“Win the morning, win the day.” I recently came across this quote from Tim Ferriss which beautifully expresses an important key to becoming your best and healthiest self. It means the first part of the day is the prime opportunity to set your day up for success. It’s the best time to fuel your body, clear the mind, fire up your soul, and take concrete action on important goals.
Starting your day right can be transformative. As little as 20 minutes of self-care in the morning can have a powerful impact on your physical health and emotional well-being. Many successful and busy people know this and stick to their morning rituals despite the many obligations of their day. If they have to wake up a little earlier they do it. They realize the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
If world leaders and CEOs can take the time, we can too. It’s not that difficult to craft your own morning routine. The hardest part is actually going through it the first couple times. It will feel awkward and unnatural at first because it’s new behavior. But if you stay with it long enough it will become a habit from which you will reap many rewards.
So what does a good morning routine look like? What does “winning the morning” look like in concrete terms? I have some ideas to help you figure out what it means for you. I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all training, coaching, or anything else when it comes to human beings. So my routine is going to be different from yours which is going to be different from someone else. There are some basic elements which work for most people.
WAKE UP TO YOUR PURPOSE (NOT YOUR PHONE): This is huge and will be a challenge to many who are very connected to their devices. I n order to execute this one you need to turn off your phone or other device before bed and store it outside your bedroom. This will help you sleep better as well. Instead of the phone use an alarm to wake you up. When it goes off, don’t hit snooze. Instead, sit up in bed and take few minutes to think about your purpose. Push away the mental laundry list of things you have to do that day. Don’t go to the phone because that will create distraction. Sit with yourself and just think about the one thing that’s most important in your life. Loving your family. Solving a health concern. Serving others. This will make your first thoughts positive and centering.
MOVEMENT: Seems like almost every blog I write makes this point! That’s probably because movement has so many powerful benefits. Doing some type of exercise in the morning is beneficial because it improves blood flow blood, helps clear the mind, decreases stress, and gets you in touch with your body. If you are working on fitness, the morning is a great time to do your workout . If you only have 5 to 10 minutes they are plenty of options. Take a brisk walk, perform a series of stretches, try 5 minute yoga (there is a 5 minute yoga app that’s great for beginners), or do a 4 minute tabata if you like intensity. Pick a form of exercise you like. Move with joy.
NOURISH WITH FOOD: It’s so cliché to say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But it’s true! It’s the first nourishment your body receives after the long fast of sleep. Breakfast provides the fuel for the work and activities of your morning. It’s your first opportunity of the day to feed your body the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function. Research shows that eating breakfast impacts your food choices, cravings, and blood sugar level s later on. If you are trying to lose weight and eat better, breakfast is the time to start your healthy eating pattern of the day.
Most people skip breakfast because they don’t have time or are trying to lose weight. Unless you are doing supervised fasting, skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight. It will set you up for overeating or unhealthy food choices later because of low energy levels and increased cravings. The time problem is easily solved. Plan your breakfast the night before and prep it. Another option is to try quick healthy recipes like overnight oats. You just grab a jar from the fridge, add a few , and enjoy a delicious breakfast full of nutrients and fiber. Try to eat with your children so that you can use your nourish time to connect with them and role model healthy behavior. Get a yummy recipe for overnight oats here.
GRATITUDE: Gratitude is an important part of mental health. There has been a great deal of research done on this topic. The results demonstrate that gratitude bestows a multitude of benefits on those who practice regularly. The positive impacts of gratitude include improved physical health, better sleep, improved self-esteem, more happiness, and less depression. To read up more about the connection between gratitude and well-being check out the findings of the Emmons Lab at U.C Davis.
Developing a practice of gratitude in the morning is a simple thing you can do put yourself in a positive frame of mind. It will help you approach your day from a place of calm abundance rather than anxiety. To get started, think or journal (I think writing is more powerful) about 3 things in your life for which y you are grateful. Name them and ponder how they enrich your life. Let yourself really feel the goodness they bring. They can be big things (your family) or small (a sunny day). The important thing is that you feel truly thankful for their presence.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS: One of my favorite and most effective strategies for staying on track and getting what I want accomplished is to spend time every morning setting goals. Over my morning coffee I like to write them down and spend a couple minutes planning how and when I will achieve them. There is so much competing for our attention these days. It is more necessary than ever to plan your daily goals in order to avoid being overwhelmed and distracted. If you are working on weight loss and healthy eating daily goal-setting is an indispensable tool for success. Take time to plan how you will eat healthy food , stay on track, and avoid temptations. For example, set a goal to take a refreshing walk at lunch and politely decline your co-workers invitation to eat out.
The 5 minute journal by Intelligent Change is a great tool to combine your gratitude and goal-setting in the morning. Check it out on their website to purchase one. You can also purchase through Amazon. Another idea is to buy your own blank notebook and use the 5 minute journal template. There are electronic journals as well. You have lots of options.
Now that you have a template you can get started on creating a perfect morning routine for your life. Choose whatever order of elements that make the most sense for you in your situation. It may take a little trial and error especially if you have not been doing much for yourself lately. It may feel uncomfortable because you are doing some things differently. Keep working on it until you get it right. It will be so worth it!