Tips For A “9-5” Lifestyle

January 23, 2008

Many of you have been asking about how to start getting up earlier. Surprisingly, I have the most energy the first few hours I’m awake – and the least mid-afternoon and evening. If you’re the same way (and it might take a 5 a.m. workout 5 days in a row to truly find out!) then give early morning workouts a try! To me, there’s no better way to start the day than with a good sweaty workout under your belt. It boosts self confidence, motivation and happiness all day long.

I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips for my 9 p.m. -5 a.m. routine :)

  1. You HAVE to go to bed on time. If you don’t, you will feel like a sleep deprived zombie, and in that case should probably get back in bed anyways! Count backwards 7, 8, 9 hours of sleep – however much you need – and get in bed 30 minutes before then. It will seem really early, if you are normally a night owl, but it’ll only get easier!
  2. Pick the right alarm clock. It’s REALLY hard to get out of bed on the first buzzer. I always snooze at least twice, but you can’t snooze for more than a few minutes or you’re wasting time!! I have two alarms on my clock and set them 2 minutes apart. Then instead of snoozing with the button, I just click two minutes back when the second alarm goes off. Beeping at much shorter intervals helps me wake up MUCH faster.
  3. Turn the light on. Be brave, reach out of the warm covers into the cold air, and just do it. It’ll help wake you up 100 x better than darkness.
  4. Program your thermostat. If you don’t have one, go buy one! Ours was $10 and was very easy to install. I have the heat set to turn on about 10 minutes before my alarm goes off so it’s nice and toasty when I get out of bed. It turns back off shortly after I leave at 5:30.
  5. Decide what to have for a pre-workout snack while you’re still in bed. If you’re anything like me, the thought of peanut butter will get you up and going!
  6. If you’re hoping to workout first thing, set out your workout clothes neatly before you go to bed. Then you just have to put them on in the morning. No fumbling around in drawers. Sometimes I even put my sports bra on my nightstand and when the alarm goes off I bring it in bed with me to warm it up so it’s not so cold against my skin in the dead of winter!
  7. Mondays are ALWAYS hard. Fridays are (almost) always easy. Lesson learned: the body clock does exist. On Saturdays I often wake up at 5 (although I usually go back to sleep for an hour) simply because I’m used to it. The first day will be hard, but after that it gets easier and easier.

Happy sleeping!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate January 23, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Thanks sooo much for this Kath! I have been totally inspired by your morning workouts, and have begun them myself. And you’re right – getting up at any time is hard, you might as well get up early enough to do something for yourself. And I feel so awesome all day on the mornings I work out – it’s totally worth it.


2 Amy January 23, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Yay! You are awesome. I need someone to break it down for me. Everything you say is completely logical to me, but I just don’t do it now! I have a feeling this will help me get in gear — you saying, do x for result y. Bed early = energy in morning. Morning workout = overall happiness. etc. Thanks a bunch!


3 shan January 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Kath- Do you have the recipe for the butternut squash and kale soup written out with measurements? I’d love to try it!


4 emily January 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm

I recently started getting up at 5:30 to workout and while I am falling alseep on the couch by 9, it is so worth how good I feel throughout the day!


5 Beth January 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

I totally agree with everything Kath posted, and I’ll ad a few more:

– Find a friend if you can! I did, and knowing I have to meet her makes ALL the difference. (Hubby won’t get out of bed so I had to look elsewhere, lol)

– Start by getting up just a few times a week. If you don’t think you can do this every day, try just Mon/Wed/Fri to start.

I NEVER thought I would be a morning exerciser, but here I am – addicted to it.


