February 22, 2015
It's been about 5 years since I posted a bunch of videos of me doing strange poses in my backyard while wearing teeny-tiny black shorts (at The Exact Stretch Routine That Ben Does Every Morning, No Matter What)…
…so I figured I may as well give you the latest update of my morning routine, since when I step back and think about, my morning routine has progressed way beyond the level of just a few silly stretches in my underwear (as you can see in the photo above, I've moved on to pink swimwear). My morning routine has, in fact, morphed into an absolutely epic series of moves, twists, oils, supplements, pooping techniques and an entire host of other ridiculously complex self-care techniques.
But I'm not complaining.
Not only do I absolutely love my morning routine, hopping out of bed each day with a big anticipatory grin, but I also know, that a morning and an evening routine are a great way to bookend your day, and the morning routine in particular allows you to prioritize all the things necessary to take care of yourself and your body while your willpower is high, while grounding your body and mind, and even giving you something “old and reliable” to use when you're traveling or starting your day in strange, new places. As my friend Brett McKay notes at the Art of Manliness:
“…as secretary of state and president, John Quincy Adams skinny dipped in the Potomac River in the morning, always trying to see how long he could swim without touching the bottom (he got up to 80 minutes before his wife told him to stop). After putting his kids to bed, President Obama goes over briefing papers and does paperwork, and then reads a book for pleasure for a half hour before turning in…”
As a matter of fact, I don't know any successful people who do not have some kind of a relatively structured and occasionally elaborate morning routine. So without further ado, for your entertainment and education, here is my current morning routine in occasionally disgusting detail.
Ben Greenfield's Morning Routine
Wake. Unless I have a flight to catch, I do not use an alarm, and ensure that I only book appointments, calls and work after 9am, so that if I do sleep in, I'm able to follow my body's natural clock and not get “fired from work”. I remove my huge, wraparound Sleep Number eye mask and ear plugs (get the kind you'd use on a gun shooting range – something that really drowns out the noise).
I then roll over, strap on a bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (most models work but here's an exact list of compatible ones), smear conducting gel all over the monitor electrodes, and do a 5 minute measurement of my heart rate variability (HRV), nervous system readiness and stress using the NatureBeat app. While I monitor my HRV, I complete a morning entry into my Five Minute Journal, practice box breathing meditation, read my Bible and pray.
Walk downstairs to the kitchen. I pour 20oz of water, into which I add 10 drops of lemon essential oil and 5 drops oil of oregano. As I drink this water, I take my morning supplements and there's currently quite a few – specifically:
After swallowing this small drugstore's worth of capsules, I put on the water to boil for coffee and head down to the basement gym.
In the gym, I flip on the lights, which powered by a special kind of bulb called “Awake And Alert“. These bulbs crank out massive amounts of blue light, and if the day is gray, I'll head to gym rather than the backyard patio for a massive dose of light.
Then, I proceed to do my 10 minute morning stretch routine, which frankly, is still pretty dang close to what I was doing 5 years ago. Some things never change. The only major difference is that I add 10 dead-hang pullups at the end of the stretch.
I charge back upstairs and grab the coffee, which is always caffeinated for 3 weeks, then decaffeinated for 1 week, allowing me to only be nursing a caffeine habit 75% of the time (and allow for resensitization of the adenosine receptors). I use Kion Coffee, and no, I do not use butter or MCT oil. Just black coffee, thank you.
Coffee in hand, I head to the bathroom.
So I'll let you in on a little secret: I only poop once-a-day. That's right – I get it all out of the way with one massive dump first thing in the morning. There's just something I don't like about walking around during the current day with the previous day's majority of solid waste still inside me.
I've pretty much got the morning poo down to a science. I stroll into the bathroom, hop onto my Squatty Potty, then shift, shimmy and shake until everything is out. Typically, I have a few sips of coffee, scroll through emails and Facebook (yep, you know it), read any of my bathroom books and magazines, and just chill until everything is expulsed. This is generally an oh-so-glorious 15-20 minutes, I walk out of that experience with a big goofy smile on my face, and yes, anytime I return from a big bout of travel (and about every two weeks as a rule) my morning bathroom routine includes a Kion Coffee Enema.
