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Oh what a beautiful morning

I’ve been waking up at 7:00 a.m. this week. Not only that, but instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, I’ve been getting out of bed at 7:03. And it’s not because I took a part-time newspaper delivery job or because I’ve been driving friends to the airport. I’ve been getting up early to exercise.

To put this in perspective, I was the girl in middle school who slept in her clothes so she could sleep an extra five minutes in the morning. I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. to wait at the bus corner in the dark with Orion. I wore contact lenses one summer, but quit when school started because it took two whole minutes to stick the little plastic films in my eyes. Those were two minutes I preferred to spend drooling on my pillow.

If you’d told me that 10 years later I’d voluntarily be getting up that early to exercise, I would have laughed and laughed and fallen off the couch and that would have been all the cardio I’d have gotten that day. Yet here I am, writing a blog entry after a seven o’clock Pilates workout. It’s possible my adult sleeping patterns have kicked in. You need less sleep the older you get. I also keep a regular sleep schedule and I’m frequently out of bed by 9:00 a.m. on the weekends. At least the sun is shining at 7:00, which wasn’t the case at the bus stop.

I’ve always exercised in the evenings, right when I get home from work. But this left me feeling slightly worried because even after working for eight hours and commuting for one, I still had 30-60 minutes of exercise to complete. Even though I was at home, I had more work to do before I could really relax for the evening. There was always the possibility I would make an excuse to skip it or that I’d have something else to do that night which would mess with my plans. Getting my weights or Pilates done in the morning eases my mind since I know I’ve already gotten that out of the way for the day. It’s nice coming home and knowing the rest of the day is free for me to do as I please. Well, mostly. I’ve still been doing my walking and biking in the evenings because there’s no way I’m getting up at 6:00 to cram all that in.

It’s still a struggle though. When I’m staggering out of bed and trying not to stub my toe on the baseboards, I seriously think about going back to bed. But I put on my workout clothes anyway and tell myself, “You don’t get to eat breakfast until you finish your workout.” This is basically the only thing making me workout. I really want that bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. And my cat really loves getting a bowl of cat food an hour earlier too.

Hopefully I can keep this up. When winter comes and it’s dark in the mornings I may stop. I flirted briefly with running in the mornings last fall and it didn’t suit me. I’ll take it as it comes, day by day, just as I always do. And there will always be oatmeal in the mornings, no matter what time it is.

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barbara • July 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

I’m a big fan of exercising in the morning – I don’t like having it on my “to do” list all day, because honestly, I don’t want to do it after a day at work. Plus, I feel better during the day when I’ve done it in the morning. Granted, I don’t have to be at work as early as you do, and I don’t have a long commute, so it’s a little easier for me to do it in the morning without getting up at the crack of dawn, but I think I’d do it first thing even if I were on an earlier schedule.

In the winter, it IS hard to get up and out the door. So my new “trick” is, I take a class a few times a week in the morning that I have to pay for ahead of time – I’m too cheap to skip it!


Christina • July 13, 2007 at 11:18 am

I recently switched to morning workouts because I strongly prefer to run outside, and it is just too hot to go out after 8am. One thing I really like about the switch is if I do oversleep and miss my workout, I have another shot after work.

I found my hunger patterns changed after the switch: I was ravenous through breakfast and lunch, and barely had any appetite for dinner. I am curious if you run into similar changes as well.


Kate • July 13, 2007 at 11:20 am

I’ve never been a morning person ever, and I give you credit for getting up in the morning to exercise. I get up early just never can seem motivated to do anything productive.


Cheryl • July 13, 2007 at 11:25 am

Actually, in the winter it gets light out earlier in the day, so you might have an easier time of it. I really need to start working out first thing in the morning (or at all, really). You’re inspiring me!


starbird • July 13, 2007 at 11:49 am

Timing is everything! Here’s a message I found on my *other* favorite website: http://www.flylady.net

She said: “I’m on Weight Watchers, and it works, but I tend to be a fast eater, and am often still hungry when the meal is over. If left to my own devices, I would continue to eat until I felt satisfied – but from what I read, most people still feel hungry even 20 minutes after eating.

“So….. I now eat my meal (plenty of food really, but my tummy just doesn’t believe it), and then I set my timer for 15 minutes (I figure the time I spent eating plus 15 minutes is probably close enough to twenty minutes)…. I tell myself that if I’m still hungry, after the timer goes off I can have something else(healthy of course!).

