According to the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, this phrase is used to “advise someone that they will have an advantage if they do something immediately or before anyone else does it”. This phrase assumes velocity…accelHERation…growth.
Or perhaps this quote irritates you because it was some prompt in some English class you were forced to take during some dark time in your life.
Either way, there is some very good truth in this old proverb, especially when it comes to your fitness.
The Early Bird
If we’re relating this to fitness…your fitness…this would be referring to you. If it’s not, then keep reading on for ways to help you get there!
My husband and I got hitched the summer before my third year of teaching. At this point, I had already coached a year of volleyball and outdoor track and knew what that schedule entailed–no free time! I would get to work around 6:30 am, finish practice by 5:30 or 6 pm (game days were even later), and then I would head to the gym. Sure, I was younger with no obligations of kids, but now I was married and I think we all can agree that in any relationship we desire to grow, we need to spend time with that person. Thus, either my workouts or marriage would become compromised.
Until…I trained myself to be an early bird!
I know my story will sound crazy to most, but this was the beginning of a very big secret to my future success as a person, not just in my personal journey of fitness. As always, I share to encourage and motivate, that you truly can do anything you want if you simply give it a try!
You see, I began waking at 3:45 am, was at the gym by 4 am, finished with my “intentional workout” by 5:30 am, showered and to work (healthy portable breakfast in hand while driving to work) by 6:30 am. And very little of this affected my relationship with my husband. In fact, he appreciated the fact that he had the whole bed to himself for his last hour of sleep before waking for his day!
Since then, things have changed. Remember that “velocity” factor I wrote about previously. Yes, since the beginning of the 3:45 am wake up, I’ve graduated to motherhood…a full-time working mom. My 24-hour day has stayed 24 hours, but I’m now catering to a new life. I’m preparing myself for my next day, along with my daughter and my husband (and the dog for that matter!). But the early bird is still catching the worm.
Catching the Worm
I know [somewhat] about the thoughts that are going through your mind at this point. First, erase judgement here. I realize this very well may not be for you. I know we all have our own cards we’ve been dealt…some are single moms of multiple children…some have husbands who work all night and you have to take over in the wee hours of the morning to make sure everyone gets out the door on time…some have kids who aren’t yet sleeping through the night, or had been and are suddenly going through some strange sleep regression “just because”…some of you suffer from sleep disorders. I know some readers have the restriction of their living situation and lack of availability to a gym or safe place in which to work out. But I promise you, you deserve this for yourself. You deserve to take every excuse you can muster up that has given you a pass on seeking your “alone time” to improve your health and toss it. That’s the first step. NO EXCUSES!
1) Stop Feeling Bad. Find a way to make time. If it’s not in the morning, then figure out when you can have 20-30 minutes where you don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself. Even when I was exclusively nursing my daughter her first 15 months of life (I tell you this because I know how time consuming nursing is), I made every attempt to “early bird” it, still. This is not a selfish ambition. This is my encouragement for you to maintain sanity, self-identification and happiness. This will make you a better woman, wife, mom and person!
Despite the fact that I eventually got back into my “early bird routine” (months after having my daughter), right around her 1st birthday I was reintroduced to yoga by a dear friend. I had always considered getting back to practicing because I knew the benefits it could provide to me as a runner, but couldn’t justify taking time to be away from my family. In my mind, if I was working out while my daughter was sleeping (and my husband for that matter), then I didn’t feel the “mommy guilt“.
But through months of guilt, I began to see yoga as much more than a workout or “exercise class”. It has become more of a mental break…a “mommy break”…where I come to a safe place, where I’m met with other women and mommies alike, who are there for these same reasons. To get away. To give daddy a chance to uphold the rules and be the one in charge. To play one and only one role– exist. It’s a time to challenge myself in ways I’m not capable of being challenged anywhere else. And all the while, it’s built an inner and outer strength beyond that I’d gained 10 years prior doing CrossFit. (CrossFitters, please don’t take offense! But know you, too, will need yoga eventually!)
