(Breather) Morning routines are all the rage these days, with lifestyle gurus claiming that you can crush all the objectives in your hectic day if you can just do some badass stuff after you wake up. Some of the hype has become ridiculous, and I recite the suggestions from a viral video by a prominent peak performance guru that numbers 15 things to do in the morning. Enough already, let’s get real.
In this show, I offer some simple suggestions to make a morning routine a reality. Tips include: making a full commitment that you deeply believe will help you, including a fun factor so you get instant gratification as well as long term health benefits, and applying the skills of repetition and endurance to turn your routine into a habit—no motivation or willpower necessary.
Practically, I suggest you start your day with some form of movement, expose your eyes to direct sunlight, and do something that helps you focus (like reviewing/creating your To-Do List). And by all means, do not forget the #1 rule: avoid reaching for technology first thing in the morning (like 84% of Americans do!). If you want to get super badass, consider a cold exposure session to develop focus, discipline, and resilience against all other forms of stress that lie ahead in your busy day. There are actually a lot of options here, and it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you – but the main object is sticking to it. Enforce healthy habits, stay on schedule, and commit to carrying out the tasks that you know will keep you in a focused, productive state.
Brad questions some others’ suggestions. Do we really need to make the bed in the morning? [02:57]
Brad recommends his routine which is fun and energizing and not intimidating. [07:28]
Number 1 is: make a commitment of five minutes. [08:38]
Number 2 is: Make it fun and make sure you get some sun. [09:37]
Apply the attributes of repetition and endurance instead of relying on motivation. [11:07]
Get moving in the morning. [13:32]
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit, and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge, and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Hey, let’s talk about one of my favorite morning routines and I can proudly sit here in front of the microphone and announce to you that I actually have one that’s been hard-wired and sustained for over three years. You can see it on YouTube with my morning flexibility, mobility, routine. I talk enough about my cold plunge to freeze your ears off, but I’m feeling so excited to share the information with you and get you motivated and focused to develop your own fun, sustainable, energizing and non-intimidating morning routine. And with this discussion, we’re going to have to admit that we’ve had a little bit of morning routines gone wild in recent years because it is a favorite topic of many health gurus and promoters out there.
Some of this stuff makes me cringe because it can easily intimidate you and make you feel like she’s, you’re a slacker because you have to get up, get your kids some food and get them out the door on time. Meanwhile, here’s my favorite. This is an actual YouTube video with a couple million views from a prominent health expert. This is his instruction for a morning routine. First recall your dreams because that’s so important. Next, of course, make your bed, which has a huge impact on personal productivity. There was a book that landed on the best seller list and hung there for a long time, uh, of that similar title. And not to discount anything in the book cause I didn’t read it, probably has all kinds of good stuff from a prominent leader in the military field. Uh, but when we overstate the importance of something like making your bed, uh, can kind of get a little bit ridiculous and taken out of context.
Remember, Europeans have a practice of leaving the bed unmade. And studies have revealed that this allows trapped microbes to escape and breathe and cleanse your sleeping environment during the day while you’re off to your busy day without making your bed. So they’re back to the list. So you’re recalling your dreams per expert recommendation. You’re making your bed, you’re drinking of whole bunch of water in the morning. And so many people recommend this. I’m kinda like, uh, okay, that’s a big fat, maybe there, maybe it’s awesome. Maybe it’s not that important. Do you really get dehydrated overnight? I don’t know, but couldn’t hurt. Right? Uh, also the recommendation to take a probiotic with your water in the morning. So there you go. Then you must do some breathing exercises to oxygenate your body. That’s number four. And then of course it’s time for early morning meditation session of only 20 minutes.
Don’t worry, it’s not a huge time commitment. Number six, time to do some gentle exercises like jumping jacks, get the blood flowing, get the body moving. Number seven, of course, time to take a cold shower with all those hormetic benefits. Get you feeling refreshed and energized. Then it’s time for personal grooming, shaving, brushing, all that kind of stuff. And then you will prepare a special tea, high antioxidant tea with MCT oil to get your brain turbocharged and kicking into high gear. Then you sit down with your journal and perform some journal exercises, maybe some gratitude statements, maybe some to do list stuff. Oh no, I’m sorry. That’s number 11. Create both a to do list and a to feel list and of course you have to do this by hand rather than typing it in because studies show that the actual physical act of putting pen to paper with your own hand is more impactful than doing it digitally.
