Rock the First Hour of Your Day

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UntitledI’m one of those rare, select few that can actually call themselves a morning person. Sure, I may not be happy if I’m awoken from a deep slumber, but I love the feeling of getting up early in the morning and starting the day in a productive fashion.

I’m a deep believer that the morning should be the most productive part of your day. With all of the work out of the way, you can goof off and watch whatever silly television shows catch your fancy in the evening (I’m a New Girl fan myself). It also happens to align well with a family schedule so everyone can reconvene at night and reminisce about the happenings of the day.

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans are going to bed exhausted, snoozing through their alarm, and rushing out the door before they even have a chance to wake up or think about doing something as absurd as making breakfast.

Starting your morning off right not only makes you more productive throughout the day, but it also leaves you with more free time to tackle the fun stuff. But, revving your morning engine doesn’t start with your alarm clock. It starts the night before.

Prepare the Night Before

Most of the morning failure is due to the three P’s: piss poor preparation. Just like a coach prepares his players for a weekend opponent, you too need to prepare to take on your day.

Lay out your clothes and any other pertinent items. If you plan on hitting the gym before work, make sure your gym bag is packed and ready to go, better yet, sleep in your gym clothes. That way, you can sleep in just a bit longer before getting upright.

Pour out your brain. If you’re even remotely active in the brain region, your thoughts may keep you up at night. Keep a pad and a pen handy to jot all of your thoughts down lest you suffer from a night of worry. Make sure to detail specific notes about ideas or items you need to take care of when the sun rises.

Avoid caffeine. I’m one of those people that can literally drink a cup of coffee as I’m falling asleep. Even though you may be able to go horizontal just after the last sip of java, you probably aren’t getting the best quality of sleep. Opt for tea and water in the afternoon to start gearing up for the evening.

Plan out the next day. Think about what you absolutely¬†must get done the following day and write it down in order from most important to least important. These steps should be actionable so try to avoid vague items like “send e-mails”. Who do you need to e-mail? What do you need to say? Establish your plan of attack so you’ll be ready to go when the alarm goes off.

Turn off the TV. You heard me. I know it’s hard. Your favorite show might be on. I’m not saying it’s a must, but it will definitely help. This would be a great time for a conversation with a loved one or perhaps opening those things archeologists are now referring to as books (you know with the pages and everything). I’ll admit, this is one area I’m still working to improve.

De-stress. This is where some light musics or meditation may come in handy. You might also want to take a hot shower and reflect on the previous day. Whatever it is, make sure it doesn’t add any additional stress to your evening.

Eat a good meal. If you down a bunch of candy and simple sugars before climbing in the sheets, chances are you won’t sleep very well. A ‘good’ meal should at least include a palm of protein (preferably animal meat), a fist full of veggies, and between a half-a-fist ¬†and a full-fist of carbs like potatoes or rice.

When the Sun Comes Up

Here’s the hard part. All of the prep work in the world goes out the window if you don’t execute first thing in the morning.

Forget the snooze button. Nothing good comes from that extra 5 minutes of sleep. When the alarm goes off, make it your goal to get upright as fast as possible. If you just simply don’t have the willpower in the morning, set your alarm across the room or get one of those nifty apps that require you to solve a puzzle to turn them off.

Water, water, everywhere. Walk immediately down to the kitchen or keep a glass by your bedside table and start drinking. If you’re like most individuals, you’re going to go through much of your day dehydrated. Living low on water affects your energy levels, food absorption, and overall metabolism. Don’t sabotage yourself by reach straight for the caffeine. That’s next.

Time for some caffeine. Fall prey to your favorite vice. It may be coffee or tea, but it’s well known that caffeine gets a lot of people up and going in the morning. Make sure you have your water beforehand and feel free to indulge.

Move yourself. While you’re drinking some coffee and becoming more alert, go through a series of stretches to help open up your muscles from a night of laying horizontal. The stretches are up to you, but make sure you hit the big boys: chest, hip flexors, hamstrings, and lats. The goal isn’t to improve flexibility at the crack of dawn. Rather, we’re looking to move around, reduce stiffness, and encourage better blood flow.

Review your plan. Remember that list you made last night? Time to put it all into practice. Start with the most important items on the list and progress forward.

