Many of us at Life Time are really in to our routines. They anchor us and help us stay focused on the things that are important to us — including our work, families, communities, and of course, our health. We also know that when it comes to living a healthy life, there’s no single “right” routine, and there’s no such thing as perfect.
In Part One of this three-part series, we talk to six healthy-living experts to get a sense of what their morning routines look like. Take inspiration from folks who aim to “walk the talk” and see if any of these ideas might work for you. (Find Part Two, on midday routines, and Part Three, on evening routines, here.)
Julie Brown, 38, general manager at Life Time
Julie is the general manager at Life Time in Chanhassen, Minn. She has been married for 15 years and has two daughters, a three-year-old and a six-year-old.
I wake up at 6 a.m. on weekdays to prepare for my day and to get to my work out by 7 a.m. My husband stays home with our daughters, so he’s responsible for getting them up on weekdays. I love getting them up on weekends, though.
Exercise is so important for helping me manage stress and feel my best. I take a GTX class three mornings a week, workout on my own the other two weekdays, and prioritize yoga on the weekends.
I then get ready for the day at Life Time while I drink my protein shake. My shakes consist of our sea salt caramel or chocolate Vegan+ All-In-One protein mix with fiber and some additional vanilla Collagen Peptides. If it’s a non-workout day, I’ll eat egg sous vide bites I get at Costco for breakfast.
At work, I have coffee with oat milk while I start digging into my day. I prefer how I feel on decaf, so that’s what I drink 90 percent of the time.
I’m a stickler for planning, so I use a planner that helps me prioritize my top three needs for the day as well as keep track of my schedule and to-do list. I also use a journal where I record five things I’m grateful for and 10 dreams I’m currently working toward. It’s a form of meditation for me to focus on my goals each day.
The main thing that may deter me is if I decide to hit snooze and skip my workout, which does happen from time to time. But that’s OK — I’m human!
Set out your workout and work clothes the night before. This prevents having to make any decisions on clothing in the morning and lets things move more seamlessly. Also, I strive to drink half my body weight in ounces of water daily, starting in the morning, so I always have water within arm’s reach.
Jen Elmquist, 52, MA, LMFT, Mental Health Consultant and Author
Jen is the designer of and provides oversight for Life Time Mind, Life Time’s internal performance coaching program. She’s worked in the mental health and wellness field for more than two decades. Jen and her husband have adult children and split their time between Montana and Southern California.
I like my morning routine to be as calm and simple as possible. My preference is to sleep 7 to 8 hours and wake up naturally, which is usually around 6:30 a.m.
While still in bed, I meditate and then focus on what will excite and challenge me in the day ahead. I then listen to my heart and reset my mind toward what’s positive and possible. I drink a full glass of water, then I get out of bed.
I’ll drink a cup of coffee while I read something inspirational or spend time with my husband — we love connecting at the beginning and end of our days. Then, I get in a workout. Some days that’s strength training or cardio and some days, it’s just a walk. For me, it’s important to move my body early in the day.
After my workout, I’ll drink a protein shake, which is typically a mix of almond milk, vegan protein powder, berries, and super greens. I also take my morning supplements.
As I get ready for the day, I try to use the time to focus on creative thinking. (Some of my best ideas come in the shower!) Before I leave for work, I text my kids to tell them I love them, send a quick encouragement to a friend who’s on my mind, and kiss my husband before we leave. I see the morning as a time to set up my body, mind, spirit, and relationships for success.
My biggest obstacle is being rushed and needing to jump into the day quickly. I try to manage my schedule while also accommodating busy days by flexing my routine without giving it up completely.
Not every morning allows for my preferred pace, so I have options that allow me to be set up for a great day regardless of my schedule. For example, I always take time to set my mind right before I get out of bed, whether it’s two or 20 minutes. Movement is also a non-negotiable; some days I have time for a long workout, others just a quick walk.
Lindsay Ogden, 35, personal trainer and nutrition coach
Lindsay is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who’s passionate about helping Life Time members pursue their health and fitness goals. She resides in Minneapolis, Minn., with her boyfriend, Brenton, and dogs, Louie and Winston.
I try to wake up naturally, but have my alarm set for 5:30 a.m. Laying around in bed or scrolling on my phone is no good, so I try to physically get out of bed and head to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and drink out of my water bottle (I place it there the night before) — starting off the morning hydrated.
I take care of my dogs and finish packing up everything I need for the day, including clothes, work items, and food. (I meal prep breakfast and lunches for each day.)
I then commute to work, which is also where I work out. I move my body at the start of each day. Most times I’m following my strength-training program, or when it’s warm, I may go for a run outside. I typically workout alone listening to a playlist or podcast. This is my meditation and “me” time.
After my workout, I get ready for work and eat breakfast. This is usually overnight oats paired with an animal-source protein. I also drink one cup of coffee a day with collagen. After that, it’s off to work with clients and members!
