“Movement is so important for helping me to clear my mind and set the tone for a positive and productive day.” – Dempsey Marks Share this quote on Twitter

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Dempsey Marks

What is your morning routine?

I wake up between 7:00 and 7:30am. I usually have my alarm set for 7:30am but often wake up before it goes off. When I do wake before it goes off, I get up. I believe it’s my body’s way of telling me it’s ready to start the day, and I don’t like re-starting my sleep cycle.

Once I’m awake I like to lie in bed and try to remember my dreams. I tend to have very vivid dreams and believe that we can learn a lot from our dreams about our hopes, anxieties, etc., so I spend a bit of time seeing if I can recall them. Dreams are known to work out emotions and solve problems. They are also known to help people function psychologically. I believe they are crucial to our emotional and mental health. I love getting a quick glimpse into my inner mind and creativity. It’s usually funny and revealing.

After thinking about my dreams, I glance at my phone to see if I have any missed calls or texts. I don’t check social media or respond to anyone, though (unless it’s urgent, of course). It’s important for me to start my own day before consuming the content of others. Checking social media first slows me down and distracts me. Not only does it bog me down, it interferes with my focus. Research backs this up and shows the negative impact from attention deficit to depression. It’s not the best way to start off the day and accomplish one’s goals.

If my boyfriend is still in bed, we’ll spend a few minutes talking before I get up to brush my teeth and wash my face. After that I put on my workout clothes (because I like to train in the morning) and take my morning vitamins and supplements. Then I either walk to my local coffee shop (which takes about five minutes) or head to the kitchen to make coffee. Once I’ve had my coffee, I head out to my workout.

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How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I’ve stuck with this routine for six months or so.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

I’m always experimenting with my routine. The most important thing for me is simply having a routine and sticking to it. For a while, I was waking up later and immediately getting on my phone and social media, which was not a positive or productive way to start the day. Prior to that, I started work at 5:30am most mornings, so my routine was a lot shorter.

Currently, I’m focusing on not spending time on my phone in the morning.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to be in bed by 10:30pm every night. Obviously some nights I stay up a bit later, but I’ve realized that there isn’t really a point to staying up for the sake of staying up (which I used to do a lot). I’d rather go to bed early and feel fresh in the morning than stay awake until 1:00am.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

If I have something that I need to do early the next day, I’ll lay out my clothes and pack my bag the night before—basically, just preparing everything that I can in advance. Generally, though, I try to make sure the dishes are washed and the house is tidy so I don’t have little tasks hanging over my head when I wake up. I find that when things are messy (or left undone), I have a hard time focusing. The physical clutter around me tends to clutter up my mind.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I use an alarm to wake up most mornings, unless I am very tired from the night before and don’t have any obligations in the morning. I used to be the snooze queen. It’s something I’ve worked on a lot and continue to work on. If you want to read about why you shouldn’t snooze your alarm, I highly recommend The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins!

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I don’t typically eat breakfast until I’ve finished my workout, which is 2-3 hours after I’ve woken up. I’ve gone through different phases with this, but I like to give my digestive system a real break overnight, and I train well when I’ve fasted.

My typical breakfast is eggs, veggies, and avocado, but if I’m on the run I’ll grab a Bulletproof protein bar for the road.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

I love working out in the morning. As someone who works in fitness, I find it starts my day off on the right foot. I have more energy, my mood is elevated, and I tend to make healthier decisions food-wise.

Most days I work out before 9:30am. The specific times vary a bit depending on what I have going on that day (I have personal training clients, appointments, etc). I’ll go for a run, lift at the gym, or take a class at Training Mate (my favorite gym in Los Angeles). If I’m having a recovery/rest day, I’ll start my day with a morning walk. Movement is so important for helping me to clear my mind and set the tone for a positive and productive day.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

I don’t currently, but I would love to develop one!

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I like to leave emails until a bit later in the day. I certainly don’t answer them first thing in the morning. The earliest that I start responding to emails is after I’ve trained in the morning. I always take a glance to see if I have anything urgent that requires a response or if something has come in that will require a good chunk of my time during the day, but all responses wait until I’ve officially started my workday.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

Sleep is super important to me, so I love using apps to help me fall and stay asleep. When I’m having trouble falling asleep or shutting my mind off, I either use Headspace or Calm. Both of these are meditation apps that have targeted meditations for sleep. I don’t use them every night, but when I’ve had a big day or I’m a bit anxious, they are incredibly useful and help me relax and wind down.

An app that I use every night is White Noise. I love listening to “Stream Water Flowing” to drown out any noises (neighbors, dogs, my boyfriend’s snoring) to help me fall and stay asleep.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

While I do check my phone when I wake up, I have a pretty strict policy with myself to only glance at it. I don’t respond to texts or calls until I’ve started my day. I also don’t check social media until at least thirty minutes after I’ve woken up.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

It sounds weird, but washing my face, brushing my teeth, and taking my supplements are super important to me. I feel like they signal that I’ve taken care of myself first and am ready for the day.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

I sleep with my one-and-a-half-liter Hydro Flask next to my bed, so drinking water is practically the first thing I do in the morning. I always start my day with room temperature water because it is easy on my digestive system. I follow that with coffee.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My boyfriend is actually part of my morning routine! We tend to spend 5-10 minutes in bed every morning talking before we get up to get ready for the day. Our routines are fairly similar, but he’s great about giving me the space I need for my own routine.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

Generally speaking, I follow the same routine on weekends. I do like to sleep in a bit. Most weekend mornings, I’ll spend a lot longer in bed because my boyfriend and I don’t have to rush out to be some place. Sometimes I’ll work out later on the weekend or not at all.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

I love to travel and adventure, so I’ve figured out how to adapt the key elements of my routine when I’m on the road. The most important things for me are waking up at a consistent time, not checking my phone, taking my supplements, and (of course) getting coffee!

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

If I don’t follow my routine, my day is definitely off to a bad start. I tend to be less productive, more anxious, and just in a worse mood. I used to let this affect me a lot—especially if I slept in longer than I would like. Over the years, I’ve realized that while it’s certainly ideal to start your morning in a consistent fashion, beating yourself up if you don’t isn’t productive either.

Anything else you would like to add?

Try to think about your day as a whole and really hone in on things that you could add to your morning routine that would improve it. Your morning is an opportunity! Think about what makes you happy, motivated, and content. Those are the things that should be incorporated into your routine. It can have an amazing impact on your life!

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