Building a morning routine (Part 1): Waking up early and exercising

When I wake up later than 8am and dive right into my work, I feel lethargic throughout the day. This is one reason I started doing micro-workouts. But these don’t combat lethargy like I thought they would. Successful people have morning routines for a reason, and tomorrow I’m going to start building mine.

To track my progress, I’ll log the time I wake up each morning and which exercises I do. My health coach recommended doing a workout after I wake up and following it with a short yoga practice or crocodile pose. I’ll experiment with each and determine which feels best. I’ll also add notes about how I feel after each morning practice.

To give myself a kick in the ass, I pledged $100 on Go Fucking Do It. If I don’t do the morning exercise routine each day, up until August 31, I lose the money. The money goes to the founder of the GFDI site, who probably doesn’t need the money. That’s my money, and to keep it, I need to fucking do the morning routine.

$100 pledge to Go Fucking Do It to complete morning exercise routine

Morning exercise routine

I’m choosing to exercise in the morning because I exercise anyways at the end of the day. But at the end of the day exercising feels like a chore and I’m low on energy. After working all day, I just want to chill, read a book, watch a movie, or hang with a friend. Exercising in the morning will allow me to do these things with peace of mind.

As for the type of workouts I’ll do in the morning, they can be anything I feel like, as long as they’re 30 minutes long. A body weight workout, weight lifting workout, a run, a cycling class, a yoga class — anything that involves a moderate to high level of movement. After these workouts (excluding yoga classes), I’ll do a 10-minute meditative yoga practice or static pose. This will help clear my mind and build focus for the day.

Here’s what my new mornings will look like:

  • Weekdays: Wake up at 7am, do workout, do meditative yoga practice/pose
  • Weekends: Wake up at 9am, do workout, do meditative yoga practice/pose

Anything can come after my routine. In a perfect world I would write in my journal, drink mushroom tea instead of coffee, and eat whole foods instead of cereal, but one thing at a time. Once I have this foundation, I can build on it, which is why this is Part 1.

Progress and notes

Friday, August 11

7:20 to 8:00 – Did 40-minute walk (with hills) while listening to The Daily and the WSJ Tech News Briefing podcasts. I drank Reishi Elixir while walking.

8:10 to 8:40 – Did a moderate workout. 3 rounds and 20 reps of each exercise (kettle bells swings, push-ups, jumping jacks, hands-to-toes crunches, kettle bell curls, shoulder press).

8:40 to 8:50 – Rested in crocodile pose while listening to this track.

Next time I’ll go on a shorter walk. Forty minutes is too long. Other than that, I had a good “body signal” after my workout and breakfast. I had a nice, easy poop. Even though I was exhausted (didn’t sleep), I felt healthy and accomplished.

Saturday, August 12

9:20 to 10:00 – Did 40-minute walk (with hills) while listening to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify and thinking of growth ideas for startups I’m applying to. I drank Reishi Elixir while walking.

10:10 to 10:45 – Did weight lifting workout focusing on arms (biceps and triceps). It was moderate to heavy weight. It was easier than on Friday. I had more energy.

10:45 to 10:55 – Did two rounds of warrior 1 and 2 yoga, then finished in crocodile pose. No music was on during this.

On Friday I felt good but tired. I ended up taking a long nap. Today I feel more awake, which is a good sign. What I have to focus on moving forward is eating less frequently and more healthily. I tend to justify eating and drinking things that don’t make me feel good in the long term because I did a healthy morning routine. I need to continue making good decisions in the moment: not eating when I’m stressed — only when I’m hungry — and not drinking to relax — only when I’m already relaxed.

Sunday, August 13

9:30 to 9:45 – Did a 15-minute walk to the neighborhood trail I ran at.

9:45 to 10:15 – Did a 3.2-mile run.

10:15 to 10:30 – Walked back home while trying to clear my mind. A form of meditation I guess.

When I get out of bed, I crave to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and write a journal entry or check out how my side projects are doing. This craving dissipates though as each day passes. Today it was relatively easy to get out the door, walk, and go for a run. I wasn’t thrilled about it or anything, but it wasn’t miserable. Also, I felt pretty good, better than I have in a while, after my run. I kept a steady pace and drank in the energy from the sun.

