In addition to motivation and willpower, forming healthy habits is key to a healthier lifestyle. By definition, habits become a form of automatic behavior that’s routine and all habits need a cue or trigger. For example, buckling your seatbelt (habit) upon entering a car (cue) or washing your hands (habit) after using the restroom (cue).
Moreover, there is one trigger nearly all of us experience every single day that just might be the key to forming the number 1 habit you should have to for weight loss.
THE CUE: GETTING OUT OF BED
THE HABIT: MAXIMIZING YOUR MORNING
The first two hours upon waking should be the most mindful of your day, packed with intentional decisions. Establishing a regular, routine behavior in everything you do during those two morning hours can have a huge impact on how you feel and act for the remainder of the day. By setting a new habit to supercharge your morning (and not hitting snooze), you might just have found the key to losing and maintaining a healthier weight and mentality for the rest of your life. Here’s how to get started:
STEP #1: REACH FOR A GLASS OF WATER
Keep a glass of water by your bed and aim to drink at least 8 ounces immediately after the alarm goes off. After 8+ hours without water, our bodies start to become dehydrated. Hydration is important for so many of our daily functions; it boosts cognition, fires up our metabolism, increases alertness, elevates our mood and helps deliver nutrients to our cells. It also energizes muscles for those early morning workouts. Our cells are more productive when they are full of fluid, and we are able to metabolize and break down food more efficiently. By choosing water over calorie-dense beverages (like soda and juice) you trim caloric intake. Plus, thirst and dehydration are often mistaken for hunger.
STEP #2: DELAY COFFEE UNTIL 10 A.M.
Science reveals that early morning may actually be the worst time to drink coffee. That’s because our body’s cortisol levels are highest in the morning. Cortisol provides us with an all-natural boost and caffeine interferes with that by slowing (and replacing) it. Plus, diving right into a cup of coffee in lieu of water can lower your rehydration efforts (see above).
Skip the vanilla lattes and mochas (which are often sugar bombs) and try to stick to black coffee with a splash of milk mid-morning. Doing so might seem bitter at first, but over time your body adapts to less sugar, helping you feel more energized and saving you extra calories. Plus, waiting until mid-morning gives you something to look forward to post-workout.
STEP #3: GET MOVING
It’s no surprise exercise gets your oxygen and blood flowing, but morning workouts can also boost your metabolism and lead to more efficient muscle building, according to research from The National Institute for Fitness and Sport. One reason is that the body’s testosterone levels are highest in the morning, which promotes muscle growth. By working out when levels are elevated, you’ll set yourself up to build muscle more efficiently. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, which is important for weight loss.
As a bonus, research from Harvard Medical School shows even just a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise (like a short 10-minute walk or a 9-minute bodyweight workout) speeds up mental processes and cognitive abilities — a great way to kick off any day. The secret is simply finding a type of movement you enjoy and look forward to every morning, whether it’s yoga, running or a group fitness class.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The morning sets the tone for the rest of the day in so many ways. It starts with going to sleep at the same time each night, which helps you get a good night’s sleep so you’ll feel refreshed to get out of bed when you hear your alarm. Once that trigger hits, you can follow the steps outlined above (hydration, delaying caffeine and adding some type of movement) to supercharge your morning. Not only will these habits help with weight loss themselves, but they’ll also set you up to make smarter, healthier choices throughout the day to reach your goals more effectively.
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