Establishing a good morning routine has been proven to have a positive impact on your day but this doesn’t necessarily mean you must drink a glass of warm lemon water and go for a run before the sun rises. Not all morning routines have to follow the same format or pattern. Whether you wake up at 5am or 11am, we can all establish a regimen that is conducive to our goals and lifestyle.
I have recently started to listen to ‘The Power Hour’ podcast, hosted by Adrienne Herbert, which has inspired my newfound interest in morning rituals. I have since collated an assortment of data and evidence to support a 10-step way to get your own morning routine nailed.
1. Understand and utilise your body’s internal clock
To fully utilise your morning, it is important to know when you will benefit the most from waking up and starting your day. Some people operate best in the early hours, whilst others prefer a later start. If you follow your body’s natural cues as to when you should wake up, your circadian rhythm should stay balanced which will keep you feeling energised during the day.
2. Identify your morning intentions
It is vital to acknowledge what you would consider a successful day. Would a successful day entail more productivity? Or are you more concerned with getting your health in order? Once you’ve identified your goals, it’s then time to identify the behaviours that will fulfil these objectives.
For me, personally, a successful day would be one in which I have an adequate amount of time to be productive and fulfil my daily tasks. Hence, my morning routine would consist of:
- Waking up at 5am to ensure I can fully utilise my day.
- Exercising to get my body moving and put me in a good headspace.
- A morning skincare routine to ensure I am looking after my skin.
- Eating a nutritious breakfast to give me the energy I need for my active lifestyle.
- Ensuring that my house is clean and tidy, ready for the day.
- Using my paper journal to list my daily tasks.
3. Identify what is not on your ‘To Do’ list
This may seem counterproductive at first, but the reality is that we often engage in morning behaviours that detract from our intentions. Whether you want to stop checking your emails or stay off social media, it is important to establish these behaviours so that we can replace them with more desirable ones.
I identified the following behaviours which cause me to stray from a productive morning:
- Checking social media and emails first thing.
- Having a coffee to ‘wake me up’.
- Starting work as soon as I wake up.
- Having a quick fix breakfast that lacks creativity.
- Procrastination, which prevents me starting my day productively.
4. Prepare your environment for the perfect morning
It is now time to set up physical barriers for the things that you wish to discontinue and implement reinforcements to help establish the desirable behaviours.
Here’s how I ensure my mornings stay on track:
- Putting my phone on ‘Do not disturb’ so that I am not distracted by notifications or messages in the morning.
- Organising my workout clothes the night before, so that I can get straight into training when I wake up.
- Preparing my morning water or herbal tea the night before, so that I’m not tempted by a quick coffee.
- Preparing my breakfast the night before, to ensure that it is both nutritious and delicious whilst not taking up too much time in the morning.
- Planning my morning workouts for the entire week so that I know exactly what I should be doing each morning.
Shop Sundried's Active Life collection for the perfect morning workout gear.
5. Do not hit the snooze button
Once your alarm sounds, get up! Christopher Winter who is a certified sleep medicine physician has found that every time you wake up and go back to sleep, you enter a new sleep cycle. Any sleep you get from pressing snooze is too light and fragmented to be beneficial and could actually leave you feeling more tired.
Following a prolonged period of a consistency, waking up will soon become a breeze. After years of early mornings, I now automatically wake up at around 5am and don’t need to set an alarm.
6. Move before you start your morning routine
Have you ever watched a dog or cat wake up? The first thing they do is stretch out. Give yourself time to move and allow your body to acquire some energy through the expansion of stretching. The gentle movement will gradually warm and awaken both the body and mind.
7. Hydrate before you caffeinate
Research has shown that your cortisol levels are naturally higher for the first one to two hours after you initially wake up. Higher cortisol levels will increase your alertness naturally and minimise the effectiveness of caffeine. A glass of water will rehydrate your brain which is composed of 75% water and in turn help you to begin your day feeling focused and clear-headed.
8. Get into a good headspace
Allow yourself time to be still and focus your mind. Meditation, doing affirmations, practising visualisation exercises, and undertaking controlled breathing can be great tools to focus your positive energy for the day. Research has also found that our bodies have low levels of oxygen first thing in a morning, so a few deep breaths could help re-oxygenate your body, which will keep you more awake during the day. Regular meditation has also been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help relieve stress and fatigue.
