It’s a mistake to think that losing or gaining weight comes down to just calories. Many studies demonstrate the multitude of factors beyond what we eat that affect our weight. So the best way to assure a proper weight is to create balance on many different levels. And since the morning sets the tone for the entire day, a healthy morning routine will increase your odds of weight loss success.
And before your write off what I’m saying as “hippie-talk”, understand one thing. How much fat we store as well as how hungry we feel is determined by the hormones leptin and insulin. In order for anyone to successfully lose weight, these two hormones MUST be working correctly. These hormones communicate with every other hormone in our bodies, so in order for these hormones to be working correctly, we must have something close to total body balance. Too much stress hormones, or too many inflammatory markers, and your weight loss hormones will be headed for a tailspin.
So, without further delay, here is my 20 minute morning routine for weight loss
1.Write in a gratitude journal –
Before you even get out of bed, take a couple of minutes down what you are thankful for. Why a gratitude journal? Because as difficult as life can get, you still probably have good things in your life. Focusing on the positive at the start of the day will raise the “feel good” hormones and will relieve stress hormones. Stress is bad for the waist line for a couple of reasons.
First, studies have shown that those who are stressed find fattening foods more rewarding, leading to overeating. Second, the cortisol spike that accompanies stress can actually make your body less receptive to insulin, the fat storing hormone. When sensitivity to insulin goes down, fat storage goes up and it becomes easy to pack on the pounds. Plus, taking a couple of minutes to focus on the good sets you up for a happier day. And a slim waist line doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t happy on the inside.
2. Stretch –
This might mean touching your toes, stretching your arms, or anything else that improves flexibility. Stretching can help you have an improved range of motion and can relieve muscle tension. Muscle tension can create a similar stress response as emotional stress. This is especially true when muscle tension is also associated with physical pain. When you feel better physically, you are happier emotionally and that has a positive hormonal effect on the body. Additionally, stretching can get your blood flowing, giving you more energy.
When the body is energized, you are less likely to crave fattening foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates which can provide the body with a quick burst of energy. Finally, feeling better physically will make you much more likely to exercise later in the day. Aches and pains can easily be an excuse to skip a trip to the gym. If you are looking for a quick stretching routine to start your morning, you can try this one.
3. Drink a Glass of Water –
You are naturally dehydrated when you wake, even if you don’t feel signs of thirst. Dehydration will eventually lead to inflammation. The inflammatory markers associated with inflammation can interact with the hormones insulin and leptin, throwing them off balance. If that doesn’t provide enough motivation to stay hydrated, consider this 2003 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. This study found that drinking 500ml of water had a thermogenic effect that increased metabolism by 30%.
Once you feel signals of thirst, you are already in a severe state of dehydration. Start off the day with a glass of water before you are thirsty! For extra credit, add a squeeze of lemon. Lemon water first thing in the morning will help ready your digestive system for the day. And when your digestive system is more effective, your food is processed more effectively which will support a healthy weight.
4. Detoxify by body brushing –
Most of us are exposed to a high level of toxicity in our daily lives. High levels of toxicity cause system-wide inflammation which, as already mentioned, has a disastrous effect on the hormones that are needed to control weight. While true detoxification is a detailed process, small habits can help allay the toll of living in a world of high toxicity.
Body brushing is a simple process of brushing the skin to awaken the lymphatic system and get it moving. When the lymphatic system is working correctly, it effectively removes toxins from the body. When you lower the inflammation associated with toxicity, the body will be much more sensitive to insulin which means your body will be programmed to store less fat. Body brushing should only take a couple of minutes. Another positive side of body brushing is that it can be very energizing, which is just what you need first thing in the morning.
5. Eat Something –
I’ve talked at length in the past about what constitutes a good breakfast. While having a good breakfast is extremely important, what is more important is just to eat SOMETHING. So if you really don’t have time for breakfast. grab a piece of fruit or a few whole grain crackers or anything that will wake up your metabolism.
Studies show that those who wait until later in the day to eat have higher levels of the hormone ghrelin during the day. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for informing your brain that you’re hungry. Eating in the first half hour of the day will not only give your metabolism an early wake-up, meaning you will potentially burn more calories in the early part of the day. It will also better ensure that you will have more controlled hunger signals, which can improve your eating habits for the rest of the day. So there you have it!
