February 20, 2022

My four daily morning habits

To the quintessential morning person, it's Yay! It's morning!

But to those of us who routinely hit the snooze button, it's Ugh. It's morning.

I'm somewhere in the middle. My response often hinges on whether I went to bed at a decent hour the night before.

But I can tell you this much: I welcome the dawn of each new day with gratitude—despite my mood—because it inherently means a clean slate.

Granted: There will be many things about this day that are far beyond my control, yes. 

However, I'm still left with a heck of a lot of things that are within my control: my thoughts, perspective, and attitude, for example.

And that's where the following four habits come in. 

These seemingly unremarkable rituals establish a sense of stability and calm that can make all the difference in my outlook.

1. Make the bed

It all starts here, folks. The simple act of straightening the sheets and folding them just so is non-negotiable for me. And the benefit is two-fold: Doing this one tiny thing is akin to knocking over the first domino of many; it gets my momentum going, and it also sets the stage for a pleasant return later that evening: There's just something about climbing into a made-up bed before retiring for the night.

2. Read motivational words
The second thing I look forward to doing every morning is reading calming words of encouragement. I've started calling this ritual "reading my dailies." And my kids know this much when they see me crack open this book: Do. Not. Disturb. The books I choose are designed for this very purpose: There are 365 passages—one to be read for every day of the year. I usually read two of these books each year, meaning, I read one passage from both books every day. One book, Meditations from the Mat (above), never changes. I just keep reading this one year after year. It is just that good. And that profound. It connects modern life and everyday circumstances and challenges with yogic philosophy. I'm on my third consecutive year of reading this every morning, and, I swear, I latch on to something new every single time. My second daily changes every year. Last year, it was Believing in Myself: Self Esteem Daily Meditations (which I highly recommend), and this year my second daily is Acts of Faith, which I—no lie—purchased way back in 1995.

3. Drink green juice

This one here. Oh, man. I've come to look forward to drinking green juice even more than my coffee. And I'd be remiss if I didn't admit to much of this being mental. I mean, yes, green juice is super healthy blah, blah, blah. But there's more to it: I make it myself twice a week...in my kitchen...after I've driven to the store and personally selected the produce by hand. I'm a fairly health conscious person, and even for me, weekly juicing requires a level of dedication I haven't usually committed to. But I like it. A lot.

4. Move

I contemplated naming this act exercise but decided against it because I don't view what I do as exercise, as in Ugh, I have to exercise. No, I don't view this as a chore. It's movement. It's a physical tonic for my body—much like bathing. Similarly, I consider sweating to be like my skin's version of breathing. Challenging my body in this way is now something I would definitely miss if I didn't do it. But here's the kicker—and it's essential to keeping my interest: I'm not working out for long periods of time. If I did, I would say screw this. Instead, I prefer to do some sort of HIIT routine. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is a training method comprised of alternating short periods of intense or explosive activity with brief recovery periods. My total routine takes 10 minutes and consists of 20 reps of 30 seconds of movement immediately followed by 20 seconds of rest. So, for example, I'll do jumping jacks or lift weights for 30 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds: That's one rep. I'll repeat 19 more times. I always shake it up; I never do the exact same sequence two days in a row. But the one constant is that I always incorporate a weight-resistant activity. Why? Because we lose muscle mass as we age, and more muscle mass means more calories burned, which, to me, is the key to weight management. 

The items pictured above are my primary tools of the trade (from left): Pilates Power Gym, a pair of 3 lb. weights, and an interval timer, which enables me to program my activity and rest times as well as my number of reps.

© Copyright Courtney Conover, 2022

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