I Spent the Last Month Trying to Become a Morning Person

We challenged Katie Dunlop, better known as @lovesweatfitness, to become a morning person this month. See how she accomplished her #mypersonalbest, and is more productive because of it.

I fall somewhere in between morning person and night owl, staying up late some nights while still being able to get up if I have an early morning shoot or other commitment. So, when Shape asked me if I wanted to join them and challenge myself to become a morning person as part of their #MyPersonalBest campaign for February, I thought, "This is the push I need."

I used to wake up early, but when my schedule changed and I didn't need to get up early anymore, I stopped. Still, I've always felt more productive in the morning, so I wanted to wake up earlier, even if I didn't need to.

When February 1 rolled around, I didn't really have a set plan (which I came to regret later) for exactly how I was going to become a morning person. But I started going to bed earlier. Seems like a solid first step, right? So if I would normally go to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. after a night of blogging, I'd at least try to be in bed at 11 p.m. instead. Problem was, this didn't make me wake up much earlier at first. Hmm...

That's when I started working on my nighttime routine.

I always sleep with a sleep mask on, but I started ditching it in the hopes that the sunlight would wake me up earlier. That helped a little. But I started to realize that for me, it wasn't necessarily about physically waking up earlier. It was about the action of getting out of bed and starting my day.

So partway through the month I decided to get serious. No more setting my alarm for 15 minutes earlier, or trying to will my body to become something it wasn't used to being-an energetic morning riser. Nope, I decided to set my alarm for 7:30 a.m., get up and exercise immediately-even before I had my morning cup of coffee. This was a huge sacrifice for me, but holding off on coffee gave me something to look forward to. I love my coffee.

I used to be a morning exerciser, religiously, but I had gotten away from doing it every morning consistently. So my new strategy not only helped me get up earlier but also helped me stick to my morning workouts. I started doing a quick five-minute abs series every morning before I got out of bed too. This really helped set a healthy tone for the day.

I knew something was working when just the other day I had a sleepover with my niece and nephew, but my body naturally woke up at 5:30 in the morning! I can't remember the last time I woke up like that. It was pitch black outside and I was like, 'What is happening?', but I jumped out of bed and was awake. I felt good and did all my normal stuff for the entire day.

I've realized that this kind of transformation doesn't happen overnight. I was a bit naïve in the beginning, thinking that all it would take is telling myself to go to bed earlier and that would be that. A weight-loss transformation takes commitment, time, and most importantly, planning. And if you want to transform your sleep schedule, you'll need to do the same kind of thing. Have a plan and stick to it. It can be really hard to maintain any plan if it's too drastic or if you don't have the things in line to help you get there, so start small.

Throughout this month I've realized that the definition of a "morning person" can be different for everyone. For some people, it might mean hopping out of bed at 5 a.m. every day. But for me, it's more about making changes to help start the day on a better note. This challenge has proven to me that even if I don't get up earlier or go to bed earlier, I can still be a more productive, alert, and mindful person in the morning. I set my intentions on what I want to accomplish in the first hour or so that I'm awake, and, now, more days than not, I accomplish them.

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