A question that people often ask me is whether I prefer to work out in the morning or at night. I’ve often quipped that they should just “saddle up and do both!” but that’s often not an option for a busy woman.

Realistically, I feel like both have served their purposes very well at different stages in my life, and I don’t mind sharing what each did for me, and when.

When I first started working out, I’d go in the evenings. I know I’ve written about this before, but my beginning steps into working out were rough ones. Very rough ones. I could work out for a good hour, but man, I’d only burn half of one dish! I ate so poorly that even though I was putting in at least 12 hours a week at the gym, I didn’t see the results that my efforts deserved. However… the ability to resolve a day’s worth of stress on the chest press machine? I valued that! That client who drove me up the wall without a way down? Oh yeah, I took that anger out on the seated leg press machine. Those looming deadlines that I knew were coming and dreaded? I ran from ’em on the treadmill. Oh yeaaaaaah.

Working out in the evenings means you have motivation to go harder in your workout. You can think of every mess up that you made – “Indulged in that Taco Bell Diet, did we? Oh no, you need to suffer for that!” or maybe “You know you didn’t need that latte this morning! Take that! Take that!” – and use that as a reason to push yourself beyond your original breaking points.

…even though you shouldn’t be messing up. 🙂

When I left my gym, I dropped all of the equipment and just walked. I’d hit the path around the lake and just go around and around and around for a good 45 minutes. It was the rule in my house – directly after dinner, I’d head out. Some nights it’d feel so good outside that I couldn’t wait to get out there, and I’d feel refreshed and relaxed upon my return home. The perfect way to calmly wind down a long day, it absolutely was.

When I realized that I was slimming down pretty quickly, I started stepping my game up. I did strength training exercises like stretches and yoga, various at-home exercises in the mornings. At night, I’d hit the dusty trail around the lake. That worked out wonderfully for me, because I had everything that I needed to workout at home at my disposal. Made it easy, made it free. No excuses.

Now, I get up in the mornings and I hit the cardio first. Why? Because all day, I’m gonna be thinking about how I kicked my own behind on the treadmill, and I’m going to use that as a reason to refuse to allow a cheeto to get in my way! Not only that, but it gives me a safe and healthy way to wake up without going on about my day half-awake.

I’m slowly bringing back my two-a-days – doing cardio and my basic daily routine in the morning, and more cardio coupled with yoga and strength training at night. For me, this is how I alleviate my stresses, motivate myself to behave better throughout the day, and give myself an opportunity to both wake up fully before engaging in my day and wear myself out before bedtime.

For me, my workout is my time for peace. I focus my thoughts. I relax. I prepare. I sort myself out mentally. It’s my time away from business, from responsibility, from drama. It’s the few moments of the day when I can truly focus on bettering myself. Some of us will need that kind of focus in the mornings before we embark on a difficult day, and some of us will need that to regroup ourselves so that we can get a restful sleep. As long as I’m still putting that effort into myself, it doesn’t matter if I do it during the 25th hour of the day.. I’m still getting it in, and I’m taking care of me.

So in short (these are never really short, are they?), I see the benefits to doing each option individually, as well as just buckling down and trying to do both. What about you? When do you get your workout on, and why? How does it work out for you?