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?