Then it’s time to read for just 20 to 30 minutes because of course we have a busy day ahead. Then number 13 you make a wonderful super nutrition brain smoothie filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Finally, go online and do a few minutes of exercises to heighten your cognitive function and then number 15 ready to go get them for a busy kickass day. Hey, you know what? Nothing on that list is objectionable. It’s all good stuff. It’s all good. Suggestions, has a lot of positive benefits, but my backlash is, Hey look, we are facing real life every single day. A lot of times in the morning is a high stimulation experience because we have a lot to do. We’re on a tight time schedule. We got to get out of the house.
So I want to do a breather show on how to do that fun, energizing, sustainable and non-intimidating morning routine. So let’s focus in on three attributes that I think will be really important to get this morning routine as part of your life, easily doable and sustainable. And number one is you really have to go all in and make a commitment here and acknowledge that this is really going to be something that in a short duration of time can really improve your life and improve your focus, improve your mood, improve your discipline that will carry over, uh, for the, the rest of the things that you face during your day. Uh, research suggests that 84% of Americans reach for their phone as the first act upon waking up every single morning. And there’s a psychologist that we quoted in the book keto for life who said, quote, you’ll never recover. Once you reach for your phone, you are put into reactive mode. You are now reacting to outside stimulus of bombardment of who knows, texts, emails, morning newsfeeds, whatever you’re grabbing.
That’s so important. But it’s getting you into reactive mode and it’s very easy for the brain to get stuck there rather than in the more desirable high level strategic thinking and planning mode, especially first thing in the morning when you’re trying to organize your day and get focused. So please, number one, take this matter seriously. Make a commitment of however long it’s going to be to make it sustainable. So let’s start with five minutes, right? Can you devote five minutes to your personal growth, personal improvement. Understand that this is something you have to buy into. Research also shows that intrinsic motivation is what is the most powerful way to achieve goals and put into place sustainable lifestyle behaviors. So you got to buy in, you got to believe, baby, like Justin Bieber, and then we’ll proceed to the next suggestions on the list.
Number two is make this morning routine with a high fun factor. So we need to have some instant gratification to align with these longterm goals that we know are good for us, right? Uh, eat these foods, do these exercises, and you’ll add years to your life that has been shown to be not the most powerful of motivators because it’s not immediate. You don’t get an immediate payoff. So how are we going to balance those two? Well, something that makes you feel good right away is what’s really worked for me. So when I do my mobility, flexibility drills and drop to the ground and start working those legs and work in that core, I feel an immediate increase in energy and nice, gentle awakening from being in bed. I’m on the ground. All of a sudden I’m working, I’m breathing hard, I’m feeling the core engaged. I feel like I’m getting a good workout. It makes me happy. It makes me energized. I’ve also taken to, uh, exposing myself to direct sunlight as soon as I wake up. So if I can do the morning routine outside, that’s great. If it’s adverse weather conditions, you want to find some way to get some sun directly into your eyeballs. And this is the beginning of an optimal circadian rhythm experience. When you get those hormones set, uh, at or near sunrise in the morning, ideally it will help you with the dim light melatonin onset in the evening. So that’s the, the fun factor there is to do something that’s energizing.
Next, we have to apply the attributes of repetition and endurance. Repetition and endurance is how we create lasting habits. Motivation is over fricken rated, so don’t worry about whether you’re motivated or not in the morning routine. The most profound example that I can cite for this is my morning cold plunge because every day I can get a battle going in my mind about whether I need to do this or should do this.
Or perhaps I could delay it until after I sweep the floor or prepare some foods in the kitchen or get distracted by sending out a couple important emails. So I always have this war in my head where I’m trying to talk myself out of jumping into 36 degree water for five to six minutes. First thing in the morning, winter, summer, mud, rain, sleet or snow. I’m into the chest freezer. And if I had to rely on motivation, Oh my gosh, it wouldn’t work. Right? I’d always find a way to back out of that challenge. Instead, I’m just applying repetition, endurance, trying not to think about it, trying not to process this as a decision that requires willpower or motivation. Okay? So I’m not asking myself, am I in the mood to jump in freezing cold water? Instead, I’m honoring the Tony Robbins, uh, message here with cold plunging.
