What's the best way to lose weight?
Count calories? Work out three hours a day? There's no single "best" answer. What works for one person might make no difference for another. Sometimes there's a frustrating trial-and-error period until you find what works best for you.
However, most people in the health industry agree on certain norms. Their extensive research has resulted in quite a few standard practices that they recommend. Processed foods are a no-no, for instance, and everyone agrees that the majority of us need to incorporate more physical activity into our days. Making a conscious effort to follow these guidelines can lead to successful weight loss.
If you're trying to lose weight, chances are you've tried more than one method. (If not, you're in the lucky minority!) There are plenty of new diets to choose from; some are legitimate and some might not be. Perhaps you've amped up your fitness routine, adding hiking or mountain biking. These are all great ideas.
But you might not have thought about how certain normal daily activities affect weight loss too. For the past couple of years, experts have been highlighting the connection between following a good morning routine and losing weight. The benefits include not just weight loss, but also increased energy and a feeling of overall well-being.
So what is the connection between your morning routine and weight loss success?
First, it might help to recognize BAD morning habits and how they can sabotage your efforts to lose weight and maintain good general health. Some examples:
- An inconsistent sleep routine
- Not getting enough sleep
- Getting too much sleep
- Ignoring your alarm/sleeping in when you should be getting up
- A poor sleep environment
The last example is critical because so many factors influence your sleep quality: noise, bright lights, uncomfortable temperature, poor quality mattress or pillows. Using electronic devices right before bed can disrupt sleep too, because of the blue light emitted.
You get the idea. If we're practicing so many bad habits related to sleep, then one can only imagine the damage being done in other areas. Perhaps your entire morning routine needs an overhaul.
How to create a new and improved morning routine
1) Wake up at the same time each morning. Spend a few minutes stretching and/or meditating before you get out of bed. Some people write in a journal or simply reflect on what's happening in their lives. This can help you start the day with a clear head and positive attitude. You'll have more energy once you eliminate some stress. You also could try aromatherapy for stress relief, using calming fragrances like lavender and chamomile, or energizing scents like citrus.
2) Weigh yourself every morning to keep track of your weight loss. Seeing the numbers drop can be a great motivator for the rest of your day. Try to weigh yourself at the same time each morning, but don't let minor fluctuations discourage you; they're normal.
3) That first morning coffee or tea is so tempting, but try to drink at least a little water before anything else. An eight-ounce glass should be the minimum. Keeping a water bottle or thermos right there next to your bed is a foolproof reminder to stay hydrated. Be sure to refill it and keep it with you all day.
4) It's okay if you don't feel like eating a big breakfast as soon as you get up. Lately there's been some disagreement among health experts about whether or not breakfast is in fact the most important meal of the day. It's hard to distinguish among all the diets claiming to be THE ONE. But one practice that's been getting more attention is called intermittent fasting. And it's not a fad because the practice has been around for centuries, and still practiced within several religions.
A popular regimen that many people follow involves fasting for at least 16 hours per day. The eight-hour eating window can be flexible, but if you eat between 12pm and 8pm, for instance, you've essentially skipped one meal while allowing yourself to eat whatever you like (within reason) during that "feeding" window. Many people like the fact that the majority of their fasting time is spent in bed anyway.
5) If you choose not to fast, at least eat a healthy snack like a piece of fruit. If you want to eat more, choose something high in protein. The best choices include Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, with spinach or mixed greens. Avoid sugary, processed foods that will only make you crash later in the day. The top three drinks for weight loss are water, green tea, and black coffee.
6) Workouts have been shown to improve mood, along with dropping pounds. If you work out in the morning, eating a heavier meal right afterwards will refuel your body, because of the energy you expended working out. This could be the best time to eat to avoid gaining weight.
7) Try to get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure between 8am and noon. It regulates your internal clock and positively affects you circadian rhythm, helping you sleep better. The sun also contains that same blue light you want to avoid right before going to bed at night. Get as much as you can during the day.
8) Eat more home-cooked meals, and pack your lunch. This study showed that cooking at home and making your own lunch, as opposed to eating at restaurants or buying takeout, was associated with weight loss among the participants.
9) Rethink your commute. Do you live close enough to work to ride your bike? How about taking a local bus or train and walking part of the way? This study discusses the effect of "active commuting" (walking or bike riding) on BMI and body fat percentage.
Whatever morning routine you create for yourself, make sure to follow it consistently. Keep it simple so you don't become bored or overwhelmed. If you're already following a good routine, keep it up! There's always room for improvement in order to be the best you.
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