6 the husband January 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Here’s the link to the butternut squash post:

The directions are about halfway down. With soups there’s never really an exact procedure. In fact, this could be just about every soup recipe out there:

-sear meat
-sautee all hard vegetables
-add everything else
-simmer for at least 30 minutes

The only specific thing I remember about the squash soup was searing the turkey cubes on the side and not adding them until the soup had been fully cooked AND we had used our stick blender to puree everything. Let us know if the directions aren’t clear enough


7 Jen January 23, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Oh WOW!!!
Do we have some sort of weird mental connection?!?
This VERY week I began getting up earlier to workout before my first class. Your tips couldn’t have come at a more perfect time!
Thanks so much and I will definitely be using your suggestions. I am also one who hates being cold in the morning so I will invest in a programable thermostat, and will think of my pre-workout snack to get me going in the AM (homemade banana walnut bread and PB . . . YUM YUM YUM!!!)


8 jenn January 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm

to husband, how do you stay and make all these delicious breads and not gain weight? the smell alone would drive me crazy!


9 Nicole January 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm

I have to say something, too! haha…
No, really, Kath is right…the more you just get up and go, the easier it becomes. I’m involved in athletics and we have to be in the gym by 5:50…workouts begin at 6 am…no skipping/slacking/excuses…several times a week. For the rest of the week we’re technically on our own outside of practice, and I still get up early to get in a good workout. There are a few mornings here and there that I choose to sleep a little longer or simply wait until after class to get my workout in, and some times waiting until later in the day is kind of a treat…but I like to think of all the other days that I start with a good workout as dedication. Something about it makes me feel a little “stronger” and more motivated…I think about how most of the other kids on campus haven’t even thought of rolling over or getting the morning goop out of their eyes and here I am working up a sweat first thing. It’s makes me want to make the most out of my workout since I did, after all, get up with the sun with the purpose and intent of doing something good for myself!!


10 Comrade GoGo January 23, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Please forgive me for being totally off-topic, but I just came across your blog and noticed the Michael Pollan quote at the top of the main page—I’m currently reading “In Defense of Food” and so far I’m pretty impressed :). Have you read it? What did you think of it? I apologize if you’ve already discussed it elsewhere in an earlier post.


11 arimcg January 23, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Yeah, I definitely find that if I don’t work out in the morning, it’s way to easy to make an excuse later in the day. You make plans, you’re tired from work, you’re hungry…whatever. I also try to have everything ready so when I wake up (at 6:15 or 6:30 – you’re a little too extreme for me :)) I can just walk out the door. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m on the bus to the gym and it’s too late to turn back.


12 Mariposa January 23, 2008 at 4:51 pm

These are some good tips Kath, thank you!
Hopefully, I will be getting my butt up earlier in the morning soon! it’s hard- working till 5:30- then home with kids, etc. blogging, dancing, etc. :)
but i think a couple mornings a week i could get up just a bit early and at least get in a strength training workout. (I have weights at home- can’t do the gym)


13 Ginny January 23, 2008 at 5:14 pm

Hi Kath! Thank you so much for the tips! I’m so inspired by everybody’s comments and am really excited to try working out in the mornings!
I also wanted to say that the positivity and care you put into the blog really make my day so much brighter! It is really generous of you to spend so much time doing this for others, and I hope you know that you are truly making a difference in people’s lives!!


14 Andrea January 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Hey all! I have been back into my ealry morning workouts and I love it! I always used to workout in the am then I switched to evenings (hated it) now I am back into the morning routine. I am in bed by 9PM (watching TV or reading). By 10PM i try to fall asleep. My alarm goes off at 6am. I get up, get dressed into my workout clothes, grab a banana and drive to the gym. I need to get up just a little early, maybe 5:45am so I can make my workouts longer. I get in a good 45-50mins (which is still good). I have been going to the gym 2-3 days during the week and then sat and sun. I also have an elliptical machine at home so on days when i dont hit the gym, i try to get on that for 30mins. Getting up early is hard at times, but after going to the gym I feel so much better and glad i went!


15 Leng January 23, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Hi Kath,

Although I soOOo want to the gym early in the AM, I have a problem out of bed especially when it’s so cold. I set my alarm clock for 1 hour before I normally wake up, but I always end up waking up at the SAME time. It’s so frustrating at times, but I guess in a sadistic way I feel a little better about myself knowing that I’m not the only one with problems of waking up on time. Thanks for your tips and everyone else’s comments. They make sense and are really motivating. I’ll try it out tmw morning and let ya’ll know how it goes. :)


16 "M" January 23, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Quick question….What time do you two normally eat dinner at? My husband and I live and work in Los Angeles, which is the mecca for traffic, and we don’t end up eating dinner until about 7:30pm, which means we don’t finish until after 8pm….so what time do you eat at?