9. Multi-task your morning’s ‘To-do’ list
Tackle two of your morning’s tasks at once and feel super productive in the process. Being time poor isn’t a valid excuse for failing to get things done anymore.
I often listen to a podcast whilst exercising, catch up on the news whilst doing housework, and call various family members during my morning walk. There is always something so satisfying about getting two of my morning tasks ticked off at the same time.
10. Maintain the routine to make it habitual
Set up a routine that is reproducible and attainable 7 days per week to ensure that you get the most out of it. Routines can be the desirable balance of work and play, providing they are congruent with your goals and intentions.
Spend this month perfecting your morning routine and enjoy the enhancements it brings to your everyday life.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
Want more tips and tricks to aid in developing a healthy lifestyle? Connect with Sundried's Personal Trainers on our app, for top tips, free workout plans and more.
A new year is the perfect time to adopt more desirable behaviours in the hope to live a happier and healthier life. More often than not these aspirations will not manifest into victory.
My intention for this blog is to identify the common errors people make when deciding on their new year’s resolutions and how you can construct a keep-able promise in 2020.
#1 Too much too soon
Setting unrealistic goals at the start of the year in the hope that you can transform yourself overnight.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, it is better to make incremental changes that can be more easily achieved. By setting realistic goals that can be altered over time, success is more likely.
If your goal is to start going to the gym, then begin by working out once or twice a week. Once you have this mastered, consider adding an extra visit. Trying to go from no exercise to working out every day is not the way forward.
#2 Not identifying your ‘why’
Not understanding the reasoning behind a resolution.
Having a good motivational drive is integral to success. It’s important to identify why the goal is important to you on a personal level.
You may want to work harder at University, but it is important to uncover why is this important to you? Maybe it is because you want to graduate and secure your dream job. Whatever your reasoning, make sure you identify it and use it to motivate your behaviours.
#3 Wishy-washy goals
Setting a haphazard goal with no specificity or personalisation.
Keep the goal relevant to you and include fine details. The more specific you can make your goal, the more vivid it will be in your imagination and the more encouraged you will be to succeed.
Adopting a healthy diet is always a popular resolution but this leaves much ambiguity. Think about what a healthy diet for YOU would look like. For example, ‘I will eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day’ is much more specific than ‘I will eat a healthier diet’.
#4 Not checking in
Not measuring or tracking progress will result in the inability to know how you are doing and whether changes need to be adopted for success.
Keepings a written record of your progress with help to sustain the ‘can do’ attitude, keep you accountable, and ensure you are moving in the right direction.
If your goal is to drink more water, then the only way to know if you are succeeding is to track how much you are drinking each day.
#5 Not setting the date
Without a deadline of achievement, motivation can dwindle and often the attitude of ‘I will do it tomorrow’ is adopted.
Set an end date for targets to keep the pressure on and stop any avoidance of the tasks at hand.
If your goal is to run a 10km then enter yourself in an event at the start of the year. The pressure of a looming race is sure to keep you motivated.
#6 All or nothing attitude
Giving up completely when something goes wrong.
Accepting that slip-ups are likely and are a part of the behaviour change process. The ability to pick yourself up and carry on after a setback is vital for triumph.
Does the occasional sweet treat completely undo an overall healthy diet? No, of course not! As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.
#7 Enduring not enjoying
No one can bring themselves to do something they hate consistently, so planning a resolution that you will dislike doing is not going to work.
The best plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life and one which you can appreciate.
Participating in a sport you love rather than dragging yourself to the gym will be much more effective in any fitness venture.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
How do I create a Workout Plan?
Getting the right support for your training plan will mean the difference between success and failure. You do not need to identify your SMART goals alone. If you want some free tips, connect with the Sundried Personal Trainers on our app.
Have you set yourself a New Year's Resolution?
Sundried conducted a survey with a reach of 4,000 people and found that 43% of people expect to give up their goal after just one month.
Research shows that 95% of New Year's Resolutions are fitness related, but after just 3 months, only 10% of people think their resolution will last.
So why do we give up so easily and how can we make sure our goals not only last, but are met?
