When the alarm starts blaring at 6 AM, the first thing on your mind probably isn’t exercise. That hour is reserved for something like “How many times can I hit the snooze before I’m late enough to get yelled at, again?” along with a choice selection of a few four letter words. But here’s the thing, the morning is possibly the most important time of the day if you’re interested in getting healthier and dropping some pounds, and honestly, who isn’t? And the best part is: you don’t need to go to the gym to do it.
Think of it this way: You’ve had a long day at work and now you’re sitting on a bus for thirty minutes trying to get home. You haven’t eaten anything since lunch, and you find yourself getting grumpier. Even the smallest annoyance sets you off, yelling obscenities at no one in particular. You’re absolutely exhausted and can’t wait to just land on the couch, watch the Real Housewives marathon and gorge on some fast food and ice cream until it seeps through your pores and you pass out in a pile of cheese-filled wrappers and grease.
I hope that doesn’t sound familiar, but let’s face it, that was me last month.
Now let’s take another look at sleep. That is (ideally) eight hours without eating, drinking, or any significant movement, while our minds are hard at work decompressing after a long day. No wonder we’re cranky when we wake up. Remember how tired and angry we got after just 6 hours without food? If we were starving enough at that point to make us so quick to jump into the arms of our favorite fattening comfort foods, what makes the moment we wake up any different? By the time we open our eyes in the morning, our bodies need some serious replenishing.
When our bodies are under stress from a lack of nourishment they become inefficient, and as a result we are more prone to weight gain and experience other unhealthy side effects. When put back on track, however, it becomes easy to drop unneeded fat and get back to a healthy mode. What we do in the morning sends a signal to our bodies of what to expect later. If you can start the morning right, it sets yourself up for the rest of the day.
Rehydrate: Drink 16 oz of Cold Water
Our bodies depend on water in order to function properly. If we don’t drink enough throughout the day, these essential processes can slow down or even fail completely. This can not only lead to problems such as muscle weakness, severe headaches and chest pain, but can also contribute heavily to excess body fat. Water helps metabolize fat deposits in the body and filter out waste. After not drinking any water for 6-8 hours, you desperately need to rehydrate. Filling up on much needed water as soon as you wake up will keep your body running smoothly and efficiently, lowering the risks involved with dehydration. Studies have shown that drinking at least 16 oz of cold water immediately after waking can dramatically help with fat loss.
Restart: Move Your Body
You’ve just spent several hours lying down. While incredibly relaxing, your body craves movement. Get rid of the tightness you may feel in the morning by getting up and moving for 5 to 30 minutes. By being active early on, your body revs up its metabolism for the rest of the day. Any activity that activates the entire body is ideal, but there’s no need to go too crazy. If you want to run, that’s perfect. Other great options are a quick walk around the block, swimming, pull-ups in the bathroom, pushups or planking while cooking, yoga, or even dancing around the house. Whichever activity you are comfortable with and can stick to, is the best one for you.
Refuel: Eat Protein Within an Hour
Those commercials weren’t kidding when they said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They just usually got the ingredients wrong. A protein rich breakfast within an hour of waking up will do wonders to refuel your body after sleep, and prepare it for burning fat in the coming day. After water, protein is the next most important substance in the body. Protein is responsible for creating and repairing all of the vital tissue and organs in the body, including muscle, skin, blood cells, and the heart. By feasting on protein first thing in the morning, you ensure your body has what it needs to fight off illnesses, repair itself, and jumpstart your metabolism to maximum efficiency. If you’re looking for a good option, I recommend a few eggs and some spinach or broccoli, or my awesome Egg “Muffins.”
Refresh: Take a Cold Shower
Remember that cold water you just drank? Well, let’s kick that up a few notches. Not only will a cold shower get some adrenaline going to help you burn off some stored energy throughout the day, the cold itself will help you shed some unwanted weight. By lowering your core temperature just a little, your body will work harder to use up stored fat deposits to keep itself warm. Cold showers have also been shown to improve your circulation and immune system, in addition to combating depression. The trick is to ease into the cold. Start at your normal temperature and slowly make the water colder after a few minutes. The next day, start at this new colder temperature, and again lower it once you get adjusted. In a week, you’ll be taking cold showers and loving it. It may sound unpleasant at first, but once you get started, you won’t want to take a hot shower ever again.
Pro Tip: It helps to blast some music and scream along to it.
The best way to solve a problem is the safeguard it from happening. By following these easy tips throughout the day, as well as soon before bed, you further encourage your body to run efficiently. This keeps it in optimal efficiency, leading to better health and encouraging the loss of unneeded fat.
- Move more throughout the day
- Eat a protein rich meal or snack before bed
- Drink a glass of water right before you go to sleep
- Go to sleep early
Just as a reminder, none of these tips work in a bubble. Health and fitness, despite what late night infomercials would like you to believe, do not come overnight. You will not see instantaneous gains, especially if you continue other unhealthy habits. You will, however, begin to feel better and see gradual improvements. If you follow these ideas, in addition to regular exercise and eating well, you will see even more results much faster.