Embracing a Change in My Exercise Routine

By Katie, 5:57 am

Though many believe otherwise, I believe that rigidity is the enemy of an effective exercise routine.

But I don’t always practice what I preach. :oops:

Since I started working full-time, I’ve tried to maintain a workout routine that consisted of early morning exercise. I figured this would work well for me because I’ve always been a morning person, and I love the idea of jump-starting my day with some physical activity.

Except that it hasn’t been happening. :-?

I’ve been sleeping in an extra hour. Or cuddling with my husband. Or reading my Bible. Or cooking a relaxed, leisurely breakfast.

These are all wonderful things, but the fact is that skipping my exercise, coupled with sitting at a desk all day for work, is leaving me sluggish and – I’ll admit it! – grouchy.


So a few weeks ago I vowed to get back into my morning exercise routine…and proceeded to beat myself up every morning it still didn’t happen. But despite knowing better, I maintained an attitude of rigidity and stubbornness. I AM a morning exerciser, I thought, and I WILL find a way to make it happen.

And then I had a lightbulb moment. If the current routine isn’t working (obviously), then why not just, you know, change it? Yes, I used to be a morning exerciser, but does that mean I have to stay that way forever and always???

It’s a simple life lesson, but one I tend to forget: Just because something worked well for me in the past doesn’t mean it will continue to work well forever. Life changes – heck, I change – and my routine needs to change with me. A little flexibility goes a long way.

So I’m letting myself consider the idea of exercising after work instead of before. I started by making a pros and cons list for post-work exercise.

More leisurely morning routine
Don’t have to worry about packing my work clothes, hair dryer, etc. to get ready at the gym
Start the day with other self-care activities, like prayer and meditation
Can eat breakfast at home instead of at work
Might actually happen!

Get home later, less time for cooking
More reasons/excuses to skip it could come up during the day
Have to shower twice in one day (why do I think that’s such a big deal???)
Interferes with some evening plans
It’s not what I’m used to 

I’ve decided to give post-work exercise a shot for 2-3 weeks and just see how it goes. A trial period of sorts. That again goes back to the rigidity thing; sometimes I forget that just because I want to try something new doesn’t mean I have to commit to it for eternity. I’m allowed to just give it a try.

While this particular exercise example may not seem like a big deal, I think it’s illustrative of a “strictness” I’ve battled my whole life. I’ve always liked having a routine or a plan – for everything from food and exercise to trips and vacations to, dare I say it, life - and while there are some advantages to that mindset, it can also drive me crazy. 8-O

This exercise dilemma has reminded me, once again, that routines are only worthwhile to the extent that they actually fit into our lives. Plans are only as good as our willingness to change them when necessary. And just because one approach worked well in the past doesn’t mean I should hold onto it with an iron grip for the rest of eternity.

Is there some aspect of your life/routine that needs to change, but you’re resistant to doing so because you’ve always done it another way?


Are you a morning, evening, or mid-day exerciser? Have you always been that way, or has it changed?

27 Responses to “Embracing a Change in My Exercise Routine”

  1. Since I left my job last April to pursue my new career, my exercise routine has become so much less rigid and because of my no rules approach to it, I exercise way more now. Most days, it is in the late morning but I have also come to appreciate a late afternoon yoga practice as well.

  2. Candice says:

    I’m an afternoon exerciser. I start work way too early (6:30 am!) to get to the gym first. I did try to rearrange my work schedule (I have flex time) and go to the gym in the morning and then home at night. But, I hate the drive to work during rush hour. I miss all the traffic when I go in early and leave early.

    I know what you mean about the second shower. I usually just quickly wash my face and body at the gym. Unless I need to go somewhere that night, I don’t wash and dry my hair again.

  3. i love this post. so often in life we try to fit our square pegs into round holes, as it were. i applaud you for trying something new! i think that is inspiring and a great idea.

    i am a morning exerciser… now. but i also get a ton of sleep and its too hot at any other time of the day. so thats what works for me… now. back in the states, perhaps it will change again, and i hope i can be prepared to adapt to that.

  4. Holly says:

    I am the same way with my routines….very stubborn and adament that they will never change. :-) But I know in my heart that is not realistic. When I have kids one day, for example, I highly doubt I’ll be able to workout at 5 or 6 a.m. every morning! I think it is important, like you said, to embrace change and also to remember that it’s okay to change, as long as we’re still meeting our goals. And, heck, you might even find that you enjoy working out in the p.m. a lot better!

  5. Simply Life says:

    Great post and something I’m sure we can all reflect on! Ha, I’m with you though and hate having to shower twice in a day :)

  6. Karen says:

    I really enjoyed this post!! I NEED a routine in my life! If I do not have some type of routine I feel very overwhelmed. I recently made some changes in my life that required some changes to my daily routine. I’m still not satisfied with how things are going but your post gave me great ideas and points to think about when working out my routine!