“In the mean time, I have a glass of water. The funny thing is, when I use this technique, when the timer goes off I find I’m not hungry any more. You CAN do ANYTHING for 15 minutes… even not eating!!”

This note was from a woman in Nebraska. Personally, I exercise when I have the time. As a freelance writer, my time isn’t always my own and I don’t work regular hours. I *am* off to my gym right now – before 9 am! That’s a record for early for me.


dg • July 13, 2007 at 12:44 pm

darned if i don’t have that bloody song stuck in my head now…. :) pilates in the AM must feel wonderful. a nice way to feel all stretched out and lovely for the day.


JanB • July 13, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I used to look at this treadmill all day, every day, thinking, “I should just get on it and walk.” and I never did. That was what made me change to first thing in the morning.

There is another benefit. When you get up earlier, your metabolism gets a huge boost earlier in the day and works steadily all day long. I found that was a double whammy as far as my fat was concerned. It just kicks the crap out of my fat that’s left on my body. I love that!


Sam • July 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

PQ- I’m so proud of you. I’ve been getting up at 4:30 every morning for one year, so I could get out and walk/run. I use the first thirty minutes to wake up, drink some water, stretch, then I’m out of the house by 5. It was really hard for the first few months. But I can’t have a good day now unless I have my run. It wakes me up and I just feel so good now. I do try to get to bed by 10pm though, and that is hard having 3 kids. Keep it up, I promise you, it will become part of who you are and you’ll miss it if you stop




Candy • July 13, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Hi! Congrats on working out in the am!! My best friend and I have been working out starting at 5:50 in the morning for about 3 months or so now. We love it. But we both admit that without each other, we’d never make it that early in the morning alone. So congratulations on your accomplishment. One day at a time, one workout at a time.


Jenny • July 13, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Finding your “time” for excercise is critical. Mine is after work. It delays the time I spend on the couch and controls that “bad time” during 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. when I can eat two/three dinners.

I wish I could do morning workouts because I know it would jump start my metabolism and my day.

But I know what works, so that’s what I do.


hannah • July 13, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Hi PQ, I finally finished reading through all your archives. I really can´t express how much you amaze me! So I´ll just say: keep it up, you´re my hero!


Lindsey • July 13, 2007 at 6:38 pm

This is to follow-up on what someone else said about the benefits of working out in the morning (now if I could only follow my own advice/knowledge). It does two things if you exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (i) lose more fat and (ii) boosts your metabolism. From what I remember it has to do with depleting your glycogen stores. When you work out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, your stomach has no food in it for your cardio to burn, so it immediately uses up your glycogen stores (usually takes about 20 mins), then you start burning fat directly.

Otherwise, you have burn up most of what you have in your stomach first and your glycogen stores before you access fat directly.

If you’re doing intense cardio in the cardio vascular range, your body will access your glycogen stores (which is why it’s important to exercise for at least 20 minutes to achieve any cardio benefit). If you’re working at a lower intensity in the fat burning range (usually a brisk walk), you’re body doesn’t the need the quick access of the glycogen and will opt to directly tap into your stored fat.

So, if you even do a brisk walk or lower rate cardio in the morning on an empty stomach, you will burn fat (though less calories than the higher intensity cardio) and boost metabolism. The one caveat is that if you’re doing anything intense for more than 30-45 mins, you’re going to need to eat something to continue exercising at that rate (otherwise, you’ll bonk and/or get light-headed because your body can’t break down the fat cells quickly enough to give your muscles energy).

If you’re doing the higher intensity cardio, it’s also important to get a good nutritional recovery to replace your glycogen stores immediately afterwarsmso you don’t overeat later in the. I’ve seen this suggested at 150-200 calories depending on the size of the person with a 4:1 ratio of quick absorbing carbs to protein. Otherwise, you’ll start starving about 45 minutes after the end of your work out when the endorphins leave your system and run a greater risk of overeating and defeating a lot of the benefits of your cardio because your body is trying to replace your glycogen stores.

If you’re doing the less intense fat-burning cardio, the recovery drink isn’t necessary because you didn’t tap into your glycogen stores, not by much.

A heart monitor also helps tell you if you in the lower fat-burning phase or the higher cardiovascular phase.

