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Make the Most of Your Mornings: Get Your Heart Pumping (Day 7)

Exercise is often one of the thing that tends to get pushed to the back burner when schedules are busy, but starting the day with a little exercise is one of the best ways to wake you up and make you feel energized for the rest of the day. If you’re dragging along and feeling like you’re lacking energy and enthusiasm for life, exercise just might be the best antidote.

I know it’s not the most exciting things to get up and do in the morning, but exercise is one of those things that you never regret doing. Instead of making excuses as to why you can’t find time to exercise, start thinking of ways to you can fit some exercise into your morning.

Your health is worth the sacrifice of a little time, sweat, and effort. And I promise you’ll feel better the rest of the day!

If you struggle to regularly exercise, here are some suggestions to consider:

1. Check Out a DVD From the Library

If you can’t afford to pay for a gym membership or a trainer, check out the workout DVDs at your local library. Typically, they have quite a large selection to choose from. Some of my favorites are by Jillian Michaels (more intense workouts) and Leslie Sansone (these are great for beginners or those looking for low impact exercise).

I’ve found exercise DVDs are a great way to mix things up — especially if my current routine seems like it’s becoming a bit mundane. And it’s a lot less inhibiting to work out in your basement or living room, rather than in a group of people at a class at the gym!

2. Watch Exercise Videos Online

Can’t make it to the library? The internet is goldmine of exercising videos and resources. YouTube is a great place to start if you’re looking workout videos. Also, some of my readers left other online resources on my Facebook post here this morning.

3. Experiment With New Things

If you don’t enjoy exercising, it’s probably just because you’ve not yet tried enough different kinds of exercise options. There’s pretty much something out there for everyone, so keep trying things until you land upon something you love.

4. Find a Workout Partner

Teaming up with someone else can be a great way to be more successful when it comes to fitness. Either find someone to meet you for a morning jog, to come over and do that exercise DVD with you multiple times per week, or find someone who will text or email you and see if you followed through with the goals you set for exercise each day. There are also many different online accountability forums and Facebook groups (or you could start your own!).

Jesse and I have been doing P90X together and we’re finding that it makes it much more fun than doing on your own. Plus, we’re both helping to inspire each other through the difficult parts — we have fun teasing each other when we mess up or have trouble pulling off some of the workout sequences! 🙂

5. Set Small Goals

A lot of people want to lose weight or run a marathon, but wanting to do something won’t get you anywhere. You have to actually set a goal and break it down into bite-sized, realistic pieces if you want to be successful.

So set some fitness goals and then figure out what tiny steps you can take this week to help you get where you want to be in six months from now. It’s amazing how motivating the act of putting your goals on paper and breaking them down into small pieces can be. You can do this — one step at a time!

6. Multi-Task

If you’re not Type A like me this probably seems crazy, but I find that if I’m doubling up my exercise with something else (listening to an audiobook, praying, working on my Scripture memory, mapping out articles in my head, reading a good book I’m reading during my warm-up walk on the treadmill, etc.), I enjoy it a lot more and it feels like I’m killing two birds with one stone.

7. Be Realistic

If you’ve never exercised before, don’t expect that you’ll be running five miles in a few weeks. Start slowly, set small goals, and focus on the progress you’re making (even if it seems tiny) instead of being discouraged by the fact that you’re not where you want to be.

You’d rather slowly build up your endurance and stamina then to try to do much more than you’re capable of and end up burning yourself out before the first week of exercise is over with.

8. Track Your Progress

Each week, keeping a log of the workouts you do, how much time you worked out for, or how many miles you ran. This will inspire you to keep going, will encourage you as you see yourself growing stronger and building endurance.

Try using online trackers such as MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, or Nike+. All of these have cool features that make logging your exercise time more rewarding.

9. Reward Your Success

What motivates you? Set some goals and plan some rewards along the way. Maybe you decide to put a quarter in a jar every time you exercise for 25 minutes and then you can use this money on a little special treat (coffee at the coffee shop, a used book from Amazon, etc.) every few weeks.

10. Remember That Something is Better Than Nothing

If you only have five minutes in the morning to exercise, then exercise for five minutes. Sure, you’re probably not going to get the benefits of a 45-minute workout in five minutes, but you can definitely work up a little sweat and get your heart pumping with a short and intense workout.

Do what you can do with the time you have. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise.

My Day 5 Project Update

Bedtime: Made it to bed by 9:36 p.m. Woot — I’m slowly making progress in the right direction!

My Top 5 Evening Must Do’s: Done!

Wake Up Time: Got up at 4:55 a.m. this morning!

Day 6 Project

1. Did you determine your bedtime and 5 Evening Must-Do’s? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did on them last night.

2. Did you determine what time you’re going to commit to waking up every morning for the next three weeks? If so, leave a comment telling us how you did this morning!

3. If you already have an exercise plan that you follow each morning, leave a comment telling us about it. If you aren’t currently exercising in the morning, consider if you have a 5 to 15 minute slot you could devote to exercise. Leave a comment telling us if you’re committing to exercise every morning (or evening, if that works better for you).

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  • Melissa says:

    Been doing my 5 things! Makes a world of difference in the morning!
    Got to bed 2 hours late due to something pressing I had to do…9:30 tonight!
    6:30 Get up time… missed that one this morning.

