Running in the Morning – Tips to get Out the Door

Today’s article on running in the morning was written by guest author Dan Chabert. If you’d like to get in touch with Dan please check out his contact info at the end of the article.

running in the morning
Pixabay

Many people – myself included – often have the best of intentions to start their day with a workout. The day soon gets away from them, so they think that they’ll work-out after work.  When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll work-out after dinner.  When that doesn’t happen they say they’ll just do something short and sweet before bed, at home.  And when that doesn’t happen they relegate themselves to the couch, binging on Netflix and ice cream, and feeling bad about themselves. Sound familiar?

Without a doubt, we’re all busy people. I don’t know a single person who has so much free time on his or her hands that he or she complains about regularly being bored. With work, parenting, family obligations, school, and whatever other life commitment that pops up, many of us may feel like we don’t have the time or the opportunity to properly take care of ourselves.  Whether it’s eating right and exercising regularly  it’s not so much a matter of willpower as it is a matter of time management. If only I had a 25th hour, we say…

I’ve read studies that suggest that people’s willpower is at its highest levels in the morning, which means for many people that the likelihood of them making positive, healthy decisions – such as exercising – is more apt to happen earlier, rather than later, in the day. I’m one of those people. Experience has taught me again and again that if I don’t figure out a way to get my run in in the a.m. hours, it’s safe to assume that it’s not going to happen at all.

I’m guest posting on Former Fitness Flunky today because I want to share with you some of my best practices for developing a morning fitness routine. I’ll couch my suggestions specific to running, but the same principles hold true for any fitness routine you can complete. Running in the morning is completely doable, but it takes not only the ambition and drive to stick with it day after day but also a hefty amount of deliberate planning. Before you quickly dismiss me and claim that you’re not a morning exerciser and will never be one, I implore you: try it! You may find that exercising most mornings becomes the difference between you entering into a regular fitness routine and you continuing to falter and planning to start “next Monday.” Hear me out, and give running in the morning a chance.

Before You Go to Sleep at Night

Set multiple (and I mean multiple!) alarms.

My experiences have taught me the value in setting many alarms to ensure that I wake-up to run in the early morning hours, and this was especially true for me when I was in the process of developing my habit for the first time. If you’re going to be waking-up much earlier than you usually do, setting more than one alarm – at least initially – will be wise. It goes without saying, but unless you’re working third shift, set your alarms for the A.M. hours, not P.M. (You’d think that’d be obvious, but alas…).

Prepare all your gear.

It can be a nuisance to take the time before you go to bed to lay-out all your workout attire (such as your shoes, watch, clothes, and the like), but before you start to complain about this tedious extra step, think of it in different terms.  If spending 10 minutes at night putting out your clothes ensures that you can sleep for at least 20 extra minutes in the morning – and save you extra time fumbling around your house looking for an errant sock – is it worth it? (Unequivocally, yes!).

You could even literally sleep in your workout attire if you wanted. Even consider setting timers on your coffeemaker, so it goes off when you’ll be getting up in the morning (or shortly beforehand), and prepare your pre- and post-workout food so when you get up and get going, you’ll be ready to get moving straightaway. You’ll find that you’ll be able to streamline your morning process, thanks to lots of trial and error, the more you do it. Don’t get discouraged if you miss something the first time around.

Just go to bed.

Social media is great for a lot of things, but it’s definitely not great for helping us fall asleep at night. If I’m not careful – and maybe this is the same for you – “just checking” my social media channels before bed usually sucks a good 45+ minutes of sleep away from me because I get lured into watching videos that I don’t need to watch or taking silly quizzes that I don’t need to take. When you’re going to be waking-up early in the morning to run, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of sleep each night, and perusing social media does not help.

You might even want to consider setting hard-and-fast boundaries for yourself for technology usage in bed, such as limiting yourself to a set amount of time or cutting yourself off from it entirely. After a while, once you get used to waking up early to run/exercise, you’ll likely find that when you get into bed each night, you actually want to go to sleep, anyway. Plus, when you’re first getting started, consider getting into bed a little earlier than normal each night, even if it’s only a 20- or 30-minute difference. Sleep is critical for all of us, but it’s especially important for early risers. Don’t shortchange yourself!

The Morning Of

Initially, it will probably stink. Expect it.

