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Why You Should Be Working Out First Thing in the Morning

Why You Should Be Working Out First Thing in the Morning

During high school and college I grew to despise my alarm clock. As a swimmer my alarm clock went 5-alarm crazy at 4:45am four days a week, at which point I would shuffle to the pool (all too often through a bleak Canadian winter) with my teammates where we would swim up and down the black line for a couple of hours before heading off to school.

One of the best feelings of my life was the first Monday morning after I left the sport where my alarm went off, and as the confusion passed, I realized that I could guilt-free go right back to sleep.

A funny thing has happened since then.

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With no one to tell me what time to get up I soon learned to respect the early morning workout, and to be honest, while I don’t miss the awful sound the alarm made (and I don’t get up at the ungodly hour of 4ish AM), I have grown to appreciate the early morning workouts a lot more.

After all…The key to a successful workout program is finding a time and schedule for your workouts that allow for the highest percentage of completed sessions.

While it’s easy to fixate on finding the best supplements, or the coolest-looking workout gear, the real game changer when it comes to results in the gym isn’t something you pick up at GNC or will find in the forum of a bodybuilding website. It’s picking and sticking to a time where you are most likely to be consistent with attending the gym. Depending on your schedule this might mean not being able to go to the gym until late at night, or mid-afternoon, or during peak hours during the after-work rush. Whatever your schedule, here are 8 reasons you should choose to workout first thing in the morning:

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1. Early morning workouts tend to encourage better eating habits later in the day.

Exercise is one of those keystone habits that seeps into other areas of your life. After a good workout you tend to lean on better food choices to compliment the healthy physical decision you have already made.

2. Early morning workouts remove the sense of “Ugh, I still have to…”

This is a thought that plagues many of us late in the day when we are bushed and the last thing we want to do is go to the gym. Get it out of the way early, and you can focus the rest of the day without the nagging sense you still have something to do later.

3. Early morning workouts give you a better chance at having a killer workout.

Think about it, at the end of the day you are mentally and physically worn down and your willpower is bordering on depleted. In the AM you are fresh, mostly awake, and mentally you are more energetic than at the end of a long workday.

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4. Early morning workouts tend to come with more gym space.

If you are one of the brave souls who go to the gym right after work for the 5-6:30pm frenzy you are well acquainted with the line-ups and craziness that the gym assumes during this time. In the mornings it’s a much different pace. Less waits, less people, and a quicker and more efficient workout.

5. Early morning workouts get your day off to a great start.

The sensation of having accomplished something early in the day is a fantastic way to get your day going. (Want another easier one? Make your bed each day. Seriously. The little hit of dopamine that comes with completing what seems like such a benign task can help propel your day.) When your workout is done and over with, you can’t help but feel a little more stoked to take on the rest of the day.

6. Early morning workouts means that you are less likely to bail on the gym.

When you make going to the gym part of your daily morning routine your workout program becomes habit. And when it becomes habit, well, the gains and improvements start to happen on auto-pilot. And the easiest way to get the habitual gym sessions going is to attach it to something you are already doing. By piggy-backing the gym to something you are already doing—“When I do this, I do that” it makes the exercise habit easier to install.

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7. Early morning workouts make getting up easier.

Your body is a hilariously smart piece of machinery. Once you get into the swing of getting up and working out at a specific time your body begins to anticipate waking up at a specific time. This makes it much easier to wake up, as your body is already priming for what is to come by adjusting the circadian rhythm and endocrine system in anticipation of waking up. (Additionally, morning exercise typically helps you get to bed earlier at night.)

8. Early morning workouts make you mentally sharper.

If you’ve ever struggled with a creative task, and then gone for a run and had the answer hit you while on mile 4 you know what I am talking about. Exercise has been shown to boost brain function both short term (up to 4-10 hours) and long term (adding moderate exercise pushes back cognitive decline by 10-15 years in even middle aged people). Getting that early morning sesh in means that you are not only helping out your brain big time in the long run, but your decision making and mental output will greatly benefit for the rest of the day as well.

In Summary

At the end of the day it doesn’t really make that much of a difference what time you hit the gym. What matters most is that you are going.

If that means hitting the gym at 1am, than so be it. But if you’ve got the consistency and routine part down, consider hitting the gym in the mornings so that you can propel yourself physically and mentally through the rest of your day.

This post was originally published over at YourWorkoutBook.com.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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