When I tell people I workout seven days a week, the usual reaction is "Really?!" Followed by, "How do you do it?" When I add that I get up around 4:15 a.m. every morning and that I am at the gym by 4:45 a.m.—including on weekends and even holidays if the gym is open—people usually start to wonder if my body's been taken over by an alien being.
First of all, no—it's not easy dragging my butt out of bed when the alarm rings every morning. This can be as true on a Thursday or Friday as it is on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday. When the alarm rings, I'm not always a "happy camper." But I never (and I mean never) reach out and hit "snooze" on the alarm clock. Instead, I do a quick stretch (sometimes with an added groan), cuddle with my puppy for a few seconds, and then jump up and get going. At this point, I'm usually in robot mode (aka "automatic pilot") as I brush my teeth, wash my face and run a few fingers through my hair (before deciding the early morning gym crowd can just deal with my bedhead). After getting dressed and grabbing my gym bag, I'm out the door.
This healthy habit is a result of my being a much different person today than I was years ago when I weighed over 450 pounds, during which time I would become breathless just from talking on the phone, and participated in no physical activity whatsoever (unless you count chewing as a physical activity). Ironically, during the time I was that heavy, I usually always wore sweatpants and T-shirts (aka the usual gym-wear), since with a 60-inch waist, those were the only types of clothing items that I could find that would fit (not to mention stretch with me as my body grew bigger and bigger).
When I think about those days, I'm able to understand why I'm somewhat obsessive about working out these days. I never want to go back to my former habits (the ones that kept me tipping the scale at over 450 pounds). And while also helping me to maintain my self-imposed work schedule for the rest of the day (after my daily workout is complete), exercising also keeps my inside as healthy as my outside. And I'm not gonna lie—I like looking good as much as I do feeling good.
Now, just because I exercise seven days a week at the crack of dawn doesn't mean you have to do the same. Just as with a healthy eating plan, you need to create and stick to an exercise regimen that works for you, individually. The good news is that you don't even have to join a gym to do so. Just walking several times around a block (or a track field, a park, a mall—the list goes on) is a good place to start.
After years and years of yo-yo dieting, I find that working out seven days a week is essential to my metabolism and my current dietary needs (and occasional dietary splurges). But one exercise program is not right for all people. So you need to do what works for you as well as what works for your schedule. (And depending on your current medical condition, you might want to consult with a doctor first—be smart about it.) Personally, I find working out first thing in the morning a better choice, since by the end of the day I'm tired and can usually come up with 100 excuses why I don't have time to (or don't feel like) work(ing) out.
Do I love it when the alarm rings? No. Am I thrilled when stepping onto the treadmill knowing I'm going to be on it for an hour? No. Do I love waiting for a trainer and his or her client to stop using the one piece of gym equipment or weight set that I need to complete my workout routine? No.
But do I love how I feel when my workout is complete? Yes. Do I love breathing without difficulty? Yes. Do I love getting a medical checkup and my doctor telling me my lab numbers are "insanely good"? Yes. And do I love being able to treat myself to occasional indulgent foods knowing I'll work the calories off the next morning? Hell yes. I mean, um, yes. You get the point. The working out is worth every morning groan (when the alarm rings) and every drop of sweat. Bedhead be damned.
So join me in this healthy insanity, won't you? Whether you're setting the alarm for early in the morning or scheduling a 30-minute walk later in your day (perhaps during your lunch break), please do your body, mind and spirit a favor and make working out a part of your life—one that you stick with throughout the year.
Again, it doesn't have to be every day. It doesn't have to be at some crazy hour. But it really does have to be. As much for looking good and feeling good as for being healthy on the inside. Your health is important to me. So let's be mad workout alien beings together!