“Why do you guys start at 5:30am? It’s too early!”
I have to admit I’ve never been an early morning riser. I much prefer to stay up late at night and sleep in, but with all my knowledge and understanding about health and living a healthy lifestyle, I knew this was one area I could improve in.
So when 2019 clicked over, I made a promise to myself. To start doing all those things I know that are good for me, including a 5:30am start to my day.
So, to help myself stay accountable, I created 5km a day. Bailee, my daughter immediately jumped onboard, as she recently qualified as a Group Personal Trainer, and she too is motivated to be the best she can be and live a healthy lifestyle. We also felt it was a great opportunity to share our health and fitness knowledge and experience with others and of course, we are both passionate about helping others achieve their health goals.
Not only that, at the time, I was riding 10km a day. My husband had bought me my first set of Lycra gear (since having kids!) for Christmas, so I was motivated to get out and start riding again. It had been a while. During my rides, I noticed people walking, but they were alone. I wondered if some liked that time to themselves or if they’d prefer to walk with others. I wondered if being with others could help them stay consistent with their exercise routine.
So it occurred to me, let’s offer an opportunity for our small community and local areas for people to get together, walk together, get healthier, fitter and stronger with us and stay accountable with our support.
So, 5km a day was created!
We were so excited when a good handful of people jumped onboard at 5km a day and embraced this opportunity to get their bodies moving, despite their current fitness level.
We have some that had just completed their first half marathon just months before, while others were just getting started walking just 2km to begin with, or even building up their strength and fitness after surgery. It didn’t matter, we knew we could help and support them all, and we are!
In less than 2 weeks we can see an improvement in their aerobic fitness and strength, already!! It was/is exciting!
But then we’d get the question from people (non-5km a day participants) in our local community who had heard about us, wanted to come along, but were deterred by the 5:30am start. “We’d love to come, but why 5:30am. It’s so early!?”, they’d ask.
Well, it’s a fair enough question and I probably would’ve been asking the same thing too, if the shoe was on the other foot!
So, why 5:30am?
For starters, it was a selfish reason why we chose 5:30am as our start time. We wanted a time that allowed us to get our hour of exercise in each weekday, while still having enough time to get ready for work / school (when it starts again), make a nutritious breakfast and pack a whole foods lunchbox, and do a few odd jobs around the house, while needing to leave by 7:30am!
We felt this time was something we could stick to throughout the year, giving us the best chance to NOT fall off the band-wagon as I have every year since, knowing I rarely stick to any exercise regime at the end of the day, after coming home from a hard day at work.
The more we thought about it, the more we realised how this time also ties in with my new goal for 2019 – to do those 1%-ers, all the little things I know that contribute to living a healthy lifestyle. I was sick of my own self sabotage and was determined to break this, making 2019 my best year, and the healthiest I could be!
I knew WHAT to do, I just wasn’t DOING IT! It was time to change that!
So, why 5:30am? Really… why? What’s the health benefit? Is there one?
Well, it’s all to do with getting back in sync with the sun – our circadian rhythm. We all have one. Every living thing has a circadian rhythm – even algae! It’s our natural body rhythm over a 24 hour period, telling us when we feel hungry, alert and energetic and, tired and need to get ready for bed etc.
Simply put, it works like this.
As the sunsets, this dimming of light is noticed by your eyes. This send a message to your brain and a hormone, melatonin is released (other hormones are involved here too, like cortisol – but we will keep things simple). This hormone makes you feel sleepy, it’s time to get ready for bed. If we listen to that feeling and hop off to bed pretty soon after, we will be in “our window of opportunity” and naturally we’ll fall off to sleep and sleep deeply, waking up the next morning feeling refreshed! (Wouldn’t it be nice?)
In the morning, when the sun rises (around 5:30am), our eyes (even though they are closed) sense this change in light, and as it gets lighter, sends a message to the brain to stop releasing melatonin. We wake up!
If we get up out of bed as soon as we wake up, our energy increases, we feel calm, yet motivated and our mind is clear, creative and focussed.
- If we then choose to stretch, have a glass of water and then exercise (AKA 5km a day😉), we feel invigorated, energised, happy and positive. There’s no need for that caffeine hit! We ride off endorphins & adrenalin (our happy & energy hormones) instead!
