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6 Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life

Hey, night owls: Your alarm clock hates you, too. How would you like to wake up every day being smacked in the face?

A good morning need not be a contradiction of terms. In fact, there's simple science to suggest that with the right routine, you too can be an early bird. Here's a roundup of our favorite good-morning tips: habits proven to boost your health, your mood, your weight loss and your paycheck—even when you've stayed up too late binge-watching Scandal.

Do the Sun Dance

Exposure to early morning sunlight could make you a lightweight. A surprising new study published in the journal PLOS ONE found people who had most of their daily exposure to bright light in the morning had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure late in the day—independent of exercise, age, and caloric intake. Researches say 20 to 30 minutes of morning light ó even dim light, with just half the intensity of sunlight on a cloudy day ó is enough to affect BMI. Take a stroll before breakfast, walk to work, or reposition your desk near a window to reap the bennies.

Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier

Set your alarm clock earlier by just a few minutes every week for a month, and you may soon be looking at a bigger paycheck. A well-cited 2008 study among university students by Harvard biologist Christoph Randler found early risers were more "proactive" and went on to achieve greater career success and higher wages. About 50% of a person's chronotype—whether they're an "early bird" or a "night owl"—is genetic, but Randler says most people can be trained to shift their daily sleep-wake schedules by about an hour.

Remind Yourself of Diet Goals

Stick a label on your morning alarm, and you may have better luck sticking to your diet, researchers say. A recent study published online in Health Promotion Practice found that people who received regular text reminders of their daily "calorie budget" made healthier meal and snack choices. Smartphone users can customize morning alarms with labels, but a good old-fashioned Post-it could do the trick! Post motivating reminders of your health and fitness goals in places where you'll see them in the morning, like your bathroom mirror.

Add This to Your Morning Oats

Who needs pills when you can manage your cholesterol with the right breakfast? A study printed in the journal Nutrition found the heart healthy power of oatmeal doubled when it was combined with vitamin C — the result of organic compounds called phenols interacting to stabilize LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Pair your morning oats with a small glass of fresh orange juice or a handful of berries, and you've got yourself a powerful antidote for elevated cholesterol.

Think Your Way Thin

Beginning your day with 20 minutes of focused breathing and contemplation has a number of proven health benefits, including reduced levels of fat-promoting stress hormone in the body. Stick with it for two months, and you can actually rewire your brain! A research team led by Massachusetts General Hospital found that eight weeks of daily meditation resulted in notable changes in brain structure, including decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress the brain. Om…

Say Yes to Sweet Tea

Green tea gets a lot of hype, but white tea, which is dried naturally by sunlight, actually boasts three times as many fat-fighting antioxidants! A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells) due to high levels of ingredients thought to be active on human fat cells, such as methylxanthines (like caffeine) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). If you've got lots on your to-do list, consider adding a scant teaspoon of honey to your cup. A study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental found that participants who combined caffeine with glucose (sugar), showed increased activity in the areas of the brain associated with attention.

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