Let me start off by saying that I have experimented with morning routines for years, and have drawn inspiration for these routines from a huge variety of sources. Personally, I go through cycles when I have anywhere from 10 to 15 components of my morning ritual, and at other times will forgo a morning routine altogether (usually because I have an early day or an early training session). That said, I’ve realized that there are a total of 5 habits that have consistently remained part of my everyday morning routine. These routines help me to be:
#1 – Physically and mentally energized to do what I need to do with a clear mind and an able body.
#2 – Effective at completing tasks, and not becoming sidetracked by daily distractions or the needs of others.
#3 – A more pleasant individual to deal with.
Many of these habits contribute directly to my physical health, which is turn facilitates mental health and clarity. Without further ado, here are my 5 morning habits to win the day.
Your body needs 3 things – air, water, and food. You can go without food for a while, and breathing I get from the movement portion of my routine. Hydration comes from drinking water. (Duh.) I drink 16 oz of cold water every morning, and I mix in about 1/2 teaspoon of himalayan sea salt for essential minerals and to help my body better absorb the moisture.
We are relatively dehydrated after we wake up. Think about it – you haven’t had water for at 8 hours. (Side note: I hope you slept for at least 8 hours!) Every cell in your body uses water, and you’re losing moisture with every breath you take, not to mention the essential bodily functions your body performs. The sea salt helps your body better absorb the moisture. Himalayan sea salt, specifically, contains all of the 84 elements found in your body. It’s loaded with minerals and electrolytes you need for you to be alive. Contrary to the people who say avoid sea salt because it’s extra sodium, you NEED salt. What you don’t need is crappy processed food that is loaded with sodium.
This is probably the most important part of my morning routine. I know that in order to be considered a pleasant individual to deal with that I NEED to spend time on my own for at least 10 – 15 minutes. This allows me to gather my thoughts, to settle any internal conflicts going on in my own mind, and set the proper mindset, according to the given day.
For you to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be in order to help others, you first need to take care of yourself. Giving yourself the time in the morning to process any thoughts you have from the night before, the stresses of the day ahead, or anything else that’s bugging you is essential to thinking clearly and being effective during the day.
3. Get outside
This ties into the first habit. Getting outside goes hand-in-hand with being in solitude. Fortunately, I live near a park, and finding solitude there is easy. Within 10 minutes of waking up, I am outside (with my dog, Flowtron, of course!) and walking at a comfortable pace toward the park.
Being outdoors is a critical component of the morning routine because sunlight helps your body wake up. You don’t need caffeine to tell your body that it’s time to wake up. You are biologically wired to wake up with the sun. The human body wasn’t meant to be indoors. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, or if it’s raining – you’ll be fine for 10 minutes. Get out and get some fresh air!
My morning movement routine includes some walking and full-body stretching. I wake up, walk outside, reach the park, and let Flowtron (my dog) off his leash. Then, I go through a basic stretches – a lunge, some shoulder and chest stretches using the leash, standing backbends, and some controlled forward folds. That’s it. Thought that little bit of movement takes no more than 10-15 minutes, even with pauses, it prepares my body for the day. I’m also careful to focus on my breathing during this time – long, deep, and full breaths in and out of the nose, expanding my belly as much as possible while inhaling, and squeezing my belly button to my spine as I exhale. (Note: I rarely do a full 45 to 60-minute workout as part of my morning routine, but also recognize that my schedule is more flexible than most. If your evenings are frequently disrupted by unexpected work assignments or social events, the morning is a better time for you to work out.)
Physical activity is the gateway to mental activity. By taking the time to move your body, you are literally activating your brain as well. No morning routine is complete without some movement – even if it’s just 10 minutes of stretching!
5. Hearty breakfast
Notice that I say “hearty breakfast”, and not cardboard cereal or a piece of toast. My body is accustomed to eating a large, healthy breakfast right around 90 minutes after waking. This breakfast is almost always the same, pending available ingredients: eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, and a combination of mixed vegetables – either broccoli, peppers, or onions. I top it off with salt and pepper. (And sauerkraut, if I have any left!) I usually make enough to the point that I finish it and feel stuffed, so I don’t have to worry about hunger until around 12 or 1.
Being full of healthy food is good for you. It means your body doesn’t go into starvation mode and restricts the expenditure of energy. It also gives you energy for the day! That being said, not everyone eats breakfast. Actually, many experts in the health industry claim that the morning is the best time to burn fat. There are also ketogenic and intermittent fasting diets you can explore. I recommend you try out multiple breakfast options and see which one works best for you. Here are the 3 I would recommend:
- Hearty breakfast – Do it like I would. Make a healthy breakfast full of protein and fats. Eat enough to feel satiated, and then go to work without worrying about being hungry.
- The shake – You may not like the feeling of having a full stomach in the morning. If this is you, I’d recommend consuming a smoothie loaded with greens and a bit of a fruit. Ben Greenfield is a big fan of this. He talks about it in the podcast I did with him in July 2016. (Click here to listen to that podcast discussion!)
- The Bulletproof method – If you are not very active, this option may work for well for you Try having a caffeinated beverage mixed with healthy fats (refined coconut oil). The most popular option is “Bulletproof Coffee”, which includes coffee mixed with grass-fed butter and one of two refined coconut oils called “Brain Octane” or “XCT oil” (these are what I use), but you can also try mixing these healthy fats into your tea as well. This helps to satiate your appetite and puts your body into a fat-burning state, while preserving (or even enhancing) your mental clarity. (Note: I mention refined coconut oil here because of the higher effectiveness of refined coconut oil when compared with unrefined coconut oil. Click here to learn more about the difference between coconut oil and upgraded MCT oil.)
There you go! My 5 Morning Habits to Win the Day. Give some of them a go and see which of these habits is effective for you. No individual is the same, and what works for me might not work for others.
Coming next week: How to effectively start a new routine.