A little more than thirty days ago I challenged myself to use my dog as an alarm clock to rise and shine (usually around 4:30 AM) taking advantage of the extra hours added to my day by getting in a workout and some writing. The fact that I got up and worked out before making coffee and sitting down to the computer this morning is a testament to the fact that my challenge was pretty successful. Though, I was far less perfect in my waking and workouts and writing than I had expected.
Early morning wake-ups on Saturdays and Sundays stopped after the first week. I slept in on Thanksgiving, for sure. And there were a few weekend days in there that I’ve stayed in bed later than I have in years. But, all in all it was a great way to jump start my writing and lifting. I thought maybe I’d get in the habit of doing cardio too. I did. Once. That was it. I’m okay with that.
This project came at the perfect time, as I began experiencing symptoms of SAD, like I do every year, just as I was getting started. Simply getting up and being productive first thing each was more beneficial than I could have imagined. Often times it spread to the rest of my day as well. Furthermore, the reflection involved in writing has helped me piece a few things together about my symptoms that I hadn’t before, specifically that sitting still is not something I should be doing often or for long periods of time if I’m feeling depressed. I saw very quickly that the more I sat and less I did, the worse I felt. I suppose this is a pretty intuitive observation to most, but until this year, it hadn’t been so clearly proven to me. Now that I know how much better I feel when I’m moving I rarely want to take a break, and when I do I’m so darn exhausted that I feel I’ve earned it as opposed to feeling guilty for it.
And of course I’m starting to see the benefits of my workouts too. I’m lifting more than I’ve been able to in a long time, and I’m actually able to push myself hard enough to make myself sore. For the record this is a product of my mind, not my strength. If I had pushed myself hard in the beginning, regardless of how much weight I moved, I would have been just as sore then as I’ve been recently. But honestly, I wasn’t really worried about how hard I was working at the time. I was just focused on getting my butt down to the gym. Now, thirty days later, I have more of a purpose when I’m working out than “just don’t fall asleep mid-rep.” I am slowly feeling the Personal Trainer in me find her way out. It’s fun!
I’ve learned how to hit the snooze button on my dog so that he will sleep at my feet until at least 5:00 AM. I find this time to be much more acceptable for a wake-up wag than 4:30. So, even though it’s still annoying to wake so early when I don’t have to, I can certainly manage and it’s certainly worth it. And because I love challenges/need deadlines, we (Tyler and I, and his mom, I think) have decided that we will complete another Whole 30 starting January 4th. Assuming I’m still up for my workouts and words, nutrition will be the final piece to the puzzle. You might not even recognize me come February 4th.
Oh, and a quick “Thank You” to my early morning alarm clock, workout buddy, co-author and giver of slimy kisses, the amazing JD.