that. Every now and then, for whatever reasons, things change. Sometimes there’s a gradual build-up, other times they all change abruptly. Either way, it’s the natural progression of things.
- Change in schedule. This summer I had a nice, comfy (somewhat lazy) schedule. I got used to it. Loved it, even. There was more lack of structure than in previous months, and it was great. I think it made it a bit more difficult to get into the swing of things in September though.
- I moved. Moving is a hassle. Always. I was even ahead of the game, and was a very organized packer. It’s. Just. Exhausting.
All three of these things contributed to my current feeling of limbo. So what do you do when the pace picks up? In some cases, to a sprint?
This is a major issue that I’m dealing with right now, and in fact, the entire nature of this blog. What little things do we do that contribute to our overall health and well-being? This whole week, in a special lunchtime series, I’ll explore this issue.
- Tuesday: Setting priorities; balancing needs and wants
- Wednesday: Scheduling and sticking to it
- Thursday: Making sure you don’t get run down, while picking up the pace
- Friday: Rewarding ourselves
On that note, I’m off to make dinner for husbo and I (eating a sit-down meal together is a top priority of mine). I look forward to discussing these issues all week.