10 Reasons we give up on our New Year’s Resolutions
1. Going Solo
Many of us set our fitness goals and then try to achieve them alone. We won’t tell anyone what we’re working towards in fear of failure. In fact, we need to think more - strength in numbers, by sharing our goals with others we are more likely to succeed for two reasons.
- You have someone to answer to. Sharing a goal suggests you’re truly serious about wanting to make it happen, as you wouldn’t want to be seen as a failure.
- A problem shared is a problem halved - training with someone towards your goal, be it a friend or a PT adds twice the motivation and can help to ensure you don’t let yourself, or your partner down.
2. Too High Expectations
It’s important to set a New Year's Resolution which is realistic, you can’t be expecting a Christmas miracle to conquer your New Year’s resolution for you. If you want to lose weight, put a number on it that's achievable, rather than leaving it open-ended or expecting the world in just a few months. You can do this by truly analysing your goal, taking a good hard look at yourself and weighing up whether your fitness goal is realistic. It may mean downsizing your goal for now, but keeping it as a goal to work towards in the future, as part of your bigger picture.
3. Giving up too easily
January is a tough old month, it’s cold, it’s dark, everyone’s got hangovers and it's another 11 months before next Christmas, talk about January blues...because of this, it seems to take less of an excuse for us to give up on our goals. We need to hang on in there! Having a plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals once the excitement wears off can help you to stay focused. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you're far more likely to set and achieve another because you know you really can do it, you’ve proved it!
4. Not Enough Time
As with any goal, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to make it work and so for many fitness goals, this can be the reason we fail. Setting slots in advance for exercise or breaking routines into 5-minute goals and targets can help to knock your goal down into more manageable time frames. Fitness doesn’t take hours and hours, it just takes good planning. For example, we created EHOH, every hour on the hour, where we exercise for a few minutes at a time to combat the negative effects of having a sedentary office job. Prioritise your goal as of importance to you and you’re sure to find time to work at it.
5. Not Enough Money
A new goal usually comes at a cost, whether it’s a new gym membership or new kit, money can be a deciding factor in you achieving your goal. Whilst sometimes the initial start up, ie. buying the kit and joining a gym, does cost a lot, you can take advantage of January deals and you have to see it as an investment in yourself. Choose activewear which is designed to last in the long run to save money down the line. Paying for a gym membership to help you achieve your goal can also work as extra motivation to make sure you get there, as nobody likes to waste money!
6. No Plan
A man who fails to prepare, prepares to fail. This is a saying I stand by 100%, if I don’t have prepped meals I’ll snack off plan, or starve and binge, neither are great. If you set off on a journey you’d never been on before without satellite navigation, how would you make it without checking the route in advance? Planning and preparation prevents a poor performance. Whilst you can hire a Personal Trainer to work as your ‘sat nav’ guiding you to fitness, or so to speak, you’ll still need to plan when you’re going to train with them. A goal without a plan is just a wish, you need to put your words into actions to achieve your goal.
7. No Motivation
Motivation might be what gets your started, but it fades so you need to use that initial motivation to create habits that will keep your goal continuing to happen, even once the initial buzz is a thing of the past.
8. No Self-Belief
Sometimes we could really do with someone reminding us there is no such thing as ‘I can’t’. This is a big contender when it comes to fitness goals, as you have to believe you can do it to really try. We also don’t compliment ourselves enough for the progress we make along the way even if we haven’t hit our goal, if progress has been made, it should be appreciated and proves that it can be done. Don’t think you can do it? Prove yourself wrong!
9. Social Situations
Go on just one more, and one turned into four. Over Christmas the chances are you’ve had a fair few social situations where you’ve promised yourself you won’t drink, you’ll pick the salad or you’ll call it a night before midnight and then comes 3am and you’re drunk singing with a kebab in your hand. We’ve all been there and in the most part - you can blame your friends. Peer pressure is a huge factor in breaking your resolutions, because nobody wants to feel left out and social situations at this time of year in particular always revolve around drinking and eating far more than we should. Instead of turning into a social recluse, why not manage your social events, pick healthy options and drive - that way you have your excuse for not drinking.
