Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theme Thursday: Trying Out a Different Drummer

I am not a morning person.

I do not say this in the annoying, kitschy, self-deprecating cartoon-strip thought bubble way with a dramatic roll of my eyes and a wacky expression (Yeah, I’m looking at YOU, Cathy--“Ack!” indeed.), but with the quiet certainty of fact. In my 38 years on earth I can say without exaggeration that there has never been a single morning (Nope, not even Christmas morning or the first day of summer vacation) where my eyes popped open with the sun and I immediately bounded out of bed with a smile on my face and a can-do attitude ready to greet another bee-you-tee-full day!

My day invariably begins with the jolt of the alarm clock and the subsequent shushing of that clock via the flop-armed slap of the snooze button (though a lifetime of this habit has given me an extraordinarily firm grasp on all mathematical operations involving 9 minute increments) followed closely by a groan and/or a sigh and the eventual settling in of a grumpy resignation that laying in bed for just one (or nine) more minutes isn’t an option and I haul myself out of bed to begin just-another-damn-day.

But although I know this about myself, it doesn’t stop me from occasionally believing that I can work against a lifetime of droopy eyelids and train myself to greet the pre-dawn hours with not only vigor and glee, but a healthy dose of cardiovascular activity as well.

While I am an evening exerciser by nature, every so often I’ll read the accounts of those who wake up at the ass-crack of dawn and lace up their running shoes and meet the sun and all about the benefits in energy level, metabolism, weight loss (and sex appeal, and intellect, and income level, and magical powers…) and I’ll decide that I’ve been doing this all wrong. I vow to change my ways, to fight my nature and set the alarm for an hour far earlier than any self respecting night owl should ever see upon waking, and to get out there and reclaim mornings as MY time. I vow to start a new routine of early to bed and early to rise…and I sometimes (read: hardly ever) even make it past the first day!

I’m on week two of my current morning exercise experiment (which is amazing, since I rarely make it to DAY two) and I have to say that I’m finally realizing that all those promises about my body getting used to the change in it’s regular rhythm and beginning to appreciate the many benefits of A.M. activity is pretty much a load of crap. Ok, maybe it hasn’t been a TOTAL loss, but it hasn’t been exactly enriched my life much either. The time I’ve ‘saved’ for other activities in the evening is mitigated by the fact that I’m too tired to do any of them because if I’d like to sleep for more than three hours in a row I actually have to go to bed earlier. All the extra energy I was promised doesn’t seem to be materializing either. So tell me, morning people--Where’s my payoff? Huh? HUH?

One of the best things about this weight loss game is that there is an abundance of information out there from various experts and fellow fat-fighters about all the ways in which we can make ourselves more successful in our quest for better health. Unfortunately, one of the worst things about this weight loss game is that the aforementioned abundance of info can sometimes be a minefield of contradiction and complication. It seems like everyone’s got an opinion about, well, everything. When we should eat, what we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat, what exercise works, IF exercise works, what supplements to take, why we should avoid supplements, surgery that might help, why that same surgery is a tool of Satan, drink green tea, don’t eat fruit, pray to the skinny gods, stand on your head, swallow this pill, balance on this ball, wear this magnet, cleanse your colon, blah, blah, BLAH. It can be a bit mind-boggling at times. If I tried to incorporate all the diet advice I’m bombarded with on a daily basis you’d eventually find me curled up in a ball in the hall closet tangled up in rubber resistance bands babbling incoherently about high fructose corn syrup through acai berry stained lips and crying because I ate a handful of cheerios after 7PM.

Ask 100 successful losers for their very best weight loss advice, and you’re likely to get just as many different answers. How do you know which one is the right one? Hint: They ALL are. This weight loss stuff is intensely personal, it’s complicated and multi-faceted and what one person adopts as gospel just might be blasphemy to the person fighting the fat along side them. Since all that shtick they’ve been handing us for years about they key to permanent weight loss being permanent lifestyle change has turned out to be totally true, it makes sense that we might not all march to the same drummer. The longer I do this, the more I believe that the key to finding what works is to keep trying things until you find what works for YOU, that magical combination of elements that helps you find your own routine, helps you settle into the rhythm that feels right to you.

Me? I’m still working on finding my groove, and for now that means that my iPod is charged, my shoes are laced, and the dog is leashed up by 5:30 AM so that I can leave the house and put one foot in front of the other, up hills, down slopes, and over the land until my feet settle into a beat that makes me forget that how damn early it is. I stand on the front porch and look out into the dark and get ready for the day.

Rhythm? Check. Music? Check. Could I ask for anything more?

How about 9 more minutes of sleep…

(This was my take on the Theme Thursday topic of "Rhythm".  You can read the other posts here)


  1. beware the temptations of the snooze button and those 9 more that you have committed to it. in the long run i imagine you will feel a whole lot better. lost about 25 pounds last year...never felt better.

  2. Hehe, and here I thought you were gonna talk about auditioning a drummer, like I had to a few weeks ago... good post, exercise is one of those things that can be so weird to write about, but at least you included music!

  3. I don't think I end up with any more energy duirng the day when I get up and exercise early. I do think I have more energy early in my business day. Like you, I end up tired at night. I know this for a fact though. Starting early in the day guarantees me that something else isn't going to "just come up" and keep me from my routine. I also know that if I do drag my butt out of bed early, I am much less likely to undo the benefits I earned by making an unhealthy choice.

  4. Thanks for this posting. You'll find more energy as your weight goes down and your body feels and moves differently. Best of luck sticking to your changes.

  5. What a great kick-in-the-butt post!
    I'll be back.
    Thanks for visiting HH. -Jayne

  6. As an over-night worker I'm always's the getting to sleep that's a problem. Even tho' I get plenty of exercise at work, I still see room for improvement, on myself. Nice eye-opening take, here.

    And you have the company of your doggy, too! Best darn jogging partner you can have :)

  7. I am so not a morning person unless it's at the end of my night (I work the graveyard shift). Then I can appreciate the beauty of a sunrise and maybe get my second wind.
    Best time to hit yard sales and flea markets too. Always fighting the battle of the bulge. You're right, each person has to find what works for them or they"ll never keep on track. Good luck.

  8. Great inspirational rhythm post Sara. Thanks for stopping by my place!

  9. I AM a morning person but manage to divorce my early rising from exercise by blogging instead.

    Hey, during winter, I stared at a treadmill. Now it's Spring and the birdies wake me at 5:30 but I haven't got quite as far as doing up the shoelaces. . .I must, I really must . .

  10. sara--the snooze button and I are very good friends--in college my roomies would enter my room ready to kill me because my alarm had been going off for an hour or so--In my dream I thought it was three mile island melting down and thought it best to stay in bed. So I understand the morning vs. night personality. I have been from the time I was born a night owl. As a child if anyone spoke to me before my morning cereal, I would put my head on the kitchen table and cry. Thank goodness for caffeine. I have since worked my way to being able to work heavy machinery in the early morning (eg a car)and have forced myself into a so-called normal routine (eg no letterman or craig ferguson). As for exercise--well that's a whole 'nother story--great post! Best-c

  11. i could never work out in the morning. the lure of the snooze button was always too strong!

  12. I am a morning person and now a "successful loser" for around 9 months... My secret for success is not recommended, but I agree with you about finding the right individualized formula, and I hope you find yours soon!

  13. This reminds me of how I was told by a well meaning co-worker that eating instant oatmeal will make you GAIN weight....after a year of eating it for breakfast and losing over 100 lbs.

    She didn't seem to like it when I told her that it was working for me and I was cool with that.