Take Control of Your Mornings

“The early bird gets the worm.” “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Although sayings about mornings have become cliché, for the most part they are true. For many people the morning is the worst time of the day. They hit the snooze multiple times, they realize they’re late, they run into the shower, and take off for work with no breakfast. Realizing they have missed breakfast leaves two options: go hungry until lunch or grab fast food on the way to work. These habits breed more bad habits and lead to poor health. Here are my tips to help you take control of your morning:

  • Get quality sleep. This is the most important piece to creating your perfect morning, because it determines how you perform as soon as you wake-up. For detailed information about creating the perfect sleep environment, check out Amanda DeWitt’s articles on sleep. They’re informative and will give you the tools to become a sleep ninja!
  • Use a wake-up light. A wake-up light doesn’t guarantee a great morning, but my personal experience is that using one provides a great jump-start to the day. After reading about wakeup lights and being fascinated about their benefits, my beautiful girlfriend Jenny got me one for Christmas. To many people, a wake-up light is just an overpriced alarm clock. To me, it is much, much more. Different brands vary in details, but all wake-up lights use light to wake you up instead of abrupt, loud noise.  Light alarm clocks help reproduce the effects of waking up to the sunrise every morning. My wake up light by Philips begins with a very dimly lit light 30 minutes before my alarm time. The light slowly gets brighter until the clock reaches the time I’ve set my alarm for.  The light then becomes fully lit and the sound of birds chirping begins to play. It is a true bliss to wake-up to every morning.
  • Wake up at the same time every day. Your circadian rhythm, also known as your biological clock, doesn’t understand a five-day work week or workout programs. It wants to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. If you workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, wake up at the same time on Tuesday and Thursday instead of sleeping in. Use that time in the morning to read, plan meals for the week or cook healthy meals in bulk.
  • Drink a big glass of water. There’s really nothing magical about drinking water in the morning. I recommend it because most people are chronically under-hydrated, and starting your day off with a big glass of water helps meet your hydration requirement for the day. Make sure you drink half your body weight in ounces per day – if you weight 180 lbs., drink at least 90 ounces of water a day; if you weigh 200, drink 100. Easy math for hydration success!
  • EAT BREAKFAST! I doubt I have to tout the importance of eating breakfast; everyone has heard the benefits over and over again. Eat breakfast every day; no exceptions. If you find it hard to cook a healthy breakfast every day, use your rest days to cook in bulk and simply heat up your leftovers on workout days.  Breakfast provides the crucial energy you need for optimal brain function!  And, as always, avoid the sugar cereals and fast food.  
  • Eat breakfast standing. This may be my most unique tip. While you sleep, the discs in your spine absorb water and swell. This is great for decompression, but can set you up for injury if you undergo strenuous exercise first thing in the morning. Standing while you are eating breakfast or reading the paper helps bring your discs back to normal size much faster than sitting. According to the legendary low-back expert Stuart McGill, it takes the average person an hour to lose excess water in their discs in the morning. Standing as opposed to sitting can cut that time in half to 30 minutes.
  • Practice gratefulness. While you are getting ready for your day, think about all the wonderful things in your life. I have a practice of writing a list of 10 things I am grateful for every night before I go to sleep. This helps me relax and rid my mind of anything negative I encountered that day. While I’m getting ready in the morning I go through things I am grateful for in my mind. Try thinking about how blessed you are to have your family, house, food and car. Prime your day with gratitude.

Hopefully these tips help you maximize your mornings. Take control of your mornings; don’t let them control you.

Reference: Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, Stuart McGill

Originally posted 2013-09-16 15:07:54.

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