Unless you are a naturally early riser, those first few early wake-up calls will probably be rough, and you’ll probably question your motivation, if not also your sanity, for waking up early to run. My experiences have taught me that it’s easier to just accept and acknowledge that those first few times will probably be mildly horrible; once you accept it and even anticipate it, it’s really not so bad. This adjustment period takes time to get accustomed to, but once you are, you’ll probably find that getting up early just becomes part of your routine, something that you do without question.

Anytime we do something different from how we usually do things, there’s typically a learning curve involved, and once we figure things out, it’s not so bad after all. Give yourself a chance here, and I implore you: don’t be so quick to write off early morning workouts based on your first few experiences (especially if it means the difference between you working out and not working out at all). When your alarms start to buzz, cue your inner Bob Marley and get up and stand up;it’s that easy. Exercising in the morning is a tremendous way to wake-up, and you’ll probably find that it puts you in a great mood for the rest of the day, too.

Research the weather, if necessary, but nothing else.

Like I mentioned before, social media is a killer time-suck, and if you “just check” your social media channels in the morning, before you exercise, you may lose your opportunity to run altogether. If anything, if applicable, check the weather so you ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for the elements outside, but that’s it. Don’t let the internet sabotage your workout opportunity; unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience on this one. Your email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blog – whatever – can all wait until you return.

Make it a group effort for (more) fun and safety.

When you’re an early morning runner, you might find that you feel more motivated to get up and get out there when your friend is doing the same – and is waiting on you to show up. Plus, you may also find that you feel safer if you’re hitting the roads with someone else, whether it’s your best friend or your furry, four-legged friend. If you go out with someone else, you’ll probably find that the time flies by, and it’ll help you get your day off to a great start.

Be as safe as possible.

Last but certainly not least, when you are exercising in the pre-dawn hours outside, it is critical that you ensure your own personal safety because your life could be on the line, as over-dramatic as that may sound. Invest in some safety accouterments to help make yourself be visible to others when it’s dark outside – such as apparel with reflective elements, a reflective vest, a headlamp, knuckle lights, and some sort of personal identification (like a RoadID) – so that other pedestrians and motorists can see you from afar.

Running with a buddy (person or canine) can help with safety, as well, but be sure to also use common sense. Don’t run somewhere in the dark that you haven’t run in the daytime before, and trust your instincts. Consider, also, running with your phone and without listening to music. Lastly, while black is incredibly slimming, don’t wear all black on your morning runs because you’ll be hard to see.

Before you write yourself off as not being a “morning runner” or exerciser, give running in the morning a try for a while. You can literally help yourself plan for success by doing a fair bit of planning in order to make morning exercise a habit. The longer you keep at it and give it a try, the more opportunities you’ll find that you can streamline, distractions that you can eliminate, and processes that you can strengthen. In time, I bet you’ll even come to enjoy your early-morning workouts/runs and look forward to them … and wonder what took you so long to try it in the first place.

See you out there, fellow sunrise chaser.

Dan ChabertAuthor Bio

Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on runnerclick.com and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.

 

5 Gym Bag Essentials

Gym Bag Essentials
Pixabay

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.  Thank you for your support.

Gym bag essentials are the products I want with me during or after a great workout. Everyday it seems like there are new and fabulous products to include, but as of late I’ve found five really solid items I just can’t leave home without:

Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser
Gym Bag EssentialsWhile Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser is billed as a makeup remover when I first heard about micellar water it was touted as more of a cleansing product so that’s how I use it. A cotton pad and a glug of this stuff helps get dirt off your face you didn’t even know was there. I use it prior to showering to remove deep dirt and grime.  If I’m in a rush without time to shower it’s perfect as a face refresher instead.  It does not need to be rinsed off and while I do feel a very light residue after using it, it’s not unpleasant or bothersome.

 

Batiste Original Clean Dry Shampoo
Gym Bag Essentials I used to wash my hair once a day or more if I worked out and got sweaty.  I really had no idea what I was missing before stumbling onto dry shampoo.  After trying a few brands I discovered Batiste Original Clean Dry Shampoo and I love, love, love it.  No longer do I feel forced to wash my hair as often as before.  A quick spray, tousle, and style is all it takes to get a fresh look that lasts.  It’s perfect for after working out since there’s not always time to dry and style if you’re on the go.  I have to be careful not to over spray or else I get white splotches in my hair, but other than that this dry shampoo is really a dream.

