My Route to Success
routine [roo-teen] - 1670-80; < French, derivative of route
This title is rather presumptive, this means that I must be successful, right? Then I must alos assume that my 'route' is a what steered me towards that success.
Well my intention is only to say that I'm successful only by my own standard, and that the route I have taken has largely been guided by my daily routines.
"The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine."
- Mike Murdoch
There has been a massive amount of interest in the area of daily routines and habits of successful people over the last few years. People like Tim Ferriss, Ben Greenfield and Michael Gervais have all taken deep dives into people's daily habits in order to decode what has led to individuals success or sometimes failure.
I don't want to be a bandwagon blogger so let me explain where my interest stems from. Ever since I was a child I have been keenly interested in other people's lives. I can remember watching 'Rock-umentarys' on the Palladia channel, historical biopics on PBS or just reading biographies on people that I looked up to, which tended to be athletes in my younger years.
I recently found a 'research' paper I did in fourth grade on Shaquille O'neal. This was one of those assignments where you collected hundreds of note cards of information in your little notecard box and then started deciphering the data into a somewhat legible document. I hadn't seen this paper in over 20 years, but as I flipped through the pages I realized that my focus was mainly on his routine, rather than the big milestones in his life.
So, I have always been interested in what makes people tick. Why do they do what they do? What has worked and what has not?
Now, I realize I am no Steve Jobs or Benjamin Franklin, but I do think have gathered some great habits and built a solid routine, that is leading me on an upward path. I hope that by sharing my daily routine, you gain a greater understanding of how I tick, and maybe you steal a few tips and tricks along the way!
My mornings are MINE.
My work demands that I give my time and energy to others the entire day. What I have quickly come to realize is that if I am going to give the best care possible to my patients, be the best husband possible and then still have time for fun and recreating, then I have to create time for me first.
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
That is why I say my mornings are MINE. I am definitely the type of morning person a late-riser wants to punch squarely in the face. Realizing these are my most productive hours, I used to pour over my work...patient notes, emails, business odds and ends, writing, etc... I've realized that if I take that productivity and channel it in to myself, in the form of writing, meditation, movement, nutrition, etc… I am far more productive the rest of the day. The following is a deep look in to what a typical morning looks like for me.
Wake-up. I do use my cell phone as an alarm, I keep it in night mode while I'm sleeping though. I know some would think that my head is being melted by the EMF put off by my iPhone, but I'm yet to find an alarm clock that is darker enough for me. I keep my cell phone in night mode until I get in the car, that way I am not tempted to check any push notifications or messages.
Feed the dogs. We are currently house sitting for friends that live in Luxembourg, we are also watching their dog Rex (we also have our own pup, Lou). Rex is a bit of a nut job when it comes to food, so I have to feed him first thing in the morning. I have come to enjoy his lust for food, because it always forces me to go outside and considering it is still dark when I get up, I get to look up at the stars and take in the stillness of the early morning.
After tending to the beasts I down 12-20 ounces of tepid water with Himalayan salt and lemon juice or a few drops of lemon essential oil. Sometimes I will include Dr. Bragg's apple cider vinegar or oregano essential oil. This depends upon any inkling of a sore through throat, congestion or just sometimes I like the taste of some ACV! The temperature of the water does have some evidence guided decision making behind it. Warm water is more palatable to an empty stomach as ice cold water can be jarring first thing the morning. Natural salt or sea salt contains approximately 84 minerals and trace elements that are crucial in order to actually absorb the water you are drinking. Many of my patients do drink enough water throughout the day, but may be perpetuating their dehydrated state by making their kidneys work harder without hanging on to the water they are drinking. The addition of sea salt, especially early in the morning can also help with frequent urination for people that are appointment based like myself!
I perform the 5 Tibetan Rites every morning, I started this habit after hearing Dr. Tim Brown lecture a few years ago. The rites are a group of movements that have been done together for over 2500 years, as a way to improve musculoskeletal and organ function through movement. I don't know how specific they are to increasing longevity, but they get me moving in the morning. In addition to those quick moves, I always roll my feet on a lacrosse or golf ball to spur some propiocetpion through the almost 8000 free nerve endings in our feet. Working on your feet in this manner, without being too aggressive, has also been shown to boost your immune system. In Eastern medicine one of the first things suggested at the onset of a cold is to go walk outside on the grass with bare feet. I also work on any cranky spots, maybe a stiff big toe (old injury), sore hamstrings from yesterday’s workout and then I bounce. Yep, I do small, jumprope-esque jumps to get they lymph and blood moving. I do this for about 45 seconds.
After these quick movements I sit down and write down any dreams I can remember, any additional thoughts I had during the night and then I say a small gratitude prayer and I’m sure to ask to be a light in someone’s life that day.
Side-Ever-note: I am constantly using Evernote. If I don’t jot down my thoughts on shopping lists, content development, to-do’s, etc…they are gone and then I have to work to get them back which doesn’t always happen. So during my morning routine there may be some use of my digital crutch to help my memory out.
Meditation has been something that I have dabbled with since my summers spent in Alaska over 10 years ago. Two years ago while I was training for trail running world championships I used the HeadSpace app, which provides guided meditations. These meditations gave me some needed direction, but then allowed me to go off on my own and create a meditation routine that worked best for me. I find that 15-20 minutes of meditation in the morning, sets me up for being a ‘mind ninja’ for the rest of the day. I can also tell that if I take a break my patience and quick temper pay the price for my lapse in practice. I do not have a specific practice as it pertains to transcendental meditation, but I do use some specific breathing techniques to focus my mind. This is a second hand quote that I heard via Tim Ferriss;
“It’s not about how many times your mind wanders, the practice is about coming back each time.”
To me that is truly what it means to be mindful.
