Picture this: It's 2007 in Charlottesville, Virginia. My alarm wakes me with its angry red flashing at 8 a.m., which is the early bird special for me. My first lecture starts at 8:30, and I need at least 15 minutes to walk there.
I hadn't planned on going out the night before, but all my friends were celebrating a home sports victory at the Mellow Mushroom (yes, real name). FOMO won, so as I roll out of bed, I feel my brain rolling as well, which means I also need to factor in a stop at the local bodega.
Ignoring my tangled mess of sheets and messy bedroom, I throw on jeans and a sweatshirt, brush my teeth, and scrunch my hair into a bun. I grab my backpack and a chocolate-oat bar, and scurry across the train tracks to get my favorite fruit drink. I purchase two, along with an iced-filled Big Gulp cup, lid, and straw. I slurp as I walk and cram down the bar before walking into the large auditorium for the start of another college day.
Fast Forward 5 Years ...
Now imagine this: It's five years later and I'm living in New York City, listless and enormously anxious, slogging away at a corporate job that I don't enjoy. And guess what? My morning routine looked pretty much the same.
I was stressed before the day even began. My food and beverage choices were filled with sugar and additives and devoid of nutrients. They didn't fuel my brain, they fueled my blood sugar to spike and then crash only a short while later. Not surprisingly, I was completely exhausted — mentally and physically — by early afternoon.
I was also completely disillusioned with the social routine of late nights and hungover, greasy brunches, which seemed to get so many people through the workweek. I needed a change, so I started to occupy my time with cooking.
On a tight budget and surrounded by gorgeous farmers markets, I started making vegetables the main attraction of my meals. Proteins and healthy fats often took the form of beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Over time, I began to notice my emotional and physical health improving. I had more energy, a clearer head, and my anxiety had reduced dramatically.
I decided to put all that energy into cooking, earning my degree as a Certified Holistic Chef from the Natural Gourmet Institute, ultimately leaving that corporate job, and moving back home to Nashville.
What My Morning Routine Looks Like Now
It's 10 years later and I awake with the light, which is around 5:45 a.m. these days. I feel refreshed, ready to face the day. I make a mental gratitude list in my head — for another day alive, for this cozy bed, for my pets, my current reading material — anything!
I then turn on my phone and take a few minutes to answer emails and respond to comments. I make the bed, putting each pillow in place, and then I head to the kitchen. My husband has already fed the animals, which is a treat.
I pull a large glass Mason jar out of the refrigerator. It contains filtered water, an all-natural, stevia-sweetened strawberry drink mix, and the juice from one lemon. I sip this as I survey the fridge and pantry.
A repeat of yesterday's breakfast calls to me — a piece of locally made rye sourdough toasted with almond butter and a dollop of St Dalfour all-fruit Strawberry jam, accompanied by a smoothie. Into the Vitamix goes 1/2 frozen banana, 1 scoop collagen peptides, 3/4 cup organic frozen kale, 1 scoop spirulina, a dash of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla extract, and enough coconut milk to reach my desired consistency. I like my smoothies super creamy! A cup of green tea complements the meal perfectly.
So, how do I feel now? My leisurely focus on gratitude and mindfulness helps me begin the day calm and happy, as does making the bed first thing. Hydrating with lemon water is a great way to get my digestive system moving, and a substantial breakfast with complex carbs, healthy fats, protein means stable blood sugar through the day — no cravings or crashes. I am fueled to take on whatever comes my way. Plus, it tastes incredible!
What's your morning routine? Do you have any go-to recipes that make you feel great all day?