These days, I feel lucky enough to wake up most mornings bright-eyed and bushy-tailed…even when it is 6 a.m. and 18* F outside, and I have to scoot to teach morning barre classes. But it wasn’t always this way: I have a very clear memory of waking up 10 minutes before my AP Calculus final, and somehow making it at the last second in complete clown outfit of pajamas. Since then, though, I’ve transitioned to become a morning person! Who doesn’t love the feeling of getting a head start and finishing like, 12 things before 10 a.m.? (So accomplished, you winner, you!) Here’s how you, too, can make the most of your morning.
1. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
I know what you’re thinking–so crazy early! But the most important sleep you can get is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., which is when deep and restorative sleep occurs. Aim for whatever bedtime gets you about 7-8 hours of sleep. Generally, try to get to bed by 10 p.m. and unwind–put your favorite night cream on, feel it sink into your skin , and enjoy a so-boring-but-good-for-you book until you pass out.
2. Have all your extras by your side.
Arrange all your things before going to bed: a warm robe (so you don’t curl into a ball under cover come morning), slippers, your phone/iPad for quick scroll through news/email, gym clothes.
3. Start your day with a glass of water.
A lukewarm glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice is the ideal way to wake up your digestive system and brighten your mood. But if you don’t have lemon, even regular water will do fine–just focus on sipping slowly. Drinking water slowly is as important as chewing and eating your food slowly!
4. Do a pre-breakfast workout.
My life changed when I started working out before breakfast, several years ago. A widely-cited 2010 study revealed that working out before breakfast burns more fat, and better maintains healthy weight and insulin levels, than working out after breakfast–even combined with a rich diet. Other benefits include: bright eyes, flushed cheeks, feeling more toned for the rest of the day, and getting more energy.
Note: If you feel overwhelmed at the very idea of running 5 miles or going through vinyasas without at least a little something in your tummy, understand that it takes time to adjust to the feeling of working out in a “fasted” state. At first it feels strange to feel “empty” but within a few sessions, you should begin to feel that that is normal. However, if you still feel too weak to workout first thing in the morning, check to see that you are getting enough calories–you might not be eating enough to have even a little glucose reserved in your muscles. As important as it is to eat the right kinds of foods, you also need to be eating enough of it!
5. Do your hair the night before.
What puts you in a better mood in the morning than having great hair? This is a leaf taken straight out of a Parisian style book. Do as the parisiennes do, and wash your hair the night before and go to bed with still-wet hair. If you have thick hair, I recommend blow-drying partially (bonus points for just using your hands) and going to bed. Sometimes I even curl my hair *before* hitting the pillow–and voila, you wake up in the morning with the most effortlessly chic waves than if you spent 40 minutes in the morning. When you wake up, just gently finger-comb your hair and dab a bit of styling cream to the ends.
6. Wear brightening makeup.
It’s not that I love makeup but…I love makeup. In the morning, focus on getting clear with a sheer satin finish and opening up your eyes. The key to flawless-but-fresh face is to layer tiny amounts of multiple products, only where you need them. Massage a few drops of your favorite facial oil to moisturize your skin and add a hint of sheen. Then layer with makeup primer (I use one by Tarte), tinted moisturizer, and concealer. Then, open your eyes by curling your lashes, and dotting the tips with a lash primer. Follow with mascara for your most wide-eyed look!
7. Set your intentions for the day.
My favorite part of a yoga class is setting intentions at the beginning of class. It then occurred to me that you can set your intentions for your life off the mat, too. How much of life do we go through, worrying or vaguely wishing for something? Setting your intentions allows you to voice your thoughts and focus them, giving you agency and power. Some of my favorite recent daily intentions: Abundance; Courage, Resilience, Transformation; Do the best you can today, no less and no more.
8. Eat a protein-rich breakfast.
You may have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but that doesn’t mean you have to make it the biggest meal of the day, either. The key to being a morning person is to eat a nourishing, high-protein breakfast that is filling but not heavy. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated or innovative: most days I tend to grab a cashew-date bar, or if I have a little more time, I make a quick vegan smoothie with Vega One. A little plug: Vega kindly invited me to their new Vega One formula launch party a while back, and I’ve been drinking it ever since! Not only is it delicious, the new formula is also completely raw, meaning all the beneficial enzymes are alive and well. Add a scoop to your favorite breakfast smoothie to increase your protein potential.
9. Use the commute as your “Me Time.”
I know, commutes are hardly ever a walk in the park. Whether you drive or take public transportation, it’s stressful and draining. But change your perspective slightly and try to see it as your own time to relax. The nice thing about commutes is that it forces us to do absolutely nothing but sit still: the rare moment in your day when you can’t be striving or urging yourself forward.
10. Do the hardest thing the first thing.
Your will power is a limited resource that gets used up through the day–so do hard things first, when you’re feeling more motivated and disciplined. If I have an important thing to think or do, I usually wait until the morning to carry it out, instead of pressuring myself to get it done the night before. This also has the added benefit of making the rest of your day feel easier by comparison.
Do you have morning rituals that make you feel ready to take on the day? And please share your morning beauty tricks and favorite daily intentions!
Related: 3 Ways to Be Rich in Life
Photo: Joe St.Pierre via Flickr; Peaceful Dumpling