Confession: I have recently instated a personal policy against working out (or working) at or before 6am.
Over the past few years, I’ve really started to come to terms with the fact that I’m just not a morning person. When I’m forced to wake up against my will, I get super cranky. My husband (who has already gone to the gym AND showered) laughs at me. I lay in bed with my dog making ridiculous statements like “I hate the morn…” and “I don’t wish to awaken.” as I try to open my eyes. Then I procrastinate by checking Facebook and Instagram for a bit. Finally I pry myself out of bed like I’m the Tin Man, and gimp around the house for a few minutes until my bones are done with their snap/crackle/pop.
I really envy people who have a morning routine. Maybe you are one of them? Wake up and meditate, and avoid technology for at least an hour. Journal, get a workout in, slowly drink some herbal tea. Then do some affirmations while eating an omelet made from fresh local eggs and some greens you grew in your backyard or something.
I’m lucky if get up with enough time to whip up a smoothie on my way out the door. Usually it’s coffee and whatever edible thing I can grab and quickly throw into my backpack. In any case, there was a time when I would try to cram in early morning workouts before I started my work day, because it was supposedly the “best thing for me”. From what I understood, it was supposed to “rev up my metabolism” and help me avoid getting sidetracked and skipping my workout later. It was supposed to “set me up for success” for the rest of the day.
Except every time I did it for too many days in a row, I’d wind up getting sick. I’d need a nap every afternoon, plus a triple grande latte to get myself through the rest of the classes I had to teach that day. Not to mention that I was a total B to everyone who crossed my path at that hour. I can remember trying to take class from my poor friend Tiffiny. She’d try to greet me with a hug, and I’d refuse and jokingly offer her my middle finger.
Finally I said NO MORE!
I finally came to accept the fact that I’m not a morning person. If YOU are, have at it with the crack of dawn workouts. I’m not saying that there is anything inherently wrong with them. But for those of you who are feeling guilty about the fact that you always seem to sleep through your morning gym session, I say screw it. In fact, I’ve got a whole list of totally legit excuses for you to stay in bed today.
8 Reasons You Don’t Have To Work Out In the Morning:
1. You might not be biologically wired for it
Your chronotype is what dictates your personal drive to sleep during a 24 hour period. There are some interesting studies on this right now. They show that there may be some rhyme and reason to why we feel like we are either “early birds” or “night owls”. If your natural circadian rhythm wants you to wake up at 8am instead of 6am, you will likely feel better throughout the day if you don’t try to fight it.
2. IF YOU ARE TOO TIRED YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO GIVE IT your all
Not only does this mean that you won’t have as good of a workout, but it also means that you’ll be less focused. You probably won’t pay much attention to your form, and this could result in an injury. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Wait to hit the gym until your feel alert enough to give it all of your energy and focus.
3. You’ll be rushed and stressed trying to get there in time
If you aren’t naturally an early riser, chances are you’ll wait until the last possible second to get up and get to your class in time. That rush of cortisol (stress hormone) cancels out a lot of the health benefits you could be getting from your exercise. Plus you could get a speeding ticket on your way. 😉
4. IT COULD Mess with your hormones
Sleep deprivation can contribute to an increase in ghrelin (hunger hormone) and decrease in leptin (satiety hormone). Your body is smart. Even if you think you can trick the system by burning a bunch of calories first thing in the morning, you’ll just wind up wanting to eat more later. Let me be clear: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH EATING MORE FOOD. But I know from experience that the motivation for setting your alarm at the a$$ crack of dawn to wake up and work out is usually driven by a desire to burn calories and/or lose weight. It doesn’t always work the way we think it would.
5. YOU’LL Be more tired and less productive later
According to “experts”, morning exercise is supposed to give you an energy boost for the rest of the day. It usually does for the first few hours after a workout. But if you haven’t had some solid sleep the night before, it will come back to bite you later in the afternoon. Yep. That 3pm crash that makes you desperately need a siesta and an espresso to make it through the rest of your day. I don’t have a traditional desk job, but my boss at the dance studio tells me that napping under your desk is frowned upon unless you are a lawyer. So if you don’t have time for a Starbucks run you just start moving slower. You’ll cost yourself even more time when you have to spend an hour looking for your keys that somehow wound up in the freezer. (Not that I’ve ever done that or anything…)
6. It’s NoT necessarily better
Before I became a personal trainer myself, I was told by many others that morning workouts were the best because they help you burn more calories for the rest of the day. What they were often referring to is EPOC or excess post exercise oxygen consumption. This is the idea that after an intense workout, your body is consuming oxygen at a more rapid rate to get your body back to it’s normal resting state. Because of this you burn more calories for the rest of the day, even after your workout is done. Yes, this is true. And it still happens even if you do your workout at noon. Side note: THERE ARE MANY OTHER REASONS TO EXERCISE BESIDES BURNING CALORIES! We could nit pick at all the variables that could potentially make your workout the most effective. But that would take a lot of time and effort that could be better spent living your damn life. The best time to work out is the time that you actually want to do it.
7. Not working out at the crack of Dawn doesn’t mean that you don’t get to do it at all
I know that so many fitness gurus swear by early morning workouts, but know that the same thing doesn’t necessarily work for everyone and that’s ok! If you are like me, late morning, mid-day or evening might be doable for you. Or maybe you squeeze in a 20 minute quickie in your living room, or on your lunch break. I KNOW…scheduling is hard, and sometimes early morning is your only option. If you are dead-set on not skipping it, plan ahead and try to get to bed a bit earlier the night before. Your “tomorrow self” will thank you, for all of the above reasons.
8. It’s Ok To skip it!
What?! Yes, you heard me right. It took me years to give myself permission to take days off from working out, but I’m giving you permission to do the same. In many cases, skipping a workout in favor of sleep might just be the best thing for your mental AND physical health. And (GASP!) IT’S OK FOR YOUR HEALTH TO NOT BE YOUR #1 PRIORITY AT ALL TIMES. I can think of many occasions that I have (and sometimes still do) slack off on something that needs to get done, like working on choreography for my dance classes, cleaning my messy AF house, or even working on my blog because I just HAD to get a workout in. It’s great to prioritize fitness sometimes. But if you choose not to, you don’t need to give yourself a guilt trip for it. Chances are, those extra few hours of morning zzzzzz’s will give you the boost you need to kick major a$$ in some other area of your life.
There you have it! If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being able to get it together in the morning, let it go! You don’t have to work out in the morning to be fit, healthy, a productive member or society, or a highly effective human. To all my early risers out there–keep doing you! Maybe I’ll be able to get on board with the miracle of being a morning person at some other phase in my life. For now I’m embracing the fact that I’m still in my pj’s after 11am. Maybe I’ll hit the gym after my second cup of coffee. No shame in my morning game!