He’s a huge fan of cold punches. As I’ve told you where he says, quote, I’m training my mind not to hesitate, but to act, to tell my body what to do. So whatever it is, cold plunge is the extreme example. But if it’s dropping to the ground to do some flexibility, mobility drills like I demonstrate or your own version of those, it could be the yoga sun salute sequences. Don’t ask yourself if you motivated or if you feel like it today, just do it and do it over and over and over every single day until it becomes locked into habit. And you don’t have to apply these precious and depleting resources of motivation and willpower to the act. So now you’ve got those attributes, making sure that you go all in with a commitment, making sure you find that it’s fun and apply repetition and endurance so that this is a longterm commitment.
And then logistically, what kind of things might I suggest? Of course, the movement routine is wonderful because it gets you from that sleeping state into an awakened state, uh, smoothly, gracefully. And so if it happens to be, uh, walking your dog around the block, what better thing to do as soon as you awaken then to get up, leash your dog and take a walk around the block, then you can come home and pick from the list of 15 things about doing your gratitude journal, your cold shower, your breathing exercises, making your special tea, all that kind of stuff. But if you get up and start moving right away, that is the easiest way to get moving and grooving. And of course, many, many of us can complain of not being a morning person or struggling and dragging through the initial minutes of the, uh, upon waking up.
And I’m one of those people, I’m not always filled with energy. Uh, as soon as the time to get up is. Sometimes I’m trying to tell myself a story. Should I stay in bed longer cause I have lingering psychological damage from being a triathlete where all we did was train, eat and sleep. So I grabbed a lot of sleep for many years that now might not be necessary. It might be leftover programming. I should maybe get my ass up, get on the ground and do some flexibility, mobility exercises you get me. So if you can make the commitment, make commitment to your animal too. If you’re an animal owner, be kind and get that thing out first thing in the morning. Get some sunlight on your face and you are good to go. So movement is my number one suggestion along with exposure to sunlight. And if you don’t have a nice bright sunny day to awaken to, you know what you can do.
The red light therapy is a wonderful proxy. So a lot of times I use my juve GoLite the little one and shine it right on my face and all around my face as soon as I wake up. Actually at the same time that I’m doing the flexibility, mobility drills on the ground. Okay? So if I had to add a third suggestion that’s pretty simple, uh, from movement, uh, exposure to sunlight, perhaps something having to do with focus, which is spending a couple minutes with your to do list or just even visualizing what you’re going to do that day, what your priorities are, and perhaps some of your behavior goals, right?
There’s all kinds of things that can fill into this category of doing something that’s a focusing exercise. Uh, basically the highlight being that it is not technology, so stay away from technology and do those other things first. Then and only then do you have permission to grab your phone and see what’s up with the world. Finally, if you’re new to this game or this is a new ambition for you to develop a morning routine, let’s make a commitment to do something that’s short so that it’s sustainable, much more impressed with someone who can devote five minutes a day for 365 days a year than someone who goes for that 47 minute morning routine for six weeks and then bombs out and it turns into a big fat zero. So if it’s five minutes, great. And speaking of my morning flexibility, mobility routine, uh, as you’ll hear on the video, when I was doing it for the first several months, devising the exercises and picking which ones I was gonna do and all that, I thought it was a five minute deal. I never timed it until we actually filmed it.
And it turns out it takes me 12 minutes. So my morning routine is 12 minutes every morning, had no idea. It seems like five minutes. I love it. And then I immediately finish and go straight into the chest freezer for the cold plunge. So that’s my package deal right there. Anything else? Wonderful is a bonus such as going and doing a workout, which I often do first thing in the morning or perhaps sit down and get some productive writing done or what have you? But those things are locked into place because they’re short enough that I can do them without exception every single day. And you know what? I’m so enthused about this, my streak of doing it every single day, that if I do miss my flexibility, mobility routine due to let’s say an early morning flight or a super early morning appointment, I will knock it out at the end of the day just to say that my streak is still alive. Really fun. Try it out. Thank you so much for listening and good luck developing your own morning routine, dah, dah, dah.
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