10. You Forget
You made your resolution drunk at 12.01am New Year's day and woke up on January the second completely oblivious. Perhaps a drunken resolution is destined to fail.
Research shows that almost half of us will have given up on our New Year's fitness goals before we've even reached February. We've come up with 10 ways you can make sure you don't give up on your goal.
1. Strength in numbers
Setting up a training plan with a partner increases your chance of achieving your goal and makes your journey more fun along the way. Organising gym sessions and fitness dates together mean you’re less likely to quit as you have the extra motivation of not letting the other person down. With twice the motivation you’re twice as likely to succeed.
2. Set SMART Goals
SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and have a Time frame. Saying that you want to 'tone up' or 'lose weight' won't get you anywhere as it's not measurable and you won't know when you've reached your goal! A better goal would be 'run a 5k in under 30 minutes by the summer' for example.
3. Understand the stages of change
The stages of change are a way in which we can monitor whether or not we are actually ready to achieve our goal. Before any major life change, we tend to go through 5 phases of thought, which ultimately lead to our end goal:
Pre-contemplation: At this stage, we’re unaware of any change we need to make and the thought has not even crossed our minds. At this stage of change, a result is very unlikely.
Contemplation: This is the stage where the idea is made. You’ve not committed yourself, you’re simply considering what effort it would take to make the specific change and whether this is something you are prepared to do.
Preparation: This is the stage where you’ve decided that you will change a habit, starting next month. So if you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolutions now, this is probably you.
Action: This is the good part, here you are consciously making the effort to change your lifestyle and achieve your goal.
Maintenance: Perhaps the hardest stage of all, this is where you may have achieved your goal, but you need to work at it to ensure you don’t revert back to how you were before. Mentally and physically, it is the hardest stage to be at, as we like to see noticeable results.
4. Break it down
With fitness goals, the easiest way to make sure you achieve your goal is to break one main goal into smaller, easier targets. For example, a SMART goal of 'deadlift 100kg by March' may mean aiming to increase your deadlift by 2.5kg per week. This makes the goal easier to digest on a day to day basis.
5. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated is one of the toughest parts of achieving a goal. Make sure you are realistic and give yourself a break. Fitness goals should be a lifestyle change, not a short-term fix.
6. How ready are you?
Make sure you are ready to commit the time and effort to the goal before you set yourself up for a fail. If, upon reflection, you haven’t got the time for your initial goal, why not downsize it to something more manageable? Achieving one smaller goal is motivating and will encourage you to go to the next. Failing is never motivating and will almost always leave you wanting to give up. Don’t let that happen by making your goal something you know you're ready to commit to.
7. Hold yourself accountable
Keeping a food and exercise log will help you see clearly whether you're on the right track and makes it difficult to cheat yourself. You don’t have to show anyone else, you just need to be truthful with yourself.
8. Share your goal
With social media, sharing your goal is as simple and as easy as a few clicks and once you’ve announced your goal to the world, you’re far less likely to go back on it! From progress pictures to Facebook groups, social media can be a great tool in achieving your New Year’s resolutions. According to a study published in Transnational Behavioural Medicine, strong social circles can be very effective in combating obesity and helping individuals succeed. When dieters participating in a weight loss study shared their plans and progress with others on social media, they lost more weight than those who kept their goals to themselves.
9. Track progress
The easiest way to track your progress for a fitness goal is to buy a fitness tracker. All-day activity trackers track heart rate, steps, and sleep as well as your workouts, making it easy for you to track data and see where you need to improve. Always keep a record of your starting point, be it a weight lifting PB, a run time, or a starting weight. Even if you are not happy with where it starts, you need to be able to see if you are progressing or not and so you’ll need a starting point.
10. Ask for helpWhen you struggling or you’ve fallen off the bandwagon, don’t give up, just ask for help! Use advice from professionals, perhaps even hire a Personal Trainer, but whatever you do, don’t feel alone, there will always be someone that can help.
