How many times have you read this Q&A with your favorite celebrity wellness guru?
Question: What’s your morning routine ?
Answer: I wake up at 4am, drink infused rose water then run 10 miles (I’m training for a marathon – who isn’t?), do an hour of yoga, meditate, chant a mantra then blend 2 teaspoons of [insert ingredients you can’t pronounce with fancy foreign-sounding names here ] with coconut water from a freshly cracked coconut that I crack with my special haute couture coconut hammer. And I can’t possibly walk out of the house without oil pulling, body brushing, and 30 minutes of core ab work.
Don’t get me wrong, self care is SO important. It’s severely underrated and often forgotten. The problem with the current national obsession with self-care and all things wellness is that it can often seem intimidating and alien-like behavior that might fly on Mars (or in some parts of California?), but would never fly on planet earth. After all, you have kids who need to be fed and dressed, and a boss that probably wouldn’t look kindly on you running 20 minutes late because your it took you longer than usual to reach a zen-like state in your meditative practice. That said, it is possible to take care of yourself AND function in the real world.
I always tell anyone looking to make a lifestyle change to start with the morning. It’s my personal favorite time of day and, according to the wise sages of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, the ideal time for the mind and body to kick into gear to perform whatever crazy tasks you ask of them all day long. Here’s how to become an official “morning person.” (Yes, you.)
1. Go to sleep earlier
Obviously if this were as easy as (gluten, dairy and GMO-free) pie, we’d all be deep in peaceful slumber by 10 PM. What I mean here is just try to get to bed just a bit earlier whenever possible. An extra hour of sleep is much more important than watching one more episode on Netflix. If you’re nursing a newborn, having passionate sex, or performing brain surgery, you are excused, but for the rest of us, put that phone in sleep mode and get your REM on.
2. Make lemonade
Hot water and lemon is one of the most simple, but most powerful natural health boosters around. This combo wakes up your liver (bonjour, liver!) and flushes out nasty toxins (au revoir, toxins!). It also reduces belly bloat or tummy troubles and stimulates your gastrointestinal tract to help you digest and absorb food well all day. Added bonus: lemon is packed with vitamin C to keep your immune system strong enough to resists whatever lemons life may throw at you today.
3. Make breakfast at night
No matter how tired (or drunk? …we won’t judge) you are at 11pm, you can certainly pour some almond milk into a bowl with a spoonful of chia seeds and a couple handfuls of oats and mix it with a spoon. Extra bonus for added spices, chocolate or superfood or protein powders. Place in the fridge overnight.
As you get your beauty sleep, so does your breakfast. By 7 am, you’ll both be bursting with energy. Add a few last-minute accessories before you walk out the door (you: some clothes and maybe a scarf. Your breakfast: some fresh berries, sliced banana or toasted nuts) and you’re ready to hit the town. Other great make-ahead breakfasts include: muffins, granola bars (try the ones from my book!), or granola (just add coconut yogurt or almond milk in the morning).
4. The best part of waking up is Matcha in your cup
If you haven’t yet joined the matcha party, it’s time. Matcha is a great way to wake up, and stay awake and alert all day long. The l-theanine content in matcha slows its release into the bloodstream which provides longer and more sustainable energy than other caffeine sources. L-theanine also helps the body to produce gamma amino butyric acid, aka GABA, a very important substance that you thankfully don’t need to pronounce, but know that it stimulates dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. Translation: IT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Matcha calms the mind and relaxes the body, enhances mood and helps concentration.If matcha isn’t your thing, try some other non-coffee boosters like maca, mate, chai, dandelion root tea, green juice or coconut water.
5. Stretch it out!
Don’t wait until you find time to make it to your 90-minute yoga class. A few simple stretches or a 5-10 minute flow can change your day. Open your body and ease your muscles into the day with a few simple twists, some downward dog action, or a few sun salutations.
If the word meditation alone makes you cringe, then skip this step and go onto step #7. Meditation is a scientifically-proven way to boost mental and physical relaxation. It eases anxiety, boosts the immune system and helps with focus. 20 minutes in the A.M. is ideal, but whatever you manage to fit in is a great start.
7. Don’t meditate
Do everything stated in #6 just don’t call it meditation. Call it a mind break, a brain nap, a pause button, you can call it “Al” – call it whatever you want, just DO IT.
8. Shake what yo morning gave ya!
Put on your favorite playlist and dance and sing as you brush your teeth, put on your makeup, or insert your tampon. It will make the day brighter, guaranteed. Put on your headphones and listen to tunes as you walk through the stressed out crowds in the subway or take the long way to work as you walk and dance to top 40 tunes. Music can reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, boost the immune system and aid memory. It stimulates dopamine production in the brain that can make us feel literally elated. This is based on research from top neuroscientists, but I can definitely confirm that starting off the day dancing wildly to Madonna or Taylor Swift is never a bad idea.