If there’s anyone who’s concerned with adding health and energy to their daily routine it’s professional athletes. Athletes often cite their morning ritual as the key to strength and discipline. Since they also have to spend time trying to figure out how they are going to fit their workouts into their busy lives, they are a great example for us all on how to find balance in our lives. Here are some ideas that have proven successful for elite athletes that you can incorporate into your own morning routine.
Be the Early Bird
Work early in the day. You are less likely to have distractions early in the morning that will prevent you from your workout. If you’re someone with a family, or a busy job, by waking up early you’re able to focus on your own goals while everyone else is sleeping. Getting up early requires discipline and athletes with discipline are successful. After adjusting to the initial shock of opening your eyes before the sun is up and getting used to the routine, you’ll realize that you’ll start performing better early in the morning.
Mentally Rehearse the Task
Olympic athletes spend a great deal of time in psychological preparation. Athletes often imagine themselves acting out a successful completion to their goal. Some ways to do this include: rehearse, read inspirational books and quotes, rehearse mantras and most importantly have a plan that contributes to your success.
Start your day by creating a task list that includes everything you need to do to accomplish your goals. Some athletes find that keeping a performance log or other type of progress chart aids them in sticking to their training regimen. Record your progress, and keep track in case something goes wrong. Looking back over your process may show you where you went off track.
Force Yourself to Eat
“I’m not hungry.” It’s true that many people–including athletes–just don’t feel hungry in the morning, especially if they aren’t in the habit of eating first thing. But once athletes do start eating breakfast, their bodies get used to the habit and begin craving food when they wake up. Perhaps start by adding a light breakfast 15 to 30 minutes after waking up. This could be a small bowl of cereal and milk, a piece of peanut butter toast and apple juice, a granola bar, fruit, or a few graham crackers with a glass of chocolate milk. Eventually, the athlete’s body will get used to morning fuel and they can work up to eating a bigger breakfast.
Athletes who skip breakfast generally train less effectively, suffer needless fatigue and may see suboptimal results. They also tend to have trouble concentrating, and work or study less efficiently in the late morning.
Breakfast(s) of Champion
Once athletes make a commitment to eating a healthy breakfast on a daily basis, they reap the benefits quickly. Although many athletes may think primarily of carbohydrates like bagels, cereal, toast, and fruit or juice for breakfast, it’s important to also take in at least 20 to 30 grams of protein in the morning. Including protein is critical for maintaining lean body mass, and some studies have found that when included at breakfast, protein may increase total energy expenditure during the day. Here are some examples of breakfast meals that each includes at least 20 grams of protein:
- Two slices of whole wheat toast with two tablespoons of peanut butter, one banana, one container of light yogurt, and one cup of one-percent chocolate milk.
- One cup of Greek vanilla yogurt with three tablespoons of slivered almonds, a quarter-cup of low-fat granola, and a half-cup of fresh berries or half of a peach mixed in.
- A two-egg omelet with one ounce of low-fat cheese and one ounce of chopped ham wrapped in a medium-sized whole grain tortilla shell, along with one cup of 100-percent grapefruit juice.
- A smoothie made of one cup of Greek yogurt, a half-cup of frozen cherries, and a half-cup of juice, along with a mini whole wheat bagel topped with a slice of cheese or peanut butter.
For true morning rejuvenation, replace morning coffee with a refreshing herbal tea. The Greeks regarded tea as the ‘divine leaf’ that cures asthma, colds and bronchitis, aids digestion and improves cardiovascular health. The Greeks, you might recall, were the World’s first Olympians – they invented it!
Athletes often take tea with honey rather than using sugar to sweeten tea because honey provides its own nutrition and boosts the body’s immunity. Black tea and dandelion tea contains niacin, potassium and riboflavin and traces of thiamin, zinc, manganese, and calcium. Tea contains some reasonable amounts of caffeine which boosts energy levels and increases stamina. This is what an athlete is always looking for: high energy and more active behavior.
All types of tea are beneficial for the health of athletes but using green tea would be the best as it has more antioxidants than others. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body from the oxidation effect of exercise and other forms of intense physical activity such as sports. The antioxidants in green tea can offset the oxidative stress that comes from physical workouts. This means your body can recover more quickly from physical exercise and have less damage after a workout.
Sleep Well, Rise Well
If you want to wake up with energy, it all starts the night before. Getting enough sleep takes commitment, just like training. High-level athletes that are training hard need 8-10 hours sleep, but most people should get between 7-9 hours per night. Focus on quality of sleep by going to bed before 11 p.m. and for optimal hormonal release don’t use a computer or watch TV within 30 minutes of sleeping to avoid effects of electromagnetic waves, and make your sleeping environment as dark as possible.
Make these three fixes part of your routine.
- Get on a regular schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Avoid sleep medication. Relying on natural relaxation techniques before bed — such as deep breathing — is a better approach.
- Reduce alcohol.