DON’T check social media or your e-mail. This is something new I’ve been experimenting with, and I’ve seen a tremendous amount of success. My usual routine consisted of scheduling social media right away. That’s all fine and dandy, but the lure to spend an extra 20 minutes on Facebook learning about my friend’s new puppy far outweighs my motivation for productivity at the crack of dawn. So, to remedy this situation, I turn off my wi-fi on my computer when I first log on. I have to say, not getting bombarded with e-mails or notifications first thing in the morning is rather soothing.

Prioritize. In the off-chance that you are running out of time first thing in the morning, you want to get the most important stuff done first. Your list should be prioritized to get the big kahunas out of the way immediately.

Eat a good meal and pack for the day. Breakfast starts a chain of good decisions throughout the rest of the day. It’s definitely not a necessary meal. The fallacy that you have to eat breakfast to lose weight has been overturned time and time again by up and coming practitioners in the field. However, the logic still stands that if you’re making better food choices first thing in the morning, you’ll be more willing to help yourself out throughout the day. If you’re looking to gain weight, it’s especially imperative to start the day off on the right foot.

So, here are your components of a successful meal: a palm of protein, two fists of veggies, some healthy fats, and more water. I’m not a huge fan of carbs in the morning, preferring to leave those to post-workout. My ideal breakfast would be 4-5 eggs, bacon, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese all covered with an avocado. If you’re running out of time, make hardboiled eggs while you get ready or even better, prepare a batch of them on Sunday to eat while you’re walking out the door. For those that can’t even stand to think of stomaching breakfast in the morning, blend up a shake with a banana, spinach, peanut butter, and either almond or regular milk. You won’t taste the spinach, but it will help you get some veggies in throughout the day.

Now would also be a great time to pack your meals for the rest of the day. Sure, you could eat lunch out everyday, but it would result in you spending extra money and not getting the fitness results you want. You aren’t able to control the quality and quantity of a meal at a restaurant. Do yourself a favor and bring your food to work or school. Lunch boxes are for the cool (and ripped) kids.

Revel in your awesomeness. If you put all of the above steps into practice every day, you’ll be lightyears ahead of your snoozing co-workers that get out of bed 15 minutes before swerving into the office parking lot.

Many of these habits seem difficult at first. They likely are a tremendous change to your current routine. But, just as you grew accustomed to waking up late, you can get used to waking up early and being productive. You may have to go to bed a little earlier, but I guarantee you’ll feel more accomplished later in the day. You’ll also have more time to do whatever it is you want to do.

So, what did I miss? Do you have different methods to getting the morning kicked off right? I want to hear them. Drop a comment below and let me know your routine.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been spending this month working on getting up earlier more often. I found that a good way to become a morning person was just to wake up an hour earlier than I needed, but NOT for any specific purpose. Sometimes it was really daunting to hear the alarm and know that I needed to go work out hard at the gym, so it was nice to know that I HAD to get up early, but I could spend the time reading a book, browsing the internet, or anything else. I figure that once I get used to the earlier wakeups, it would be easier to schedule that time, but for now I just wanted to focus on getting up early. It’s worked really well!

  2. Justin says

    Jeremy,

    Something else to add. I had grown extremely weary of getting to the gym at anytime after work between 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm and having it be completely packed, mostly with people taking up multiple stations, curling in the squat rack, comparing day-glo fitness outfits (apparently that’s a new trend now, like in 1983), etc. I have a pretty simple workout that should take me 35 – 40 minutes minus dynamic warmup/stretching at the end. It was taking me 50 minutes to an hour every time. Plus, I couldn’t control my rest periods very well due to all the waiting. I then tried going at 7:30 pm but that ended up screwing up my nutrition, dinner, and I found I wasn’t relaxing post dinner until 9:30 – 10:00 pm. It felt like a waste of a day!

    Now, I get up at 5:00 am and I’m at my gym at 5:30 am when it opens. Guess what? It’s empty until about 6:00 am when the first class starts. By the time I leave at 6:15 am, it’s still not nearly as crowded as the evenings. I get home at night with so much less stress/anxiety, knowing that I can relax, cook a nice meal at a decent hour, then have time to myself to accomplish other things.

    Justin

  3. says

    aaa the first thing I do when i wake up is check my fb, I know it’s terrible, but am hooked! That’s why am not letting go of my Nokia E5 phone, fb doesn’t look that great there and is very limited, which restricts me from endlessly scrolling through the newsfeed haha

    • says

      I hear ya. It’s hard not to look at your phone or tablet first thing in the morning. Now, I try to leave them in another room all night and use a regular alarm clock to wake up when I need an alarm.

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