By: Whitney Stuart
Whitney Stuart MCN, RDN, is a board-certified dietitian-nutritionist, diabetic educator and award-winning Whole30 Certified Coach. She holds a "real food first" approach through her holistic practice, Whitness Nutrition, which offers full spectrum nutritional assessment, corporate wellness challenges and seminars. Here, she details her new morning routine.
This year was bustling in terms of workload; my private practice was busy, my patients were engaged, and when I woke up in the morning, my inbox was full of exciting new partnerships. What a blessing! But after a few weeks of answering emails as soon as they came in, replying to clients as soon as they messaged, and remaining on standby from 8 A.M. to 8 A.M. Monday through Sunday, I was tired.
Ironically, my schedule didn't look any different via Google Calendar (an entrepreneur's best friend). But I realized that I was living by reacting. My life was literally being bombarded with curveballs all day long. And those curveballs were persistently changing my course of action. Why was I allowing this to happen? Instead of creating a safe space, a definitive time slot for these items to fall into, I was allowing them to rule my life. No wonder I was feeling drained: I was requiring my brain to be ready for immediate reply and response almost 18 hours a day. Ugh!
When an Instagram post on meditation popped up as I was mindlessly scrolling while drying my hair, I realized how little my life was spent on personal intentions. And although I’m not one to meditate, I did identify with my apparent need to start my morning routine focusing on my own goals. That night, I made a vow to take back my morning. The goal was further strengthened after I listened to "The Miracle Morning & The Four Tendencies" via Blinkist.
Now, I turn my phone on at 8 A.M. What do I do while it's off? Actions that fill me up! Ones that have been chosen my me, for me, and also benefit my mind. I give myself a 2-hour prep time before I begin to serve others. Although my love language is acts of service, I have learned the hard way that you can’t serve others from an empty plate. Each morning, I refill my own plate. This allows me to better serve those around me. Every 24 hours, I refill and begin anew.
My morning routine includes physical, spiritual, and nutritious intentions. This routine allows me to serve others better; that isn’t selfish! I have quickly realized how much easier it is to focus more intently on my client’s needs and have longer sustained energy on the days with this implemented morning regimen.
First, I pursue activities that make me happy, are playful in nature, and provide endorphins. At minimum, I start with a body-weight workout that involves stretching, deep breathing, and flexibility. Each day is a bit unique, but it’s always focused on purposeful movement to wake up my muscles. Some days, this is a long walk to my favorite coffee shop. Other days, it includes a running interval class – not because I want to punish my body, but because I love to challenge it.
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Next, I either read my devotional or the latest non-fiction book on my shelf. My favorite part of this routine is my slow and nutritious breakfast, alongside my coffee made with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. I allow myself to eat at the breakfast table. I chew slowly, with music playing, and enjoy the scenery outside my window. This was the hardest step, as I used to mindfully scroll with social media while eating. I browse a book if I’m feeling antsy, now.
This upgraded routine gives me all the optimism, heart strength, and brain fuel I need to succeed in my daily 8:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. work schedule. I’ve found that these actions serve me best. But get creative with your own! Once I power on my phone, I’m less anxious to check it throughout the day. I know it really isn’t my source of entertainment and joy.
There’s an added benefit to the morning take-back process: Decreased screen time. Did you know the average American spends 11 hours daily using a screen. This excessive use has shown to affect our whole body: our vision, posture, weight, sleep and receptors responsible for pleasure. Dopamine, the “feel-good hormone” is part of the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits. It lights up every time we see a new post or get a reaction to ours. My goal? To gain pleasure and excitement from real events, real people, and real actions – not a falsified event on a flat screen.
Not looking forward to going off the grid? Take baby steps. Consider implementing an offline morning once a week. Set your phone's Do Not Disturb setting from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. That's 12 hours of intentional bliss. Then, consider turning off notifications during the day to prevent reactionary actions and constant interference. Research shows this type of multitasking reduces work efficiency. Protect your health; fill yourself up first to work more efficiently, serve better, and live a more vibrant life.