This 20-minute routine which will help your body be balanced, will help give a positive start to your day and will help ready your body for weight loss. Of course, this routine doesn’t give you permission to overindulge later in the day. True weight loss comes from a consistent practice of health supporting habits. But this routine is a great foundation for your day. It will help you get the most out of all the other healthy choices you make later. And in weight loss, every little bit helps, doesn’t it?
Marquita Herald says
This is wonderful Erica! I’ve never heard of body brushing before but I’m definitely going to give it a try starting tomorrow. 🙂
Yes, definitely try body brushing, Marquita. I think you will like it!
Sabrina Q. says
What a wonderful post! I love that you mentioned to write in a gratitude journal in the morning. It’s so easy to wake up stressed and not want to get up but by writing down what you are grateful for in the morning will get you in a more peaceful place to really start your day off right. Thanks for sharing, these are great reminders.
That is a good point, Sabrina. Lots of us really procrastinate getting out of bed. So that procrastination time is a perfect time to write in a journal.
Great advice to write a thankful journal. It is so important to acknowledge our blessings.
I have read that eating breakfast is recommended. Also eating little and often. Come to think of it, all the slim women I know eat their meals at a set time.
That is a good point about counting our blessings, Phoenicia. There are good things in life and bad things. It is up to us to decide which to give power to.
Jacqueline Gum says
The first thing I do very morning is drink a 20-ounce glass of water. I think I read somewhere that is also good for your heart. I love the idea of body brushing! I’ve never heard of it but now I can’t wait to try it! And just the act of opening my eyes to see another glorious sunrise, makes me grateful:)
Wow, that is a big glass of water! I love the joy you get in seeing a new day. It is so easy to take the little things for granted.
Have never dieted but it sounds like your suggestions are spot on, Erica. Despite not having a weight problem I start every morning with a glass of water, yoga and breakfast. Am sure it makes a difference.
Weight gain is a sign of a bodily imbalance, but you can have an imbalance without gaining weight. For that reason, I’m sure your body thanks you for your healthy morning routine.
Donna Janke says
Interesting. I’ve not heard of body brushing before. I always need a glass of water when I get up and never skip breakfast, although I may be up an hour before I actually eat it. The days when I go for a walk and take time to write in my journal seem to be the best days, although I don’t know that I have necessarily connected it with weight loss – just feels good.
That is great, Donna. You can definitely do this routine without trying to lose weight. And it certainly won’t cause weight loss on its own. It is just a routine to make everything else you do for weight loss later in the day more effective. However, if it just makes you feel good, that is a win too.
I do what you suggested everyday. I am not losing weight but I don’t gain weight, maintained for years.
It tends to be a pattern that people go up in weight as they age. So congratulations on maintaining over the years!
Doreen Pendgracs says
Superior post, Erica! I’ve never heard of body brushing before! I’ll check out your link on that. And yes. The rest of your points are already in my repertoire. ?
Glad to hear that you have lots of healthy habits, Doreen. And yes, body brushing is definitely something to check out!
Is so important to acknowledge what we have that’s still working in a positive way for us.
Yes, and I think the great thing is that there are beneficial habits that are really easy to put into practice.
Erica, I hate drinking water but know I have to so I’ve started freezing lemon slices and adding a few of these to my water. Makes it much easier to get down. I don’t have a gratitude journal but have started each day giving thanks for all the blessings I have. I’ve never heard of body brushing but it sounds interesting. Once again, I’ve learned something from your post.
I’m glad you learned something, Lenie. You are such a wealth of knowledge in healthy habits that I’m always impressed when I mention something you haven’t heard of!
Susan Cooper says
Thank you, thank you thank you. The last year has been hard on me. I’m still dealing with some the effects still today. It has put on unwanted weight and now I’m engaged in what to do to take it off. This is a tremendous help to me. YEAH!
I’m so sorry this has been a hard year Susan. I hope that it is getting easier as the days go by. I do hope doing some of these practices provides some form of comfort to you.
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
I do most of these things, but I never thought of them as a routine that can help with weight loss. All the more reason to keep up with them! Actually the gratitude journal is new to me, but I love that idea! So much of how we feel physically stems from how we feel in our hearts and minds. Great ideas!
I love how you put that, Meredith. I think we give too little attention to how the way we think affects the way we feel.
I completely agree that a schedule and routine are key to success, not that I always manage to keep one! I keep a dedicated weight loss Jouranl/Smash Book that I write in, as well as my public blog. It’s been proven that if you write about your experience, and track it, you’re far more likely to succeed!