  7. I exercise in the morning about 2 days a week and in the evening the rest of the time. I just go when I Can!

  8. I can certainly relate to what you are saying. I’m a pretty structured person, too, and I like to have a set time of day that I work out. It’s important, though, to be flexible and realize that our schedules change with different life circumstances. We just have to work with what we’ve got… and fit in a sweat session whenever we can! Good luck with the evening work outs! :-)

  9. Don’t let working out after work make you feel like you can’t cook dinner :) I work out after work, then walk the dog, and I start dinner about 6:45/7:00. BUT — i find planning, and prep, to be my friends. If everything is chopped/precooked (if needed) it’s quick to throw together dinner. It just takes more planning! :)

  10. I have had to do this same trial in the past. I work early, so in order to exercise in the morning, I have to wake up at 4. After 2 years straight, I thought I couldn’t handle the early morning any more so I started going after work for about 8 months. I didn’t like it, so have decided that the 4 AM wakeup call is better for my schedule. I also allow myself the ability to sleep in if I feel I really need it. It takes some playing around to find out what works best for you. Good luck.

    P.S. Taking two showers IS a big deal! That’s one of the huge cons to going after work.

  11. Sarah says:

    Honestly, I would prefer to exercise first thing in the morning, but with my current schedule, that is just not feasible. So I workout after work. And during this season of that, that works for me. It just took me a little while to buy into it, I think.

  12. i really like the mid-day exercise thing, although i normally do either weights or yoga in the morning so that i have time to do cardio in the afternoon!

  13. [...] family, me This post is inspired by Tina’s post on being Overcommitted and Katie’s post on Changing her Exercise Routine.  Right now I’m going through a phase in my life (I hope it’s just a phase anyway) where I [...]

  14. I’ve never been a morning exerciser simply because I can never get myself up! I much prefer mid-day or evening. However that schedule is hard during the summer when I’m working all day and tired by the time I’m done :/

  15. It’s so important to find a routine that works for YOU. I actually may be switching up to going after Peter gets home from work to make my day time less stressful. I haven’t worked out later in the day in so long. It will be interesting to see how it goes. We can do the trial run together. ;)

  16. I briefly became a morning exerciser a couple of years ago when I had a workout buddy and the gym was on our way to work. I literally woke up, brushed my teeth, grabbed my gym bag, and went. I did all my morning routines at the gym. Now I have a 45 minute commute that includes the bus and I can barely get myself awake in the morning, so I do a combination of lunchtime and after-work exercise. It works a lot better. It’s not perfect, but it’s substantially better than the impossible morning workout regimen that just doesn’t fit into my life right now.

  17. Lisa says:

    I am not a morning person. I work out in the AM on weekends only. During the week it’s either a run at lunch time for gym after work.

  18. Jill says:

    Fellow type-A person here, so I definitely understand where you’re coming from :-) Since I work 3 12 hr shifts each week, I don’t exercise on the days I work-running around on those days definitely provides enough physical activity-but on the days that I’m off I fluctuate between late AM and late afternoon workouts. It just depends on how I feel and what classes there are/when they are at the gym those days. And honestly, my body really does tell me when it would “rather” exercise during those days, and my workouts are so much better if I just go with that flow. Also, don’t know if you knew this, but I remember reading that physiologically speaking, late afternoon is a really good time to work out. I guess at this time our circadian rhythms/body temps/related stuff are just primed for a workout. So now you have another reason not to feel bad if you don’t have an early AM workout!

  19. thetreadmilldiaries says:

    I was an evening exerciser that now loves to go work it out during lunch. It’s a great release in the middle of a busy day. And if I have extra energy to burn I’ll fit something in as soon as I get up. Never used to be a morning person but I am now.

  20. Sarah says:

    I’m type A too especially about my workouts but with work and my social life, I’ve become more flexible with my workouts. My goal is to workout whether it’s before or after work. I just feel better whenever I can just move my body. I’m a morning person too I found that after sitting all day, it’s great to move my body at the gym. I often get a second wind to make dinner :)

  21. Kady says:

    I’m having a similar problem! Morning workouts are getting tougher now that it’s really dark/cold in the mornings. When I started the semester, I used to ride my bike to the gym in the mornings before class because the busses run at weird times that early. And I agree about carrying everything with me, including breakfast. I’ve exercised after class a few times now and I might try to do it more often. My problem is the eating – I’m hungry for dinner around 4-5 and a snack doesn’t really cut it. I guess the afternoon will work on days I’m done at 3, but if I’m done at 5, no way I’m working out then! Hopefully we can both figure out a routine that we enjoy.

  22. Cara says:

    I’m an after-work exerciser. I go through phases where I think about how much better it would be to get it done in the morning, but I can never seem to get into it!

    In general I wish my husband and I could both be a little more flexible with our exercise routines so that we could… have a dog. Yes, you read that correctly – going to the gym every day = long hours = our poor puppy (or older dog) would simply not get enough attention. We keep talking about it, but at the end of the day never end up doing anything about it!

    • Katie says:

      I had never thought about it that way! We would like to have a dog someday too, but you’re right, it would be more difficult to manage than I realized because of our exercise routines.

  23. Kristine says:

    My suggestion would be to start working out at home, in the morning! You only need 30 min to get a great workout it and all you need is a ball and a couple dumbells :)

    That’s how I fit mine in :) Then I just get ready AFTER my workout.

  24. [...] post is inspired by Tina’s post on being Overcommitted and Katie’s post on Changing her Exercise Routine.  Right now I’m going through a phase in my life (I hope it’s just a phase anyway) where I [...]

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