Workout Tips for the Sleep-Deprived

There are oh-so-many tricks I use to get me out of bed in the morning to workout NO MATTER WHAT. One of them usually works. Usually.

Today I slept in, which led to this text exchange with my workout buddy:

Me: “I want to bottle this feeling. This feeling of being sad and behind all day. So that I will remember it the next time I think it’s a good idea to sleep in and not go to the gym first thing in the morning.”

Workout Buddy (WB): “Deal. I’ll guilt you into it.”

Me: “Please do.”

Tomorrow morning, there will be no hiding from the onslaught of text messages from WB who will blow up my phone nonstop until I get up and get in my car to go move my booty. Because that’s what friends do. Partly because she doesn’t want to get whiny text messages from me all day if I do sleep in.

I get it. Not everyone is a morning person, and not everyone can or even wants to work out first thing in the morning. But, listen, mamas: what other time do you have every day to yourself? For me, my days are chaotic from the time my kids get out of bed until way after they go to bed at night. There was a time I could squeeze in a workout during naps or after the kids went to bed, but with two older kids who no longer nap and two younger kids who are total spazzoids about going to bed at night, those precious hours before they wake up in the morning are it. There’s a reason Proverbs 31 talks about how she “rises while it is yet night…” It’s the only time that poor woman had to herself!

So. Tip #1: just do it. Set your alarm, get up, and DO IT. I read recently that you don’t need motivation to do something. It’s not a requirement. I rarely feel “motivated” to change a diaper or take a shower, but I do it anyway. It’s the same with working out. Forget motivation. Just. Do. It. I promise, you’ll never ever regret it.

Tip #2: get fit with friends. For years I’ve said that the main source of my fitness success is the fact that I have friends who keep me moving. It’s a lot harder to bail on your workout if you’re going to meet someone who will make you feel like a chubby sack of goo if you bail. If you don’t have friends who work out, join a gym. That’s where a lot of us crazy people hang out. If you’re in East Tennessee, you can work out with me. I’d love to bring you in to my little world (as long as you’re not a psycho-killer. If you are, I want you to know that I have my concealed carry permit and my husband is skilled in Krav Maga. You don’t stand a chance.) If all of your friends are completely exercise-averse, just meet up for a walk once a week. Then make it twice a week. Just walk around the neighborhood while you chat instead of sitting at a restaurant or on the couch. One fit friend strengthens the bunch. Be that friend.

My biggest struggle right now is that my youngest – now almost 5 months old – still isn’t sleeping through the night. I’m nursing, so I feed him around 7:30pm, 11pm, and 5am. He was still wanting to get up and nurse around 3am, and my refusal to let him eat at that unGodly hour results in loud, baby anger. I’m typically in bed by 8:30 or 9pm, but those frequent wake-ups take their toll.

There are a few things I do to battle the constant exhaustion. Caffeine is one of my very best friends. I know, it’s probably not THE healthiest solution, but with three older kids “sleep when the baby sleeps” isn’t an option. I’m a huge fan of Advocare Spark, and down a double Spark as soon as I roll out of bed in the morning. I seriously leave the canister and my shaker bottle on the bathroom counter, so I only have to stagger about 20ft for my wake-up drink. That gets me the energy to get dressed and get out the door. Then the endorphins take over. I know it sounds nuts, but its true that exercise gives you energy. All the caffeine in the world doesn’t get me going like a good 30-minute workout. There are some upper-limits to that, by the way, but that’s another post for another day.

Tip #3: Caffeine in moderation. Like anything else, too much is a bad thing, but a little pick-me-up to get you moving certainly beats staying in bed and not working out at all. So use what the Good Lord gave us! We can talk about coffee, too. Spark is definitely my workout drink, but I love good coffee and would be happy to share my faves!

Tip #4: A healthy diet. Don’t worry about counting calories. You have enough to worry about! I do keep track of my food intake because I’m a little obsessive AND I need to make sure I’m eating enough to maintain my milk supply, but for most of you, that’s just not necessary. Here’s my rule: if God made it and man hasn’t messed it up, eat it. I can’t even begin to tell you the difference in my energy level when I eat a muffin for breakfast vs. when I eat a bacon egg and cheese burrito. I’ll be sure to share some of my easy, go-to breakfast recipes in the coming days because it really is the most important meal of the day! Keep fresh fruits and veggies around, along with nuts and hard-boiled eggs and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your energy level fairly even throughout the day.

(and just to prove I practice what I preach…)

11-10 blog post

Tip #5: rest when you can. I always always ALWAYS rest on Sunday. I sleep late, eat a leisurely breakfast, make sure I have lunch in the crock pot for after church, and at least spend the afternoon laying around, even if I don’t get to nap. I don’t work out, I don’t do housework, I don’t do any labor-intensive cooking…I rest. If there are other days during the week when I’m feeling run-down, I’ll make an effort to teach school from the couch, or talk the boys into a movie and/or snuggle so I can catch a few extra zzz’s, but I try my best to maintain my workout routine. One missed day turns into two and then, well, you saw the text exchange at the beginning of this post…it’s just not worth it!

And finally, tip #6: don’t try to do it all. I may get up at 5am to work out and do lots of other things that may seem super impressive, but there are A LOT of things that I don’t do. I’m a homebody, so I don’t go out and about very often. I don’t wear makeup or fix my hair or, let’s be honest, change out of my workout clothes. I say “no” to evening invitations and I only enjoy a glass of wine (or three) on Saturday night when I know I don’t have to get up early. You can’t do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day or energy in your tank, so choose what’s important and do THAT. For me, being fit and healthy is a priority, so things that interfere with that are going to get the boot. Right now my focus is working out, eating well, teaching my boys, and taking care of my home and family. If it seems like my life is well-lived, it’s because I’m only doing what needs to be done during this season. Figure out what your priorities are for now – because those priorities are going to change with your seasons of life – and make those things happen. Do them, and do them well.

Sleep-deprived or not. 😉


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