    And yes, exercise…. this is just the motivation I need. Due to health issues, it will be short, but plan to do 10 minutes on the mini trampoline in the morning! Bouncing is fun and good for the immune system!

  • Your progress is so motivating. I’m convinced that I’ll get out of bed in the morning when I’m supposed to sooner or later (hopefully sooner). Like I said, bedtime has gotten easier, so it’s only natural that waking up will be soon to follow, right?

    As for the exercise bandwagon, I should try getting back on that. Most likely, I’ll have to work out at night after my son is asleep since my little one isn’t a morning person and I highly doubt he’ll enjoy cutting off his cuddle time for mommy-working-out time.

    For the longest time, I had a whole little floor routine set up as my to-do before bed, but once I got too pregnant to keep it up, it all went out the window. I’ll try and sneak out of bed to get into a little workout routine again, or maybe sneak it in during his nap. If I do get good at sneaking out of bed in the morning, though, I think it would help me to wake up easier if I worked out a tad bit in the morning. Let’s try it!!!

    • Oh yeah, for my workouts I used to do about 75 crunches, 10-15 leg drops, as many pushups as I could do (not many!), 25 squats, 10-15 lunge/leg lifts, about a 30 second plank, and a TON of stretching. Hopefully I have it in me to do something close to what I used to do.

    • Crystal says:

      Hey, it sounds like you’re on the the right track. Keep at it!

      And I’m cheering for you to get your exercise mojo back! You can do it!

  • Anna says:

    This posting is right up my alley!!!!!!

    Bedtime: 9-9:30 pm but last night I fell asleep at 8:00 pm. Younger kids were down but older ones were awake. I got up at 9 pm and said lights out.

    Wake up time: 5:45 am but I am thinking of pushing it up to 5:30 M-F so I do not feel so rushed in the am. I stretch for 20 minutes of more.

    Exercise: I fell down stairs about 16 months ago and injured my back and lost feeling in left leg and foot. Long story short, to avoid surgery and restore my health, I lost 100 lbs and exercise everyday. I do back stretches for 20 minutes, leg stretches and walk 4 miles EVERY day. I keep my back strong and the feeling is returning to my leg. My foot is still numb. This routine is essential for my back and for my health. Benefit is I have lost the weight I needed plus kept my back healthy. I still have problems and currently am going through PT but so, so, so much better than 16 months ago. Plus I take care of my 4 kids! If I can do it anyone can do it!

    Thank you for this great posting!

    • Wow, Anna! You have achieved so much. What a wonderful example you are!

      • Anna says:

        Thanks! I started off walking a block maybe and increase my distance. I have a physical therapist and a dietician who have helped me restore my health. My insurance have covered those costs and the rest of my exercise routine has been walking and at home stretching. I did not join a gym or diet group. I just decided to make life changes. I also started doing 5Ks but just walking. I can’t run because of my back but I can walk :). I am trying to get ready for a 5K in October. My neighbor watches my kids and I watch hers so we can both exercise regularly. Also, my older kids sometimes watch the little ones while I walk. Usually I get my exercise in before anyone is up.

      • Anna says:

        I do get discouraged sometimes because I do not having feeling in my left foot and have complications due to the numbness. I experience a lot of pain at times and caring for 4 kids by myself is not easy at times (lots of bending). I was getting discouraged with life before this series “Make the Most of Your Mornings” came along. Now I am more motivated to get back into a routine. I read your blog and about the 42 days to fitness. That is a good thing too. Lots of motivators on the internet especially when life gets you down a bit. I hope my foot returns to normal some day but my journey to health has really brought me lots of benefits so I know God is taking care of me and my kiddos. Now I can be thankful for the lessons he is teaching me.

    • Crystal says:

      I love how you’re so committed to exercising — and WAY TO GO on losing 100 pounds!

      • Anna says:

        Thank you. I was not committed to exercise 1 1/2 years ago but exercise literally changed my life in ways that even I can’t believe! (PS MSM blog has been so helpful too! :))

    • Julie says:

      I run from 5:30- 6 AM in the morning while my husband is getting ready for work and the kids are asleep. I listen to the No Excuses Workout podcast with Jonathan Roche. It’s an excellent motivator and free!

    • Mel says:

      Anna, thank you for reminding me how important it is to keep my back strong. I suffered a neck/back injury about 4 years ago, and was able to avoid surgery thanks to yoga, my chiropractor, and giving up soda. I’ve fallen off the yoga wagon in the last year or so, though, and I can tell. Time to make that a priority again!

  • I got to bed late last night (11:30 with a goal of 10), but my husband and I were working on listing textbooks online. It paid off – we sold 2 before we woke up this morning! 🙂 I pushed myself to get up at 7 anyways, which I did, but I was only semi productive because I didn’t make my to-do list last night. Tonight looks more promising for achieving my goal bedtime!

    I will be foregoing the morning exercise because my husband and I are training for a 5K, so exercise is built into other parts of our day. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      If exercise is already built into your day, it sounds like you can skip this post altogether!

      And congrats on selling two books last night — woot!

  • Love this post!