This whole thing is also why may professionals will suggest cardio in the morning and weights in the late afternoon or evening (not on an empty stomach or you’ll bonk).


Marla • July 13, 2007 at 7:30 pm

Oh dear. I’ve been getting up at 5:00 or 5:30 in order to walk before it gets hot. I know that’s a terrible bit of one-upmanship, but honestly I can’t feel for your 7:00 a.m. hardship. Give me your cell phone number; I’ll call you when I hit the road…

hee hee hee


jake silver • July 14, 2007 at 5:46 am

They do say that morning exercisers stick with it more. For all the reasons you listed out…


K • July 14, 2007 at 7:10 am

Oh dear. I have to get up soon after 7 (well, I should really get up at 7 but I don’t) to go to work, and even then I nearly fall asleep on the bus. So getting up even earlier wouldn’t work. I’m just a night owl.

The only benefit is that I wake up earlier at the weekend than I used to. I didn’t go to bed until after 1 last night (because I didn’t have to) and I still woke up at 7.30, so I get more Saturday…

I didn’t instantly go and exercise, though.


Cindy • July 14, 2007 at 9:49 am

Hi PQ,

I find that I can’t face “exercise” in the early morning, but I can take a walk. I do a half hour or a 45 minute loop, depending on my mood or how much time I’ve left myself. It is enough to get the day started—and, if I don’t find time later in the day to exercise, at least I’ve had the walk. It has the added bonus of giving me time to think before I have to face people and conversations. It is a good way to start the day (@ 5:45 or 6:00 am, as I need to be in the shower by 7:00!). I am still working on how to build in a real “exercise” time—funny how easy it is to put that off!


bazu • July 14, 2007 at 10:21 am

Exercising in the morning is the best! If nothing else goes well that day, you’ll at least have the post-exercise euphoria and sense of accomplishment! I find that when I can maintain a morning workout routine is when I’m most successful with the whole fitness/weight loss thing. Good for you! And, you’ve inspired me to quit web-surfing and go out for a run.


HM • July 14, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Here’s another vote for exercising bright and early. I figure by the time I’m fully awake, I’ve got my exercise in for the day. Plus, it starts the day of with a sense of accomplishment.

Thanks for your inspiring blog!



BrightAngel • July 14, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Good job. I love exercising in the morning.

It raises my mood for the rest of the day.


Chris • July 15, 2007 at 7:54 am

For me, 7 am “IS” sleeping in! I’m up at 5:15 on weekddays just to get to work on time! But I’m the same way, if I can get my workout in BEFORE I get home, it’s sure to get done (I go to the gym for my “lunch” hour, though it’s normally more like 10:30 to miss the lunch crowd). Otherwise, I just can’t guarantee that it’s going to get done.


lainey • July 15, 2007 at 4:25 pm

I’m not as early as Marla but I’m getting up at 6am in order to work out before my 70 minute commute. Not nice – but oh so worth it! How smug am I?

Keep it up lady. x


melsky • July 15, 2007 at 7:43 pm

My goal is to get in some exercise before breakfast every day now. I’m usually a morning person so it shouldn’t be that hard.

I always assumed it would be unhealthy to work out before eating.


Rachel • July 16, 2007 at 12:23 am

I used to be an avid morning workout person. Since I met the boy though, who’s a night owl, and we started staying up till past midnight, I’ve gotten lax on it.

I found that when I exercised in the morning, I was more apt not to indulge in that “oh, what the hell” type thinking if I ate something on my “bad” foods list. You know, the “What the hell, I already ate X so I might as well eat Y and Z.”

I no longer think in food in terms of bad and good, but there’s still something about walking around the city just waking from its slumber that I miss.


Annie • July 16, 2007 at 9:40 am

I would love to do that too if I didn’t have to get up so early to be at work. I am already settling in when you are climbing out of bed and trying to avoid those baseboards. Maybe I need to find a job that lets me come in later…could solve a lot of things for me. ;)


LadyT • July 16, 2007 at 12:05 pm

i like that feeling too….when i am crazy at work and thinking there is no way i’ve got a workout in me, its better for me to excercise in the mornings. though i just switched back to the mornings this was something i used to do regularly.

i think it will help me get in the 5 days i need instead of the 3 i was settling for.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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