Five o’clock in the morning.
If I can get up at 5 a.m., my day is set. I can go to the gym, get back home in time to take a shower, get dressed and head to work in good spirits after a grueling, but rewarding workout.
Eleven o’clock at night.
If I can just get to bed at 11 p.m., I can get the required six hours of sleep I normally need to get up in the morning at 5 a.m. and enjoy my day.
But that is never how it works out anymore.
One of the first signs of getting older, for me, was when I started struggling with sleep. While I can work with six hours, I am learning that five hours and fifty-nine minutes of sleep will almost always result in me re-setting my alarm – not for the additional minute I lost, but for an additional 30 minutes. And if I wake up at 4:45 a.m., it’s a guarantee that I will become so angry at the interruption, I will re-set the alarm for much later.
Needless to say, I haven’t been going to the gym much in the last few months. Why not?
11 p.m. hits and I am usually delayed – whether I realize I need to finish a project or get stuck watching TV – it doesn’t seem like I ever hit the bed at 11 p.m. And if I do, my mind races with thoughts about what happened that day and what needs to be done the following morning.
I usually bargain with myself. “I can manage with five hours of sleep,” or “I can wake up at 5:15 and just rush a little,” or “I can skip cardio today.” That’s what I say before I go to sleep at night.
When 5 a.m. hits, I completely forget I was supposed to get up and just marvel at how much longer I can sleep before having to go to work. “Ooh, I can get up at 6:30 and still have an hour to catch the train.” When I wake up at 6:30 a.m., I realize my gaffe and become so pissed at myself.
There are times I do know exactly what’s up and just can’t get out of bed. The body is not willing anymore. “5 a.m.? Fuck that!” Either I won’t bother working out at all, or I will get up at 6 a.m. with a plan to jump on the elliptical in my house only to watch that plan go up in smoke when I get stuck watching Pat Kiernan on NY1 and his engrossing “In the Papers” segment. It’s a constant struggle.
And sometimes, I don’t even have a choice in the matter. My cell phone doesn’t always cooperate. The alarm clock app is supposed to work, but hey Verizon – Droid doesn’t always do it. I will wake up, realize it is 6:30 a.m., pick up my phone and see the alarm going off without sound. This new-fangled technology the kids are using today. Somebody get me a damn rooster.
I know what you’re thinking – why not go to the gym at night? Are you serious? Have you not seen the gym at 6 p.m.? Evening workouts are the worst workouts. The gym is packed and you squeeze in what you can. You walk in with a mission to do biceps and triceps and you find yourself doing one bicep exercise, a shoulder workout, a quick leg curl, and then, because it is free, the super-industrial Thigh Master (no man should ever do this workout). You even throw in the step master, because it is the only cardio machine available. Your ass and thighs look great, but you never get to work out what you wanted to work out in the first place.
In the morning, the gym is virtually empty. You can grab whatever machine you want, finish your routine without any interruptions, and get out with enough time to get yourself together for work. The workout tires you out a bit, but it puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day. At 7 a.m., you’ve already accomplished the hardest part of your day and it’s a boost to your health, your ego and your attitude. A good workout makes it easy to get through a tough day at the office.
If I don’t get up at 5 a.m., I go to work already feeling defeated. I know that I am just going to go home and relax, eat food and get fat. I go through every motion just feeling guilty. I eat and feel horrible about myself. I look at people in good shape and I want to hit them. I’m serious. You better be reading this with a Hostess Cupcake in your mouth!!! Either way, missing the gym leads to disappointment and a promise that come 5 a.m., you’ll be pumped and ready to hit the weights in the morning.
Six o’clock in the morning the next day. DAMMIT!!!