Tips For Waking Up Early (and Working Out)

After the holidays Mr. Seasons and I set out to create a shift in our early morning habits. More specifically, we wanted to start getting up earlier and add regular exercise to our lives.

Before I go any further, a little background. We are both night owls, which is kind of a terrible combination in a marriage. Neither one of us is ever championing the idea of going to bed. We are more likely championing the idea of watching our favorite show on Netflix, catching up on the news, or putzing around the house doing whatever the heck we want because the kids are asleep and it’s finally quiet. That is until about 9-10 weeks ago.

I am happy to report we are now grown-ups who get ourselves to bed well before burning the midnight oil. And honestly, it feels great. We are also old millennials/young gen-X’ers who are decidedly prioritizing the care of our bodies, so we can still feel young even when we don’t look it anymore. For the last two months and change, we have shifted our wakeup time from 6:30 AM to 5:15 AM, three days per week to exercise.

It hasn’t been all roses, and it hasn’t been perfect, but it feels good. The mornings that we get up early and workout, we are more awake/alert and ready to take on the task of getting our kids ready for school and so on. (In fact, very soon we are going to switch from a three-day workout program to a five, with the goal of getting up early every weekday.)

So how on earth do we manage to get up at 5:15? (Or 5:20 if I’m feeling snoozy…) I thought you’d never ask. After several weeks of this, I have learned a few things, here are some tips that have helped set us up for early morning success.


1. Get (real) rest on the weekend.

It’s so tempting to want to jam pack our weekends with social outings and fun activities, but downtime is essential for rest. Unscheduled hours of relaxing, reading, baking, whatever it is that recharges your batteries, are essential on the weekend to help you feel rested. And of course sleep! I always try to get a little extra sleep each night on the weekend. That helps me to feel less tired to start the week AND it helps make that first early morning wakeup of the week not feel too bad.

2. Make a mental shift about bed being something you look forward to instead of dread.

I don’t know what kind of weirdos we are (maybe the kind that like to have fun?) but my husband and I are both the types that see going to bed as the end of the fun. Neither of us looks forward to going to bed, so we tend to choose other things over retiring early. One thing that has helped in the last few months is choosing to create a mental shift over how I view bedtime. Instead of looking at it as the ‘end,’ I look at it as the beginning of getting ready for the next day. Going to bed early (or on time) simply means I am resting and refueling for my next adventure (working out).

Taking it even further, having items I love, geared around bedtime has helped too. I have cozy lounge pants that I wear every night to bed, and I always look forward to putting them on. Often, when I’m reading a good book, I’ll leave it on my nightstand as a reminder to get to bed early enough to read a little bit.

3. Reward yourself with more sleep instead of a TV show or more screen time.

Mr. Seasons and I have three kids and two dogs, including one puppy, not to mention we both work. It goes without saying that our days are very full. At the end of the evening, after the last dish is washed, lunches are made, and the children are sleeping softly, we both tend to feel like we earned the ‘reward’ of television. (Our self control is tested even more if we are in the middle of a really good series.) The option of going to bed without the reward simply felt too disappointing. This of course resulted in staying up too late. Similar to #2, I had to create a mindset shift about what I considered ‘rewarding’ at the end of the day. Now I try to remember that sleep is the best reward, and slowly getting ready, reading in bed, and chatting with my husband are good rewards too.

4. Have a partner.

I am very thankful and fortunate to have a husband who wants to get up early and workout with me. It’s a huge part of my motivation and accountability for getting up early. I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. But there are a few options. You could ask a like-minded friend to meet you for a brisk morning walk, or even at the gym. My friend Paige used to be my ‘virtual’ workout buddy. She lives in Colorado, and I in Oregon, and we started the same workout routine, and every day she would text me and ask if I had completed it. Just knowing that her text was coming each day was a big motivator to keep me going. I think we did that for the better part of a year!

5. Limit caffeine after a certain time.

Pardon me while I put on my old lady hat. I’ve noticed that if I have coffee anytime after 2 or 3 pm, I have a harder time falling asleep. I lay in bed thinking for far too long as the minutes tick by wondering what happened until I remember I had coffee later than I should have. Caffeine interrupts your body’s natural ability to sleep, and its effects stay in your system from four to seven hours. It could even contribute to waking up after you’ve fallen asleep. If you want to get a good night’s rest, your safest bet is to enjoy your cup of joe in the morning.

6. Consider your dinner hour.

This one is huge for us. The later we eat dinner, the later the kids go to bed and the later the dishes get washed, the later we get to bed. The earlier we eat dinner, the sooner things get finished. This usually means time for relaxing and an early bedtime.

7. Know exactly what you’re going to do when you first wake up.

Exercise? Read? Meditate? Have a plan. If there is wiggle room you might just go back to sleep. But if you are planning to do X, it’s easier to get moving. Since we get up early to workout before the rest of the house wakes up (read: kids and dogs) I like to make it as easy as possible. I set my workout clothes (down to the socks, shoes, headband and scrunchie) all together so I can easily grab them and get moving on my morning plan.

Your turn! Are you an early riser? If so, what tactics do you use to get up early?

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