Increase Energy Levels With My Morning Routine
In last week’s blog post I wrote about a fictional character who struggled to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He went to bed too late and neglected whole foods and exercise. Instead of eating nutrient dense foods and exercising throughout the week, he did the complete opposite. The lifestyle consisted of refined carbohydrates, fatty foods, and sedentary behavior. A diet high in processed foods and low in movement is a disaster waiting to happen. Add in a lack of sleep, and you have the perfect recipe for poor health. The risk of weight gain, disease and depression will increase substantially. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are living with this diet. We have become a nutrient, sleep, and movement deprived society. But there is hope. We can change our behaviors and patterns. Granted, it will be challenging. And at times, you are going to want to quit and go back to your old ways. However, you can’t let that happen. You owe it to yourself and loved ones to take good care of your body. After all, you only get one body and mind.
When I train a client, we do a series of warm-ups to get them ready for the upcoming workout. We need to apply the same philosophy to our day by prepping our body and mind for the forthcoming challenges the day will bring. You can’t be at your best by rolling out of bed and going to work. It may work for a couple of years, but over time your health, performance, and productivity will suffer. So, what is the secret to being healthy? I have found a morning routine to be the secret recipe for a healthy life.
My morning ritual has transformed my life for the better. I am more productive and focused on achieving the goals I set for the day. It keeps me disciplined and ready to tackle discomfort. Whereas before, I ran away from pain and chased comfort. I was clueless about what needed to get done for the day. I went through the day based on my emotions. I was a slave to them, being pulled around on a string like a puppet. When I craved something, I ate it. If I was too tired, I skipped a workout. My emotions controlled my behaviors and actions. Does this sound familiar? If it does, then you need to create a routine. I know I can’t speak for everyone, but I believe we all need a plan and small goals to stay on track. We need the order to deal with our chaotic human, monkey mind.
In today’s blog post I am going to show you how to transform your morning for the better. It is imperative to understand that routines take time to develop. The method will feel unnatural and time-consuming at first. But over time it will become habitual. Give yourself at least a month to get used to it. So, are you ready to wake up at 4:20 am tomorrow? I am just kidding. You don’t have to wake up at the same time as me nor do you have to do everything I recommend. You need to find what works best for you. I hope you can find inspiration from my story and use some of my strategies to make your morning a little bit better.
Beep! Beep! The alarm sounds. My eyes open slowly. I grab my phone and quiet the noise. The phone reads 4:20 am. I stare at the ceiling, searching for motivation to get out of bed. Thirty seconds pass by, and I am still stuck in bed, searching for energy. Thoughts begin to flood my mind. What are you doing just laying here? Get up and get out of bed! Another voice enters. But I have five more minutes, let me snooze for another five minutes. I begin to close my eyes, but as they shut, I remember the teachings of Marcus Aurelius. His words echo through my head: “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
The lids on my eyes jump open. I roll out of bed, and my feet land on the wood floor. My mouth opens wide grabbing oxygen from the air. I yawn and stand up to reach overhead to stretch my body. I turn around and tackle my first assignment. I am not sure what happened last night during the slumber, but everything is out of order. The sheets are off the mattress, and a pillow is on the floor. I sigh… I don’t want to do this right now, but I have to. I muster the courage to place the sheets, pillows, and blankets in perfect order. I finish making my bed and a sense of accomplishment takes over my body. I think to myself, alright, I am one for one. Now, it’s time for some water to get this machine working. I walk over to the kitchen and pour myself 16 ounces of water. Once the water is poured, I sprinkle Himalayan salt into the cup to help replenish my body’s sodium levels. Having adequate sodium is essential for muscular contraction and movement. I drink the mineral cocktail and head back to the edge of my bed and begin my morning routine.
I grab my headphones and phone. I take a seat and begin my headspace meditation. The soothing voice fills my ears. “Our mind is a blue sky. Clouds come and go. We tend to get caught up in the clouds and forget about the blue sky.” Andy Puddicombe’s, the creator of Headspace, words resonate with me and focus my mind. I begin to breathe. I focus on the inhale and the exhale. Before I know it, the 15 minutes are up and my practice is over. I head to the living room to wake up my body with a sun salutation.
If yoga isn't for you then I recommend body weight exercises like planks, dead bugs, squats or glute bridges. The goal here isn't to destroy the body, rather you want to get the blood moving to wake up the nervous system.
I stand tall and reach my arms overhead before diving down into a forward fold. I inhale and exhale contracting my abs to tighten the fold. I bend my knees and place my hands into the ground. I press my hands into the floor and jump my feet back into a plank. I lower my chest slowly until it is an inch away from the floor. I pause. I inhale and exhale. I feel the tension in my muscles. The energy from the floor fills my blood and sends my heart beating faster. I push through the floor and send my hips to the ceiling for downward dog. I swing a leg into the air and then drive it forward, placing it next to my hand. I rotate my chest to the down leg and reach toward the ceiling. I repeat it on both sides before returning back to the plank position. My abs, legs, chest, and arms are beginning to heat up. I feel my heart rate elevate, but it isn’t enough. So I jump my feet back to where I started and repeat the sequence all over again. I perform it multiple times. By the third round my legs are on fire. Every cell in my body is jumping with energy. I stand tall with my hands at my heart and smile.
I head to the kitchen table and begin writing in my journal.
I start with the Five Minute Journal and write down three things of gratitude:
Having my five senses
Living in Downtown Los Angeles
My job, co-workers and clients
From there, I head to the next section and write down three tasks that need to get completed for the day:
1. Exercise for 60 minutes
2. Don’t overeat at any meal
3. Write for 25 minutes
I finish both sections and head to the final section where I write down my affirmation for the day. I grab my pen and write, I will embrace discomfort and not run from it. I close the journal and head to the shower to get ready for my client at 5:30 am.
I hope you found my story motivating. I know it may seem like a lot. But you can get it all done in 30 minutes. I have found this to be the most important 30 minutes of my day. It sets my day up for success by giving me the time to create a plan. My brain needs guidance and small goals to control it. When I don't have a plan, I feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off. Therefore, my morning routine is non negotiable. Once you are done with the morning routine, you can reward yourself with a hot shower, a delicious black coffee or a nutrient dense breakfast. In my opinion, breakfast should consist of whole foods. One of my go to meals is an avocado with eggs and a protein source like steak, beef, salmon or pork. If you are short on time then a fruit, protein smoothie is another great option. Do you see a pattern between the two options? They both contain protein. If you are going to eat breakfast, make sure it has one to two palm servings (20 to 40 grams) of protein. Now, I could show you all the studies and research on why these habits are good for you, but nothing will change until you actually do it. So print out the list below and get started.
Don't hit the snooze button
Make your bed
Drink the mineral cocktail of 12- 16 ounces of water and salt. (Add lemon for taste)*Thanks to Aubrey Marcus for this idea*
Perform 10 minutes of Headspace guided meditation
Complete the 5 Minute Journal
Complete 1 to 5 sun salutations
Reward yourself with black coffee, tea, or nutrient dense breakfast