Monday, August 14

7:30 to 7:45 – Walking while drinking Reishi Elixir

7:55 to 8:00 – Stretching

8:00 to 8:30 – 4 sets of weighted chest press, 10-minute ab workout

8:30 to 8:40 – Resting in crocodile pose while listening to this track

It took me longer to get moving today than any other day during this challenge thus far. But I did get moving. Even though I was slow, I did it. I showed up. That’s what matters most when trying to adopt a new habit. I must remind myself, too, that this challenge is not a mere habit. I’m not adding one habit to an existing routine. I’m creating a whole new routine, filled with many new habits. It’s a complex effort. Waking up early. Exercising instead of eating. Trying to calm my mind after exercising. And so on. There are many moving parts, but I’m showing up and doing it. It doesn’t matter how slow I am. I’m doing it.

Tuesday, August 15

7:40 to 8:05 – 25-minute MMA workout

8:05 to 8:15 – Resting in crocodile pose while listening to this track

Again – really hard to wake up and get moving. I snoozed my alarm once. Instead of staying in bed and checking email and social media, I just need to get up. Once I get up and start moving, I’m good. I need to remember this.

Wednesday, August 16

7:30 to 7:35 – Stretching

7:35 to 8:05 – Brisk walk w/ hills while listening to this episode of the GaryVee Audio experience and drinking Reishi Elixir

8:05 to 8:15 – Warrior one and two yoga poses

I enjoyed listening to a podcast while walking today. The GaryVee podcast is a great one because it’s funny, inspiring, and informative. Laughing a little and learning something new while exercising is a great way to start the day. In fact I can’t think of anything better.

Again, I was slow moving today. Tomorrow I’ll aim to start exercising at 7:15 instead of putsying around.

Thursday, August 17

7:15 – stretching
7:25 – 15-minute walk w/ hills
7:45 – lightweight back workout (kettlebell row, barbell row, dumbbell flyes)
8:10 – 5-minute ab workout
8:15 – seated meditation

I was up and moving by 7:15am – woohoo. Putting my phone/alarm on the other side of the bedroom helped with this. After waking up, I was forced to get up. I also poured some joe in a to-go mug to accompany me during stretching and walking. I think that helped me out, too. I’m feeling pretty good while writing this and drinking my banana-coconut-strawberry-blueberry-dark-chocolate-peanut-butter-and-almond-milk smoothie.

Friday, August 18

7:15 – stretching

7:25 – 15-minute walk w/ hills

7:45 – 2-mile jog

8:10 – 15-minute meditation walk

This shit ain’t getting easier. One reason is because I dread waking up and exercising instead of looking forward to it. If I change my mindset, exercising in the morning will be easier. Sleep is an issue, too. When I don’t sleep well, exercising in the morning is as fun as opening a wine bottle with a crumbly work. I know I sleep better when I don’t eat, drink, or look at blue light before bed. So, moving forward, I’ll start looking forward to my exercise and not consume anything before sleeping. To achieve this, I’ll keep the image of the body I want in mind.

Saturday, August 19

9:15- walk

9:30 – weight lifting (bench press, deadlifts, barbell curls)

10:00 – seated meditation

Sunday, August 20

9:40 – cycling

10:05 – ab workout

10:15 – crocodile pose meditation

Monday, August 21

7:10 – stretching

7:20 – body weight workout

7:50 – crocodile post meditation

Brutal but I’m going to keep on grinding. I think this is because I didn’t sleep well again. A lot of tossing and turning. This is probably because I watched TV right before going to bed instead of writing or reading. After I get my morning routine down I should probably work on an evening routine.

Tuesday, August 22

7:45 – 1.5-mile walk w/ hills

8:20 – yoga and meditation

Wednesday, August 23

7:45 – 1.5-mile walk w/ hills

8:20 – yoga and meditation

I’m starting something new. Instead of doing harder workouts in the morning, I’m walking at a moderate pace up big hills. Doing weight lifting and high-impact cardio in the morning is too hard on my nervous system, to the point where I’m not deriving any benefit from the workout. It stresses me out too much. This pivot is fine and in line with my goal. The walking I’m doing isn’t mere walking. I’m working up a sweat and some internal heat. I would consider it a workout.

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