1. You’re setting the bar too high, too quickly
New Year’s fitness resolutions are a December 31st mainstay. After all, being overweight in the age of Instagram feeds full of beach-bodies, fitness models, and socialites doesn’t exactly do wonders for one’s self-esteem. Celebrity trainers backed by thousands of dollars in advertising are touting programs left and right that promise to get you shredded in “six weeks or less!”. Brand ambassadors with perfectly sculpted backsides are pushing nutrition plans that guarantee you’ll give Kim Kardashian a run for her money just by squatting and drinking protein shakes. Social media being the lucrative self-promotion platform it is, a myriad of half-truths and misconceptions about fitness and self-care persist.
Making fitness resolutions on a rigid time-frame is a recipe for failure. Since everybody is different, what might get someone shredded in six weeks might take you six months. Or maybe less. Since our fitness is partly determined by our genetics, metabolism, and body-type, it’s important to stay consistent and on-track until you find what works best for you. Setting unrealistic standards for yourself based on a fitness competitor’s ‘before-and-after’ will only leave you frustrated and disillusioned; and nowhere closer to meeting your New Year’s goals.
2. You’re rewarding yourself too often
It’s human nature to want a reward when you believe you’ve performed exceptionally. Fitness goals are no exception. While it’s perfectly healthy (and encouraged by many PTs and nutritionists) to indulge on occasion, rewarding yourself too often can sidetrack your progress. It’s easy to brush off that second-helping of pizza or that third glass of wine with the self-promise of working it off the following day. Reward yourself too often, and you’ll find no amount exercise will give you the muscle tone and definition you’re going for.
New Year’s resolutions centered around fitness don’t always fail due to procrastination. More often than not, they fail simply because we let ourselves get away with too much. If and when you choose to indulge, keep it light, keep it brief!
Which brings me to my next point…
3. You’re not reading ingredient labels
Sugar isn’t a controlled substance, but perhaps it should be. While there’s still some debate as to whether sugar is as addictive as cocaine, one thing is certain: Limit your intake. Food companies find sneaky ways to add more sugar to their products in an effort to get them to taste better. Don’t make assumptions just because something is listed as ‘non-fat’ or ‘100% natural’. Read and double-check ingredient labels to make sure you’re not consuming unhealthy amounts of sucrose.
Better yet, avoid processed foods all together. Eating clean does wonders for raising more awareness about what we put into our bodies. Of course, this approach isn’t always practical, and sometimes we do have to reach for a packaged snack or two. Nevertheless, be mindful of nutrition and ingredient labels to spot the hidden sugars. Ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and maltose should be avoided at all costs. They’re all just variations of plain’-ol refined sugar.
4. You’re not sweating
We get it. It can be difficult to get into the habit of working out regularly. While building up a sweat isn’t exactly the most glamorous experience (no matter what the fitness models would have you believe), it’s a clear indicator that your workout is, in fact, working. Once you’ve reached a point where you can get through an entire session without breaking a sweat, it’s time to change your workout routine. Of course, working with a great personal trainer makes a world of a difference. Not everyone has the time or means to spend hours at the gym, so make sure you’re at least incorporating different cardio exercises and weight-training into your workouts.
Consider starting your workouts with a 1–2-minute challenge. Beginning with something new and energetic not only gets your heart-rate up — it motivates you to keep going strong!
5. You’re not reflecting
Everyone has their reasons for wanting to get fit. Resolutions are meant to be life-changing measures, not momentary fancies, after all. If you’re not spending a fair amount of time on self-reflection in this respect, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Reflect and analyze on what’s kept you meeting your health goals up until this point. Do you use food as a coping mechanism? Do you put off exercise in favor of television? Keep a diary for accountability. At the very least, write down a list. Find things you can easily eschew from your daily routine in order to incorporate more healthy habits.
Finally, reflecting on your New Year’s health goals shouldn’t be limited only to physical fitness. Mental health awareness is more important than ever — and it can provide insight as to why we sometimes sabotage our efforts at self-improvement. Consult a therapist if you feel your eating habits and lack of exercise are symptoms of a deeper issue. Websites and apps geared towards fitness rarely provide support in the way of mental wellness, but with more dialogue, that can very well change.
About the author: Aimee De Palma is the Marketing & Social Media Coordinator for It’s Fitness, a start-up that aims to revolutionize how we approach fitness by way of heart-pumping, sweat-drenching challenges and virtual tournaments. She's passionate about helping both new and experienced PTs and wellness professionals get the word out about their services and resides in Miami, Florida.