Now that you’ve realized you’re worth taking time for, read on for the researched reasons why the early bird wins! Here’s a great article to support my advice!
2) Desire to start your day RIGHT! As much as it stinks [in most people’s opinions] to wake up before the sun rises, furthermore, to go get your sweat on, I’ve never had a friend, colleague or client complain after a morning workout that they wished they hadn’t just completed that work out. The opposite is true. They feel more ready to start their day, more prepared for the upcoming tasks and refreshed. They also reported less stress throughout their day. What better way to start your day off than as a CHAMPION! I truly believe that everyone who takes time to take care of themselves in a CHAMP…but to push the desire to linger in bed out of your mind, wake up/lace up, and work out–That makes you ELITE! You are setting yourself up for a better attitude, stronger desire to re-fuel your body appropriately [unless of course you begin justifying those donuts and lattes because of your calorie burn], and you will feel accomplished! You’re setting an amazing example for your kiddos, too, and looking sexy for your man! But remember, we’re doing this for us! We typically have less distractions to get in the way with our schedule in the morning hours, too, so it’s easier to work a morning workout into our already set schedules!
3) Expect more sound sleep. Our bodies crave consistency, especially when it comes to our sleep cycles. We all have our own circadian biological clock that ticks within us and works closely with our sleep/wake homeostasis. Although our bodies are all different and some of us are more alert at certain times than others, when it comes to our need for consistent sleep, we all can relate. We need to strive to keep consistent sleep and wake times. Once these times are established, our bodies crave that repetition and our cycles will sync to our plan. So, it’s time to prioritize and get organized. Gets lunches packed, breakfast ready and set out clothes before going to bed! Put the smart phone down and turn off the TV 30 minutes before going to sleep. Stop scrolling through Facebook while laying in bed and spend the last 20-30 minutes before going to sleep building that relationship with your spouse! Add a couples’ devotional time (or personal devotional time) if that’s your thing. And remind him to listen for the monitor in the morning 🙂
4) Find a workout that suits YOU. I know some of you run. I know some of you loathe running. And both of those views are fine. Find a workout that you will actually enjoy doing. If you’ve tried the running thing and stuck with it long enough to determine it’s really not for you, then forget about it and move on to something else. With the evolution of YouTube and so many fitness DVD’s, you are bound to find something that works for you and make this time FUN! Here’s a list of a few free sites you can easily access on your phone, ipad or computer:
- Fitness Blender: This couple rocks the house! They felt a calling to provide pretty decent workout videos (and nutritional advice) for FREE so NO ONE has an excuse NOT to work out!
- POPSUGAR Fitness: This site has so many different videos ranging from short 10 minute workouts to full 30 minute workouts. Definitely worth taking a look!
- Lululmeon Ambassador(Yoga with Lesley Fightmaster): Beginner/Intermediate/HeadstandFlow/YogaCardioHIITFlow
- Blonde Ponytail Fitness: This chick rocks my world! I love her workouts and her mindset and she also has some great pre-post natal fitness tips and workouts! Plus, we’re both “newish” moms so it’s fun to relate to her and be encouraged by her lifestyle!
Those are just a few resources to get you started until I can start uploading my own material in this project!
5) Set the tone for your tummy. By making the sacrifice (of sleep) to wake early and get that workout in, you will be less prone to reach for poor food choices throughout the day because you won’t want to “undo” what you’ve already done. You also won’t have to plan your meals around going to the gym later which will allow you to eat an earlier dinner instead of waiting until after the gym and the kids’ activities to scarf down a last minute, easy, unhealthy meal. It’s best to eat several hours before heading to bed so your food isn’t just sitting there unused while you sleep. But if you opt for the early morning workout, make sure to take time for a healthy breakfast to follow your calorie burn. Research suggests eating within a half hour of finishing your workout. And of course, have your healthy snacks ready to eat during your day!
Ultimately it’s up to you. But I challenge you to give the morning workout a try. Research suggests it takes about 21 days to form a habit. Why not create a positive one that could jump start your health for the rest of your life?
So, you tell me, does the early bird really catch the worm? Personally, I think so!