- We then tend to be more productive, focussed and can set about doing work – planning out our day and working towards our goals – first thing in the morning. Why? Because we HAVE time. It’s a great feeling and a fantastic way to start your day!
- We also tend to eat better because we have more time in the morning to prepare a nutritious breakfast and even pack a wholesome lunch, as opposed to sleeping in, rushing around, skipping breakfast and then fanging into some sugary nonsense at 11am because we are starving and can’t make it til lunch before needing to eat.
- We are more likely to drink a good volume of water throughout the day, keeping ourselves hydrated, energy and concentration levels stay up!
- We are more likely to be in tune with our bodies and natural rhythm during the day, including a slight energy slump around 10am & 2pm, meaning we take time to slow down for a while, perhaps have a 20 min nana nap if we can or spend some quiet time breathing, meditating, praying or being mindful. Just even being aware that our body is feeling tired, accepting it’s all part of our natural rhythm and going with it, being present (my body is feeling tired) and gentle on yourself (going slow) for 20 minutes and having a glass of water, can be a great way to ride through this lull feeling.
Rest periods during your day are important. No animal goes, go, go all day. Take these opportunities to give your body what it naturally needs.
We need to learn to rest, and being in tune with when our body needs this, is important.
We need to go with it, go at a slower pace for a short while, as opposed to artificially stimulating ourselves with another hit of caffeine or sugary choccy bicky!
Pretty soon, we will pipe up again as our natural rhythm and energy lifts, providing the energy we need to get through the late afternoon and early evening.
So, it’s around 7pm – we now all organised, have exercise, been well fed and hydrated during the day, we can start to let go of anything that hasn’t been done that day, knowing we have time to deal with it during that extra time we have in the morning – when we’re at our best – focussed, productive, energised and able to concentrate.
As we start to let go and switch off from our to-do list, turn off any artificial lights/stimulants (Eg screens!), make sure we are comfortable – temperature wise and take time to notice the sunset, we feel ourselves feeling tired. It’s time to get ready and pop into bed, as close to sunset as possible, allowing a good 8 hours sleep. Notice how quickly you drop off to sleep, not to mention the quality of sleep you have when you do just this!
And the rhythm continues.
It’s important to stick to this routine EVERYDAY, to get the best outcome.
Well, hello 5:30am start!
Why have I been fighting you all my life? The benefits are amazing and far outweigh any negatives. I feel so much more balanced, positive, healthy and calm. I am organised, productive, focussed and motivated. My sleep is awesome and I wake up well rested, even waking before my alarm at 5:10am.
There are so many more health benefits to being in tune with your circadian rhythm, but I’ll let you do your own research on this one, or check out my highlights folder ‘why 5:30am?’ on our 5km a day Instagram page (@5km.day) – for more details!
(What about the health benefits of exercising outside and connecting with nature – hmmm…I’ll leave that for another blog post!)
Let me encourage you to try this for 21 days straight and see how you feel.
Day 2-5 are the hardest, so don’t give up. It’s so worth it and you’ll thank me later!
See what difference it makes for you. Let us know how you go!
So, seeing as you’re awake and up at 5:00/5:15am, I guess I’ll see you at 5km a day – let’s help one another be the best we can be, while being in tune with the sun and our circadian rhythm!
5:30am, baby!! You CAN!
Written by Chelsea Gale – Teacher, Wellness Advocate & Functional Nutrition Consultant
Photo taken by Bailee Gale – Student & Group Personal Trainer
@5km.day is a local community event offered to those who want to get fit and strong in a supportive environment. We learn about healthy lifestyle choices and the small changes we can choose, to make a big difference with our health. We meet on the grassy area (just to the right of the beach entrance) opposite La Mar Cafe Providore, Esplanade, Turners Beach (TAS) – each weekday at 5:30am-6:30am, just $5 cash! per session. No booking required. Just show up when it suits you – pick your preferred days. It’s non-competitive and we start wherever you are at, helping you build up to walking/jogging/riding 5km each day, focusing on aerobic fitness & overall strength, toning and flexibility work. Monday, Wednesday, Friday we focus on walking/jogging for 50 minutes and then we do 10 mins of group personal training. Tuesday, Thursday we offer either a 30 minutes bike ride and 30 min group PT session OR a 1 hour PT session – for a bit of cross training! Please follow us on IG and FB @5km.day