I am in the very fortunate position of being able to wake up naturally a lot of the time and only having to set the alarm clock some of the time. Even so Mondays can be difficult as they mean leaving behind the chilled pace of the weekend and getting ready to face whatever challenges life will bring as the week unfolds.
I find solace in setting up the alarm clock 30 minutes before the time I actually want to get up to make sure I start the day with some me time to set myself up for success. No matter what. Here is how I do it:
Good quality sleep
It may seem as if I am stating the obvious but you cannot expect to win the day without struggle unless you have fully recharged your batteries with a few hours of good quality sleep. How many hours you actually need depends on your unique metabolism, however there seems to be a general consensus that less than 5 hours is not enough sleep and over 10 hours is too much sleep. Again, this also depends on your personal circumstances as if you happen to be sleep deprived for any reason you will certainly need to give yourself the time to make up for the lost sleeping time.
While you are asleep your body repairs itself, gets rid of toxins, tunes down the release of fat storing hormones and turns up the release of fat burning and rejuvenating hormones. I have over simplified an exquisitely complex chain of chemical reactions but it’s enough to give you a good idea of why good quality sleep is so important. Think of how dangerous you are at the wheel when you are tired and how hungry you get when you don’t sleep enough. How can you be a winner when you are in that state?
The idea of recognising everything that we can be grateful for seems to be a common thread in any coaching circle under the sun. There is a good reason for it: as we get caught up in the rat race of thinking we have it bad because we don’t have this or that we forget about all the things that we actually have. Therefore getting in the habit of spending a few moments first thing in the morning to reflect on all the good things in our life and express heartfelt gratitude for them is a sure way to get into a good mood before we part company with our duvet.
In fact, it might be the only way that we can feel inspired to get out of bed. Especially when times are tough. And if the only good thing going on in your life is that you are still breathing be grateful for that as you never know when your luck is going to change.
Visualise your day
After you have practiced gratitude and you are in a light and happy mood it’s time to start visualising your day. The idea is to do a practice run in your head before you live your day for real. Athletes and performance artists do this all the time: they prepare for their performances by rehearsing their moves or words in their heads. It’s a great way of overcoming training obstacles and plateaus of any kind.
The secret is to get into as much detail as possible as you do this: what you are going to have for breakfast, how much coffee, what you are going to wear, what you are going to say at that meeting, how are you going to finish that project, what you are going to buy at the shops on the way back from work, what you are going to have for dinner, are you going to exercise? what are you going to watch on tv and what time you are going to bed. It’s like having a to do list in your mind: once it’s compiled all you have to do is go tick every item as you go along.
Planning your day in this way will save you from stress and overwhelm later on as you will have a clearer direction. You can apply this same principle to your weight loss and fitness journey: visualize the end result that you want to achieve and reverse engineer the process of getting there.
I find morning rituals comforting. They are a part of my daily plan and I try to stick to them almost every day. They allow me that little bit extra mental space at the start of the day when I can make peace with the world and gradually transition from half asleep to fully awake. The first of my morning rituals is feeding the cats. I have no real choice in this matter as the punishment for not obliging is many paws on my face with gradually increasing degrees of clawing.
Then comes breakfast with copious amounts of coffee, then a quick tidying up of the house, wash, dress and then I am ready for my day. I suppose I could call this a “routine” but I find that the word “rituals” infers that these tasks are sacred to me and that nobody should interfere with them. If I am working on my own body transformation I might include a bit of time spent on the stationery bike or hula hooping as part of my morning ritual so it’s done and I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Otherwise I am ready to put into practice everything that I rehearsed while visualising my day.
Personally I find that whenever I stick to these 4 steps I come out a winner at the end of the day and feel like celebrating, no matter how small that win was. The thing is when I feel like I am winning at the game of life I tend to make better decisions which in turn leads to more victories big and small. So, now I am curious… what do you do to set yourself up for victory every day?
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