I’m not professing to be perma-motivated, and who doesn’t appreciate a sloth day once in a while? However, I’ve been asked a few times lately about how I motivate myself, and avoid fitting the stereotype of a typical ‘lazy teenager’. For the most part, I’ve been asked these questions after I’ve mentioned that I set my alarm for 5:30am before school and/or prefer to do revision early in the morning, so I thought I’d share my answers and reasons on here. I do apologise in advance if this turns into a promo for being a morning person!
I’ll begin by explaining that I typically wake up at 5:30 am, 4 days out of 5 before school. I throw on some exercise gear to head downstairs and hit the YouTube workouts. After 45 minutes to an hour of whatever I had planned for that day, I make myself a massive breakfast and a brew, and begin getting ready for school. Often I choose to set my alarm for around 6:30 am on Sundays, often to fit in one of Fitnessblender’s epic 80 minute workouts or a 11km or so run. But why do I do this, I hear you ask? Why do I choose to leap around the dining room over an extra hour in bed?
Research – why the internet is all you need
It’s amazing how many teenagers are dissatisfied with their bodies. We all know that low self-esteem is rife amongst all ages, and teenagers in particular seem to be the worst for comparing ourselves to unachievable photoshopped goals plastered across Instagram and the like. I do not exercise because I don’t like my body. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m pretty confident with how I look, and I know that my body is a result of hard work. Despite the ‘I hate my body’ common feeling, many teenagers continue to feel down about themselves, harbouring negative thoughts, rather than doing a little research into health, fitness and shaping our bodies ourselves. I can only credit the internet and a few personal training sessions with Josh for the small amount of knowledge I have, but I know the basics of effective strength training and that hours of cardio a day to look like a Victoria’s Secret model, etc. I’d like to think that I’m relatively well informed about fitness for a 16 year old girl who’s taught herself, so my advice would be to do some research beforehand. Health and fitness is such an interesting topic that should be relevant to everyone, and I’d recommend all the usual health magazine websites (Popsugar Fitness is my personal favourite), and playlists like FitnessBlender’s ‘Your Questions Answered‘ for learning the ropes. There are so many different types of exercise you can try at home than you might never have ever thought of, and might find more enjoyable than pounding the pavements, for example. Makes it far easier to motivate yourself if you feel like you have half an idea what you’re doing!
And why 5:30 am?
- What else would you be doing at that time? I found that if I planned to exercise later in the day, something else always came up or I was in the middle of something I’d rather do. In general I like my evenings to be more chilled and relaxed, without feeling like I should probably do something more active that blob on the sofa. Also, by the evening we’ve probably had ample time to find reason not to work out, but in the ‘just woken up’ morning state there’s far less chance to find excuses. This is mostly only relevant to home workouts – it’d be impossible to get to the gym at this time and anyway, late night gym and swim sessions are pretty enjoyable too!
- I’d also add to this: plan your workouts in advance, to avoid faffing around deciding which videos to do in the morning and wasting time. I jot down in a diary which will be Leg day, Upper Body day, Abs & HIIT day etc., and pick a few videos to do for each. Blogilates, Fitnessblender and Jillian Michaels are my usual rotation; whilst I enjoy trying new trainers’ channels, I prefer to stick with ones I’m familiar with when under morning time constraints. Seeing your workouts planned out, for at least the next few days, is satisfying, and motivating to feel that you can’t tick off the list unless you drag yourself out of bed.
- ‘Morning abs’ are definitely not a myth. Muscle definition shows up much more in the morning, which I think is very encouraging to see the fruits of your labour as you work out. Use your own progress as motivation.
- You’re not getting in anyone’s way in the early hours. It’s impossible to work out in a room with a brother playing the Xbox and a cat rolling around the floor, so waking up before everyone else is another way you can limit the excuses you’ll make. We’ve all been there; gotta play tricks on your own mind!
- Surprisingly, I find that I feel more tired during the day when I’ve woken up at 7 and gotten ready for school straight away, than when I’ve been awake since half past 5 and started my day a little more dynamically. I’m not quite sure how that one works, but I promise you, exercise is definitely energising!
- There’s no pressure to throw yourself into full on HIIT every morning. Yoga and Pilates can seem far less daunting and I’d say the energising benefits are pretty much equal. Tara Stiles’ channel is one I’ve tried a couple of times, and Yoga is something I’d like to dedicate more time to for flexibility.
- Don’t be too harsh on yourself and prioritise carefully. I know I’ve just talked about forcing yourself to ‘just do it’, but sometimes that extra hour of sleep is needed. So long as it isn’t everyday, there’s nothing wrong with deciding that your day will run more smoothly if you’re less tired. For example, last Sunday I knew that I was halfway through clearing out my room; had piles of revision to catch up on; a blog post to shoot and write; and planned to nip into town with my mum, so a workout would have been one thing too many to squish into a day. Rest days are a good thing!
I’d intended to include motivation regarding revision in this post too, but I’ve rambled on a fair bit already so that’s probably best saved for another time. Hopefully this post might be remotely interesting/useful to someone. Please let me know if you have any questions!