The Life-Changing Magic of Morning Workouts (Plus 4 Habits to Become a Morning Person)

The Life-Changing Magic of Morning Workouts (Plus 5 Habits to Become a Morning Person)

For nearly the entirety of my existence on this earth, I and mornings (and especially morning workouts) didn’t get along. My mood was sporadic.

But, attempting to grow a company, grow a movement, grow as a man, and grow in many other areas of life required that I quit having daily sleep-ins (10 am-noon wake-up times).

Before I go any further, I’m well aware that there are many people in the world who are successful, fit, and wake up late. But that wasn’t working for me. I needed to get out of my comfort zone and quit operating out of an old narrative.

Lastly, my productivity, mood, and growth in business weren’t where I wanted it to be. As Einstein reminds us, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Your productivity, nutritional decisions, sleep behaviors, internal motivations, and quality of relationships are greatly affected by how you start the mornings (or the 1st quarter as I called it in my book Body Architect).

A successful morning puts you in the right frame of mind, which is executed through PCO (purpose, control, and optimism).

When you have more optimism in your life, you exude a radiant energy that is contagious and magnetic to those around you. An optimistic person will have more purpose to their day and life. And lastly, with more optimism and purpose comes greater control of your daily habits and behaviors.

One of the best ways to accomplish those three key attributes is through morning workouts. Morning workouts provide fuel for a stellar day (along with getting a myriad of health and mental benefits).

When you choose to get a morning sweat session, you’ll reap these seven benefits.

1. A natural mood booster

I can easily find myself down the neurotic highway while eventually making a wrong turn toward comparison highway along with running into larges congestions of procrastination.

Add all of this up and this becomes an unproductive day along with my well being taking one-too many jabs.

One of the things my therapist recommended to me was to take extreme ownership of my mornings and tightly guard it. You would think as someone ten+ years involved with health that I would always do this, but I’ve never given morning workouts a try for an extended period of time.

After a month, I noticed that as I went about my days, my mood and outlook on life were better. The quality of my work was better and I felt accomplished because I started the day off by crossing-off a big rock off my to-do list.

These effects aren’t a placebo I manifested inside my head. This positive effect on my mood happens due to exercising leading to the secretion of various neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and greater emotional health and intelligence.

When you improve on those factors, you’re better equipped to handle the day.

Lastly, your mood is also improving due to you releasing endorphins from your physical activity. More endorphins given off translates to a more positive version of you.

2. Better focus as you head to work and get started with the day

Exercise has numerous benefits, but at the top of the list is the positive effects it has on your cognition. Through exercising, you’re improving your short and long term brain health.

More specifically, exercising helps to jump start your brain which helps with your working memory.

3. It’s hormonally beneficial

Testosterone is at its peak in the morning due to it replenishing during sleep along with the rest of your body resting since no physical activity, metabolizing food, sexy time activities, nor arduous mental work is going on.

Stay calm women.

As I mentioned numerous times, us men have double the amounts of testosterone circulating inside our bodies compared to women. Therefore, women aren’t going to pack on muscle at the rate and at the quantity as men.

Testosterone helps both men and women with their sex drive, muscle mass and bone density (osteoporosis affects many women), mood, quality of life, memory, thinking abilities, energy, and many more benefits.

bed — morning workouts
Change your life, body, mood, and health through sleeping

When it’s functioning optimally, the more efficient your body and health will be. Take advantage of this hormone peaking in the morning and commit to morning workouts.

4. Your metabolism gets a little boost

Besides optimizing your sleep and eating enough food to maintain a robust metabolism, exercising at peak times is the next best thing to help deliver a slight edge to your health.

Exercising at any time of the day naturally boosts your metabolic rate and leads to calorie burning long after the session due to EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption).

However, morning workouts provide some extra credit for your health.

Researchers at Brigham Young University found that people who workout in the morning end up being more active in general throughout the day along with burning an extra 190 calories 14 hours after exercising compared to those who didn’t (little pieces become big chunks over time).

5. It helps with compliance

Let’s be honest, one of the most difficult parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is consistently exercising. This could be the act of stopping working or actually getting to the gym itself. However, morning workouts help increase the chances that you stay consistent with your exercising.

