Happy, happy July. Summer is here – the weather is beautiful and the days are the longest they are going to be all year. If you’re not a morning person and struggle to get moving first thing – this blog is definitely for you. Now is absolutely the best time to move towards a more productive and positive approach to your mornings and finally kick that snooze-button habit. And if you already wake up happy as a lark, hopefully you’ll find some new inspiration.
This is actually the first part of a two-part blog which I have written based on my experiences of bookending my day with wellness rituals. So there is this morning blog and there is also an evening blog, which I will follow soon.
So what does “bookending my day with wellness rituals” mean? It means prioritize your wellness needs first thing when you get up and last thing before you go to bed. This way you not only set the right tone for a healthy day to follow, you also encourage a good night’s sleep and in turn you experience a positive morning when you wake up the next day. It’s a circle of wellness, which keeps turning and keeps feeding back into your healthy intentions.
Do not take this too literally – obviously, I don’t mean only look after yourself at these times of the day and indulge the rest of it! What I recommend is that if you look after yourself (and support yourself like bookends support books) at the beginning and the end of the day you’ll set yourself up for success. Research shows if we eat a healthy breakfast we’re far more likely to eat healthily for the rest of the day. And if we get some exercise in first thing, before everyone and everyone else starts demanding our attention, and time, we’re more likely to stick with our routine and see results because nothing else can take priority over it.
So how does this all work for mornings, when yours is already busy and it’s always a stressful rush out of the door? Firstly, all you need to do is allocate 30-40 minutes to wellness at the start of your day. You don’t have to get up earlier if you don’t want to – but if you need to leave the house at certain time you will, it all depends on your schedule.
Here’s how I work it in. I need to leave the house about 8am, it takes me about 15 minutes to get myself ready, 45 minutes to get the kids up and ready, around 20 minutes for chores like laundry and emptying the dishwasher etc, then I need about 30-40 minutes for my morning rituals – so I get up at 6am, not crazy early. In fact, studies show that it’s not about how early we get up that influences how productive and positive our days turn out but how we spend the first waking hour or two. Think about what you have to do in the mornings, what time you need to leave the house, and work backwards to see how you can fit in half an hour for yourself.
Once you’ve established how you are going to find the time, you can do the fun bit, which is like a wellness pick and mix – you choose one super-easy breakfast, one workout and one self-care ritual and start creating your pile of healthy habits. Take a read and get choosing - just imagine how amazing you’re going to feel when you start consistently bringing these wellness practices into your week. Enjoy!
1. The Fitness Habit - 20 minute workouts – choose one
Yoga – 5 Sun Salutation A, 5 Sun Salutation B, Warrior II both sides, Reverse Warrior both sides, Tree Pose, Back Bend, Plough to Shoulder Stand, Savasana
Run or Power Walk – lace up your trainers, head off to your local park & explore the neighbourhood, in 20 minutes you can cover plenty of distance to get your heart rate and get a sweat on
Body Weight HIIT – warm up your muscles with a few sun salutations or some light on the spot skipping or marching moves
Then try for 3 rounds of the following set, I have chose these specific exercises as they only involve your own bodyweight, no equipment. All you need is a mat. You can increase the intensity and complexity of all these as you progress – for example, knee press ups to full push ups, reverse lunges to plyo lunges, bent leg alternate side bicycles to same side straight leg bicycles. Try to perform 30-45 seconds of each move. Rest for 45-60 seconds between sets.
Wide Squat jump legs in together
Squat to tuck jump
2. The Super Healthy Breakfast Habit - choose one
These suggestions can be prepped quickly the night before or take a couple of minutes to make.
There are so many delicious combinations to choose from when it comes to overnight oats – in fact, you may already have one of your own. My favourite is oats, chia seeds, grated apple, pumpkin seeds soaked overnight in whatever plant milk I have handy in the fridge. Sometimes I add a dollop of Greek yoghurt if I have it, plus fresh berries & walnuts as a topping in the morning.
Sunshine Protein Smoothie
This smoothie is so full of goodness and it’s a great post-workout choice and it’s full of antioxidants. It also contains plant-based protein to help repair and build strong muscles, plus anti-inflammatory ginger and turmeric. Just put all the ingredients in your blender and whizz until combined and smooth.
Half a fresh mango
1 banana, peeled
1 orange, peeled
1 scoop protein powder (I like the Innermost powders but you can use whatever you have at home)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
200ml water or unsweetened almond milk
2-3 ice cubes
Quick & Easy Scrambled Eggs & Spinach
This is so quick it’s ridiculous - it tastes delicious, it’s packed with protein plus it will keep you full for hours. The key is a non-stick frying pan.
Warm a drop of olive oil in the pan. Add a big handful of spinach and wilt for about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, crack three eggs into a mug and beat them until the mixture is all smooth and yellow. Remove the spinach and serve on to your plate. Pour the eggs into the pan, keep stirring as they cook to keep them fluffy – this takes about 2 minutes. Serve them with the spinach – top with some seeds if you have them too, simply delicious.
3. The Greet the Day Self Care Habit - choose one
Elevate a daily activity into a mindful ritual by adding a mood-enhancing aromatherapy element and set yourself up for a positive day. As you shower, imagine washing away any sleepiness or negative feelings down the drain. Feel the warmth of the water cleansing your skin. Choose a body wash with uplifting ingredients such as Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Tea Tree, Lemon and Lavender. It’s the perfect way to clear your head and start the day fresh and revitalised.
Wake Up Your Face
Sometimes we wake up looking so tired and puffy, even the prettiest make-up doesn’t seem to make us sparkle. Try unlocking your inner beauty instead of covering it up, with a simple facial massage to increase lymph flow and reduce puffiness especially around the eyes. After you’ve cleansed, gently tap under your eyes, starting in a circle at the outside corners, tracing under your bottom lashline, along your brow bone and back to the outer corner. Use your middle or ring finger and the same amount of pressure you’d use to apply concealer. Repeat several times. This helps to loosen up the fluid that’s trapped under your eyes.
I always used to find it impossible to meditate in the morning – I thought who on earth has the time to sit when there’s a whole new day ahead and a million things to do??? But just 5-10 minutes has really helped me greet the day in a much more positive and open way and I am certain when I do sit quietly on my mat in the morning, I am less stressed and anxious throughout the day.
Choose whatever meditation technique works for you. You can simply sit quietly and focus on your breath, visualise a beautiful sunrise or a vibrant yellow light flowing into your body and filling you with positive energy or repeat some affirmations that will encourage you to have a great day – I am healthy, I am energised, I am grateful.
Extra tips to set your mornings on fire
- Go to bed half an hour earlier
- Layout your yoga mat in the night before
- Find out a sports bra & yoga pants the night before so you can pull them straight on
- If you need to get changed, ready for work after exercising, have a rough idea in your head of what you’re going to wear to save time
- Don’t start scrolling on your phone – social media is a major time-thief!