I know I'm not the ONLY one who exercises early in the morning. While I don't have stats on the percent of exercising adults who workout before 7:00am, I know there are quite a lot of us; I see my tribe at the gym when I'm there at o'dark thirty. (Seriously, why would commercial gyms open at 5:00am if there wasn't a demand for it?) Still, whenever I get into a conversation with a friend about exercise and it comes out that I'm on the treadmill at 5:00am, I get the "are you out of your bleeping mind" look.
The thing is, adulting is hard. There are a lot of pressures flying in (and sometimes sticking around) from different directions. We're wearing so many hats - wife, mom, friend, volunteer, employee - that without fail, when one of those important elements in life is out of whack with high stress, the other areas suffer too.
I know it sounds cliche, but exercise is my fix. When I'm not moving my body regularly, the carefully-laid house of cards I've built that has the appearance of everything going smoothly in my life is going to get blown over by the slightest of stressors. Enter the 5AM workout. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I've tried other times of the day and it just doesn't fit for my life. I have to be at work by 7:30am so I can leave by 4:30pm for kid pick up and once I'm in mom-mode, forget the afternoon/evening for "me" time. I suppose I could try the lunch-time thing if I thought my coworkers would be okay with me sweating in the office (even after a shower...yes, I'm one of THOSE people).
To be clear, when my alarm goes off at 4:30am it's not like I'm all bright eyed and perky. I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot and then sit on the couch to go through some basic seated stretches while I wipe the sleep from my eyes. I am never happy about the 5:00am workout, and I don't hit it every day, but I'm always glad when it's done and my whole day is better for it.
I've done the early morning workout since I started adulting after college, and I've learned over the years to listen to my body so each early meet up with the treadmill, the weights, or the pool isn't always a time trial to beat yesterdays effort. I'm more forgiving for a light day and for skipping a day which has its own benefits for my psyche.
When I managed corporate fitness centers for NIFS years ago, I used to get asked what was the best time of day to workout, and my answer was always the same: it's whatever time you actually will workout. That's still my answer; 5:00am isn't for everyone. But there are a lot of hours in the day to choose to move your body. Even a short 10 minute stint can be powerful for your health. Carve out the time, no matter the hour and no matter how brief. Your body, your family, and your friends will be glad you did.