    I like to exercise in the morning but have to do quiet exercises because our house is very small and the kids wake up. I also have to exercise in the same room as my husband who is still asleep! (He say he doesn’t care). So no jumping around. Which is a bummer because I like jumping around 🙂

    I lift weights and do other exercises that use my own body weight, like push ups and squats. It is a wonderful way to start the day. I like to multitask too and usually listen to a podcast or audiobook while I work out.

    Way to go on waking at 4:55! That’s awesome.

  • Jody says:

    I’ve committed to excercising in the evenings for at least thirty minutes. Either on the treadmill or going on a walk with the family. I totally agree multitasking while excercising is so helpful. I use a surf shelf ( connects to treadmill to put laptop on). I actually write blog posts while walking (after ive done my 30 minute intense workout, its hard to walk fast and type, I slow it down and write another 30 minutes if there’s time) and the time flies by. One of my goals this year was to start a blog and take better care of myself so ive combined the two and walk while I blog : ) actually pretty much anytime I’m on the computer and its practical I try to be on the treadmill at a slow pace doing computer work vs sitting and being sedintery. Its really made a big difference for me. Eventually I would love to excercise in the morning but for this season evening is working best.

    • Crystal says:

      Okay, I totally got to figure out how to blog and run on the treadmill at the same time!!!

      And if evening exercise is working for you, go for it!

    • Mel says:

      No way! There’s an apparatus that let’s you have the laptop on the treadmill?!? Must. Get. One. Now. I’m a Type A multitasker, so I often watch something off the DVR or listen to a podcast while I’m on the treadmill, but if I could be catching up on email/Facebook/Pinterest or writing a blog post or even just typing up my To Do list, that would be killer!

  • bobcat says:

    Good suggestions. Is anyone else here REALLY not a morning person? I am wondering if I should still exercise in the mornings, even if it feels unnatural to my body. I would like to, but I always just lounge and drink coffee, then exercise in afternoon. I guess I need advice on how to change that, or if I should even bother changing it.

    • Anna says:

      Whatever works for you seems like what a person should do. Exercise anytime of the day benefits a person.

      • Crystal says:

        I agree! I encourage people to do it first thing in the morning if you’re prone to skip it at night. But if you’ve got a good night or afternoon exercise routine going, go for it!

    • Crystal says:

      My advice would be to make yourself try exercising in the mornings for 5-7 days and see if it’s really awful. I find that it really helps to energize me on those mornings when I don’t feel like a morning person.

      However, if you’ve got a good afternoon exercise routine going, you can totally stick with that, too.

      • I think these are all good things to think about. I didn’t consider myself a morning person for year and years. I’m still a bit of a morning person-in-training. However, I just wanted to chime in and say that I didn’t know I had potential to be a morning person until I committed to trying it for 3 weeks. I hated it – truly hated it – for the first week. By the 2nd week, I didn’t mind getting up *quite* so much. By the 3rd week, I found that I really looked forward to my quiet time to myself! Now I’d like to try adding exercise to my morning routine.

        I expect to hate that for the first week too. 🙂

    • Tonya says:

      If you’re truly not a morning person, I wouldn’t advise you do it. If by not being a morning person, you mean you’re sluggish, tired, irritable, etc. I would strongly recommend you wait until you’re at your peak during the day to exercise, whenever that may be. Not only will you look more forward to exercising when you’re awake and energized about it, but you’ll work harder and burn more calories. It’s better to wait until you’re at your energy/state of mind potential later in the day than do a half-effort workout because you weren’t awake enough or in the right frame of mind to do it.

      This coming from someone who has never been a morning person until I was forced to be – I do work out 1 hour after waking up now, but until about a year ago you wouldn’t have caught me working out before noon. You have to do what works best for you. I’ve spent my whole life as NOT a morning person and if I had my choice right now I would still not be a morning person!

    • Lori says:

      i am the exact opposite of a morning person!! But i have found that if i don’t make myself exercise first thing, i am sluggish all day because i have to get up before my body wants to…kids gotta go to school, even if I’m still tired! 😉

    • nicole says:

      I am TOTALLY not a morning person. But I have to get in shape for nxt yr, so I get up @ 430A everyday. Now my body is used to it

  • Love (and hate 🙂 this part of the challenge!
    I’ve been doing well on my 5 evening must – do’s, which alone has helped me feel more together and has helped my mornings run more smoothly! Got in bed at 8:50pm (goal 9:30pm), but read until about 9:45pm. Should have gotten up at 5:15, but snoozed until 5:45 – I really need to work on that! I struggle so much to get up, but I have seen drastic improvement since we started this challenge, so at least I’m headed in the right direction.
    Tonight will be a challenge since I won’t get home from church until almost my bedtime. Any hints on dealing with outside plans/ social events while trying to get to bed on time? I guess it’s just life.

    As far as exercise, I vote exercise DVD’s. You never have an excuse. It’s not weather or amount of light dependent. You don’t have to waste any time at all going to the gym or anything. You don’t even have to have half decent workout clothes. Also, some DVDs can be as much of a workout as going to the gym or jogging. I highly recommend pretty much anything by Cathe Friedrich (, if you are looking for a serious, heart pumping workout. Although it’s super tough to drag myself out of bed and work hard, it feels so AMAZING when I sit down at my desk at work at 7:30am knowing that I’ve already worked out and burned 500 calories before my day even starts. It also gives me a huge boost of confidence for the rest of the day and helps keep my eating on track, because I don’t want to undo all the hard work I’ve already done. Back in February, I started working out at 5am (before heading to work) and I went ten solid weeks without ever missing a day! I never did that when I was working out in the evenings. There’s no excuse and nothing gets in your way. It’s hard, but so worth it.

