Marlie Cohen started her career in corporate real estate. She worked 12-hour stretches, hunched over a desk, which left her feeling tired, sluggish and ready to crash at the end of the day. She knew she had to make a change so she dialed back her alarm clock and started going to 6 a.m. spin classes. Not what you expected, right? But, for her, it was life-changing.
While the thought of hitting the gym at the crack of dawn may not be appealing (or realistic) for most parents, for Cohen, it became her favourite time of the day. She quit her corporate gig and now works as a certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and group fitness instructor to help others find ways to feel better and more energized in their lives.
Not convinced? These are her five (relatively) easy tips:
1. Wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends Sleeping in on the weekends sounds like a nice idea, but let’s be real, our kids are never going to let that happen. So, we may as well get used to the idea that our alarm is going to go off at the same time, regardless of the day. Cohen explains that having a consistent wake-up time has inherent health benefits. When you train your body to rise at a particular time, it causes a chain reaction in your brain that encourages you to also go to bed at the same time. Having a regular routine improves the quality of your sleep and ultimately makes you feel better in the morning.
2. Don’t hit that snooze button! Hey, we’re guilty of this, too. But snoozing that alarm is only going to disrupt your wake-up time and can actually make you feel more tired and less motivated to get on with your day. If this is a real struggle, Cohen suggests moving your alarm to a separate room so you’re forced to physically get out of bed in order to turn it off before you wake up the whole family.
3. Get your body moving In a perfect world, we’d all be heading to that 6 a.m. spin class, but between getting the kids breakfast and rushing out the door for the school (or daycare) drop-off, that’s probably not going to happen. Cohen suggests taking five minutes to get your body moving. The movement can vary, from doing some light stretches while you’re still in bed to jogging on the spot while you brush your teeth.
Better yet, why not get the whole family involved by cranking up the tunes and having a morning dance party? It will get the blood flowing and leave everyone feeling more energized. Also, research has shown that getting in a workout (even a minor one) first thing in the morning actually encourages you to make healthier choices throughout the day. Maybe, while you’re at it, you can say goodbye to that mid-morning muffin as well.
4. Feed the beast We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but raise your hand if most mornings your breakfast consists of cold coffee and scraps from your kids’ breakfast. Cohen explains that a balanced breakfast—one rich in complex carbs, healthy fats (think avocado toast) and nutrients—will help kick-start your metabolism, balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings. Mornings are already pretty nutty, so why not prepare your breakfast ahead of time? Overnight oats are a great option because they’re kid-friendly, can be made in a big batch and can be customized to suit each kids’ taste with ingredients like nut butters, chopped fresh fruit or maple syrup. Because everything can be thrown in a mason jar the night before, you can even take breakfast to go if you’re crunched for time.
5. Find some “me time” Okay, don’t cringe. This is an important one, and one that parents, in particular, are guilty of neglecting. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily scramble, but Cohen urges parents to find a moment to pause—and it might literally be a moment. Maybe close your eyes while you’re waiting for your Nespresso to brew, or take two minutes while the kids are scarfing down their Cheerios to write down three things you’re grateful for. If the mornings are just way too hectic, set a calendar reminder in your phone for a little later in the day reminding you to take 30 seconds to just breathe or close your eyes. It sounds hokey, but teaching yourself to stop and take a break for yourself will help better prepare you for the day ahead.