What is your morning routine?
I usually set my phone alarm, but most of the time I wake up before it goes off between 5:00-6:00am. The alarm generally acts as a beacon, giving me a sense of what time it is without making me take a look. I often set the alarm a tad earlier than I actually want to get up because I like to linger a bit and ponder the thoughts running through my mind about the coming day.
Just before getting up, I do a quick stretch and set an intention for the day - this is a word or phrase that will guide how I move through my day. It’s usually something like “compassion,” “joy,” “gratitude,” “mindfulness,” or whatever I choose as a guiding force. Today, for example, with a writing deadline looming, my word is “focus.” This means that whatever I’m doing, all day I’ll come back to “focus” as my guiding intention.
Once I get up, I put on the workout clothes (for running, biking, swimming, lifting weights, practicing yoga, or a combination of the above) lying in a pile next to the bed. I hit the bathroom, brush my teeth while walking around and filling a water bottle or organizing gear, and then I’m off to do one of the above-mentioned activities, which can be followed by another immediately or later in the day. I always plan my workout ahead of time, but sometimes I decide to change it up right before I get out of bed.
I can usually be out the door within 10-15 minutes of getting up. I don’t try to hurry, but I just don’t see the point in lingering. I love the quiet and stillness of early morning, so I am motivated to get up and out in it - to feel like I have the place to myself before the rest of humanity stirs.
Starting the day with physical activity is like brushing my teeth - it’s ingrained in me. It’s something I enjoy that also sets up my day on a positive note.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Most of my life I’ve followed a version of this routine. My mother has always said I dropped out of the womb and took off. Each morning tends to emulate her premise.
These days, my morning workout is more of a “meditation in motion” rather than a hard workout. This sets up my body and mind to take on the rest of the day.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
My body needs a bit more “lube-time” as I get older, so I am working on incorporating more time moving around, practicing yoga, and stretching, as well as moving slower into my workout.
What time do you go to sleep?
On a usual day, after stretching, I get in bed between 8:30 and 9:30pm. I will then read or watch a Netflix/Hulu option on my iPad until I get sleepy. When I start to get sleepy I turn it all off and sleep.
I am a classic early-to-bed, early-to-rise person, and my patterns are affected by the sunrise and sunset, which I enjoy because it feels primal and natural.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I put everything I need for my morning workout in place so I’m ready to get up and go. Clothes, gear, nutrition - all are in place or bundled up and ready to use.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I use my phone as my alarm. I never hit snooze, but there are some days when I linger in bed after the alarm. In particular, if I haven’t slept well, I let myself linger to make sure I’ve gotten adequate rest while I consider my day.
I like to function at full steam every day, so if I need to hang in bed a tad longer to set that up, I do so.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I only eat something prior to my workout if I am going longer than an hour; in that case, I have sprouted grain toast with almond butter while I’m heading out the door.
I usually eat breakfast after my morning workout. Breakfast is what I crave, and all the ingredients I use to make it are organic and pasture-raised (if I’m home). I typically have one of the following: eggs over medium, hard boiled, or scrambled with spinach or leftovers from the night before; oatmeal with plain greek yogurt and fruit or applesauce; plain greek yogurt or cottage cheese; toast with any of the above; or a smoothie with lots of fruits and veggies.
I don’t just stick with traditional breakfast foods but can also eat leftovers from the day before. I drink coffee with organic half and half. I enjoy slowly sipping my coffee. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I want it to be really good (with cream in it) so I can savor it.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I spring out of bed and work out - running, hiking, biking (indoors or outdoors), swimming, practicing yoga, and strength training. In a normal week I do 2-3 workouts per day, either first thing in the morning or spread throughout the day. Physical movement is grounding to me - it connects body and mind and sets me up to have a productive day.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
My first workout is my moving meditation. I use the time to consider my day, check in with my mind and notice my thoughts, and set myself up for what is coming in that day. When I practice sitting meditation, it’s later in the day.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
Not typically. When I end up on my bike trainer for my first workout, I check email as I pedal. If I am expecting a time-sensitive email, I may take a peek before heading out the door.
My workout is a time to be away from technology, and I have no problem unplugging; the time to unplug is a happy time for me.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I’m not even sure what an app of this sort would look like. I tend to be able to sleep anywhere and have had to do so within all the traveling and adventuring I’ve done.
Now, as a woman in my mid-fifties, I have had some bouts of sleepless nights, which until now was highly uncommon for me. When this happens I sometimes take a melatonin, which helps me fall asleep.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
My phone is my clock so I am generally aware of what is happening on it, though I do silence it at night (and often forget to turn the sound on until later). I usually take a look at it right away but generally don’t act on anything. I just look and then head to my workout.
My goal in the morning is to be mindful of what I am doing in the moment. For example: “Now I am running in the early morning light. Later I will attend to my phone. It will be there when the time comes.” It is quite easy for me to step away from it. Singularly being in what I am presently doing is a discipline and, I believe, a valuable one. The phone can be a distraction, but it can also be a tool to teach mindfulness (or not).
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Getting in my workout. Second is executing Plan A for my day while being open to adapting it as needed as the day unfolds. The most important thing is to be present in the moment. I don’t often do this well, but my intention is there and that is key.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Water. I usually sip while I am prepping to head out the door. Water remains my predominant drink of choice throughout the day.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
When I am home, the routine is the same. I’m self-employed, so unless I’m traveling or have something special planned, weekends don’t look a lot different than weekdays except that my workouts tend to be longer.
Unless I’ve planned something other than work, I will attend to a work project or a home project. I love what I do, so it’s all good! I’ve never understood why people sleep in (unless I have a man in bed with me!). The only time I sleep in is when I have jet lag after an international flight and my body is trying to adjust. I will “sleep” when I’m dead, so while I’m still breathing I am quite happy to embrace my time awake.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Generally, yes. I love getting out early in a different place to explore and experience how that place “wakes up.” I find this revealing and exciting.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
If I can’t do my usual morning routine, I just get on with the day. Different is just different. I still show up for my day how I choose to show up.
Anything else you would like to add?
Humans respond well to routine and structure. We thrive in sameness. Sorting out what works best is intuitive and initially a work in progress, but we mostly expand and grow through change.
There is enormous power in nailing your morning routine, but there’s even more power in adapting to it when it doesn’t happen as we’d like. Routine aids us in being our most productive, but change helps us expand past our comfort area; both are positive.
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