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!
lily kate x
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Naomi18th March 2014 at 6:58 pm
This is such an inspiring post. I wasn’t doing ANY exercise when I was 16. I think I only started properly when I was 17 and had a free gym membership because it was joined to my school, but even then it was only three times a week for 40mins or so. Then I went to uni, got even more lazy, and it’s only been in the past year that I’ve gotten into working out. I tried to do the couch to 5k but when I got my job it was getting dark earlier and I don’t like the thought of going out running on my own when it isn’t light. So now I have the Jillian Michaels 30 day shred DVD and although I am only on workout 1 I can feel myself getting better. I don’t think I’ll switch it up for a few months though. I want to complete the entire DVD and then move onto something else. But this post has seriously inspired me to go to bed and get up earlier and get into a good routine. I just wish my job offered the same thing! Unfortunately I work erratic hours and next week on Mon, Tues & Wed I’ll be working 10am-9pm (cries) One day though…
lily23rd March 2014 at 8:30 pm
Thank you Naomi! A free gym membership sounds great – if the 6th form I’m starting in September has one I’ll be chuffed! I don’t like the thought of going running in the dark either, which is why I’m waiting for the early sunrises so that I can go before school. The 30 Day Shred is bloody hard work! Good luck with your routine – I’m sure you’ll be fine!
Clothilde18th March 2014 at 7:18 pm
When reading your post I can’t help but regretting that all those kind of training content wasn’t available for free on the Internet when I was 16 (that makes me sound so old, which I am not, ugh!). You’re right to take advantage of morning to run your work-out routine because I also think this is the best moment; plus, I’ve been reading umpteen times that doing sports after 9 or 10 PM keeps you from sleeping well and fast, because of the endorphins sport makes you… well… make. Or something like that.
I sometimes wish I had such a healthy routine, but I literaly have no time at all at this point of my life for a true work-out. I’m not sure morning abs and planks will make me look slender, but getting used to some everyday exercise is the most important isn’t it!
Oh, and Tara Stiles, I love her!
Keep it up!
lily23rd March 2014 at 8:36 pm
I think it’s only really become available to this extent in the last few years so no need to feel old at all! The times when I have exercised in the evening I’ve found that I feel less energetic, especially since I’ve usually eaten something and can feel the food in my tummy! Planks are one of my favourite exercises for ripping my abs to shreds – I’m sure they’re working more than you think!
Max19th March 2014 at 2:27 pm
The home workouts sound like a really good way to start the day. I used to do yoga first thing a couple of times a week. Now with two little daughters I’ve got other fish to fry, so my exercise has been reduced to just ” healthy lifestyle” things. I Hear you about the planning ahead though! I always skate at the ice rink every week. I’ve managed to keep this up because I’ve kept to the same schedule for about 12 years. I used to go twice a week, but I dropped to once when I was pregnant with my second. It also helps if your boyfriend, friend, or family members share in these habits too. My man and I do ice dance and my daughters both have skating lessons too. It takes all Sunday afternoon to wait while everyone does lessons with different age groups, but it is worth it. It is the least I can do waiting around sports centre for my girls, right? When they are older, they will just have these fun physical activities that are built into their routines.
lily23rd March 2014 at 8:39 pm
Ice skating must be such a fun way to keep fit and have fun with your family at the same time! I’ve only been ice skating twice, and on the second time managed to crack my elbow socket and find myself stuck with a sling for 6 weeks, so it’s probably not the best hobby for me!
Lucy19th March 2014 at 3:02 pm
Oh my God how do you do this?? Ok fine so you just wrote an entire post on “how” 🙂 I might give it a go next year when I’m at uni – do a trial couple of weeks and see how I get on!
One question though.. when do you go to bed? I really like the idea of waking up early but don’t know if I can bear the idea of going to bed at 9 haha.
Would definitely appreciate the big breakfasts, normally when I wake up I feel too queasy to eat! xxx
La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy
lily23rd March 2014 at 8:42 pm
Good luck – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more than you’d think!
Getting to bed early enough really is my biggest problem – I’m very rarely asleep before 11-11:30 which I know really isn’t good, but I’m working on it.
Morning workouts will definitely work up your appetite! I used to only have small breakfasts but I think I’ve increased my metabolism such that I really need refuelling every few hours now!
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