Shower...shave...get dressed. A few days a week I will dry brush my entire body (especially in the winter) in order to help with exfoliation but more so for spurring of micro-lymphatic movement. I do finish some of my showers off with about a 20-30 second cold blast, but this isn’t everyday. I haven’t went full Wim Hoff yet. If you haven’t figured it out yet I am pathological planner. During this part of my morning I pack my backpack like a 3rd grader who thinks he may never return home again, only this third grader runs trails and lifts weights. I always take running gear and gear for the gym, along with an extra pair of underwear. Yep, underwear, this has saved me many times when I go for a mid-day run or workout and don’t want to deal with post workout SWASS.
I'm a bit of a gear head and my wife thinks I have a bag and shoe addiction, but there's no way I'm admitting that! Maybe I'll do a blog on my favorite gear list.
5:45 - 6:00
I would say that 3-4 days out of the week I have a green smoothie. I use a Ninja blender, and I prefer the individual serving blender, I think it does the job better. The following is a typical ingredient list, most of our ingredients now come the CSA we participate in from Stone Hollow Farms;
dandelion greens - high in vitamin K, vitamin A, helps with blood purification
kale or spinach - this provides the base of the smoothie
raw ginger and/or tumeric - anti-inflammatory powerhouses
frozen blueberries, strawberries, dark cherries - going for a big anti-oxidant load
parsley or cinlantro - help with phase 2 detoxification/chelation
pure aloe - loaded with vitamins and minerals
Douglas Labs pea protein
Douglas Labs collagen powder
Douglas Labs liquid B12
cacao nibs - one of the most antioxidant rich foods out there
maca powder (sometimes) - hormone balancer
roasted nuts (Brazil, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts)
full fat coconut milk
Make the bed and kiss my wife goodbye.
Many successful people throughout history made a habit of making their bed, and don't be a slob, just do it!
6:00 - 6:15
During my commute to work, which is relatively short, I’ll either listen to part of a podcast or listen to nothing at all. All of us could do with more silence in our lives. This 10-15 minute window can allow me to sort some thoughts and continue planning for the day. If things pop into my mind for a to do list or shopping list, I use the microphone function on Evernote so I’m not typing while driving.
I like getting to the office early, which means that I open the office and prep it for the day. During this time I’ll make some coffee using either a Keurig, Aeropress or our De'Longhi espresso machine. Now with the Keurig we use San Francisco Bay Organic coffee in compostable pods. I order these in bulk off Amazon, with the Aeropress or machine I just get some locally sourced organic coffee. It's worth noting that if you are using an Aeropress you should think about using a stainless steel filter, because paper filters eliminate many of the antioxidants in coffee. Some days I will microwave 2-3 eggs (locally sourced...we'll have our own chickens soon). I know that microwaving can reduce the nutritional density of food, but I would rather have the nutrition via microwave than not at all. If I have time I may do some more varied movement on our VibePlate in order to get more lymphatic movement and just wake me up overall.
I use this time to filter workflow for the day. So I will check email, but I never answer any emails during this time. I have two different Gmail accounts that I check and will color label emails that I need to answer for a later time. You may think that this adds more time, by having to look at an email twice, but I actually keep labeling/coding emails throughout the day and then answer all of them at one specified time. This negates a lot of back and forth, as most early morning/late night emails will be followed up by a call to my office or text/call to my cell. Believe it or not, talking to someone on the phone is still more effective than email! I know, right! So I find this process works for me. I am a bit OCD so I want a constant ‘Inbox 0’ count. So I like to open and file all emails for this purpose, I think it removes distraction. I will sometimes check social media during this time, again not answering any direct messages until a specified block. My role as a clinic owner and practitioner means that my day-to-day responsibilities include social media management, accounting, payroll, administrative tasks, HR and of course patient care. I can already hear some of you out there saying “he should really pay someone to do those other task for him”. I agree, but none of these areas on their own have reached or surpassed the opportunity cost needed for me to hand them over. Some are in transition but for the most part, only about 3-4 hours of my time each week is spent on these tasks.
During this time I also schedule my day, since our schedule is always varying I workout at all different times. I try to do about 3 weight training session per week and then 2-3 days of trail running. Sometimes I exchange one of those days for a golf lesson or mobility/recovery session. I have found that my workouts are best in the late afternoon, which happens to be the peak in the testosterone/cortisol ratio that leads to greater anabolic gains. So this tends to be a very advantageous time to do strength training. Research would say that longer bouts of cardio are more beneficial when done first thing in the morning, and there is even some research that explores the benefits of fasted, low threshold aerobic workouts in the morning. Right now I’m doing a mix of Iron Tribe workouts, a Wendler strength cycle via Jake Naumcheff of Welded Fitness and some trail running and golf sprinkled throughout. About two months ago I was training for the Rut 50K, so my workouts geared far more to ultra running, so I am taking the next few months to build strength and lean muscle mass to ready myself for the next big adventure!
Well…this is time for #2. Usually the coffee has kicked in, and I’ll use our make-shift squatty potty and take this time to check some more social media. Yeah, you know you do it to.
Some days I start seeing patients at 7 AM, so from this time on I am in and out of my office treating patients, returning texts, checking social media, editing patient notes (the bain of every physicians life). This takes me all the way up to lunch and that takes us in to the next blog on my…Afternoon Routine.
Make your morning YOURS. Don’t allow yourself to be captured by social media, or the to-do list or worst of all don’t start your day in a panic. I’ve never understood why some people will sleep until the very last minute they can, and then rush to get ready and arrive to work right on time (which is late) or actually late. This sets the tone of the rest of your day. I personally do not want my days to consist of anxiety, rushing around, eating like a mess, looking like a mess and acting like a fool. So get out of bed, make time for what gives you energy and then kick some ass!