Morning workouts reduce your chances of making excuses for work, projects, and “not feeling like it”. The less you have to think about working out and using willpower to get to the gym later in the day, the higher your chances of succeeding with fitness.

Make your morning workouts first priority in the morning and get it done before getting lost in the day.

6. You’ll cultivate self-discipline & level up in other areas of life

I don’t have direct research to supports this idea. But I can speak from personal experience along with working with clients over the years. When people truly commit to embracing a healthier lifestyle, everything else in their life seems to exponentially grow and become greater for them.

One reason I believe this happens is that they learn extreme ownership and self-discipline. With more self-discipline comes more focus and clarity in your life.

This leads to higher quality work, being a better leader, and improving in relationships among many other avenues in life.

One of the best ways to build some mental calluses is to stop sleeping in and immediately start owning the day with a morning sweat session.

7. Your sleep improves

Want better sleep, workout earlier in the day.

A study had participants exercise at 7 am, 1 pm, or 7 pm three days per week. And to no surprise, it was the 7 am workout group who reported the deepest, longest, and highest quality sleep. The improved quality stems from being able to fall into deeper sleep cycles.

Late evening workouts have the opposite effect. After all, exercise is a form of stress and your body naturally reacts to stress by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol—which keeps you alert.

Evening workouts boost your bodies temperature and stimulate the body, which makes falling asleep more difficult.

I understand due to scheduling and other logistical factors, evening workouts are the only option for some of you. If that’s the case, exercise and try to at least finish your lifting session a few hours before your estimated bed time.

Convinced about morning workouts, but how can you start to become a morning person?

It’s not easy for most and definitely wasn’t for me. There is a laundry list of things you can try to help yourself become a morning person, but these four factors below provided the biggest bang-for-the-buck for me when I made the transition to becoming a morning person.

1. Start sleeping smarter, better, and earlier

With that said, it’s imperative that you get to sleep earlier along with getting the proper quantity and quality of rest.

Getting quality sleep starts with establishing a sleep ritual 60-90 minutes before bed. One essential thing to do is to make an electronic cut off time 60 minutes before bed.

If you’re neurotic at times and have a lot on the brain, this can keep you up at night. I like to play relaxing music, journal and establish my key to-dos for the next day to eliminate feeling overwhelmed and disoriented the next day.

2. Place your alarm clock far away from you (and no snoozing)

You can have the best intentions, but if the alarm clock is within hands distance, you’ll most likely hit the snooze button because it’s earlier than you’re accustomed to.

Force yourself to get out of bed to hit the alarm clock. Less of a chance of actually going back to bed once you get out of bed.

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Just say no to “snoozing”

3. Have your clothes laid out in front of you

In the early morning and especially when adopting new habits and behaviors, you want to make it as easy as possible to build the new habit. Also of importance is to rely as little on willpower as you can.

Reduce your decisions and save your brain power for tougher decisions that arise in the day. When you have your clothes laid out in front of you, it’s a no brainer to put them on. No thinking or deliberating required, just action taking with a healthier mind and body on the horizon.

4. Have your vision and mission in sight

Every single morning, I read my detailed vision of what I want out of life. The type of experiences, growth, contributions, people in my life, location, where I’m living, what I’m doing, and what I’m becoming. And of course,  how I want my body to perform, look, and feel.

Get specific here and don’t judge when writing this out. I don’t care if your present state is light years away from where you want to be in your vision.

Read this every single morning, let it soak in, and let this become your compass for daily decision making. Knowing how you want your health, body, and life to be in the future makes it a lot easier to get your butt in the gym.

Stop With The Excuses and Start Taking Extreme Ownership of Your Health

extreme ownership of your health

 

It’s easy to blame the other person for being a bad partner. It’s easy to blame the job for your stress.

It’s easy to blame others for you not being where you want to be in life. It’s easy to blame your environment for your current woes. It’s easy to blame your diet.

But excuses don’t move your life forward. The only place you’re heading is to the losers mentality.

When it comes to destroying excuses, one of the best groups of people to look to for modeling a behavior and mindset is Navy Seals. Navy Seals are some of the highest performers in the world. Their high level of excellence is due to the commitment of extreme ownership.

What’s extreme ownership

Extreme Ownership is principles developed by co-authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin of the book ‘Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win’.

