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    10 Small Ways I've Changed My Pandemic Routine To Become A Morning Workout Person

    Little changes, big difference.

    Hi! I'm Fabiana, and I'm a person who — shockingly — loves working out. I use it as a stress reliever at the end of a long and hectic day.

    But after the pandemic set in last year, I wanted to try to become more of a morning person — especially when it comes to working out. For me, I've found that really helps set the tone for the rest of the day.

    With the current WFH circumstances, it's very easy for me to roll out of bed and log on for work, groggy and grumpy. Right now, if I don't get my workout out of the way *before* my work day begins, I know I'll most likely come up with an excuse to skip it come nighttime.

    MTV / Via giphy.com

    So for nearly the past year, I've been doing some trial and error to figure out how I can change my routine to consistently work out first thing, even though I'm not naturally a morning person. Here are a few tips that have helped me the most!

    (*And quick note that these habits and tips aren't meant to be universal — since everyone is different. Still, I wanted to share my full experience in hopes that some or all of it would be useful!)

    1. I eat dinner before 7:30 p.m. That allows me to be not too full *and* not too hungry less than 12 hours later when I'm working out.

    Bounce TV / Via giphy.com

    I know this sounds super specific but I found that eating before 7:30 p.m. is the sweet spot where I'll feel digested but not starving come the morning. I personally prefer working out on an empty stomach, but I also hate nothing more than a growling stomach while on jumping around in my virtual workout class. It took some trial and error for me to find the right in-between here, but once I did, it really helped.

    2. I make sure my dinner is a mix of protein and vegetables — like salmon and brussels sprouts or chicken and sweet potatoes.

    A dinner plate of salmon and Brussels sprouts
    Fabiana Buontempo/BuzzFeed

    Everyone's ideal meal is different, but for me, I realized my perfect dinner consists of a protein and vegetables with little to no carbs — and I spoke to an expert to figure out why.

    "Low carb meals before bedtime may keep the insulin levels down. We want to prevent elevating insulin levels during sleep because it can possibly reduce the secretion of growth hormones," said Roxie Jones, certified strength and nutrition coach. "The job of growth hormones is to regulate the metabolism and repair damaged tissues while we're in the deep sleep phase."

    3. I eat breakfast after my workout, not before — and I eat the same thing every day to keep it easy.

    A green smoothie on a countertop
    Fabiana Buontempo/BuzzFeed

    I've put a lot of thought into what I eat the night before an early workout and what I eat the morning of. I personally perform my best in the gym on an empty stomach aside from a small cup of coffee. (Coffee is a necessity to get me going while it's still dark out!)

    But I do prep my breakfast smoothie — which consists of protein powder, almond milk, a nut butter, and spinach — in advance so once I'm back from the gym I can easily take it out of the fridge and chug it.

    "Ideally a protein supplement is going to be most optimal because it's more quickly absorbed by the muscles when it comes to replenishing amino acids," said Jones.

    4. I avoid any alcohol the night before.

    ABC / Via giphy.com

    For obvious reasons, I notice a huge difference in how my body feels when I have even one glass of wine for dinner before a morning workout. Even if I chase that glass of wine with a lot of water before bed, I'll still wake up with a slight headache and a puffy face. I noticed avoiding any sort of alcohol before an early workout keeps any unwanted puff down and keeps me mentally clear for that early workout.

    5. I plan out my workouts on Sunday night so I don't have to think much about them later in the week.

    Fabiana Buontempo/BuzzFeed

    I'm a planner by nature, so something I found to be very useful is to sit in front of my planner Sunday night and think about my week of workouts. Rather than waking up and trying to think of what I'd like to do for that day's workout, I just refer to my planner to tell me what is on that day's agenda. Planning out the week's workouts also lets me be more strategic with what body parts I'll work out on which days, what classes I need to sign up for, and which mornings I should use as a rest day.

    Some of my favorite at-home workouts are Lindsey Harrod's Instagram live workouts, Barry's Bootcamp virtual classes, and workouts on The Strong Collective app.

    6. For paid classes, I sign up in advance for early time slots — knowing that the cancellation fee helps keep me accountable.

    An RSVP to an early morning workout
    Fabiana Buontempo

    Nowadays even virtual fitness classes have a cancellation policy and oftentimes to try and avoid it, I'd just tell myself that I would wake up really early and sign up for the class the morning of, as I'm getting ready for it. This has never happened. I'd hear the 5:30 a.m. alarm set for the class but then proceed to tell myself that since I didn't already sign up, there's nothing to lose! I guess this was my way of thinking I was beating the cancellation system, but I'd end up losing in the end, as I'd roll over in bed and fall back into a deep sleep.

    Signing up for an online class days in advance really holds me accountable and that looming cancelation policy hangs over my head, giving me enough of a reason to wake up for the workout.

    7. I lay out my workout clothes the night before.

    A workout top and leggings laid out on the floor
    Fabiana Buontempo/BuzzFeed

    Just as if we were in pre-workout-from-home times, I still keep the habit of picking clothes out the night before. As with anything, preparation is key! This allows me to get dressed half asleep and have one less thing to think about early in the morning.

    8. I swap my nightly Netflix binge for reading a book.

    The author reading a book
    Fabiana Buontempo/BuzzFeed

    I've found I definitely need my sleep if my day is going to begin very early for a morning workout — so I've been shutting off my TV an hour earlier than usual, and instead picking up a book to read. On those nights, I set an alarm at 10 p.m. that reminds me to turn off the TV and open my book to read. It helps me fall asleep fast and, honestly, I get some of my best night's sleep when I go to bed reading.

    9. I changed the sound of my alarm to something I actually enjoy.

    ABC / Via giphy.com

    I definitely believe that part of the reason I typically hate getting up in the morning is because of my obnoxious alarm. I used to dreadfully wake up to the buzzer sound that reminded me of a fire alarm. (No wonder I'd shut it off and pretend it never went off!) Now when my alarm goes off, a fun Jonas Brothers song plays instead. I don't know about you, but the sound of Nick Jonas singing to me is one of the most pleasant sounds to wake up to.

    10. I give myself rest days.

    What's a tip or habit that's helped you create or maintain an exercise routine during the pandemic? Share in the comments!