You make a good point, Cait. I imagine that having the public follow your journey does keep you accountable for the goals you set out for yourself.
Great article Erica! It’s so hard to remember that weight loss is more than stressing your body to the max. Love the reminders, I’m definitely adding stretching and gratitude to my morning routine- and I’ll have to check out body brushing!
Yes, I think it is a shame the diet industry has been all the focus on diet and exercise. These are very important, but there are a multitude of factors that contribute to how we feel, as well as how we look.
Pamela Chollet says
I feel so good after reading your post.! I do everything but one of the tips you mentioned. I love body brushing but I brush right after yoga before jumping in the shower. It’s wonderful. Also, I have my warm warm with lemon. A good morning routine breaks or makes my day. If I were to miss any one of my morning rituals, I’d spend the entire in a head fog.
Right before the shower is perfect, Pamela. I’m glad you have such a positive morning ritual!
Body brushing sounds like a great energizer. I’m going to click on your link to read more about it.
Yes, the effects of body brushing are subtle, but it really does get the body moving internal as well as energize you for your day.
Oh wow! Body Brushing – never heard of it. Will definitely click on your link to read more about it.
I do most of the tips you mentioned. Thanks for sharing! The Body Brushing got my attention.
I’m glad body brushing got your attention. I hope you give it a try!
I love your tips for a morning routine!! I definitely procrastinate starting my day by laying in bed longer. I used to journal in the morning, but have stopped. This post reminded me of how much I miss it. I’m also sending this post to my mom who could def use a routine in the a.m.
Yes, start journaling again, Tia! I totally get the procrastinating getting out of bed thing. I think journaling before getting up is a good compromise when you’re not ready to get up.
I think a thankful journal is so important.. I write in mine each night though (instead of the morning) since I tend to be a night thinker.. so writing at night helps put happy thoughts in my head! 🙂
Writing at night is good too, Lauren! Glad you enjoy keeping a journal.
I never really thought about how our emotions help us lose weight, but it makes so much sense! A gratitude journal is a great idea.
It is crazy how little attention our emotions are given in regards to our health. Living a happier life really has many benefits. .
Rachel Lloyd says
Wow I clicked in totally expecting a work-out routine. How refreshing AND what great Ideas. I will have to try this routine tomorrow AM
Thank you, Rachel! I figured people were going to assume workout routine, so I’m glad you appreciated my different type of morning routine.
Looks like I am almost there. I’ve been waking up in the morning to writing in my journal, meditation, yoga, and then coffee before I start my work. I can add in my water (usually have I have a cup before I go to bed, lunch, and dinner) before my coffee. 🙂 I was waking up and going to the gym. Need a new accountability partner. 🙂
Thanks for sharing! xx
Siedah, it sounds like you have a very positive morning routine. And yes, a glass of water first thing would be a positive addition but I relate to the temptation to go right for coffee! I hope you find an amazing accountability partner soon.
I like this; I’m always disheveled and disorganized in the morning, maybe that is what hinders my progress? it definitely always makes me want donuts. 🙂
Haha, I’ve wanted donuts in the morning before too so I understand!
William Rusho says
What great tips. I am unsure how much I can do in the morning; I am barely able to force myself out of bed. Especially this time of year, I do not get enough sleep when it is very hot outside. I am a big opponent of drinking water, and you made great points of why this is helpful. Thanks for sharing this with us.
That sucks that your not getting good quality sleep, William. My bedroom is really hot in the summer too, and that really does make a difference in your ability to sleep.
I know how important water in the morning is and stretching but I never consider body brushing as a part of my morning. I’ll have to try it. Thanks for sharing. Always looking for wellness tips.
annabelt @ geeks diet says
This looks like a great morning routine! Thanks for sharing
Shortly before going to sleep, I place a small glass of water on a desk that is an arm’s length away from my bed. If I wake up in the middle of the night and am dying of thirst, I’m all set, and that glass is the first thing I reach for when I get up the following morning.
Erica — very interesting post for someone like me who has always had a weight problem. Right now, I’m vacationing so, of course, that’s my excuse for overeating. Basically, I think the most successful people who keep their weight off are the ones who understand that it’s a lifelong 24/7 process. What’s the point of going on “diets?” Do you go back to eating the way you did before? We know that doesn’t work.
RoseMary Griffith says
The beauty of your tips is that they are all simple to do! Yo inspired some time ago to keep a gratitude journal. Even though I write in it after I’m up and have been working for a while, it still impacts my day and keeps me on a happy path.