The mornings have always been a struggle for me. I have gone through phases of getting up early (before 5am) and trying to get a run or workout session completed before the kids wake up. By 2pm I am pretty much worthless. It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed, how many hours of sleep I get, if the alarm goes off before 6am I know it is probably going to be an unproductive afternoon! I figured I could train myself to adapt and live off less sleep, but it never happened and I have finally accepted the fact that I am just not a “morning person”. So how can I fit in all that needs to be done each day if I need so much sleep and I have a hard time getting out of bed before the sun rises?
As a coach I have spent years learning about top performers in all areas of life. Books such as Bounce and The Talent Code break down some of the commonalities between the top performers in sports, music, and the arts, among other things. The Optimize Podcast, by Brian Johnson, and the Tim Ferris Podcast are two great resources if you want to listen to interviews with professionals who have reached the pinnacles of their crafts or professions.
I am constantly trying to learn in order to find more efficient ways to help my athletes’ training and performances, but over time I realized I needed to start applying these lessons to my own life! The three things that I kept hearing and reading over and over from these “top performers” were the importance of establishing a daily morning routine, the power of meditation, and getting enough sleep, phew!
A few months ago, I decided I would combine these three practices by including meditation in a morning routine after at least eight hours of sleep. My initial goal was to implement this ritual every Monday to Friday, for a 4 week period. I am now well past that target, and my morning routine has evolved several times in just a few short months. I expect it will continue to evolve when it gets stale or if I go back to feeling like my grumpy old self in the morning, or if I’m ready to pack in the day after lunch! Even if I have a crappy day at least I know I got something productive done before I left my house that is not going to exhaust me for the rest of the day or week. Here is my typical schedule:
6:00 am: Wake Up, wash face, brush teeth
6:05 am – 6:50 am: Make breakfast for the family. Make school lunches and interact with my boys while sipping on hot water with lemon (improves digestion).
6:50am – 7:20 am: Yoga practice. I use www.YogaGlo.com so that I can select different classes and teachers based on what I feel like I need that morning. Sometimes it will be a slow calming routine and other times it will be an upbeat Vinyasa Flow. I have found that intense exercise first thing in the morning is not beneficial for my body. If I can help it, I will save more intense workouts for later in the day.
7:20 am – 7:35 am: Meditation Practice
7:35am – 7:50 am: Alternating hot and cold shower – 20 seconds cold and 10 seconds hot (improves blood circulation and strengthens the immune system). Shave. Get Dressed
7:50am – 8:00 am: Write in my gratitude journal and any other thoughts for the day
8:00am: Drink a Green Smoothie (see recipe below) that I made earlier that morning. Take a multivitamin and I am out the door ready to take on the day!
I do my best not to look at my phone for more than 1 minute in the morning. I will scan my emails and texts quickly for any emergencies but I don’t get into opening emails or Facebook, Twitter etc. All that can wait and it does not serve me to worry about things at work that I cannot control and are certainly not emergencies by any stretch of the imagination.
At first, this routine was a little tedious, especially the meditation part, but now I can honestly say that I really look forward to getting up in the morning and getting the day started with some precious productive time with my family and by myself. I have played around with it and found what works for me. Too often when we start a new routine or workout, we are so obsessed with doing it for a certain number of minutes or having it look a certain way. Figure out what works for you and always remember the best diet or wellness routine IS THE ONE YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO, not the one you think you should do or have been told you must do.
Having such a strict routine is not for everyone but I have found that my energy remains constant throughout the day, and the clarity of my thoughts have improved dramatically since commencing this little ritual. I am a lot more efficient with my time and even manage to stay present every so often! If I miss a few days, it is not a big deal; I just pick back up where I left off and don’t give up on it or beat myself up about it.
A morning routine works for me, but for you it might be something completely different. Maybe you create a ritual in the middle of the day on your lunch break or before you go to bed at night. It also doesn’t have to be an hour long! You can make it 10 minutes if you want, the time is not important. What is important is the act of taking little actions consistently each day that are helping you lead a better life.
Green Smoothie: Blend 2 Cups of Water, 1 Apple, 1 Pear, 2 Sticks of Celery, 2 handfuls of leafy greens, 1 Avocado with the Pit, 1 Banana, 3 spoons of Chia Seeds, 3 spoons of Flaxseed, 1 spoon of Spirulina Powder, 1 scoop of Vega Protein Powder (yields two 16 ounce serving)