Jocko Willink was the commander of Task Unit Bruiser and the most decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War. Leif Babin was one of his platoon commanders.

While these principles are explained through the context of war and teams, they are effective and highly applicable to your business, life, and health.

Extreme Ownership of your health is where you can’t blame products, your boss, your ex, your economy, your gym, your peers, your family, your social media environments, your physical environments, nor anything else for not taking action towards the things that are “important” to you.

You’re accountable for your success in health and fitness, along with everything else in life. While you can’t control the exact outcomes and timetables, you can control the process and actions that give you the best chance for success.

A true leader owns the outcome to the best of their extent. Things go wrong, you forget to do something, go off your plan, miss a workout, or go off your diet— then you take full ownership of it with no excuses.

As they explained in the book, Extreme Ownership is “on any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rest with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failure, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”

You’re the leader of your own life, business, and well being.

Here are 7 key principles to taking extreme ownership with your health.

1. Your attitude sets the tone

“The leader sets the tone for the entire team” — Leif Babin

While you’re not leading a team out to the battlefield, you’re leading yourself to the battlefield of life and maneuvering the various obstacles that life throws your way. Your attitude sets the tone for how you operate throughout the day.

Is it a setback that you fell short with your diet and fitness goals? Or is it merely feedback to help you get better and grow more as a person?

Someone with an extreme ownership attitude doesn’t leave something up to chance to change if they have the capability to change it. It’s not about what you preach, tell others, or share on social media. But instead, it’s about what you tolerate in your life.

What type of standards are you setting for your life? Are you accepting decent enough and moving on? Are you accepting partners that are alright and don’t light you up? But at least you aren’t alone—right?

If you approach life with a “decent enough mentality”, then you’ll get decent results. In other words, you’re going to be average.

In Bud’s class and seal qualification training, they dubbed a phrase “tortured genius”. No matter how obvious his or her failing, or how valid the criticism, the tortured genius accepts zero responsibility for mistakes, makes excuses, and blames everyone else for their failings and shortcomings.

Don’t be this person. Accept ownership and responsibility.

2. Check your ego

“Ego clouds and disrupts everything: the planning process, the ability to take good advice, and the ability to accept constructive criticism.” “When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.” — Jocko Willink

Ego can serve as your anchor to not achieving your business and health goals.

For example: Steve wants to lose weight and has tried numerous workouts from fitness magazines and the internet. He’s never stayed consistent and his metabolism has slowed down because of the various fad diets, detoxes, and workouts he’s tried.

Instead of taking extreme ownership of his health, he blames his weight gain on his stress, job, and lack of time. He says he knows how to get into shape, but he hasn’t actually ever done it. He’s not taking extreme ownership with his fitness because he refuses to take responsibility and continues to deflect blame. He’ll continue to be stuck and spin his wheels in neutral until he sets his ego aside and seeks out help.

This same type of thing happens to the girl who claims there are no good men and she continues to only find douchebags. She’s not taking extreme ownership that a big portion of her dating faults is because of herself and that she needs to work on herself and figure out why she’s attracting these types of guys.

finger pointing — extreme ownership of your health
The only finger pointing allowed is directed at yourself.

When it comes to ego, Ryan Holiday reminds us that:

“If you want to be more than a flash in the pan, you must be prepared to focus on the long term. We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.”

This is applicable to your health because if you want to shift the paradigm of your health for the long term, you have to focus on taking action, finding proper education, and doing the little (but essential) things on a daily basis which means letting go of the ego and preconceived notions.

Steve could take extreme ownership by signing up for a session with a trainer at his gym to learn about effective workouts, meet with a nutrition coach to learn about healthy eating, ask friends who have successfully lost weight, or decide to join my 1-on-1 comprehensive lifestyle coaching program.

Place your ego on the bench. Think about the next step required for changing your health and start taking extreme ownership of your health.

3. Cover and move

“In the seal teams, we taught teams to act decisively, my default setting should be aggressive. Proactive rather than reactive. Instead of the situation dictating our decisions, we dictated the situation. Departments and groups within the team must work together, depend on each there and understand who depends on them. Cover and move equal team work.” – Leif Babin

Wait and see doesn’t cut it. There is no try, only doing. The picture and journey will never be smooth sailing, there will always be risks and tough choices. Do your best to assess the situation (and cover the big risks) and move forward. Have a bias for action.

