I set my alarm every night feeling very motivated. But by the time the annoying beeping actually goes off at 5:30 a.m., you would never have known that my initial goal was to be at the gym by 6:00. No matter my preparedness (clothes laid out and meals packed), truth be told, sometimes I don’t make it. I somehow manage to spend 10 minutes convincing myself that “today will be the day I work out during lunch,” or “more sleep would benefit me more today than back-squats.” Occasionally, my little inner voice is right and another hour of sleep would truly make my day better. Most of the time, however, it isn’t, and if I don’t make it to the gym before work, my entire day seems off-kilter.
I have always been a morning person, even as a teenager. That being said, working out in the morning requires more than just being a morning person. It doesn’t matter who you are: it is absolutely zero fun to crawl out of a nice comfortable bed and jump in a pool, hop on a bike or load a weight rack. Even if you are like me and look forward to that post-workout high, there are mornings when you blearily look in the mirror and mentally whine, “whyyy?”
Over my years of high school sports and coaching Crossfit in college, I have developed a number of methods to make working out in the morning a tad easier. Here are four quick wins to help you crush your morning workout (or really, at any time of day!). Take them one at a time, and once you’ve built a habit, add something new.
Have a buddy.
It is always easier to make it to the gym on time in the morning when I know someone is waiting for me! Having a buddy can mean a group workout class with a set start time or a gym partner to hold you accountable. Over the years, my “buddies” have ranged from my 5:30 a.m. Crossfit group to George, a 73-year-old man I met at the YMCA who always noticed when I missed our morning walking warm-up around the track.
That being said, having a buddy is not necessarily so simple. What happens when your gym partner doesn’t show up, or you can’t find a buddy? Working out in the morning does take a certain type of intrinsic motivation. As someone who recently moved, I’m still trying to find my group and a gym buddy, and I hear you that finding the motivation to work out alone is not easy. So when you get the early morning text that says, “Sorry, my alarm didn’t go off,” remember your goals, and remember how nice it will feel at 7 a.m. to have your workout done for the day and stay on track (and maybe how good it’ll feel to rub it in, juuust a bit, to your buddy *wink*).
Lay out your clothes the night before.
Call me crazy, but every Sunday I check the weather and lay out all my workout clothes and work outfits for the week. It makes my mornings significantly less crazy when I know what I will be wearing and can easily throw it in a bag no matter how bleary I’m feeling. It also prevents showing up to the gym with mismatched workout clothes and no socks. This one’s an easy win that can make a big difference.
Plan Your Nutrition.
When it comes to nutrition, there is no right answer. Read any fitness article one day and you will hear opposing viewpoints the next (sometimes even within the same article.) Eat post workout? Eat before the workout? Fast? Eat during the workout? I have tried it all and found that the best nutrition advice I have ever gotten is to follow whatever regime feels best and that you can stick to. For me, that means not trying to scarf down food at 5:30 a.m. when I am not the least bit hungry. Instead, I opt for my post-workout quick snack followed by breakfast an hour or so later.
My snacks have ranged over the years from powdered protein shakes, to RXBars, and lately, to Organic Valley’s Fuel milk protein shakes. Black coffee before 9 a.m. sometimes makes my stomach feel queasy. That coupled with not being super hungry after a morning workout makes Fuel an ideal post-workout boost. Its 20 grams of protein, low sugar and being certified organic are what initially drew me to the product. Not having the chalky taste of a protein powder made me stay.
Unlike my other protein shakes where I am stuck with my single-flavor powder for three months at a time, Fuel is already mixed and in individual servings, so I can switch up the flavors between vanilla, coffee and chocolate whenever I want. Chocolate and vanilla were recently reformulated to have half the sugar as previous versions and no added sugar, and they’re all under 200 calories. The brand new Coffee Fuel has been my go-to lately. It has the same amount of protein as the other flavors plus about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, so it’s perfect for those extra-fuzzy mornings when I need a boost.
I think it’s important to mention that Fuel is by no means my meal replacement. I would be extremely hangry if I didn’t have my eggs and toast or Greek yogurt and berries an hour or so after. That said, it is the perfect amount of protein and liquid post-workout to keep me feeling fueled (ha…get it?) for my workday ahead.
Don’t beat yourself up!
There will be mornings when you don’t make it to the gym. You’re sore, tired, stayed up too late, etc. When (not if, when) that happens, give yourself a break. We are human! Even if you are the most consistent person in the world, no one wants to get up at 5 a.m. in December during a snowstorm to trek to the gym. Take your rest day or the extra sleep, and get right back on track the next day.
Organic Valley’s newly reformulated Chocolate and Vanilla Fuel and brand new Coffee Fuel are now available nationwide—and at a new lower price! Find a store near you.
Looking for more easy ways to sneak extra protein into your diet? Organic Valley’s new Ultra™ milk is ultra-filtered so that it has more protein, more calcium and less sugar per serving than regular milk, and it’s lactose-free. Who doesn’t like a delicious glass of chocolate milk to beat the 3 p.m. slump? Ultra is available at Whole Foods Markets now and will be showing up in other stores in October. Read all about it here!