You know the scenario well: You set out your workout clothes the night before and swear that tomorrow is the day you become a morning workout person… But then your alarm goes off and your groggy brain decides that maybe having a morning fitness routine just isn’t for you.
So how do you break out of the snooze cycle if you want to tap into the wellness benefits of a morning fitness routine? According to Ariel Belgrave, a certified health and fitness coach who focuses on helping busy women build healthy habits, habit stacking is the way to make it happen.
“I am a true believer in habit stacking,” Belgrave says. “It is a powerful tool that I teach my clients looking to build healthy and long-term habits. Why? Because trying to introduce new habits to your existing routine—and making them stick—can be incredibly difficult for any human. But by attaching it to a behavior that you do effortlessly, you will not only enhance your routine, but also do it with less mental effort.”
Belgrave’s morning routine has quite a few steps now (more on that below), but the latest way she’s been prioritizing a wellness routine for her whole body via habit stacking (yes, she uses the practice on herself, too) is by upgrading her oral health. To do it, she’s been using LISTERINE® COOL MINT® Antiseptic Mouthwash every morning after she works out and at night as a part of the LISTERINE 21-Day Challenge—because a quick rinse can make a big impact, as LISTERINE kills 99.9 percent of germs that cause bad breath, plaque, and gingivitis. “Simply put, I want to keep my mouth healthy and clean so I can wear my smile every day—with confidence,” Belgrave says.
So, want to finally break up with your snooze button? Keep reading for more of Belgrave’s tips for using habit stacking to create a morning fitness routine that works for you.
1. Establish your why
You’ll never want to un-cocoon yourself from your snuggly blankets if you don’t have a good reason to get up. For Belgrave, her motivation for maintaining her morning fitness routine is knowing that it keeps her feeling centered and productive.
“My morning routine sets the tone for the rest of my day,” Belgrave says. “If I feel like I’m all over the place the moment I wake up, that energy tends to flow through other areas of my life, including work. But by having some sort of structure the moment I wake up, I am better able to prioritize self-care and get my mind right for a productive day ahead.”
2. Minimize distractions
Belgrave’s major morning routine hack: Plan to do as little as possible between waking up and working out. That way, you can (almost literally) roll out of bed and into your workout. Getting out of bed won’t feel as daunting when you don’t have a list of to-do’s running through your head before you’ve even opened your eyes, and leaving your phone on the nightstand will keep you from accidentally using your workout time to scroll social media. “I try to do very little between waking up and working out to avoid distractions—i.e. checking emails, text messages, and social media notifications,” Belgrave says.
For Belgrave, that looks like waking up, drinking a cup of water she leaves on her bedside table the night before, and then immediately heading to her home gym to do a 30-minute workout. Sometimes, less really is more.
3. Start habit stacking
Once you’ve got your motivation and eliminated distractions, you can focus on what you want to accomplish with your morning routine. Belgrave recommends identifying something you already do in the morning, and attaching a behavior you’d like to start using this simple formula: a specific time + a cue + a location + a specific action with a time limit.
For example, if you want to make oral hygiene part of your morning routine like Belgrave does, the formula would look like this: “Every morning (specific time), after I brush my teeth and floss (cue), I will stand in the bathroom (location) and swish LISTERINE mouthwash (action) for 30 seconds (time limit),” she says.
Need ideas for where to start? Use Belgrave’s morning routine as a template, and pick the parts that work for you. “After I work out, I usually need to give my body time to cool down, so I use this cool-down time to make my morning smoothie and take my vitamins,” she says. “Once I’ve finished my smoothie, I take a shower, complete my skin-care routine, brush my teeth, floss, swish LISTERINE mouthwash for 30 seconds, get dressed, and do my hair. Before starting work, I write in my five-minute gratitude journal, and create a to-do list for the day ahead.”
Once you’ve successfully completed your new habit for 21 days, you can add on more habits—one at a time—until you have a morning routine that you actually look forward to more than pressing the snooze button.
Want to use habit stacking to give your oral-care routine a refresh like Belgrave? Check out the video below to learn more about the LISTERINE 21-Day Challenge.