The making of a habit, they say, is about 30 days.  I have been waking up early (between 5am and 5:30am) and meeting a friend at the gym nearly every day for the past month plus, and I must say it is now just sort of habit that I wake up in the 5am hour.  Was it easy?  Nope.  Did it happen over night?  Not even close.  It has taken and still takes every single one of those days.  

I have struggled with being a morning workout person for years, but it is key for my consistency.  Once I find myself back in the habit, things just sort of gel.  The struggle has been that I would stay up too late and not be prepared to get out the door so I end up falling behind schedule and just saying to heck with it, hit snooze and wake up in a rush to make it to work. Forget the after work workout - that never happens either due to mental fatigue or physical fatigue. 


I know that morning workouts sound like a dream for some and a nightmare for others, however sometimes the morning hours are the only hours to get it done consistently and with purpose.    Here are some tips on how to shift your workouts to the morning if that is what will work best for you and your goals. 

Accountability  


Having the accountability to my friend that I will meet her at o'dark thirty in the morning at the gym to swim laps in the outside pool or to do cardio and strength is a bonus, a luxury I know. Not everyone has a workout buddy but honestly we end up doing our own things most mornings, but are just accountable to each other that we get it done.  If I no-show it doesn't impact my friend or her workout, but she checks in on me and sees where I am. Likewise, if I am out there on the treadmill and I do not see her or her check in text, I ping her to see whats up.  Knowing that I have to say I am skipping my workout to someone is a level of accountability that keeps me in check and a reminder to tune in with myself to see why I am thinking about skipping.  Is it a valid reason or is it due to my lack of preparedness?  

As time has gone on, I am able to see quickly that the days I have skipped were all due to my body adjusting to the earlier hours, the cumulative fatigue of a body back into training, and overall just figuring it out.  All in all they were still by my choice.   

At the start I made it maybe 2 or 3 days a week.  Then a few weeks later it was 3 or 4 days a week.  Now it is 5 days a week unless I am travelling.  


Patience


In the fast paced world we live in we want things now.  No, scratch that - we want things 5 minutes ago.  When we set out to make a habit such as this - a complete change in our routine and daily schedule, we would love to flip some switch  and magically be morning people.  I hate to tell you but it will not happen that way.  

Be gentle with yourself through this process.  Being gentle with yourself is not the same as not caring about if you succeed or not, nor is it approval to go ahead and succumb to the difficulty when it hits you - being gentle means not to beat yourself up over it, as well as to start from the beginning, the real beginning, in this process and decide from day 1 what it is that you can realistically commit to each week. 

Think in terms of minutes not hours.  In consistency, not workouts.  In the process, not results. 

Which leads us into the next tip...

Baby Steps at First

It took me about a month before I was doing a real workout of any sort.  The rest of the time I had just worked on building the habit.  I would wake up, do my home things and then head to the gym even if that meant that I had time for a 15 minute stretch or only 10 minutes in the hot tub, or a 20 minute swim of easy laps, or a short treadmill run, or even just to shower and get ready for work... the habit I was building was the ACTION of getting up and out the door in time to do a workout and get to work, consistently. 

So when at first my goal was just to get to the gym, over time it progressed to include longer workout attempts and then finally, only after the habit was built and my normal is to get to the gym by 6am - then I started to work on a real workout plan. 

I like the KISS method - keeping it stoooopidly simple.  As I have mentioned before in other blog posts, we have to understand our underlying psychology to know how to work with it for our success, not fight against it to our failure.  

Our brains like us to keep doing the same thing, because we are alive and the brain equates our survival with us keeping on the track we are on.  Once we start to change things, the brain recognizes these changes as potential threats to survival.  If we make gradual and small changes, we grow and the brain adapts.  If we make many large changes all at once, the brain will find a way to sabotage in an act of preservation.  

Obviously this means give yourself some time to build the habit.  

Allow Time for Change

Right about now is a great time to start working on the habit you want to adopt, especially if it is a great departure from your everyday norm. 

Ultimately I want to be at the gym or in my workout (if at home) by 5am by the time the new year rolls around.  Given that I am starting from a 7am wake up norm, and now a 5am wake up norm.. this is going to require some time to adjust and find what works for me to be successful every single day.  


Adjust Bed Time Not Only Wake Time

This sounds like a no-brainer, but the reality is that we can only do so much if we are burning the candle at both ends.  Spend either late nights or early mornings, but to attempt both for a period of time will result in mental and physical fatigue.  

Determine what your hard stop bedtime is in order to still be functional in the morning.  For me it is currently 9pm headed to bed, in bed and ready for sleep by 10pm, for my 5am wake up.

