When it comes to weight management, every day offers an opportunity to shed an old habit and try on a new one. Creating a morning routine that can contribute to your weight management/weight loss goals means that every day you have a predictable opportunity to take a step, no matter how small, towards your goals.
Granted, mornings can be hectic and some days it may feel like you hardly have time to breathe let alone roll out a weight loss routine. But remember, life long weight management does not require perfection or sticking to your plan 100% of the time. Follow these suggestions when you can fit it in!
A few words of wisdom about morning activities – just make sure you’re not cutting your sleep short to fit these in. Sleep deprivation breeds an appetite gone wrong, so you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you get up early to fit in yoga and then eat your way through the rest of the morning.
Morning routines for weight loss can take many different forms. Here are some of them:
- (Fun) exercise: Starting the day off with some exercise that you enjoy can improve your mood, help stabilize your appetite and leave you feeling more energetic/resilient in the face of the coming day. Exercise doesn’t mean having to go to the gym and watching the clock to make sure you do exactly 45 minutes on the treadmill. Stretching in your living room, 10 minutes of body weight exercises or a free internet class (check out fitness blender for hundreds of free classes) can help get your day off to a great start.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Looking for something a little lower key and quiet because you don’t want to wake up everyone else and start the morning chaos just yet? Try 10 minutes of mindful meditation. This can help calm the chatter in your head that raise your stress level and leave you vulnerable to snacking for reasons other than true hunger. Just remember that meditation shouldn’t itself be a source of stress – so if your mind wanders again and again (as it will, believe me!), no sweat. Just acknowledge that your mind is drifting and come back to focusing on your breath. The relationship to weight loss? Easy. Less stress = less hunger inducing stress hormones = less overeating.
- Make time for breakfast (and lunch and dinner!). One of the reason people can find their eating falling off the rails is the small breakfast-no lunch-huge dinner-snack-all-night pattern that gets repeated time and time again. Don’t set yourself up for this kind of out-of-control evening appetite. Instead, include time for meal prep in your morning routine. Make sure you have a breakfast that is tasty, nutritious and large enough to keep you going until lunch (no small granola bars and that’s it, please!). Take the time to pack a lunch so you have one less reason to skip lunch and set yourself up for an evening of overeating. Lastly, do what you can to make dinner easy to complete when you return home. After a long day at the office, who wants to walk into the house and only then start thinking about what you should cook? Or only then remember that you really should have taken the chicken out to defrost before you left for work. Instead, an ounce of preparation in the morning can save you a pound of overeating in the evening. Put the slow cooker on, put the frozen casserole into the fridge, or spend 10 minutes cutting up veggies for the stir-fry coming your way. Whatever you do, just know that meal prep minutes in the morning is time very well spent.
- Want some ideas that require a little less work? Try going for a walk outside at your 10 a.m. coffee break time. Sunlight can be mood boosting and helps stabilize your circadian rhythm (in order words your sleep wake cycle – reducing the chances of insomnia and fatigue based overeating). Or, make having a big glass of water when you wake up a regular part of your morning routine. This make it harder for thirst to contribute to unintentional snacking. You can also use a few minutes every morning to review the weight loss goals and affirmations that you have (haven’t you?) written down for regular reading. Keeping those thoughts front and center makes it a lot harder to lose sight of the steps you need to take every day to achieve your weight loss goals.
- Wake up a little earlier: Why would anyone want to wake up any earlier than they have to??? If you are not a morning person, this idea can be tough to swallow. But the idea behind waking up earlier is about giving yourself some “chill time” in the mornings. For most of us, mornings are all about rushing- getting ready, getting kids ready- always with the fear of being late. Imagine if you had 30 minutes in the morning to just relax- read the paper, listen to the birds, stretch, take a walk. It would start your day with a calm vibe instead of a stressed one- which can contribute to your perspective and attitude the entire rest of the day!
Sure, the morning is busy enough. But a few well spent minutes in the morning, can make a big difference to your weight and your health in general. Give it a shot- revamp your morning routine so that it’s an active part of your weight management plan. Don’t be discouraged if it involves some trial and error – what works for me, might not work for you. But if you persist, you’ll eventually find the morning routine that feels just right to you (and your weight!).