Isabel De Los Rios
Isabel De Los Rios is a certified nutritionist, exercise specialist, and international bestselling author. She co-founded Beyond Diet, an easy eating plan (with over 800,000 members) that you’ll actually want to follow.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up anywhere between 4:00am and 4:30am. My body does this naturally. I would definitely call myself a morning person; I absolutely love what my kids call “the dark morning.”
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I have been getting up early for so long, I almost can’t remember a time when I didn’t do it. In college I worked at the gym, and most mornings it was my job to open the place up at 5:00am.
After graduating from college, I was a personal trainer for over ten years, which almost always required waking up in the early morning for those clients who wanted to work out before they went to work.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
The only thing that has ever changed about my morning routine is whether or not I decide to exercise in the early morning or wait until later in the morning (10:00am). Right now, I use my precious morning time for writing and any other work-related tasks that need to be completed; but if I’m traveling or if it is a filming day, I fit my workout into the early morning hours.
What time do you go to sleep?
I go to bed at 9:00pm sharp (or at least that is always the goal). I stay away from anything that may interfere with that bedtime. For example, if I am at a conference and someone schedules a dinner for 8:00pm, I will usually politely decline and try to schedule something with that person at a different time during the day.
It sounds very regimented, but my morning time is so precious to me that I really don’t let anything mess with it.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Before I end my workday, I put a sticky note on my computer that tells me exactly what I’m supposed to be writing the next morning so that when I wake up, I’m not as tempted to go right to my emails or waste time on the internet. This simple strategy really helps me focus early in the morning.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
No alarm. The only time I ever use an alarm is when I’m traveling and the flight is early, and even then my body will usually wake up before it goes off.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
After I do the typical bathroom thing, I go to the kitchen and make a matcha tea or decaf coffee (with coconut milk, cinnamon, and stevia).
I sip on this, alongside twenty-four ounces of water with lemon, celtic sea salt, and a few drops of trace minerals, for the first hour I am awake and it really keeps me satisfied until about 6:30am. At that time, I have my Daily Energy Greens drink.
I don’t eat until 8:00am, when my kids are up and we all have breakfast together. As strange as this sounds to some people, I always have leftover dinner for breakfast. A typical breakfast might be chicken legs with a side of cauliflower and some raw veggies. I don’t eat anything too heavy because my workout is shortly after.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Around 9:00am I head to the gym. I usually work out for about forty-five minutes, and do almost all strength training. I really don’t do much cardio at all because my strength training is pretty fast paced and gets my heart rate up.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
I have a morning prayer time routine, which is different than meditation in that I am actively talking to God. After I make my tea or coffee, I go right into whatever Bible reading I have set up for that morning and then spend some time in silent prayer.
I spend a good portion of that time thanking God for my family, my health, and my work, and then I give Him my intentions for the day.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I get very little email (most of it goes through my assistant first), so I do check my email after my prayer time. I may also have some leftover emails that I did not reply to from the day before, since half of my employees are on a different time zone.
Emails only take about 5-10 minutes of my morning.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
No, I don’t use any apps to go to sleep or in my morning routine. This is probably because I have been doing this routine before there were even iPhones or apps… haha.
If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night, I will play a CD already set up in a CD player next to my bed called Wholetones. This was sent to me by the author and musician Michael S. Tyrrell, and I absolutely love the entire music compilation. The music is designed to relieve stress, promote healing, and restore sound sleep. It works every time!
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I check my phone as soon as I wake up. Because I shut it off around 8:00pm, I will often have some texts from my sister or friends from the night before. They all know I shut my phone off and know I’ll see their texts in the morning.
Since I don’t get a lot of email, I don’t really look at my emails until I get in front of the computer.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
My most important task in the morning is anything that fits into “content creation.” Most of the time this is a Beyond Diet newsletter, an editorial for our Beyond Diet monthly program, or an article we will use for social media.
Sometimes it will be research for any of those items, but most of the time I will do research during the day and save the writing portion for the early morning hours. The early morning is when I do my absolute best writing, probably because there are zero interruptions during this time.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
My first drink is my water and tea combo. I started putting lemon, celtic sea salt, and some trace minerals in my water after I heard about it on Shawn Stevenson’s podcast. He calls it an “inner bath.” I know I should drink the water first and then drink the tea, but I much more enjoy alternating between the two.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Yes, I also follow this routine on weekends. Actually, I follow it every single day, even if I have to shorten it a bit due to travel.
Just recently I was in Miami and had an early flight at 5:30am. I set my alarm for 2:45am so I would still have forty-five minutes of my morning time. It’s really that important to me.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
My morning routine can be adapted just about anywhere. Even if I’m sharing a hotel room with my entire family, I can set up my reading and my laptop in a corner somewhere and sip my tea while I read and work. I always travel with an electric tea kettle just in case the hotel room doesn’t have anywhere I can boil water (which is quite rare these days).
If I’m staying in someone’s home, I let them know ahead of time about my morning routine, and they are usually great about helping me find a good spot for the morning. Because my morning routine starts so early, I don’t really have to worry about anyone else being awake and interrupting it.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
The last time I missed my morning routine was last year, upon returning from Hawaii (a six-hour time difference), when I woke up at 9:00am in my four-year-old’s bed. I must have fallen asleep putting him to bed, and with the time change, I slept all the way to 9:00am.
Since I knew I was still going to need at least thirty minutes of my routine that morning, I let the kids watch some cartoons on my iPad while I made my tea and did my Bible reading. Thank goodness it was a Saturday and no one needed to be anywhere. That was the last time I missed my morning routine. It’s sacred territory.
Anything else you would like to add?
I do believe that part of my success as an entrepreneur has been always having a morning routine that helps me start my day feeling successful. Because I already have some good “wins” before 9:00am, the rest of the day can turn crazy, and I still feel like it was a good day.
If you are someone who is struggling with productivity and getting things done, I highly recommend adopting a morning routine that helps you start the day feeling successful. The rest of the day will take on the same tone.
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