    • Crystal says:

      Wow! Ten solid weeks — you go girl!!!!

      Thanks for the exercising recommendations and inspiration.

      As far as what to do when you have evening commitments, plan ahead of time and do anything earlier in the day, skip the non-essentials (if there are anything) and be okay if things just aren’t perfect. That’s life, after all, isn’t it?! 🙂

  • K says:

    Great post! I’ve felt really guilty lately for not doing my exercise routine. I started at one point this year a have really fallen off the wagon. I didn’t feel refreshed or energized at times due to the fact that I wasn’t fueling my body properly, i.e., skipping b’fast, not preparing healthy lunches/snacks,etc. I However, I’m sure that I will benefit greatly from following an exercise routine once I’ve disciplined myself to eat properly. My plan is to start this today. 🙂

    Thanks again for the post!

    • Crystal says:

      You can do it! And yes, you gotta eat and drink well if you’re exercising. Otherwise, you can be dehydrated, famished, faint, and a host of other things.

  • Amanda says:

    Great post! Last night I only did 4/5 of my must do’s ( just being lazy really..) and the one thing I didn’t do was make my to do list for today and I didn’t like waking up and not knowing what I had planned for the day! I was in bed on time and I woke up well before my wake up time as usual.
    I already do either yoga or one of my pregnancy work out DVDs, so I usually get about 45 minutes in most mornings (except on the weekends, then I wait till evenings and walk with my husband) . It’s getting harder to work out every morning (33 weeks!) but I keep at it because I know it’s really benefiting me! Thanks for the extra motivation!

  • Sherry Lochner says:

    I got in bed on time last night at 10; however, I had trouble sleeping last night. Not sure why, although part of it might have been because son was starting at our church school this morning and my daughter was starting her senior year homeschooled. Since I had a lot of awake time, I prayed for both of them. I ended up getting up about 3:15 and been up since. I’m just a tad tired right now. LOL! I did get my list done last night.

    I started working out with my daughter again on Monday. We are going to go in the early afternoon to our community center as it is free, and it isn’t busy at the time we go either. We worked out for half an hour. Nice equipment, too! We both feel so much better when we are consistent with working out. She did the bike, but I did a variety from elliptical, treadmill, and bike, too.

    I might be going to bed a tad early tonight, if I get everything done.

  • Tara Blanchard says:

    Been doing my 5! Even made a to-do-list for myself. Got to bed at 11:15 last night – got caught up talking to my hubby… 🙂 But got up at 6:45am – 15 minutes before wake up time!

    Gotta get regular with exercising – gonna try dancing for 20 minutes a day!

    • Crystal says:

      You’re doing wonderfully! And I love your idea of dancing — that’s a great way to burn lots of calories and have fun while you’re at it! 🙂

      • Tara Blanchard says:

        Thanks, Crystal! I really appreciate the motivation you’ve given me over the last week. I feel more productive in the mornings, as well as throughout the day, and I have even taken on the challenge of being room parent for 2 classrooms at my kids’ school because I feel motivated that I can accomplish all of these goals! 🙂

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    Well, I’m on day two of getting up at 6:30 and going for a quick (1 mile) walk. It’s not a ton, but it’s better than nothing. Thanks for the encouragement to “just do it”! 🙂

  • Allison says:

    I’ve been working on exercising more consistently. I made a calendar for August and September on a blank sheet of paper, and I’ve been writing down goals for each day in the top half of the square and then what I actually do in the bottom half. I only write down the goals a few days to a week before, so it fits better with my schedule. (I exercise in the evening after work, so it helps to factor in which days are more busy v. less busy.) I’m trying to run 3 days a week and do push ups and sit ups on the non-run days. My overall goal is a better 5k time along with building a bit of muscle. I’m planning to do a 5k in Nov. so that’s helping a bit with the motivation right now.

  • Kim says:

    I’m doing well at getting to bed at 10!!! Thank you so much for the inspiration Crystal!!! That has been a struggle for me the past 2 years! Progress!!! I’ve still struggled with going to sleep. The dog slept in til 5:28 today, so we were up at 6 (Yeah!!!) Really tired today & not as productive as I’d like.

    I’ve been trying to figure out where to fit exercise in my daily schedule (before you brought it up). My dog walks on the treadmill 2-3 times every day (to get him to sleep at night). We were both on it together for a while until I got shin splints (my athletic trainer family member said to hold off on the treadmill for a while). I started on the exercise bike for 20-30 minutes beside the dog on the treadmill in the afternoon, but would like to fit it into my morning schedule as it does perk me up!! If I can read or worship at the same time, I think it might work!!

  • Oh boy. Conviction time here. I’ve been letting exercise slide by the wayside. I know everything you’ve written is true, but It is so easy NOT to exercise! LOL.

    I’m heading to bed now so I don’t miss my set bedtime 🙂 and when I get up on time I am going to exercise for at least 10 minutes.