Determine how long you need for home things before your workout.  For me - it is brush teeth, walk dogs, feed dogs, grab food bag and workout bag and drive 30 minutes to the gym.  I cannot spare more than 1 hour from wake to workout, so for me that means having my work clothes in my gym bag, my food and sports nutrition prepped and bagged ready to grab, the dog food ready to go, my work gear (i.e. computer, work bag, etc.) by the door, and my workout gear laid out ready to throw on as I am unable to sleep in workout clothes, I know I am weird!, however if you can many people find this to be very beneficial. 

If any one of the above is not done by the time I go to sleep, I risk being delayed.  

Remember WHY you are doing this

Most importantly - why are you doing this?  A big goal?  To have a more balanced home life with family, work and sport?  To create "me" time?  

Whatever your why is - put it in your phone alarm so that when it goes off at rediculous o'clock you see the reminder of what gives you the energy to push forward. 

If you are super consistent with lunch time or evening workouts, then there is no need to switch the routine.  For me,  I have found that the morning hours allow me to get everything done before I step foot at work.  This means no stress over missed workouts, no looming WOD over my head - once it is done it is done and I can focus on recovery and the rest of the day!  


Here is to health and consistency, and remember #InOneYear you will look back on today and smile because of how you took control and started the habits that created the you you have always wanted to be!






Starting over is something that I literally seem to do all the time.  Basically, starting over looks like me... every single day. 



Re-learning how to get up in the morning to swim/bike/run, re-learning how to go to bed at a reasonable hour, re-learning how to fuel and prep and plan.  Starting over looks very similar in triathlon to anything else in life.  There is a period of awkwardness, doubt, and then the realization that we can do it because, hello, we have done it before. But why did we do it before?  And what has changed?

Sometimes when we attempt to start over, we ignore that the starting point may have moved on us.  Can we ever really start over?  Do we even want to?  I am thinking less about starting over and more about reinvention.  I had a good run as Jenniferlyn v1.0.  Now it is time for the much anticipated release of the upgrade - Jenniferlyn v2.0.

I have set my race schedule, recruited my family to race with me along the way, and now am ready to let it go.

No more thinking about that business because it will be here soon enough.  Ugh and as I see that next week starts September already it becomes more apparent that 2018 will be here sooner than we all are anticipating. In the mean time I need to focus on today because I am in today with the body of today and the mindset of today.  

How many times have you set a big goal - like achieving a certain pace, or accomplishing a grand task, or racing a certain distance... only to do something less grand/fast/long and sit there in wonder "If I am this dead after this... how on Earth will I ever be able to do the big goal?!?!"

That is because we are not trained for the big goal.  We may not even have been trained for the smaller attempt, but we did it anyway.  Next time you have one of these, do not think about the big goal, rather try to stay in the present. Tomorrow will come and it will be made or broken by the things that we are doing today, and tomorrow, and every single day between them all.


What am I doing in my non-start over-but-rather-a-complete-reboot-of-the-Jenniferlyn-franchise? I am working on simple additive changes (you know the things I preach to everyone else about) that will make a big difference some start time.

From now until January I am focusing on early morning workouts and quality of nutrition.  My goal has been 3 times a week swimming and 2 times a week running at the gym and moving my body comp around to where it needs to be. If I keep making the right choices and get into a morning groove,  I will be in both the physical and mental place to take on the increase in training volume that will come with the January Out Season.

Present goals for present needs.

In health,





I am returning from a long hiatus in the sport and I sit here thinking... wow. This is so much more difficult that I remember it being.

And I do not mean it in a sarcastic funny way.. I mean that the struggle for me is real. This is going to be a hard fought return. However, I have the opportunity to see this as a re-do.

When I left the sport to focus on my personal development I was at an all time high for me. Happy Ironman finisher, 2015 TeamUSA Long Course World Championship Qualifier (declined my spot due to school), and overall having the time of my life feeling fit and fabulous setting PRs all over the place. I felt and operated like some form of well oiled machine. I was in the zone and figured that I could keep doing something while in school, only that never happened. I decided to reach for the stars instead of digging myself a hole. My healthy lifestyle came to a screeching halt.

Now here I sit, tired, out of shape and overweight looking at how far I have slipped, only to catch myself and say NO. STOP!


I am not the Jenniferlyn of years past when I was at the very peak of my fitness and nutrition, however I am also not the Jenniferlyn who had just graduated from college when I was severely overweight, smoking, drinking, in a cheesecake induced spiral of shame, slying out of control on the brink of diabetes and a slew of other health issues.

For anyone who is standing here today looking at the road ahead and thinking "But that is SO FAR" I say NO. STOP! Don't judge yourself based on how you got to where you are today, EMBRACE yourself and open your heart to the journey ahead as the best thing that you will do for yourself. Your children. Your family. Your life.

