So you could imagine how I would fare as a morning exerciser.
However, when I knew it was time to add regular workouts to achieve my weight-loss goals, I realized it had to be in the early morning, before the kids woke up. I tried doing DVDs during my youngest's afternoon nap, but when she crashed, I wanted to, as well. Getting a sweat on was not my first choice. Plus, with the other two kids under foot there was always an interruption.
Zero Dark Thirty it is, then.
I started getting up around 5 am and it took a good two weeks to not feel like hot death around 2 pm. But I realized that once I got in the swing of things and got my bedtime/wake-up time synched with enough sleep, it was doable.
I can't tell you how many times I've pushed myself through a workout with the mental urging: This is the hardest thing you have to do today. Get through this and the rest of the day is easy by comparison. By 7:30 am, the hardest part of your day is done.
I was thinking about this last Thursday during a run. I stepped out of the house at 6:30 am and it was dark. Pitch black, like, middle-of-the-night dark. I stood there for a second wondering why (later I realized we wouldn't turn the clocks back for another 3 days) and then headed back into the house to get my reflective can-see-me-from-Mars jacket and light.
I started out under a full moon, which was spookily darting in and out of thin, wispy clouds. Running my backwoods route, in the pitch black, under a full moon the day after Halloween: half-cool, half expecting a zombie to come at me from the woods.
As cars whizzed past, lit only by headlights, I was grateful for my jacket and light. On a side note, I see a ton of pre-dawn runners out without reflective gear. Seriously? A death wish. At least get a light.
Soon, the dawn started to break, as if someone was slowly turning up a dimmer on the sky. I got to the halfway point of my out-and-back, which that morning was at the crest of a small hill. I paused for a second and looked around, noticing the sun was streaming out over the horizon. The sky was pure blue. The hardy, remaining yellow and orange leaves on the trees seemed to glow as far as I could see.
It was so crazy beautiful, a gift I would never have received had I not become a morning outdoor exerciser. I would never see, nor appreciate, the sunrise over a gorgeous fall morning in Massachusetts. I am not a nature person, never have been. For me, camping is best done in a hotel where there is a comfy bed, no bugs and maybe a minifridge. So to really appreciate and enjoy this is quite the sea change.
So there I was, standing on top of this hill, looking out over a beautiful sunrise, early in the morning and I thought, for the zillionth time in the past almost 2 years: Who have I become?
Yes, I knew I could lose weight. But look what else came with that determination. I became a runner - a half-marathoner. A person who goes to bed early to get up early, go outside and run through the back roads of New England. And actually like it. All of that? Things I never expected but for which I am very grateful.
I feel like working out in the morning outdoors is almost like a secret club. We get our workouts done and sometimes it is the most beautiful setting just for ourselves. Whenever I see another runner or cyclist on the road at the same time, I always want to look at them, like, I know, right?
I'm not saying predawn is the best time to work out because the best time for you to work out is any time you will do it. What I'm trying to say is the beauty of the outdoors and this quiet time with nature is a gift I never expected to receive, but one for which I am very grateful.
The other day I was mentally running through my week while driving. I swear, it's like I have a cable news crawl constantly running at the bottom of my consciousness: Karate today, 4 pm...Daisies tomorrow, 5 pm....interview today, 2 pm...article due tonight....out of Chobani, get to the store...15 PPV left today...
Anyway, one of the things on my crawl was that tomorrow was Thursday and I immediately thought: I get to run. Not I have to run, I get to run. Whoa.
And that is what always amazes me about getting healthy and fit. The gifts you receive reach so far beyond the scale or clock. The unexpected are the sweetest and most cherished.