 

Elastic Hair Ties Bracelets
Gym Bag Essentials What’s different about these Elastic Hair Ties Bracelets? No metal bits to get caught on your hair.  The wide, flat band holds my hair really well and the super stretchy elasticity let’s me double or triple my loop if I need a really tight hold.  They hold up to vigorous activity and never fail to keep my hair in place which definitely makes them a gym bag essential.  They also never leave marks in my hair.  I’ll never go back to the tight little round elastics with the metal binding after using this type of band.

 

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Gel
Gym Bag Essentials As I get older I find that my skin doesn’t always look as plump as I’d like. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizing Gel to the rescue. This stuff leaves my skin looking hydrated throughout the day, doesn’t block my pores and provides a perfect canvas for makeup or going bare. It has a really nice texture and a little goes a long way too.  A little dab after working out leaves my skin looking fresh and perfectly hydrated.

 

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Firming Moisturizer
Gym Bag EssentialsJergens Natural Glow Daily Firming Moisturizer has been around for years, but I come back to it time and time again.  Not only does it leave my skin soft and smooth, but adds a great hint of color.  I don’t tan anymore so this little bit of color is perfect for shorts season. Until I bought my last tube I didn’t realize there was a regular and a firming version. I’ve been using the firming version, but honestly don’t notice any difference in that area. Still, the color boost is enough to keep me coming back. I just smooth some on after getting out of the shower, give it a few minutes to dry and off I go.

What are some of your gym bag essentials? Share your favorite products in the comments!

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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This post contains affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. This does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Don’t Let Other People’s Experiences get in Your Head

Other People's Experiences
Pixabay

Before I had my hysterectomy this spring I talked with lots of other women who had experience with similar procedures. As with anything else there was tons of advice and information shared. Some of it was good and some of it was crap. The most important thing I learned was not to let other people’s experiences get in my head. That sounds kind of negative but hear me out.

The women who had bad or difficult experiences were often the most vocal. One person told me having a hysterectomy will lead to organ prolapse and all my bits would fall out. This would be a very specific issue due to a variety of physical factors and not particularly likely. One women told me I would have terrible hot flashes and I should prepare to be miserable. This would typically only happen if you had both ovaries removed which doesn’t happen in all cases. One women told me I should prepare to gain weight due to hormone issues. Admittedly, this was the one that really got me. I researched and researched and what I found were a lot of websites with a lot of info on “female hormone imbalance” spouting a lot of home remedy type bullshit. What I did not find were credible, trustworthy sources that cited specific research and information indicating that this was really true. Crisis averted.

This bad info caused me a bit of anxiety. Were people trying to make me worry needlessly? No, they were trying to help, but their help was shaped by their experience, preconceived notions and education or lack thereof.

Fitness and diet are areas where this situation applies too. How many people have you met that wanted to project their experiences onto you? Your co-worker did Atkins or 21 Day Fix or some other program so surely that must be the right way to lose weight. Your sister eschewed a specific diet but was all about CrossFit or CIZE or whatever so that has to be the right way to get fit. Someone has a food or exercise horror story or triumph to share so that experience must be the way things are, right?

In reality it’s not that cut and dry. I’ve learned over a lot of years there is no one right approach to food or fitness. It’s great to gain insight and knowledge from other people but you can’t let other people’s experiences get in your head. What is true for one person may absolutely not be true for you. And what is true for you today may not be later down the road. As with a lot of things it pays to seek professional advice, do your own research and treat what you hear with a touch of healthy skepticism until you can draw your own conclusions.

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

Sign up for the Newsletter

This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. This does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Meal Prep Inspiration/Pinspiration

Meal prep is my number one way to stay on track when it comes to eating better, but sometimes I need fresh and new meal ideas.  When I need meal prep inspiration I head straight to Pinterest.  There I have found hundreds of meal prep ideas, recipes and even suggestions for storage and transport.  Today I have rounded up some of my very favorite pins to share in hopes they spark your meal prep inspiration too.

Having meals ready that you can store in the freezer helps ensure that you have long-term options available. Building a little stock pile of individual or family sized meals that are ready to defrost and eat can get you over the hump when you may not have time to grab fresh ingredients:

On the other hand, sometimes you crave fresh veggies and greens. When the mood strikes it’s awesome to be able to pack a whole bunch of salads at once and have them last throughout the week:

Freezer pancakes are such a great idea for busy mornings. I used this pin as a jumping off point for coming up with a variety of variations for various dietary needs. Whether you’re doing Whole30, Paleo, keto or another diet, prepping and freezing pancakes in bulk is a really simple and easy way to ensure you have a solid breakfast ready each morning.

