All my life, I’ve always admired those ‘up with the sun’ morning people.
Though I do find that I’m more of an early bird than a night owl, a “morning person” is not what I would consider myself. Sleep is pretty much my biggest priority in life and anything that requires me to get up earlier than completely necessary is my idea of cruel and unusual punishment.
But when I saw that my usual fitness studio was hosting a “sunrise” workout challenge, I wanted to see if maybe I could change my early morning-avoidant ways. I would only have to wake up a couple hours earlier than normal, three days a week – how hard could it be?
Well, very. But I got through it and learned a few things along the way.
1. Make your mornings as easy as possible
Whether it’s filling up your water bottle the night before, or laying out your gym clothes, those little things really help when you’re tired AF and your mind is not operating at 100% just yet. Also, since I was already irritated from having to get up so early, I was truly thankful for Night Before Jasmine for not making things worse and forcing me to rush my morning routine.
2. It’s a great way to stay accountable to your goals
Many mornings, it was tempting to sleep through my alarm and conveniently “forget” about my class, but the idea of wasting money (which I absolutely hate) and a good workout got me out of bed every time. In comparison, I find it a lot easier to back out of a sweat sesh after work in favour of a last-minute hangout with friends or an event.
3. That morning workout energy boost doesn’t last long
Usually, I exercise after work and flop on the couch until it’s time for bed, so trying to retrain my brain to work for eight hours after was challenging. Coffee has been a huge saviour, as well as the smug feeling I get from knowing I got my workout in for the day and it’s not even 8:30. Whatever works, right?
4. Fuelling up (before and after) is even more important
I know a lot of morning fitness types split their breakfast into two meals so they’re not working out on an empty stomach, and I found this method worked for me too. While it’s no fun to choke down a dry Kashi bar in a dark kitchen at 6am, it sure beats fainting halfway through a cardio barre class.
5. Life happens and that’s okay
Thanks to a super fun cold I was battling in week two, I ended up missing a class. The perfectionist in me felt pretty bummed that I wouldn’t have a spotless 12/12 record at the end of the challenge, but I knew that staying home and resting was way better than half-assing a workout and getting everybody sick.
6. You will turn into an old lady
The only way to make sure that you don’t wake up feeling like a vampire getting its coffin cracked open for the first time is to pair those early mornings with equally early bed times. You will feel like you’re 23 going on 83 but sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
7. You won’t magically turn into a morning person
I thought that by week four, I would be a total Sunrise Challenge warrior, bouncing out of bed to head to class. The reality: I was still just as sleepy and caffeine-dependent as I was when I started, just with a little more muscle definition.
But that doesn’t mean my challenge was a total failure. As a friend of mine loves to say, “If you’re not laughing, you’re learning” and I certainly learned a lot. It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone every now and again. For the most part, I will be returning to my typical post-five p.m. workout time slot, but I now know that a crack-of-dawn workout isn’t as crazy or scary of an idea as I once thought it was.