Morning cramming

I recently read my brother’s blog post on using mornings to greater advantage. For me, mornings are a great time to get some things done that won’t get done unless I can schedule a specific time every day to do them. I try scheduling things for evening, but even if only one evening a week throws me a scheduling curve (a conservative estimate some weeks), it still manages to make it next to impossible for me to create a habit.

The best time for me is morning. I won’t go so far as to say I’m a morning person, but I’ve developed a certain amount of morning discipline. Part of this comes from having worked for six years at a job that required me to be to work at 5 a.m. (earlier during the holidays). Another part is that, for me, there is such a thing as too much sleep. It may be an side-effect of the first part, but if I sleep past a certain point in the morning I just get more and more tired and have a harder and harder time waking up. When I finally do wake up, my whole day is trashed, because I feel like warmed-over crud the rest of the day. It’s better to just get up rather than sleep past 7:00 a.m.

The trouble is that mornings are also the part of the day that has a hard stop on most days. I have to be out the door to work by 7:30 a.m., which means I have to have started breakfast by 7:00, and I have to leave time for my scripture study, which can only happen if I’ve showered, shaved, and dressed, which I can only do after I’ve walked the dog…  Before you know it, I’ve got to be up by 5:30 a.m. just to get through my morning routine. I can’t stick more “stuff” into my routine unless I get up earlier.

But the other trouble is that I’ve set a goal for myself to exercise regularly. I need to do this. I can feel my body degrade if I don’t. I tried last fall to fit exercise into the evenings, but it only worked for a few weeks before weather and schedule interruptions made me give up. Three months went by, and I just keep feeling worse and worse.

So I’ve realized that, like it or not, I’m going to have to push my morning schedule earlier yet again. It’s hard. You’d think that 5:15 would only be 15 minutes harder than 5:30, but it sure feels like an hour at least. I know I’ll get used to it if I can hang in there, but the hanging is tough.

But I’ve made it two weeks now. Part of it is because mornings really are better for me for routine tasks. But I’ve come to accept that I’m a wimp. I know I should be tough and go jogging like so many other people I know. But I lack the willpower to do it. Part of it is physical. I have mild asthma, and being too warm while exposed to cool air is one of the triggers. The minute I stop jogging I can’t breathe. (I know, I know, that’s normal for everyone, right?)

I also am bad weather averse. Sorry, I said I am a wimp. Just because I shouldn’t let it get to me doesn’t mean I don’t. But let’s face it, why would I want to go out in nasty weather so that I can spend the next hour or more struggling to breathe? It’s a real motivation-killer.

So I have accepted the reality that no matter how tough I think I should be, I’m not. If I’m going to exercise I’m going to have to find something I will do. So right after I finish walking the dog, which I count as my warm-up, I do aerobics in my family room (quietly). I haven’t found a good program yet, so I just put on some “up” music (They Might Be Giants is good; peppy and short, which helps break things up), and make up my own moves, even if it’s just to dance crazily. No one else in my house even considers getting up that early, so I don’t have to be self-conscious (though the dog and cats find it entertaining/alarming).

Like I said, so far it’s working. Except for the morning after I had a migraine, I’ve stayed with it. And now my poor Facebook friends know where that stupid “Tristan’s bull, not Constance and Opal’s” joke came from–I’ve heard that song every morning for two weeks now. I can’t hear something that often without my mind wanting to dissect it and rearrange it.

But it’s still hard, and it’s not yet a habit. I’m keeping to the routine, but I’m starting to drag a bit. I probably need to nudge my wake-up time forward another five minutes to accommodate days of excessive lead-in-the-pants. My evenings are as often as not partly ruined by being sleepy sooner than I’m supposed to be. But I push forward knowing (or at least hoping) that it will get better in time. I miss that fifteen minutes of sleep, but I think the long-term benefits will be worth it.

And at least one goal is off to a good start.

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