Question: If exercise is so damn good for you — and yes, your honor, I’ll stipulate that it is — why is it so hard to get motivated to do it? Why do you spend the first 20 minutes of a workout thinking, “God, I should bag this”? Why is it accompanied by injury, pain and sweating?

Just asking. I got back on the bike today after a week off, and the trip from the back door to the garage felt like climbing Everest. At the end of the hour I was happy I’d done it, as I always am, but why is the first 15 minutes such a pain? Just asking.

“I want a form of exercise that’s like sex. You want to do it, you work a while, you get a reward, then you go to sleep. Now that’s exercise.” — my friend Jeff Borden, who as far as I know never found this holy grail, but does ride his bike.

I was happy I did it, but I was happy to get home, too. We’re in the dog days of summer — mid-80s and armpit-mildew humid, and an hour of strenuous exercise with a styrofoam hat on will make you, uh, bloom. I felt as though my brain was about to poach.

Remind me of this in January.

Has anybody here ever done a punishingly early work schedule? Send your secrets on coping — I need some tips. I’m in search of the elusive bedtime that allows one to survive on just the night’s sleep and not need a supplemental p.m. nap. I’ve been going to bed at 10, but damn, 3:55 a.m. is simply an insane hour for an alarm. “Do you lie there and hit the snooze three or four times?” someone asked me. Answer: Hail no, I don’t dare. I’m out of bed at 3:55:10, because if I don’t get up immediately I won’t make it up at all. Needless to say, coffee is my middle name. No, “Six Cups” is. Caffeine is a vitamin.

Like exercise, once I get going I’m fine, but oh — that getting going.

It helps to read bracing columns first thing in the a.m. Here’s one. Here’s another. (Both are unkind to our president; Republicans beware.)

And then there’s this, Hollywood at its finest.

Me, I’m going to bed.

Posted at 10:35 pm in Uncategorized |

6 responses to “Notes.”

  1. ellen said on July 13, 2004 at 11:08 pm

    I did four years of a 6 am work start time by going to bed between 8:30 and 9pm (you and your daughter can share a bedtime) and getting up at 4:30 am. The trick to avoiding the afternoon nap was to exercise for about an hour as soon as I got home from work. The adrenaline carried me through dinner, and the workout helped me get to sleep at a bedtime I hadn’t had since I was in the third grade.

    It also helps to schedule appointments or do errands at the time in the afternoon that you normally find yourself getting tired. Eventually, your body clock will readjust.

    You’re right about the snooze bar. It’s a road to hell… especially in winter, when it’s dark and cold.

    Best of luck.

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  2. Marlene said on July 14, 2004 at 6:30 am

    I’ve always been a morning person, so I’m not sure I’ll be much help. As soon as I get up at 3:50 a.m., I get on the treadmill for 1.5 miles. Gets the blood going and then you’re ready for the day. Also, like Ellen, I get on the treadmill again for 2.25 miles as soon as I get home at 4:45 p.m. Bedtime’s at 9, and, although it’s early, I never fail to fall asleep immediately, only to get up at 3:50 the next day and do it all over again.

    Good luck-this transition’s got to be a tough one.


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  3. JC said on July 14, 2004 at 10:04 am

    I’m on a 5 a.m. shift for two weeks, but I’ve been on this cursed schedule for as long as 11 months in the past. I never got used to it. Every morning when the alarm goes off, I calculate how many hours of sleep I just got. It never adds up to enough. I try and remind myself of the good things about working before dawn (the phones aren’t ringing, I have the office to myself, I can leave by 1). That never adds up to enough either. Also, since I’m in the same business as you, I never get to leave by 1. Long long days…. Good luck to you.

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  4. Camilla said on July 14, 2004 at 11:49 am

    Hi, I’ve been lurking and reading for a couple of weeks now, and I’m really enjoying your blog! I’d tell you how I found it if I could remember – I think it turned up in a Google search for something.

    Anyway, on the early morning thing, it’s no surprise that you’re finding it so hard to wake up – around 4am is about the time when our body rhythms are at their slowest, just before perking up in time for dawn. Similarly, it sounds like you’re getting home around the mid-afternoon energy slump so it’s no wonder you feel like a nap. So…what others have advised re: exercising when you return home is a good idea to get your energy back up, or you could allow yourself a short nap (no more than 20 min) that will also revitalise you without leaving you feeling too sluggish. Good luck!

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  5. danno said on July 14, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    From a former 3rd shifter, it takes different people different time periods for their bodies to adjust. Don’t sweat it and eventually your body will find its own rhythm. It’s just a real bitch until it does! Mine only took a week, but I’ve known other people who have taken over a month.

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  6. Mary said on July 14, 2004 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve been starting my job at 5 am for the past three years, and indeed, the afternoons are the toughest. I find that taking some vitamin b-12 in the afternoon helps me. I do the exercise and coffee stuff too, but the b-12 adds some boost. Good luck, and avoid that snooze bar.

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