Happiness & health is only 20 minutes away

Here’s the deal. Nearly every day we tell ourselves we are going to exercise more, eat better, and hit some life goals. The problem is life has a tendency to throw a spanner or two in the works. Chris Wharton from The Better Body Group gets us back on the right path.

Carefree Happy Woman Enjoying Nature on grass meadow on top of mountain cliff with sunrise. Beauty Girl Outdoor. Freedom concept. Len flare effect. Sunbeams. Enjoyment.

Before you know it another week has past with the excuse of not having enough time hanging over us and playing on repeat until we find ourselves more tired, miserable and overweight than before.

I get it, not everyone works in a gym. With the plethora of commitments most of us have, from looking after the kids to meeting deadlines at work, it can often be hard to fit in any exercise at all.

However, by not looking after yourself you are letting both yourself and your family down. No one wants a sub par version of you, where you are constantly tired, stressed, deprived of sleep, battling brain fog and not to mention riding the energy roller coaster that results from not exercising and/or eating right.

If this sounds familiar, here’s a simple solution. By carving out just 20 minutes a day to create a morning routine, you can make a profound improvement to your life. Not only will you look great now that the time has come to dust off the summer wardrobe, you will have a hell of a lot more energy, enjoy better quality sleep and be far happier in general.

Follow this simple 20-minute morning routine to get back on the right path:

1. Make your bed – three minutes
Sounds simple, but making your bed in the morning really does set you up for success. It instantly creates a feeling of accomplishment and control. If you can succeed in the first task of the day you are far more likely to complete the rest of your tasks. Small habits like this lead to other more impact habits, like more exercise and improved nutrition.

2. Drink a glass of water with a fresh lemon upon waking – one minute
After 7-8 hours sleep (if you’re lucky) you will wake up partially dehydrated – not the best start to the day. A large glass of cold water will not only help re-hydrate you, it will jump start your metabolism, improve brain function, help you feel fuller for longer and improve just about every other bodily function. Adding fresh lemon will give you a Vitamin C hit, reduce inflammation, aid digestion, improve skin quality and nourish the brain and nerve cells.

3. Exercise – six minutes (or longer if you have time)
Upon waking it’s great to fire up your nervous system, get the heart and lungs pumping and dust off some cobwebs. A short workout will also help kick start your metabolism and burn off some extra calories before the day has even started. Keep it short and simple, otherwise you are likely to skip it. Try something like this:

Pause squats

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, with your hands held out in front of you and chest held high.
  • Sit down into a squat position keeping you head up and upper leg parallel to the floor. Pause for two seconds.
  • Thrust back up into your starting position and squeeze your glutes and thighs. Repeat as many times as you can for one minute.

Press up to mountain climber

  • Start in a normal press up position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Brace your stomach muscles to create a tight trunk
  • Lower your chest towards the floor, whilst maintaining the tension in your stomach.
  • Drive back up to the start position pushing through your chest and shoulders.
  • From this position, alternate raising knees to your chest, to the count of ten

Ab cycle

  • Lay flat on your back with you hands behind your head. Raise your head and shoulders slightly off the floor and push your lower back into the ground. Now raise one knee to the opposite elbow
  • Quickly switch knees and elbows in a cycle motion for one minute. Aim to keep your lower back in contact with the floor for the duration.

4. Review your goals – three minutes
If you don’t have any goals, you need some. Writing a list of goals doesn’t need to be an arduous task. Simply reminding yourself of your long-term aims helps you to focus on what’s important and drowns out the noise we are faced with all day everyday.

5. Plan your day – five minutes
Without a schedule it can become all too easy to drift through the day without actually achieving anything. It’s useful to remind yourself that everything seems urgent but not everything is important.

Pick three important tasks to complete throughout the day, with the most difficult at the top of the list. As you tick them off your to do list, you will feel a huge sense of achievement and drive to crack on with the next task.

6. Breathe – two minutes
I’m a huge fan of meditation, but don’t always manage to create enough time for it. A simple, more manageable version is to spend a couple of minutes sat in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. I use the five-second box technique:

  • Inhale to the count of five
  • Hold your breath for five seconds
  • Exhale to the count of five
  • Stay exhaled for five seconds
  • Repeat for two minutes

Try to stay mindful of your breathing for the full two minutes. Letting thoughts come and go is a natural part of the process, just let it happen!

A morning routine doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be up at 4:00 am. It means you need to set aside a little bit of extra time every day for yourself. You deserve that much.

The key here is to keep your morning routine short and manageable. That way you will come to enjoy waking up and setting yourself up for the day. This simple set of small wins will make a profound difference to your life, and become a habit worth keeping.

This workout should be completed alongside a well structured nutrition plan that creates a daily calorie deficit. For any fat loss plan to be effective you MUST burn off more calories than you consume on a consistent basis.

Try to find time to complete the circuit 3-5 days a week. Complete the circuit 2-5 times per workout depending on time. Complete each exercise for 1 minute with 20 seconds rest between each exercise.

Remember, we are not looking to craft a perfect workout, just get the heart and lungs working. Small wins lead to big results.