I am approaching my return as less of a comeback (hence my #dontcallitacomeback tag) and more of a rebirth. Yes the journey ahead of me is long but that does not mean that it is one I cannot embrace fully and can even enjoy taking. How does that saying go? The time will pass either way.

In 1 year I want to look back on my efforts over the past year and celebrate my growth as a person so today I set forth my mission in health.

This is my manifesto for change... This is my renegade act.
I will NOT be the martyr or victim of my past choices and beliefs. I am who I am and own up to every single decision I have made. Every forkful of stress eating comfort food, every second that I chose to sit and binge watch Netflix or HULU in stead of going for a walk or a swim.

I will walk my talk - I have all the tools now I just need to actually heed them, to wield them in my own house. I work wonders in others' lives... time to work on my own. >

I am ditching labels. I will no longer make my identity about what I have accomplished... my identity lies solely in what I put forth into the universe. I am not an Ironman... I am an inspirer for those who wish to achieve big dreams. I am not a health coach or nutritionist... I am the lighter of paths. I am not a vegan or paleo or whatever the latest dietary trend may be... I am a renegade in nutrition and I nourish my body with whatever it needs to rock out!


I am turning my back on my past belief that I was not good enough, fast enough, or worthy enough. I AM ENOUGH and in 2017 this phoenix shall rise again, this time in a much happier and more sustainable flame.

Today I hit 'send' on my race season form with my coaching team. 


I decided to do a 2-part season, one in focusing on my return to racing, the other on focus on prepping for the work ahead of me in 2018.  We will see what coach says about my part 2, however for now I have a solid race schedule for my grand re-entrance into triathlon!




  • Triceratops Tri - June 21st
  • Motor City Sprint - June 25th
  • Pterodactyl Tri - July 19th
  • Ironman70.3 Ohio (Relay) - July 30th
  • The Bavarian Inn Experience - August 5th
  • Swim to the Moon 5k  (Open Water Swim) - August 20th
  • T-Rex Tri - August 23rd
  • Detroit Marathon - October 15th




It feels good to have something on the radar now, some goal to work for. The hardest part of coming back from a long time off is taking that first step knowing that it is going to hurt, that it is not going to feel the same as it once did, that it will be something I have to work at and that it is not going to be easy.  Nothing worth working for ever is though. :-)


 


Thanks to Groupon I was able to grab a 10 session membership to a new Yoga studio that has been catching my eye ever since they started reno on the old Mother Fletcher's location in Ferndale.





What really caught my eye on this studio from the outward appearance was the name and logo itself.  I was surprised to see the idea of plugging in when I have always heard to unplug, however I really dug on the idea of tuning in to yourself rather than tuning out the world.



 
I went for my first class - the Soulful class - and I was beyond impressed.  From the moment I walked into the space I felt at home and like I found a practice that resonated within myself.  The studio space, the overall vibe of Caren Paskel -  the instructor for the class and owner of EnSoul -  as well as the message conveyed and the delivery of the message all made for a very deep and meaningful experience.  I am looking forward to trying out the many different classes that EnSoul Yoga provides,  multiple types of classes ranging from the rocking to the restorative and everything in between:




EnFuse
In this one stop shop, you will get everything you want and need: good tunes, flows and movement that will make you work, sweat and stretch. We combined Rock EnSoul and Soulful, rolled 'em up and made a signature class for everyone.

Rock EnSoul
This vinyasa inspired flow style class will rock you from the inside out and the outside in. Carefully crafted, world renowned choreography, designed to produce ultimate health on the inside and a supple and toned outside. A great class for those who really like to move. However, you do not have to be super strong or bendy. They state that this is the class that single handedly opened the door to a new yoga movement that has now spread across the globe and that you will be directed and led through flows and also have some time to flow on your own.

Soulful
Slow moving, deep stretching and muscle strengthening flows for the average Joe, Jane, Super Man or Wonder Woman. A great class for anyone who wants a sweat, a challenge and some change, while moving at pace that encourages a deeper, more rhythmic breath.  Eyes closed, dig in to your soul with direction throughout the entire class.  No memorization required!

The Sweetest Thing
Come and sink into a super sweet, deliciously tasty, slow, sensual, flow. Not only is this a great class for your body, but the mind and soul will be taken on a journey as well. The Sweetest Thing captures a deep healing energy without giving up challenges, surprises and fun. Mostly seated postures and simple standing sequences. This is a wonderful active recovery for those healing from injury or for those who need a break in between harder workouts. The temperature will be perfectly sweet with NO HEAT!








Namaste!