The main thing that throws off my morning is if I don’t wake up early enough or if I look at my phone too early (and get caught up in scrolling).
The early morning is when I have the most “me” time — before work, friends, or family take priority — so I try not to sell my mornings short. I’ve found if my morning goes well, the rest of my day tends to go that way, too.
Do as much as you can the day or night before so you can enjoy your morning, not feel rushed, and avoid forgetting anything that could get in the way of the rest of your day.
Michael Dregni, 61, deputy editor at Experience Life magazine
Michael is a year-round bike-commuter, husband, and dad to two grown sons and a puppy named Rosie.
I used to wake up between 6 and 7 a.m., but my puppy has an atomic internal clock and she now wakes me at 5:35 a.m. on the dot. I feed her (and the cat, who likes the earlier start as well), then make my own breakfast and a cup of coffee.
I always eat breakfast — it’s my most important meal for functioning during the day, especially since I usually eat a light dinner before 7 p.m. I often eat an egg scrambled with wilted Swiss chard, goat feta cheese, and spicy tomatillo salsa with tortillas. Or granola with lots of fruit and yogurt. I drink one large cup of coffee a day, in the morning. I make it with 50 percent caffeinated beans, 50 percent decaf.
Sometimes I meditate, but not on a regular basis. I do read almost every morning for 30 to 45 minutes, which is very meditative for me. Then I give in to my puppy’s demands for her walk. I’ll also take some time to groom her and clean up after her in the backyard.
Then, it’s on my bike and off to work.
I love mornings and can’t wait to get up and get going, so no real obstacles. I’m raring to go.
Be a morning person! Seriously though, strive to get a good night’s sleep so morning feels better.
Jamie Martin, 40, editor in chief of Experience Life magazine, vice president of content strategy for Life Time, and cohost of the Life Time Talks podcast
Jamie is a wife and the mom of two pre-teen girls whose activity and social calendars keep the whole family on the go.
My weekdays start around 5:30 a.m. I always drink a glass of water first thing (sometimes with juice from half a lemon and a splash of apple-cider vinegar to support digestion), then move in some capacity for 45 to 60 minutes.
I typically do four strength sessions per week: Three with my good friend who happens to be my neighbor, Abby, in our garage gym; one with a personal trainer at Life Time — we’re currently focusing on increasing strength and improving movement patterns.
On the days I don’t lift, I do some form of cardio or active recovery. (I just registered for a 10-mile run so I’m beginning to build some mileage.) To cooldown, I take our dog Billie for a 10- to 15-minute walk — rain, snow, or sunshine here in Minnesota.
Around 7 a.m., I grab a cup of coffee, then shower and get ready. Once my younger daughter is awake at 7:45 a.m. (the older one is already in school by then!), we have breakfast together. We rotate between protein smoothies, omelets, and oatmeal. I often add extra greens to my portions. I pack my lunch about half of the time — typically leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or a salad with quinoa, grilled chicken or salmon, nuts, and veggies.
While my daughter finishes getting ready, I write my priority list for the day and check my email, getting a start on my workday. Once she’s on the bus at 8:50 a.m., I head to the office.
The temptation to hit the snooze button. To overcome this, I aim to get to bed no later than 10:30 p.m., so I’m getting a good 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep a night. Another obstacle for me is checking email and social media first in the morning — I try to avoid checking in until after my workout.
Get up as soon as that alarm goes off! Put on those workout clothes and drink a glass of water to get going. It doesn’t work every day, but it’s proven to be the most effective way for me to be consistent with my routine.
Bob Holper, 60, certified personal trainer and nutrition program coordinator
Bob is an early riser, bodybuilding competitor, and strength-training enthusiast. He’s married and a dad to three adult kids.
I start work at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, so those days are pretty fixed. I set my alarm for 4:15 a.m., and I’m up and out the door by 4:45 a.m.
To do this, I need to have everything ready. That means my clothes are out and ready to go. I drink an eight-ounce glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of Himalayan salt.
I then go to the refrigerator, grab the food I’ve prepped for that day (one protein shake plus two other meals containing protein, carbs, and a vegetable), and put them in a little cooler, along with my vitamins that I take after my first meal of the day. I also grab a gallon-sized container of water — which I drink throughout the course of the day — and then I go.
That’s my 30-minute deal every single morning. I’ve got it down to a science. It takes me 10 minutes to get to work — I drink a cold coffee on the way — and I usually arrive at 4:55 a.m.
A really short morning. I could get up at 3:45 or 4 a.m. for more time, but my goal during the week is to get at least seven hours of sleep. I find I do better if I get everything ready the night before and get to bed by 9 p.m.
My job and my passion are strength training, so while I always prefer real food, I do rely on protein shakes as well. I blend up this whole-foods-based recipe and store it in the fridge the night before: one scoop collagen protein, two scoops whey isolate protein, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, a handful of both fresh kale and spinach, and approximately 10 ounces of water.