How To Set Up The Perfect Morning Routine

10 min read

The Path Of Least Resistance

I feel a bit nauseous saying this, but each day comes brimming with opportunity. A trip to the gym, finishing a project at work, getting the full set of home-prepped meals, there are always going to be ways to press forward. Then there’s the chance to cave into the temptation of the path of least resistance. Also known as the lazy way. Whichever direction the pendulum swings, it all starts with intention, the series of decisions you take when the alarm hits. Those decisions play a huge role in determining whether you’ll spend the day making progress, or simply settling. Welcome to the world of habit stacking

In order to make sense of the questions that are about to be posed to you, it would be great if we can simplify psychology to the trivial version. There are two modes of approaching behaviour. The front-foot stance and the back-foot version. Also known as proactive and reactive. The former will comprise the decisions you make to push the body forward. The latter is made up of the ones where you settle, or back-track. Which, I have to stress, isn’t always a bad move. You can’t just tape the gas pedal down without eventually getting rolled over. Sometimes you have to step back and recover. A back-foot habit can still be the right call

With all those caveats aside, the morning routine isn’t the right place for rest and relaxation. You’re often getting dragged into the day kicking and screaming, and this is where you get to stamp some authority over your life. That brings it all back to intention. Do you settle today, or do you push forward and press on towards your fitness goals

The way I see it, the morning is the single best place to settle into the front-foot ideology. The day’s going to be stressful, and you want to start off with the intent to face up to the challenge.

This is all starting to sound ominously like I’ve copied this across from a navy seal vet’s code of conduct. But I can assure you, this morning routine is not all going to be ice baths and burpees.

The First Decision – Do You Hit Snooze?

Some mornings you’ll wake up feeling like you’ve been run over by a steam train. It might be every day, in which case the diet may be due for a few tweaks. In any case, you can’t always arrive in the morning with a fresh head and working limbs. Even with the perfect diet, settled with a cozy session of yoga to lull the brain to sleep. There will be some dark mornings. The promise of a few extra minutes in bed may feel too enticing to ignore. And while easy isn’t always bad, this would be a prime example of choosing the path of least resistance. In this case, it sets the tone for the day, and with enough repetition becomes ingrained as a habit. 

The first decision of the day may seem trivial, but in reality, it’s the entrance ramp that gets you onto the highways of a pattern of behaviour.

The Second Decision – Do You Reach Out To Check Your Phone?

You only have to look two articles back to get an inkling of what I think about the phone and social media. In one word? Poison. In a line? It creates an ever-present sense of anxiety, lowers focus, and switches off dopamine. If your second decision of the day, after opting to smash the snooze, is to check your phone for new messages, then you’re off to a terrible start. So far on the back foot, you’re doing the limbo.

Here’s the thing. You might be checking the phone for totally valid reasons, but it’s more than likely going to end up involving mindless browsing. Even if it’s to check on a message, it’s not so urgent that you can’t just check in an hour’s time. And if you’re still on the fence, wake up earlier. The more time you can spend away from social media, the better your mood and productivity will be. 

My take? Keep that thing on flight mode. 

The Third Decision – Do You Dive Into A Cozy Warm Shower?

If we haven’t already reached the point where I can start to come off as a David Goggins-lite, this is the moment. Now the mornings are starting to get a little colder, stepping under an icy jet might be an idea that disappears just as soon as it arrives. And why would you bother? There aren’t any miracles taking place when a cold shower hits your skin. It seems much easier to just turn the dial across and wait patiently till it’s a touch below boiling point.

Or you could choose to jump straight in, hang in there till it becomes bearable, and reemerge with your skin tingling and no cobwebs in the system.

Don’t bother reading up on the purported benefits of cold showers. Do it because it’s a clear choice between settling and pushing forward.

The Fourth Decision – How About That Phone?

Despite what you might be feeling, it won’t have been that long since you were sent into social isolation. Depending on how long it took to psych yourself up for the cold shower, 10-30 minutes may have passed by. Which means there’s one thing left to try. A spot of mind TLC. The opposite of mindless phone swiping, happens to be any exercise in mindful mode. Mindful can still have murky definitions, but I like to see it simply as any intentional focus and awareness of the present. You’re stepping out of the usual clutter of meaningless thoughts and bringing your senses to the world that’s directly around you.

So rather than finally giving in to the magnetic draw of the phone and sending it back online, you could pick a mindful exercise to stretch out the bliss of isolation a little bit further. The morning routine has the power to establish your mood and mindset for the upcoming day. Picking up the phone, on the other hand, could easily send you into a mindless state, or worse, a fat jab of stress to start things off. 

My favourite mindful practices, at least with training pushed to the side, are meditation and outdoor walks. Both of them are perfectly suited for the resilience routine. A walk under the creeping rays of the sun can nudge the brain into waking up, and starts the production of serotonin that will convert into melatonin by the day’s end. 

Meditation allows you to steadily upgrade your powers of focus, while also staging a great breathing routine. For these reasons, and more, meditation and outdoor walks are perfect habits to slot in the apex lifestyle.

10-15 minutes of either, or both, and you’re nearly free to engage with the rest of the world. By treating yourself first and foremost, and settling into a front-foot stance, your chances of having a decent day should be reaching into the stratosphere. 

The Fifth Decision – Do You Have Breakfast?

Finally, in the morning maze, you arrive at the biggest one. To breakfast, or to not break the fast. And here’s where I can roll back the years and bring up the feature that kickstarted my deep dive that eventually led me to the carnivore lifestyle. You can, perhaps should, skip that first meal. Sure there might be a busy stretch of hours ahead, with a workout thrown in for good measure. 

You might feel like you need the calories. Except the body already has plenty, it just needs a reason to start tapping into those fuel stores. And there’s no better reason that a fasted morning with some hustle.

Better fat loss isn’t the only advantage for skipping breakfast or pushing it on further into the day. It’s the extra rest it grants to the digestion. A heavy meal first thing is a great way to load the stomach with more than it can cope, resulting in a sedated feeling for the rest of the morning. This is based on the fact that the digestive organs operated on their own 24-hour cycle, and therefore need lengthy naps to perform at their best. 

If you are looking to lose weight, this is a huge net win. Fewer opportunities to add to the calorie count, a better metabolism, and optimised digestion. Even if you’re in a gaining phase, as I am, there’s enough going on to avoid the breakfast table. Just get a coffee going, dunk some butter if you’re not the squeamish type, and head out the door. 

Don’t skip brain day. I’ll soon get around to covering the second most important phase of the day. The bedtime routine. Get both phases in working order, and the rest of the day becomes a lot less daunting and a whole lot more manageable.

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Coaching At Genesis Fitness

In case you’re looking to test it out for yourself and get through some mild discomfort, I have just the thing. At DW Wrexham, I provide the whole package of one-to-one training, nutritional support, and habit coaching. 

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