In fitness, front load your work and prepare ahead of time for potential difficulties and temptations.

Don’t try to control everything, only fixate on the big dominoes. This allows you to have room to live life with less stress and have more mental space to make the big decisions that truly move life forward.

4. The simpler, the sexier

Complexity equates to more risks and often unnecessary ones. Complexity is your enemy. The more complex, the more unknowns and variables which lead to higher likelihoods of quitting.

When it’s more difficulty, it’s harder to understand and not as easy to execute, which leads to higher percentages of quitting.

With your health and wellness, your nutrition should be as simple as possible, but yet highly effective. Think Pareto’s principle here (80/20). What are the big dominoes in your healthy eating plan that will yield the most in return?

A couple could be eating adequate amounts of protein with each meal, have 2-3 servings of vegetables with each meal, and eat 3-4 times per day. With exercise, it could be having a workout plan that consists mainly of the big compound lifts due to them using multiple muscle groups and causing more of a metabolic load/stress on the body. And thus leading to more calories burned in a shorter amount of time.

Lastly, another big domino to focus on is getting the proper amounts of sleep that are also high-quality sleep.

5. Set strict priorities and ruthlessly execute

“Even the most competent of leaders can be overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or a number of tasks simultaneously. The team will likely fail to each of those tasks. Instead, leaders must determine the highest propriety task and execute. Prioritize and execute.

On the battlefield, there will inevitably come a time when problems arise that have a snowball effect. These present themselves as a complex entity of their own. It’s in this type of high-stakes situation that it’s important to relax, look around and then make a decision.” — Leif Babin

The principles remain the same for your life, business, and well-being.

Do your best to stay a step or two ahead of the potential problem. But, when faced with multiple challenges in your life, identify the highest priorities and tackle those problems one at a time.

implement & action — extreme ownership of your health
Action…action…And more action is the name of the game.

Here’s a quick way to take extreme ownership of your health and set up a chain of priorities and execute:

  1. Evaluate/recognize the problem/issue causing the most issues or one that could be the biggest barrier to your goal
  2. Lay out a simple, clear, and concise plan in terms of the highest priority
  3. Develop and determine your solutions (don’t forget to seek help if needed—remember the ego)
  4. Focus all efforts and resources on that issue
  5. Move on once it’s resolved

6. Be decisive and steady regardless of the scenario

Not taking a choice nor making a move is a choice in itself and that’s called inaction (the worse of them all).

It’s important to be comfortable amid the chaos and act decisively amid the uncertainty around you. While not in a battlefield, you’ll encounter many variable factors on a daily basis that could cause disruption to your flow.

Don’t be wishy washy and flip flop back and forth with what you decide to do. Choose and move on regardless.

Pick a nutrition and workout plan and then execute ruthlessly. Stay the course and trust the process. Don’t go chasing shiny new objects or program hop each week, that’s how you stay stuck in mediocrity.

7. Discipline equals freedom

“Instead of making us more rigid and unable to improvise, this discipline actually made us more flexible, more adaptable, and more efficient. It allowed us to be creative. When we wanted to change plans midstream on an operation we didn’t have to recreate an entire plan. We had the freedom to work within the framework of our discipline procedures.”

Jocko Willink

Most people think of discipline as being strict, regimented, and for control freaks. At first glance, this might seem accurate, but in fact, it’s the opposite.

Discipline is the gateway to freedom, success, and the body that you desire. Discipline catapults you from good to great. You won’t become more rigid with discipline, but instead, more flexible.

This happens because you’re creating systems and processes that allow you to execute without having to reinvent the wheel or think of the basic tasks to do each and every day—you’re becoming more efficient.

Your systems created through discipline cover this and now your mind is free to focus on other important matters.

Ask yourself how can I use more discipline to create more freedom in my life. Is it creating systems with your nutrition, working out, groceries, cooking, business, or other facets?

The Surprising Truth About Why You Won’t Accomplish Your Fitness Goals

the-surprising-truth-about-why-you-wont-accomplish-your-fitness-goals

Maybe it’s the diet?

Maybe it’s the workout?

Perhaps, but most likely not. It’s easier to blame a particular problem for our fitness woes than to assess ourselves and take responsibility for our shortcomings.