    • Crystal says:

      You can do it!!! Remember that I’ll be here in Kansas sweating my way through a P90X workout DVD tomorrow morning, too. And cheering you on in your exercise endeavors while I’m trying to survive mine. 😉

      • Thank you for your encouragement, Crystal. I was thinking of you this morning and it helped me get out of the bed and get moving. 🙂 And you were right, I felt so good knowing it was done!

      • That is my biggest motivator! Knowing that I have friends and family who are out exercising at the same time I am helps me soooo much! If they can do it, so can I.

        I just started running/light weight lifting at the beginning of summer and have stuck to it at least three times a week (every other day) since then, sometimes more. I wanted to keep it manageable so if I missed a day I wouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s worked great for me. I was the “I don’t exercise, I don’t run, I don’t like to sweat, and I am NOT a morning person” type so this has been HUGE in my life! It’s empowering me in other areas as well.

        I’m still struggling trying to force myself to become a morning person but I figure my body will have to give in (in a good way!) at some point, so I keep fighting! I have learned that I do best with 8 hours sleep so bed time consistency is my biggest focus in this challenge…aiming for a 9:30 bed time, and up by 5:30.

        As always, thanks for the motivation!

  • anna says:

    love to exercise first thing! In the summer I go on a walk before my husband leaves for work, and I pray and plan out the day during this time too. Sometimes I do Kettleworx to mix it up and that works too, I will check out dvds at library I never thought of that…

  • Christy says:

    Um, considering I get up at 5 and have to leave my house at 6:20 every day to drop off at daycare and get to my school on time, I DON’T exercise in the morning! I do try very hard to hit the cardio/chisel or chisel classes at the Y at 4:30 T and Th and at 8 a.m. on Sat. and usually do very well. If I have a conflict, I try to go on a different day to make it up or at least go do the eliptical if I don’t make it right at 4:30. During the summer and breaks, I go almost everyday in the a.m. During the cooler months (I live in SC and am just not one of those people that enjoy running in 100+ degree heat index), I run. I always train for a local 10K that is the end of March. The running deal is harder now that I can no longer run with a jogging stroller and husband has 2 jobs, but I do it when I can. The Y has childcare (yeah). My 5 year old even gets to go to a Kid Fit class on Saturdays when I am in my class for no additional charge! I walk everyday year round with the toddler in a stroller and the 5 year old on his bike (and dogs) 2 miles–just can’t run–5 year old does not keep a steady pace–LOL. The time of day varies according to weather and daylight. Right now we go after dinner, come home, bath, and bed. I do spend $52/month on the Y but it is one of those things I think is worth the extra $. With my husband’s 2 jobs and not wanting to wake up at 3:30 to exercise and shower before getting ready for work, their childcare option is ideal for me. Our Y has excellent childcare. I live in a fairly small town and know most of the girls that work there from church or the school system. We also get discounts on t-ball, soccer, swimming lessons, etc. And even though I am putting my kids in a second child care facility after a long day of school/daycare, I am teaching them good habits of exercising. My 5 year old loves it because his best friend is usually there at the same times (his mom goes to the same classes) and they are not in the same class at school. He also loves the Kid Fit class.

  • Tiffany says:

    For those of you who are runners, I like It allows you to enter your mileage daily and connect with other runners. It works similarly to facebook–you post your workout and those who are your ‘friends’ see it and can comment. This is how my dad and I keep one another motivated and challenge one another.

  • Autum Stover says:

    I’m Loving this series!! I am starting everything tomorrow, I made my to-do list and My evening list as well. I am now a proud owner of planner journal, and have a small group going to start the Couch to 5k program with me tomorrow! Can’t wait!

  • Rachel says:

    I would LOVE to workout just do not know how/when it would work. If you workout 30-45 minutes then need a shower what are your kids doing during this time? Mine wake up between 6-6:30. By our afternoon “rest” time I am tired and working on bills, e-mails and cleaning. Currently I shower after they go to bed. I would have to be up at 5:00 and pretty sure my husband would not be happy with me getting in the shower at 5:45 or even having my alarm going off at 5:00 waking him up. Temperatures here are 100 so walking with the kids is out of the picture. We have tried workout videos but my 3 year old lasts about 10 minutes. Does anyone know a good kids workout video?

    On a positive note I am getting to bed by 9:30and asleep by 10:00. I also have been doing my 5 tasks. I have also signed up for a Wednesday bible study.

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve been working out with my husband from 6 to 7 a.m. If the kids wake up, they are free to do whatever they want (so long as it’s quiet and doesn’t make a mess) until our day officially starts at 8:30. My kids are older, though, so this probably wouldn’t work well if you have a lot of little ones.

      Can you have a special Day of the Week Tub for your kiddos during exercise time that they can work on in a nearby area?

      The other option would be working out right after they go to bed/before your shower. That sounds ideal to me since you are already showering then. Not sure if that would be an option for you, though. However, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes every night, that’s something!

    • Anna says:

      I am a single mom with 4 kiddos and my neighbor and I share childcare so we can exercise. Maybe a neighbor or friend would be willing to share childcare so you could exercise. This is what I have done for 16 months for much of the time. I was shy about asking her but she was so excited. The weather was hot here too but I walk early in the morning. Maybe someone would be willing to share babysitting with you.

