We all have a hero or idol that helps to push us through our endeavors. They keep us going when we're down and they inspire us daily.
After studying the habits of some of my heroes, idols and mentors, one thing became clear. They all had a solid morning routine. How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it. I'd had enough of starting my days scattered, stressed, rushed and uninspired. So, I went to work designing a morning routine for myself. Once I started and stuck to this routine, I started to look better, feel better and work smarter.
A Morning in the Life of Tiff
I wake up every morning at 5:30am
I know what you're thinking, "gross". That negative attitude right there is your first problem. Let that shit go. I strongly encourage you to become a morning person. Yes, some mornings are easier than others. Some days I spring out of bed at the first sound of my alarm. Some mornings I pull Bruce in a little closer and take my time opening my eyes. But no matter what, by 5:32am I am standing in the dark searching for a pair of sweat pants.
Tip: If you struggle to get up with your alarm, break the cycle by:
A) Disabling your snooze button, or avoiding it all together. I NEVER EVER hit snooze. I only ever hit stop. Knowing a second alarm isn't going to sound always gets my ass in gear.
B) Use the 5-4-3-2-1 method. You have 5 seconds to make a move before your brain kicks in and talks you out of it. This is not an opinion; this is a scientific fact that is backed by numerous peer-reviewed studies. You can use this in any aspect of your life, any time you catch yourself over thinking or procrastinating on a decision or action you know you 'should' or NEED to be making. When the alarm goes off, you've hit stop, and you're still laying there, count down, 5-4-3-2-1, and shoot yourself out of the bed. Just like NASA is there. Trust me. This shit works.
Leave your room immediately
Once I am out of bed, I leave my bedroom. This leaves no opportunity for me to climb back under the covers. I go straight downstairs to my kitchen where I pour myself a glass of water, take my supplements and then if I need to, I use the main level washroom. Using the ensuite is too risky, it opens an opportunity for me to sneak back into bed.
Daily asana & meditation practice
I practice asana for at least 5 minutes to half an hour every weekday morning. Sometimes it's very gentle stretching. Sometimes I do more cardio and strength training, but I move my body and get upside down in some way every day. I follow this with a minimum 5 minutes of mediation.
Tip: I highly recommend downloading the app 'Insight Timer' and working with their meditation tools. They're better and less corny than most meditation apps I've used in the past.
Following my practice, I either journal about my practice or I pull a tarot card and set an intention for my day.
Get your steps
By about 6:30am I am ready to bundle up and take Bruce for his morning walk. In terms of Fitbit steps, I do a minimum of 1600 to a maximum of 2200 steps first thing every morning. It's good for him, and it's great for me. If you don't have a dog, you should still be doing this. Yes, even if it's -40.
Personal care & hygiene
Nobody wants to be or hang out with the stinky kid. When we return home, I hop straight in the shower and go about getting ready for my day. I am usually back down in my kitchen by 7:45am with more than enough time to make my smoothie before making my commute downtown for work.
Tip: Most mornings I make a creamy, dairy free, protein powder free, protein shake that consists of:
1 cup spinach
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp hearts
1/2 cup mixed frozen berries
1/2 to a full cup of water
10 ways my life changed when I stuck to this routine
1) I stopped being inherently late
Someone once told me that if you're one of those people who is always late, it's not something you should look at as being funny or a quirk. It's extremely disrespectful and most co-leagues and leaders interpret it as:
'You think your time is more valuable than mine'
I don't care how far up the corporate ladder you are, your time is absolutely not more valuable than mine, the same way mine is not more valuable than anyone else’s. A solid morning routine will help break this cycle and will open some pretty interesting doors for you, like enjoying sunrises on your morning commutes and not being scolded every time you walk into your office like a wrecking ball at 9:02am.
2) My health improved and my IBS symptoms dissipated
Because taking my gut healing supplements like collagen and probiotics and making hydration and nutrition with my morning smoothies became a regular consistent part of my routine, my guts miraculously started to heal themselves. After about a month of regular supplementing, exercise and mindful eating, my symptoms have almost all completely vanished, and only seem to return when I slip up or stray away from this strict self-care.
3) My focus improved
This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. When you aren't scattered, or rushed at all, you have more time to focus on the tasks at hand.
4) My self-awareness is heightened
Regular journaling increased my level of self-awareness, as did practicing yoga and meditating every morning. When you devote a solid hour to yourself every morning, to just be quiet and move in your own space and skin, a whole other level of awareness opens for you.
5) I started to have more time with my dog
Can't go wrong here. But, if you're not a dog person, insert: cat, kids, husband, boyfriend, vibrator, whatever, here.
6) I started to have more time with my family and friends
I started to get so much done in the mornings, that it actually freed up time in the evenings on the weekend to be with the people I love. More on this in number 8!
7) I became more productive at work
This one is big. Because I'm on time, I'm well rested, I've exercised and produced some serotonin, I'm ready to roll when I get to the office.
Tip: If you're struggling to be productive at work, studies show that humans work best and most effectively in 53 minute intervals with a 20-minute break in between. Bonus points if you leave your desk for those 20 minute breaks. No, not to eat Timbits. Go for a walk. Get a tea.
8) My house is cleaner
While I build my smoothie and get my lunch together, I tidy the kitchen, load the dishwasher and start it before leaving the house. That way, when I get home, everything I need to prep dinner is already clean, and if my in-laws drop by while I'm at work to see the dogs (not unheard of), I don't have to feel guilty about a disgusting house.
9) It literally adds hours to my day
I have an extra 2 hours of productivity over most people. Honestly, my mornings are my favorite part of the day. I look forward to them more than anything!
10) I am moving my body daily, reducing chronic pain and stiffness
This has been a longer process. I suffer from chronic back and neck pain. The regular morning practice, over time, has started to release tension I am holding. I've stopped seeing my chiropractor and no longer need to take pain killers at work, from sitting for long periods of time.
Before you do any of this, you need to let go of your excuses. Something like being a mom is not an excuse for not having a solid morning routine. If anything, you need it more than anyone else because you are shaping and molding little people. They need you at your absolute best, because they're counting on you to lead by example, every single day. Not being a morning person isn't an excuse either. Become one.
Most of all, love yourself enough to do this for you. You will never regret gaining health, clarity, and actual hours. Ever.