17 CB January 23, 2008 at 6:13 pm

I just wanted to second Ginny’s post! I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading it every day. It is so nice to find people with similar ideas and traits to give you motivation and keep you on track. So thanks for all of the time and effort you devote to this!


18 goalie30 January 23, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Hi Kath, The Husband, and fellow bloggers: I’m new to this blog but am loving it! I’d been following Eat Like Me with Kristen over at and while she’s already an RD, I’m finding Kath’s blog more informational and her diet more well rounded than Kristen’s to follow as an outsider.
Anyways, I too am trying to hit the morning band wagon on working out before work, and so far I love it. Probably becuz the gym is almost empty here in the morning compared to 5:30pm at night! However, does anyone else find that they are MORE hungry ALL day after working out first thing in the morning?! Especially after doing hard cardio, it seemed no matter what I ate the other day, I was hungry an hour or two later, and ended up eating more overall that day then I would have if I had run the same distance/pace but at 5:30pm instead of 6am. Also, if you think about, when you wake up, your body had been “fasting” over night, so eating a small snack before you go to the gym is a good idea to have some energy to work out. But, after you work out and burn 400+ calories, as Kath often does, if your snack and morning breakfast still only total 400-500 calories, your body is still in a “deficit” and really feels like your calorie count for the day is at zero (does this make sense?), so maybe that is why I was so hungry all day? Anyone else’s thoughts on this?


19 shan January 23, 2008 at 7:25 pm

thanks!! i just wasn’t sure if you had it measured and stuff- but that’s perfect, I plan on trying it tomorrow night:)


20 Kath January 23, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I’m so happy you all are finding these helpful! Horray for all the AM exercisers!!

Great additions!!

I know what you mean about the occasional afternoon workout feeling like a treat – if you’re in the right mood it’s actually really fun!! So is going to a different gym (we’re Y members and can go to any of the ones in Charlotte).

I haven’t read IDOF but I did start Omnivore’s Dilemma. I have to say it’s a little too detailed for a quick nightly chapter, but I need to give it some more time. I LOVE Pollan and like what he has to say. He’s the Dr. Oz of nutrition – I trust every word that comes from his mouth :) How is IDOF by the way??

Thanks so much Ginny and CB!

Sounds like you need some help getting out of bed: good alarm, light on, clothes set out, heat on, good snack waiting!

We usually sit down around 7 or 7:30 – but sometimes not until 8 depending what we’re making.

If you’re starving you probably haven’t re-fueled enough. Do you eat your normal breakfast on those days? Make sure you have carbohydrates after a hard workout along with a lesser proportion of protein and fat. Nothing compares to a bowl of oatmeal!



21 goalie30 January 23, 2008 at 10:09 pm

I had a soy bar (130 calories) before I hit the gym; then proceeded to run 5 miles at 1% incline (I run slower for the first 2-3 miles and harder as I get warmed up), so with walking for warm up/cool down included, it ended up being a total of 45 minutes. I got home and made an english muffin with peanut butter (2 Tbsp) and jelly and yogurt. Two hours later at work I had my banana and a serving of vanilla flavored almonds, and I was still dipping into the pretzel bin at work before lunch hit! So I’m scratching my head on how I could still be hungry after all of that, and I’m a rather small person although I have a lot of lean muscle mass. If I had time to make eggs I would’ve added that in. Any other ideas of things on the go I could’ve added in? Thanks for advice!


22 Kath January 24, 2008 at 5:21 am

Perhaps you should eat it all at once instead of spreading it out to create more of a feeling of fullness? Unfortunately I can’t read your body and know exactly what’s going on. Did you drink enough water as well?



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