    • Autum Stover says:

      My kiddos love zumba. There 3 and 1. Or I just turn on the music and we call dance our little hearts out! Or we do the classic Head shoulders knees and toes song, and songs like it for awhile, keeps the kids happy and you get a mini workout yourself! 🙂

  • Annabell says:

    I got my 5 things done, and got to bed on time too! I woke up at 6, reset my alarm for 6:30. I have decided to change my wakeup time to 6:30 and see if that is the right amount of sleep for me.

    I am not a morning workout person at all. I am way too lazy when I wake up and feel like I really don’t put forth the same effort in the morning than I do in the afternoon. So, typically 5 days a week I go to the gym after work (or on my days off) for 45 minutes. The past couple of weeks haven’t been so great, but I am in the middle of moving. Once I move, I will start going to a different gym, one which has a lap pool. Once this move is over and my membership is activated at the new gym, I will have no problem going!

  • Shelly says:

    I did much better this morning than yesterday. I remembered to get my 5 tasks done before bed. I was almost on time getting to bed I was only 10 minutes late. I was reading a book and lost track of time. I was up a half hour earlier than I needed to be this morning. Now for the exercising. Which is really odd as I was such an active as a child. I used to love running, swimming and doing sit-ups, push-up etc. I do get some exercise in with gardening, yard work and playing with the kids but nothing structured. But I will commit to 10 minutes of exercise a day. I don’t know what I will do or what time of day I will fit it in but I will commit to 10 minutes. Maybe I will even lose some extra weight.

    Thanks encouraging us to add exercise each day, if it was just left to me I probably wouldn’t be looking to commit to exercising but I really want to follow through with these challenges. So this is just what I need to get me started.

  • Jennifer says:

    I only recently got the green light to start exercising again post-partum, so I’ve been trying to get outside everyday and take a walk while wearing my baby. I am also going to try and start doing my 10 minute solutions prenatal pilates dvd again for starters, and work up to the bonus intense post-partum abb workout.

    As for the 5 evening must-do’s, I’m getting there. The same with bedtime!

    Its a whole new world having a baby:)

  • cindy says:

    I finally set my alarm for 6am and got up without snoozing! Unfortunately, my three-year-old also got up at that time, so my plan for the morning went a little awry. Luckily, though, I was ready for the day due to having done my Evening Must-Do’s!

    I’m know I need to exercise, and I want to exercise, but I’m not feeling very committed yet. I definitely need to create a long-term goal and work toward it, but I’m not quite there. For now, I’ve printed out the 100 pushups/situp/squats plans and have them on my morning to-do list.

  • Annie says:

    I went to bed about an hour late last night. 🙁 But I still got up on time! However, after getting a regular (still not enough with a nursing baby) amount of sleep for a week, I was amazed at how much I could tell a difference in an hour less sleep. I felt tired all day. I did get all of my Must Do list done last night, so that helped my morning go well today. One of the goals I set over the weekend was to lose all of my baby weight (another 22 pounds) by January 31, 2013, which I think I counted to be 24 weeks. I supposed Crystal’s challenge today to begin exercising should go hand in hand with that. I had planned in my mind to take my kids on a walk a few times each week, but with this challenge, I was reminded that my sweet husband had bought 10-Minute Trainer for me a while back. I think I’ll attempt that before my kids get up in the morning and then maybe take them on a walk still, but won’t have to worry if we don’t get out for the walk in this crazy Texas heat!

  • GM says:

    I haven’t been on top of my 5 the way I’d like but tonight I’ve been able to do all but one. I’m actually waking up progressively earlier instead of at one set time. Tomorrow it will be 9am, 8:45 the day after, etc.

    Right now for exercise I play some dance video games every now and again. I also go for a short 10 minute walk on weekday afternoons with my daughter and a friends dog. I don’t plan to change that.

  • Carolen says:

    One of the reasons I wanted to start getting up early and making the most of my mornings was to find time to fit in excercise.

    Bedtime – check
    5 Must-Dos – No check (renovating kitchen, so my routine is all off due to construction)
    Wake-up Time – check (3:45am comes so quickly, especially when I didn’t sleep well)

    Every morning, since starting this challenge, I have run on my treadmill for 20 minutes. I will slowly increase that over time, but I am just starting out. It really does provide lots of energy for the rest of my day. It is amazing.
    I am also adding the EA Active 2 program to my excercise plan.
    We will see how it goes.

  • I have been doing well on my 5 things and last night I went to bed at 10 (on time). The mornings are hard for me though. I did not get up at 6 when my alarm went off but got up at 6:30. Which is still an improvement from last week!
    I was doing great with an exercise routine but fell off the bandwagon a bit with a minor injury last week. Getting back into it today though and committed to going on a run today.
    My usual schedule is run Tues, Thurs, Sunday. Yoga on Monday and Jillian Michaels DVD on Wed, Friday. I have a half marathon on Oct 21!

  • laurie bishop says:

    monday, wed & friday – i do strength training early morning (5 am at gym) and also do a gym class monday & thursday
    zumba tuesday night
    tues, & thurs & sunday – i go for a run – am new at this so working on week 4 day 3 of the couch to 5k program

    it is a lot of work, but i enjoy it and it certainly has helped with my 30 lbs weight loss this year

    i find its easier to just exercise, than to deal with the guilt of not !