In today’s overly saturated world of information, we have countless weight loss drugs and tv shows such as the biggest loser that promote dangerous healthy behaviors that are unsustainable for the long run.

If you ask the average person why they didn’t accomplish their particular fitness goal or what’s holding them back—they usually point to a specific tactic that’s setting them back.

If only it was that easy.

The things that hold us back not only in fitness but also with our careers and relationships are the intangibles. It’s the small things that are blatantly in front of us but they seem so obvious that we overlook them.

Whether you’re on a weight loss journey, looking to build muscle or any other type of fitness goal—make sure to address these 4 surprising but often overlooked areas that can stop you from accomplishing your fitness goals.

1. You don’t understand your needs

Entrepreneurs and small business owners wouldn’t randomly jump out of bed one morning and immediately pursue a business idea out of blind faith. The boardroom of directors doesn’t decide on budgets and actions for the next quarter through random guessing.

In each of these scenarios, there is a level of research and understanding of the market to a certain extent. While they can’t prepare for every single little thing, they can front load their work for the big issues and assess what their particular needs will be.

The same philosophy applies to your fitness. In this case, you’re the market and before you can worry about external tactics or anything else, you have to place a premium on yourself.

For some of you individuals who overextend themselves in work and in their personal lives, this means to become a little selfish for the time being.

Why be selfish?

Because you need total clarity about yourself. Before thinking about adding anything externally, you need to answer the basic questions that suit you on a daily basis.

For example, how many calories do you need to eat? To figure this out, you must look at your age, gender, the level of activity, and factor in general lifestyle factors into the situation.

After you have some of the data on yourself, now you have to figure out how to execute on the plan at hand. It’s useless to have a bunch of information and well-intentions if you don’t take action on them.

This is one example of many. You should get clear on your sleep, working out, and any other big priority in your life.

2. Record your progress

Peter Drucker is famous for saying “what gets measured gets improved.”

If you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, how can you be your most efficient version of yourself?

In the business world, they’ll analyze marketing campaigns, manufacturing costs and many other metrics.

What does this look like in health and fitness?

For examples, healthy eating and using the power of journaling your food for increased awareness.

Why journaling your food?

Because you need to know what you’re eating, how it’s making you feel, what’s triggering you into eating not-so-good foods.

Did you happen to experience a mid-afternoon crash today at work or did you feel more lethargic than normal today? How’s your sleep going? With the journal, you’re able to get information and then measure it to see if small changes are needed.

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Don’t underestimate the power of journaling

3. You don’t have boundaries

When you haven’t truly thought about your value adding activities and your life-draining habits, you’re going to be inefficient.

Many times, people don’t fall short just because of their diet or workout plan, it’s because of their lack of boundaries.

When you have no boundaries established, the world feels as if it’s caving down and you never have enough time to do anything. You feel constantly busy with no end in sight.

A common place where this occurs is with friends and family asking you to do things for them. After a period of always being there, there’ll be this expectation that you’re always available and when you try to change your behavior with them, this can cause some friction.

Activities such as always numerous weekly happy hours are among the many potential scenarios the each of us will face.

However, when you make a list of essential and nonessential activities in your life—you’re gaining headspace.

This frees your mind and allows you to make better decisions. This most importantly, allows you to start saying “no” to things that don’t serve your vision towards a healthier you.

4. No schedule

Business owners, entrepreneurs, athletes, and many successful individuals in fitness adhere to a daily schedule.

Not because they can’t keep up with their day, but because they understand that discipline equals freedom. They established times for meetings, phone calls, strategy sessions, workouts, and other appointments. Having the discipline to schedule allows you to become more efficient and effective at everything you’re doing in life.

Blocking out times in fitness is pivotal especially if you’re a busy professional who has demanding workdays. As we all know, nutrition is critical and without planning this out, many busy professionals fall short with their fitness goals because of this.

If you have a schedule, you could plan to meal prep on Sunday and let that last you until Wednesday. Then you could have another mini-meal prep on Wednesday to finish the week out.

The more you can automate your healthy habits, the greater the chances of succeeding with your fitness goals.

If you’re looking to transform your health and body while building long-term sustainable habits, then the 30-Day Health Makeover is exactly what you’re looking for. Enrollment for classes close Saturday, January 14 at 11:59 pm.