Meal prep may not always be about prepping a whole meal. Sometimes it’s nice to have meal components ready and available just to help you get food on the able faster. This cauliflower rice is one of those things you may not have time to make on a weeknight, but prepping a few bags can help ensure you have healthy side dishes ready in just a few minutes:

Sometimes I stumble upon new types of containers for prepping. You absolutely do not need fancy containers to do meal prep, but sometimes it can be handy for stacking and storing or portion control when you do use the same container for each meal. I really like these 3 section containers, though I’ll admit I have not decided whether or not to spend the money on them. Right now I’m fairly happy with my Great Value 25 oz. entree containers from Walmart.

Since coming off Whole30 I’ve been exploring keto or low carb recipes a little more. I like them because they can be fairly on track with Whole30, but allow for dairy, which I love. This recipe for pizza rolls is definitely an “eat in moderation” type of recipe, but it’s easy, stores really well and makes a fantastic meal when paired with salad or veggies so it’s perfect for meal prepping.

Whenever you need new ideas it can be so much fun to see what other people have had success with. Please stop by and check out my entire collection of Meal Prep pins for more meal prep inspiration:




About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more.

Sign up for the Newsletter

This post may contain affiliate or sponsored links. Any link which leads to items/services for purchase outside this website may result in a commission or flat rate payment to Former Fitness Flunky, LLC or it’s owner. This does not impact the price you pay. Please read the Affiliate Disclosure for additional information.

Transitioning off Whole30 and Reintroduction

Transitioning off Whole30

I’m one day away from finishing my fifth Whole30.  Transitioning off Whole30 has always been a challenge for me because by the time the days are up I am done.  Like annoyed, fried, a bit angry at food and plain grumpy about eating.  It’s been this way almost every time.  While a slow reintroduction would probably be good I am so over it that eating anything off plan sounds absolutely delightful.  Does this result in tummy aches?  Of course.  Does it result in regret?  Occasionally.  Does it ruin the progress I made?  Nope!

Transitioning off Whole30 in an orderly fashion (aka “Reintroduction“) is meant to give you greater insight into how certain foods affect you.  Adding food back one group or type at a time allows you to experiment with how you feel after eating.  This way you can take control over items or groups that may cause you trouble.  Maybe beans or oats or rice don’t bother you a bit, but alcohol or dairy sends you into fits.  You may never nail down the source of potential issues if you add back lots of different foods at one time.  The Whole30 website lays out a 10 day plan for reintroducing potential agitators.  It’s a smart plan, but in all honesty I’ve never had the patience to follow it very closely.  Even without following the plan I’ve still been able to identify some potential trigger foods so I don’t think I’ve cheated myself too bad.

Each Whole30 has helped me a little bit differently.  I’ve learned there really are certain foods that bother me more than others.  I’ve learned that eating greatly impacts my sleep.  I discovered that alcohol, while occasionally enjoyable, is pretty much not my friend.  I’ve learned that I can eat more by volume (a hugely surprising amount) of quality food and actually lose weight.  I’ve found that Whole30 helps me reset my cravings for sugar and junk food.  I also learned that food actually starts to taste different once you aren’t eating sugar and processed goo.

I didn’t step on the scale once or take measurements or even pictures this time.  This time it was about cutting out food that wasn’t nutritionally sound and killing my cravings for junk food.  In the past I’ve wanted to stick with Whole30 principals and for a while it has worked, but eventually the bad stuff has crept back in.  Instead of letting things spiral into an eventual free for all I’m making a different plan this time. I’m going to to eat fairly close to Whole30, but add dairy back in.  Dairy is something I miss terribly when I do Whole30 so I feel like if I allow some latitude with this food group maybe it will be easier to stick with eating better.

Are you thinking about starting a Whole30 or doing one right now?  Follow my Whole30 Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration!

 

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week, both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends!

Want to see more Whole30 posts? Check these out!

Disclaimer: This post chronicles my personal experience while working through the Whole30. This is not a recommendation or suggestion for you to do the same, nor is it an endorsement of the Whole30 program. Before you begin this or any diet or exercise program you should discuss it with your doctor or qualified health care provider to determine whether it is safe for you. This post is based on my personal situation and is for information purposes only. Anything contained herein should not be treated as guidance or advice.