    • Kathy says:

      Love your last statement, so true! Just go ahead and get it over with. You’ll waste more time and mental energy feeling bad about not exercising than if you just set the timer for 15 minutes and do it!

  • Nicole says:

    Thanks Crystal, for posting such great inspiration! I sat down yesterday ( I am way behind, I know!) And made my yearly goals, broke them into more chewable bite-size goals and have a weekly plan. I am working on getting to be by 10pm and up by 6pm (difficult with 4 kids, especially the one that woke up 5 times last night!) Most nights they sleep well, so once our homeschooling starts (day after Labor Day) there won’t be an excuses to sleep in 🙂
    Looking forward to working my way through the rest of your inspirations!

  • Katie says:

    I started the “couch to 5K” program 4 weeks ago. I get up early and run before my husband leaves for work. I’m a little discouraged though because I’ve gained 2.5 pounds since I started it! (Maybe its muscle?) But it does make me feel good!

    • Crystal says:

      If you’re not trying to lose weight and you’re at a healthy weight, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve heard of that happening to others, too — especially those who typically were really thin.

      I’m so glad you feel great — that’s fantastic! Go you!

      • Katie says:

        I’m 5’10 and 150lbs which is a healthy weight so my goal was just to tone up and do something healthy for myself, not necessarily to lose weight. I’m going to stick with it but hopefully I stop gaining! Thank you for all of your posts. They really are an encouragement to me!

  • Sarah M. says:


    I don’t understand how people work out first thing in the early morning! I want to, I really do. Now that my family’s business is entering its busy season, I have to be available to answer the phone as it rings off the hook, and my husband is out on jobs all day, the morning is really my only option to work out during the fall.

    But I move so sluggishly in the morning until I’ve had some tea and breakfast. How do you work out without having eaten in 12+ hours?! I have been able to run regularly on the treadmill over the summer, going from barely being able to run .5 miles to finally hitting the 5-mile-mark the other day, but that’s after getting some good carbs and protein in me and running in the afternoon.

    Then there’s the tricky part about the baby getting up at 6am, which means I’d really have to start getting up at 5am to get in some devos, running, and shower. Which means going to sleep between 9:30 and 10.

    So I guess I need help with two things:
    1. How do you physically have a good workout early? Is it something you have to train your body to do? The few times I’ve run on the treadmill at 6-6:30 ish, I was DYING.
    2. How do you go to bed very early when your husband isn’t ready to crash until 11?? What is a good compromise?

    • Lori says:

      In answer to 1, have a small thing in the am…i get up, eat a small protein bar, cheese stick, boiled egg, or even a cereal bar, with a glass of water and my morning pills. Takes 5 minutes, i don’t even sit down! and then i go for my run. Then i eat another small breakfast with my family when they get up. And i have so much more energy on the days i do!

    • Emily says:

      I go to bed earlier than my husband does, and it actually works well for us. We have our together time after our daughter goes down (part of my evening routine), and I go to bed about 45 minutes to an hour before he does. I read for part of that time, but I don’t think we’ve disconnected any since not going to bed at the same time. You just have to find what works for you and your family. Going to bed at different times works for us, so that’s what we decided is best.

      I think what you feed your body the prior day really affects your ability to work-out the following morning….at least it’s that way for me! 🙂 My brother is the captain of his cross country team at a university here in Texas, and his “short” days are still 18 miles or more at one time, so I go to him a lot for running advice. That’s what he told me. If he didn’t get enough calories the previous day (an absolute minimum of 4000 for him), he’ll scramble up several eggs and have that and some whole-wheat toast, wait about 20 minutes, then start his work out. But that doesn’t work as well for me. I also don’t like working out in the AM, though. But try to eat of complex carbs, protein and take vitamins, like Crystal has mentioned before, and drink a lot of water and see if it helps working out in the morning. Also, it’s ok to start slowly! Good luck! You and I seem to be in a similar season of life. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    I think my five-month old secretly reads MSM because she has recently put herself on a morning and evening routine. 🙂 No joke, we’ve never had her on a schedule, as I’ve always fed on demand. However, she know has her certain times she wants to eat, wants to have a bath, wants to be read to, and wants to go to sleep! She’s always been a great sleeper at night (10 hour stretches), but she’s officially 7:30 to 7:30. It’s wonderful. Now, I can have a better plan to get up and ready before she wakes, since I know what time that should be. I love it. I feel so much better when I have a general idea about how the day should go, and I don’t feel like I’m cramming so much in in the evenings because I know she’ll go down before I do, and it’s ok for the laundry, dishes, etc. to wait. My tweaked goal is to have her down at 7:30, and do as much as I can until 8:30. Then, I start my evening routine, and I’m able to be asleep at 9:30 and awake at 6:00am.

    I do work out in the afternoons, though. I have tried and tried with the morning, but it takes me a while to get ready, as I have trichatillomania, and I hate going out without make-up, even to run. 🙂 Vain, I know. But it makes me feel normal.

    Thank you for this series!!

  • Lori says:

    1. Got to bed just a few minutes late, but baby woke up in horrible pain from eating something he shouldn’t have, so didn’t really get to sleep for another hour. Did finish all but putting clothes out the night before because the kids were already sleeping when i got home.

