Mornings are my favorite. They provide such a clear opportunity for a fresh start. Everything’s quiet (even in the dorms). Less cars are streaming down the road. There’s a uniquely valuable opportunity to pause here before the day gets going.
Before we’ve even spoken, our first thoughts have an incredible power to drive our actions for the day. My pastor encourages us to direct our first thoughts to the Lord – just thinking “Good Morning, God” sets the tone for everything that follows. Inviting Him in before anything else reminds me who I am, and how lucky I am to be redeemed by Christ and able to speak to the one holding the universe. It’s much harder to feel discouraged or aimless when you remind yourself that your God already knows how your day will turn out, and he’s going to help you through it.
Despite positive first thoughts, I don’t usually spring out of bed smiling and start singing and cleaning. I take a while to really wake up, and that’s one of the reasons that I typically plan to wake up earlier than I would “have to” to get where I need to be. Does the sun rise in 0.2 seconds, shining at its full brightness? Nope, but we are even more in awe of its beauty because it rises slowly. Don’t feel negatively toward yourself if it takes you a little time to get up to speed in the morning, because the sun feels the same way.
My alarm went off at 6 this morning. As I turned it off, I thought how much I actually don’t mind the noise I wake up to. I’ve really been liking this tone called “droplets” lately. The bedtime feature on the iPhone has some really nice (effective yet peaceful) alarm sounds. Some people might require a more obnoxious tone, but I’m a pretty light sleeper, so this is perfect for me. Starting off the day feeling like I need to disable a bomb is just not my style. Oh also – I highly recommend this method for making sure you get up to your alarm – Pressing snooze instead of off the first time, even if you don’t plan on actually “snoozing” again. Once I’m sure I’m up and really awake, then I’ll turn it off. It’s a good safety net – it’s never failed me since I’ve been doing it all throughout college.
For about the first 10 minutes of my day, I usually feel like my head is so heavy and my legs are super stiff. I keep a full water bottle by my bed at all times, and sometimes I’ll sit there and drink the whole thing before I even get out of bed. It really helps not only my physical state, but also my mood and energy levels. I like to open the blinds (since I’m right next to the window) and see what’s going on out there, and then most days I’ll sit on my bed (the brightest spot in the room) while I read a little of my Bible and open up my prayer journal. When I skip this, my day is just never as productive, or positive. Time in prayer and the word refocuses us on why we are on earth to begin with – not for us, but for His Glory.
On days like today when I’m not running in the morning, I’ll go turn on some praise music and make coffee and breakfast. Sometimes I’ll have coffee, do a little school work or answer emails, and then make breakfast after an hour or so. Sometimes I have breakfast while I read my bible, and then coffee later. Sometimes I’ll have breakfast and coffee together at my desk. It really just depends on the day and my mood/hunger. I used to always eat first thing, but after spending so many mornings going on hard runs and not being able to eat before, I’m not always hungry first thing. I just wait for that hunger to set in before I eat, so that I can accurately gauge how much I need. I also try to make my first choices yummy and healthy to set the tone for my day.
I used to eat really small breakfasts that were mostly carbohydrate – something like a piece of wheat toast with fruit spread and a packet of instant oatmeal. When I became a college athlete, my day became much more active. Much more. The college lifestyle is so much more active and taxing, compared to the amount of walking I did at home. Throw in much tougher workouts, and I obviously had to upgrade my diet. Especially in the past year, I’ve really been working on eating a more wholesome breakfast – something I love, like oatmeal or toast, but amped up with protein and healthy fats and fresh produce. This semester I’ve been making a lot of overnight oats – here’s today’s!
These were just “whatever I thought would be yummy, I threw in” oats, and this might have been my best batch yet. I used 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, a heaping teaspoon of chia seeds, a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter, a drizzle of my new purchase – blackstrap molasses (helps add a little more iron to your diet!), 2 strawberries, a shake of toasted oat and flax cereal (for crunch), and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Then, I poured about 1/2 cup cashew milk over the top. Overnight, the oats soften without being cooked, and the flavors all swirl together and become wonderful! I left it layered like this instead of shaking it up, and I think that’s my favorite way to do it.
The best thing about these is you don’t have to even think, and you can grab a healthy breakfast out of the fridge. Now that it’s warmer, I don’t always want a hot bowl of oatmeal, so overnight oats are perfect. There’s also so many ways you can make them, and it’s fun to try different things. I’ve just stuck another variation in the fridge for tomorrow morning – I’ll probably be grabbing it on my way out the door or eating it early, before the first morning session of our big class research project 🙂
If I have time in the morning, I love a quick yoga session before class. Check out “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube! I also love my running and working out mornings. No matter what your morning holds, I encourage you to take a few moments for yourself, to set your intentions for the day. Your approach makes all the difference!