I LOVE mornings. I am one of those people who wake up super energetic (and very talkative, much to my husband’s dismay). In fact, I can get more done in the first four hours of my day than I can get done in the following eight. However, this was not always the case. I used to press snooze a minimum of five times, rush my morning routine, grab whatever to eat and frantically run off to the office, leaving a trail of messes behind at the house. That chaotic energy would extend into my day, keeping me from having clear focus and performing at my best. In turn, I did not work as efficiently and often spent more hours than needed at the office, which cut into my gym, family and sleep time. This was not a recipe for becoming “my best.”
A few years ago, I received a bit of advice that changed how I think about mornings – “Begin as you wish to continue.” (Thank you, Krissi!) I now view mornings as the foundation of the day. I have found that my mindset and approach to my morning influences the rest of the day. So, I do my best to begin my day how I wish for it to continue. Based on this, I have developed:
Four habits that get my days started right
Wake Up Early (& Before The Rest of the Household): I want my days to be busy and productive while still feeling un-chaotic, peaceful and enjoyable. I have found that having a little extra quiet time in the morning when no one else is awake helps me to facilitate this. Almost every morning, I wake around 5:00 AM, which is an hour before my husband. I use this time to get myself centered and prepared for the day (see next point) and get one step ahead on my list of things to do. More often than not, I use this extra time to work on things that I want to do versus have to do. This is the extra motivation to jump out of bed and get the day going.
Before Getting Out of Bed, Express Gratitude & Set Intentions for the Day: As soon as I wake up but before I get out of bed, I take a few moments to create the positive and productive mindset I want to carry throughout my day and life. To do this, I spend a few moments deep breathing (see my column on stress reduction and yoga breathing) to ease myself into my day, and then I account for all the things for which I am grateful. After doing so, I set my intentions for the day by envisioning in detail all that I want to achieve that day. This habit takes very little time (five minutes or less) but has a tremendous impact on my attitude and energy. PLEASE try this for one week. I PROMISE it will improve your mindset.
Exercise or (Do Something That Moves You Closer to Your Goals): I almost always exercise (usually cardio) first thing in the morning. For me, everything feels right with the world after morning cardio or training; I feel more empowered, energetic, accomplished and ready to take on the day. I know many of you share that same sentiment. If your schedule precludes you from working out first thing in the morning, I highly recommend you do something first thing in the morning that moves you closer to your goal for better health, whether it be to design your evening workout, meditate, stretch, pre-cook your dinner, etc. As I said before, begin your day as you wish to continue, so beginning it with an activity that helps navigate you toward your fitness goals is a powerful habit.
Keep It Clean: My first meal often determines how I will feel the rest of the day. If I eat a clean, wholesome, balanced meal, I feel fantastic the rest of the day, as I typically continue choosing healthy eats. If I eat something sugary, even if it’s somewhat healthy, I will be on the blood sugar roller coaster for the remainder of the day. If I eat something too heavy, my morning energy plummets, and I’ll want to get back in bed. Besides eating clean, I believe in immediately cleaning up after yourself (doing the dishes, straightening up the kitchen, etc.). I believe it sets the stage for a more organized, less chaotic and more productive remainder of the day.
Push Toward Your Best
As with any change, becoming a morning person takes some work and practice. Believe me, I didn’t go from dragging to dancing through the morning overnight. However, becoming a morning person was one of the most important changes I made to facilitate the fit life, as it affords me a few more uninterrupted hours to work on my goals before other responsibilities hijack my time. Yes, late nights can provide a similar benefit, but don’t we all deserve to give ourselves our BEST energy fueled by a good night’s rest rather than the leftovers after a full day of work? I think so. So, unplug a little earlier tonight, get in 6 – 8 hours of rest and begin your day as you wish to continue it. Keep pushing–your best is waiting.
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