    2. Due to #1, i overslept by a half hour, but still got up before my kids, so woohoo!

    3. I have been doing the Couch to 5k, and while i still really hate running, i do love how i feel when i am done, and have lost 18 pounds so i will keep at it! Even got a run in after waking up late! It really helps you get moving i the morning…

  • Jimi says:

    1. We were in bed on time with 4 out of 5 of my list done.
    2. Up at 6:10. Really need to get up at 6:00 when the alarm goes off, but now that my husband is home (he was out of town for work last week), we are back in the habit of hitting the snooze alarm. But just once!
    3. I’m not currently exercising but plan to start running at least a mile in the mornings, 3-4 mornings a week. I used to run a lot (25-35 miles/week), but because of an injury, I’ve taken the last 6 months off. I’m ready to get back out there. I would like to walk some in the evenings after my kiddo goes to bed.

  • Julie Turner says:

    Monday was tough for me, but since then I’ve managed to go to bed earlier 11:15 and wake up closer to my time 7:15. I need to improve each time by about 15 mintues to really be where I want to, but its progress from last week! I did my 5 things the past couple of nights and its helped me out a ton!

    My husband and I have been doing a variation of the Insanity work out together at home each morning for the past 5 months. Its about 12-15 mintues of cardio, followed by 3-5 minutes of stretching. He had been doing the Insanity workout at work during his lunchbreak, when they stopped doing it, he came home and taught me the routine so he could stay with it and get me on board.

    I have to say it was not easy to go from doing next to nothing to doing Insanity-I felt like it was going to kill me the first week or so, but then it became part of our morning routine! We usually do the workout 4-5 days a week and do strength training/toning when we want to change it up. My husband also created a few different playlists so we could stay motivated even when doing almost the exact same routine everyday.

    I’m so glad my husband challenged me to workout with him and thankful for his ongoing encouragement-having a workout partner definitely keeps you accountable! I can tell a big difference on the days that I workout-I’m usually less stressed, and more focused. Its amazing what a small workout can do for your day!

    Great post!

  • April says:

    I don’t have time in the morning to exercise. I try to work out to my Leslie Sansone DVD twice a week in the afternoon during my daughter’s nap. I also take walks to the park with my kids everyday now that the weather is cooler. I feel great after I exercise!

  • Sarah G. says:

    At the beginning of the year, I was exercising every morning with the 30 Day Shred DVD. It was really great! The first day I started it, I couldn’t even make it through the first circuit. Bleh. SO out of shape! But slowly I worked up to the highest level. The problem was that I was working out in a bedroom where nobody was currently staying, because I really didn’t want to be out in the main room for everybody to watch me…and then in April my grandmother came back to stay with us and took back over that bedroom. So. While I do walk/jog on the treadmill most nights for 20-25 minutes, I really need to get back into the little more intense weights/abs routine again. It really did start the day off well.

  • nicole says:

    Since aug. 13th, I’ve been getting up @ 430A, start an hour of yoga from the website @ 5A, yoga til 6A, shower & dress til 630, take youngest child to the bus @ 630A, come home & eat bfast, ready to leave & get started w/ my day b/t 7-730A. Bedtime is 930-10P

  • Ms. Edith says:

    This is something I need to work on – exercise! It seems like I have no time to work it in, but if I really want it then I need to make the time. And with the health issues I have, exercising will be a HUGE benefit. I have set some goals dealing with this, now to just break them down!

  • Leslie says:

    Okay, I’m going to put my treadmill pants and shoes at 4:30am and when I get everyone lunched and coffeed and out of here, I will get on the treadmill for 15 minutes starting in the morning. I can at least do that and maybe it will keep me from flopping back in the bed at 6:30am til 8 or so.

  • Paige says:

    Ok, answer me something. I have a 9-month old. My husband works full time and is home in the evenings, and we put our baby down for bed at 8:00. From 8-10 every night is our alone time (we just consider every night a date night) where we watch our favorite show, have a glass of wine, talk, whatever. So I usually get to bed by 10. I try to get up around 6:00, but many times, our baby is up and ready to play at that time too. Do I wake up at 5:00 and sacrifice some evening time with my husband to go to bed earlier? I try to walk with a friend who also has a 9-month-old on the three days I don’t work, but I still want to lose the last 10 pounds of weight gained and kept after pregnancy. Suggestions??

    • Crystal says:

      Have you considered taking 20-30 minutes in the evening to exercise with your husband? Not sure if he’d be game, but that’s an option! My husband and I are doing P90X together right now and *loving* it!

      • Paige says:


        We have tried doing P90x together, but two things happened:

        1) My husband threw up because he too was out of shape and jumped in too soon.
        2) I cried because I couldn’t do it very well, and I ended up getting mad at myself and taking it out on him.

        I am the type who likes to exercise on my own because I don’t like people watching. I will definitely bring it up though to see if he is willing to do that with me after we put the babe to bed!

        Just have to find something mild that won’t make me angry at my weakness… 🙂

  • beingjennifer says:

    Well, my nights are still a challenge. I love being up alone at night, but I’m enjoying being up in the morning and having all day. So, I’m working on it. The rest has been good.
    I love my mornings! I do ab and core workouts right in bed. Sometimes I add upper and lower body stuff, too. I’m just thrilled that I’m doing some kind of exercise. I hadn’t been for quite awhile. I tell myself I “have” to do these before I can meditate. For me that’s a strong motivator.

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