To Carpe Diem – Break the Cycle
By Lynda Linforth
Your best intentions of getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise have been foiled again. As you lie there in the echo of your alarm, wondering why you are still exhausted, you give into the fatigue and reset your alarm for the latest possible time you can risk in order to not be late for work. Driving to work, you realize the extra hour and a half you allowed yourself to sleep not only did not decrease your fatigue but has added to your guilt about not exercising. You resolve to make up for it that evening, knowing full well your day is going to get away from you, you will arrive home later than usual, eat a convenient dinner and then promise yourself to wake up early. The cycle continues.
Cycles, like habits, are hard to break and take planning and purpose to re-calibrate. Consider the following to set yourself up for success:
Set your intentions
Why do you want to get in shape? Find a more compelling reason than “I want to wear my skinny jeans”, such as health, an event or the holiday season. The reason why has to be more important to you than sleeping in or eating the office birthday cake.
Get the best sleep
Surprisingly, one of the secrets to a great night’s sleep starts the morning before. In many scientific studies, including one overseen by Emma J Wams, DPhil (PhD), et al in 2017, some findings showed that people who were exposed to unfiltered, dawn light for 30 minutes per day, actually reset their circadian rhythms and prepared them for sleep at the end of the day.
Restrict caffeine and sugar consumption (including fruit) to the morning and early afternoon and eat an evening meal rich in protein and non-starchy vegetables.
Turn off all screens one hour before bed. Not only are we stimulated by the HEV (blue) lights emitted from our screens, the content can also cause us stress or distraction which can cause interrupted sleep.
Meditation, praying or stretching before bed helps to calm the mind and body. There are several apps which can provide guidance, but my favorite by far is Calm and 40 million down-loaders agree. Calm has workshops, nature sounds, guided meditation, breathing practices and much more. Want Matthew McConaughey to read you a bedtime story? Want to fall asleep listening to rain falling on leaves (LeBron James’ favorite)? Yep, Calm delivers. I invested in a sleep headset which is two little speakers sewn into a soft headband and my nightly routine was transformed. The headset also blocks out the nocturnal acrobatics of our pets, which is another common sleep disruption.
Whether you enlist your partner, a friend or a personal trainer, one effective way to make a pre- dawn exercise appointment is to make sure someone is depending upon you to show up.
Change your exercise routine frequently to avoid boredom and also to keep your body guessing. We have access to variety of fitness programs with monthly memberships. I suggest making a complete change every 90 days.
Most people are unable to maintain consistency if the workout is more than 5 miles from their home or work place. I recently invested in a Peloton bike and I was surprised at how much I enjoy being part of the community. As an avid cyclist, my workouts are completely weather dependent. I bought a platform so I could ride my road bike inside and I hated it. I will often watch the lashing rain from my Peloton seat or look in the mirror at my outfit and hair and think “I could never look like this in the gym!”.
Consistency not perfection
Sickness, work or family dynamics can sometimes derail your best laid plans but do not let a missed workout throw off your day. Adjust and be flexible but most of all, just be consistent.
Carpe diem….et conteram exolvuntur