Hang out with my two boys before they head to the bus stop. We talk about their sleep, their dreams, their morning journal, breakfast, and the day's activities. Then they're off until 3:30pm, which gives me 8 hours of extreme productivity. The day's goal is always to be finished up with all the hard work by the time the boys get home, so we have plenty of time for afternoon workouts and father-son activities.
Do 30 minutes of morning movement. This varies a bit from day-to-day but generally is setup as follows:
-Monday and Friday mornings: yoga. I've been through enough yoga routines to where I have my own hybridized version, but it's usually basic flow yoga with an intense focus on deep breathing, often in the cold, and often wearing an elevation training mask.
-Wednesday mornings: 30 minute cold water swim at 55-60F. Finish with hot tub and warrior breathing.
-Thursday mornings: 30 minute breath hold walk (hold breath every 2 minutes for as long as you can) or 30 minute kettlebell walk (just what it sounds like – carry a kettlebell however you want for 30 minutes).
-Saturday and Sunday mornings: 30 minutes Core Foundation training.
I always finish any of these routines with my signature cold shower (see video below). Post-shower, I slather my legs with magnesium lotion and I slather my face with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
Breakfast. With very little exception, 7 days a week breakfast is simply a green smoothie. You may want to take a deep breath before diving into this. Ready? Here we go:
-A huge bunch of greens. I prefer kale, but spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, etc. also works.
-Some kind of herb. Cleansing herbs like parsley, cilantro or thyme are nice. Get ‘em fresh.
-Half an avocado, or a whole one if it’s a high calorie day.
-4-6oz of full fat coconut milk that is BPA free. The less you use, the thicker your smoothie will be. I prefer an extremely thick smoothie that I have to eat with a spoon, so that the digestive enzymes in my mouth can work on pre-digesting before the food even makes it to my gut. Like my mom always said, “Chew your liquids and drink your solids.” Didn’t you always wonder what that means?
-2 teaspoons organic cacao powder.
-2 teaspoons cinnamon.
-1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt (I use the fancy Colima stuff).
OK, stop there. Blend everything above for 60 seconds-ish. You don’t want to pulverize things like protein powder, collagen, etc., and you also don’t want to pulverize the chunky chunks of goodness you’re about to toss in.
Now, let’s keep going. To your blended green goodness, add:
-20-30g of a “clean” protein powder (I have been primarily using Thorne Vegan Chocolate lately).
-2 teaspoons of a good organic collagen hydrolysate.
-1 large handful of unroasted, non-vegetable-oil coated walnuts or almonds.
Now blend again. Quickly this time so that you don’t pulverize the chunks. About 15 seconds will do.
Finally, stir (don’t blend) in the following ingredients:
-1 small handful organic dark cacao nibs or very dark chocolate.
-1 large handful organic unsweetened coconut flakes.
Boom. That’s it. You’re now ready to begin consuming your smoothie, preferably with a spoon or a spatual. I personally use an enormous mug that I won in a triathlon, although I have been known to simply eat it straight out of the blender container when in a hurry or when I’m too lazy to make the transfer into a civilized cup. Depending on how exact your measurements are, this smoothie is going to weigh in at anywhere from 700-1000 calories, so scale yours accordingly if you copy me.
The morning supplements that I currently take with this smoothie (all are best taken before or with a meal):
During breakfast, I surf through blogs, read research, plan my day, and wipe green smoothie goodness off my face.
They work day officially begins.
And I'll go ahead and close the curtains there (game for a future Part 2, anyone?).
Do you dig this kind of “inside-the-life-of-Ben” stuff?
Then you may (you creepy stalker, you) enjoy this article too: A Day In The Life Of Get-Fit Guy. Another place where you can find the routines of some famous folks is the blog Daily Routines. And remember that I post every one of my workouts and many photos of my meals inside the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle.
If you have proposed modifications to my morning routine, you want to describe your own morning routine, or you have questions, thoughts or aggressively good-humored ridicule, then feel free to use the comments section below!
Here's the Snapchat version of my morning routine…find more at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/Snapchat