Even though it can still be a struggle for me at times, I love being an early riser! My girlfriend and my dog are still asleep, the apartment is quiet, and I can get stuff done that would otherwise be tough to do with the distractions of my beloved aforementioned roommates and daily work responsibilities. One of the most common excuses people make to not exercise and to not meal prep is “time”. RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU They have too much on their plates during the day, and as a result, some other responsibility trumps getting a workout in or making a smart food choice. The benefits of waking up early are that time is no longer an excuse! Your family’s asleep, you don’t start working for another few hours, and there’s time to make YOURSELF the priority for a change. Let me walk you through my morning to show you the benefits of waking up early for me. Obviously, you’re not me, so you can use my morning practices as examples more so than guidelines for yourself: 1) Meditation: If you don’t practice it, I know what you’re thinking – This guy’s going to preach some hippy-dippy ‘be zen’ garbage. And not too long ago, I would have probably agreed with you. The truth is, meditation helps you sort through whatever stressors you have going on in your life. Not quite sure how to meditate? Not to worry! There are free and cheap guided meditation apps that will walk you through what to do, what to focus on, etc. I recommend the Calm app, which I believe can be downloaded through the App Store on any mainstream smartphone. You can use this app to schedule a daily meditation alert for those times you’re really stressed and aren’t as likely to get it in. Each meditation is anywhere from five-to-10 minutes, and believe me, it’s time well spent first thing in the morning. benefits of waking up early_2 2) Daily Planning: I have a physical planner that I write in for 10 minutes each morning after my guided meditation to insure that I’m productive throughout the day. My process involves looking at my previous day’s plan, seeing if there was anything I didn’t get to or complete, and then compare it with my upcoming schedule for today. It’s best to have a clear-cut plan for your day that you can check off as you go, so if you feel that you’re not quite as productive as you’d like to be, then this is a practice I highly recommend you start. 3) Workout: Every morning, I perform a 20-30-minute workout routine after my guided meditation and my mapping out my daily plan. This ensures that there are no unforeseen events that can get in the way of my daily exercise, and that I’m hitting the day with both a fresh and an energized mind and body. Exercise releases dopamine, which is a neural hormone that stimulates pleasure. It’s a de-stressor, and is definitely needed most mornings. Combine that with having a sound plan and clearing my head via guided meditation and I’m unstoppable! 4) Meal and Snack Prep: After a shower and getting dressed, I’ll head into the kitchen, where I’ll usually be hungry enough for breakfast. While breakfast is cooking, I’ll go over my Daily Plan to see if I’m going to be away from the house for an extended period of time. On days where I’m not around for most of the day, I’ll take some healthy snacks and place them in Ziplock bags for easy transport. During the day when hunger strikes and I won’t be home anytime soon, I’ll utilize these snacks to keep me energized, satiated and guarded  against making poor, easy food choices that’s so easy when you’re on the go. Do you see the benefits of waking up early? It may be tough at first, but believe me, if you’re not able to make yourself a priority during the day or during the evening, then this is the best way to go about it. The way that I got used to waking up early was, instead of waking up an hour before my first appointment, I’d wake up 90 minutes beforehand. Once 90 minutes got to be easy, I made it two hours. Then two-and-a-half. Then three. If possible, it’s best to have a regular wake-up time (say, 5:30 AM) that you adhere to at least six days a week. Perhaps give yourself Saturdays to sleep in, but you don’t want to do any more than that: If you wake up late on Sunday, you’re less likely to be able to fall asleep early enough Sunday night to wake up early Monday morning. This can throw off your sleep cycle for the rest of the week, and will undo the great progress you’ve made in waking up early. I hope you can now see the benefits of waking up early. Remember – The early bird catches the worm. Go get it! Connect here with WatchFit Expert Peter Weintrub  

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