I had been struggling. After being abroad in paradise for seven months, adjusting to the grind of New York City was taking it’s toll. I was having a tough time getting back to performing at my peak. The travels were amazing, but I lost 10 lbs of muscle, had gone from 6 meals per day to just 3, and now, life in the city was catching up with me. My stress levels were high, I was eating out all the time, and I wasn’t sleeping like I should be. I even ate fast-food in an airport…. and then I made a change.
Work from home.
Not all the time. I’d be bored to tears. But 3 hours on Monday… it made all the difference in the world. Here’s the routine:
8AM Wakeup. A modest hour. Catching an extra half hour of sleep because I don’t have to commute. I looked and felt better. I not only recovered from my workouts faster, but my brain function increased. I useSleep Cycle iPhone app, to wake up during my lightest pattern of sleep.
16 ounces of H2O. Your body hasn’t had water for hours. You might have even had some cocktails last night and your skin is probably dried out. First stop is the faucet for two glasses of water.
Eat a handful of nuts. Next, get your metabolism going right away. Eating these fats actually help stimulate your brain and keep you lean. Nuts are easy because they are high in calories and all you need is a handful.
Get your groceries delivered. Once a week Freshdirect delivers my groceries. Shopping takes me about 10 minutes online. I almost order the same thing every week, and I don’t have to set foot in a grocery store. Please don’t tell me you want to pick out your own produce– if that’s your hobby, great, but it’s not mine. Give me my bag of babby carrots, and my thing of blueberries and I’m good. My mixed greens are usually in damn good shape. I eat for fuel, not really for fun, so when my shipment comes, I start cooking immediately.
Hard boil a dozen eggs. High in protein, easy to grab every morning, almost brainless to make.
Brown your ground turkey. Sorry if you are vegetarian, but fire up burner number two. You can’t screw this up. You can use this for your meat sauce for pasta, chili, sloppy joes, taco salad, and a ton of other things.
Get your green tea going. Burner number three is assigned to green tea. Don’t burn the place down. Admittedly, I drink coffee way more than green tea, but I try to get my antioxidants this way once per day. Green tea is great if you are more sensitive to caffeine, helps ward of cancer, and balances out the acidity of your body. You should be consuming as many “green” things as possible.
Sh*t, now fire up the oven. The kitchen is getting hot. Take out your lean, skinless, chicken breasts (or something else you enjoy), and roast them. It’s not hard. Put some seasoning on that is low in sodium. You can slice these for a chicken salad, eat them with some BBQ sauce (without high fructose corn syrup), or get fancy and do chicken parm. I make four pounds.
Eggs are ready, swap in the pasta. I’m serious, and I didn’t even make you use burner number four. Throw the eggs in the freezer to make them easier to peel. Pour the water out–don’t put the pasta in the same water, that’s gross. Refill that pot with water, boil it again, and make pasta. We’re reducing the number of pots to wash at the end.
Fire up the toaster. Notice I didn’t shower yet, because I’m sweating at this point. Oh, and always do the dishes before you shower. It’s messy. Your whole wheat toast is in the toaster. Don’t butter it. Come on, that’s bad for you.
This whole time you’ve been eating your baby carrots and blueberries. Yum.
Update: It’s 8:30AM and your breakfast, and several lunches and dinners are almost done being prepared. You have options at this point. I’ve given you suggestions, but here’s what I find easiest:
-Throw some canned pasta sauce ontop of that ground beef. You’ll have pasta and meat sauce, plain and simple. Ladies, I don’t always make my own pasta sauce, but when I do, it’s delicious and healthy. Garlic, peppers, onions, etc., sautéed in olive oil…
-Let the chicken keep cooking. The most commonly asked question here is “how do I know when the chicken is done.” Cut into it, and if it’s bleeding, or still red or pink, put it back in. Don’t dry it out, but don’t eat it if it looks fickel.
Sit, eat, breakfast, enjoy. Water, green tea, fruits, veggies, nuts, hard boiled eggs, toast, oh and greek yogurt, have all been prepared and ready to consume. Most of this stuff you just pulled out of the refrigerator anyway… that’s the point. With all this food that you just prepared at once, you’ll be pulling stuff out of the fridge to eat all week.
Stimulate your mind. Resist emails. Eating and emailing sucks. When I had cable I watched Sportscenter, but now without it, I’m becoming smarter. Watch Techcrunch TV, Mixergy, or something to help you learn a foreign language. I use the Univision app for iPhone to watch the news in Spanish at any meal I eat alone.
Dessert. Get a Vitamix blender. Throw in protein powder, frozen fruit (the vitamins get locked in better and it makes your drink cold), almond milk, and organic peanut butter. You know I don’t just make one shake… Take that blender full of nutrition and put it right in the fridge for a few days, consume before and after your workouts, or when you are in a hurry as a meal replacement.
Pop your vitamins. Figure out what you need, but for me it’s a multi-vitamin, vitamin C, Stress-B capsule, fish oil, and flax seed oil. Of course, not on an empty stomach.
Pack it up for work. Use your Tupperwear. You aren’t eating this all this morning. Stop eating out, you make bad decisions when you are rushed. Save money, and don’t waste time leaving the office.
The dishes. Ugh. Your kitchen looks like World War III. Some parts may still be on fire. Well, guess what– it’s probably the only time you’ll really have to do dishes all week, so be grateful. You are getting it all done in one sitting. If you can spring for it, get a housekeeper to come the same day. Split it with your roommate, or look out for a Groupon, it might only cost you $40.
What the hell just happened?
The point of all this is Tim Ferriss’ concept of batching tasks. You save time if you do it all at once. You never even put the groceries away, you went right into cooking them. You prepared 5-10 meals and you only had to do the dishes once. It’s only 9AM and you just prepared a nearly surgical dietary plan for yourself.
Nutrition and strength coach, Dr. John Berardi calls this the Sunday ritual. I don’t care what day you do it, just get it done.
What happens next?
For me, once I start seriously paying attention to my health and fitness, my productivity increases. I literally become in the habit of making better decisions. I’m not eating out, I say no more often, I focus more, I get to bed earlier, and I become more creative and happier.
Start Scheduling. The key here is to schedule the time. This routine is literally in my calendar every week and my time at the gym is in my calendar too. You probably start your Monday by scheduling your week anyway, so don’t forget to schedule your workouts.
Work at home til lunch. I *try* to get six meals in per day, but five is more reasonable. I’ll start eating again at 11AM at home, and shower up and head out to the office, if I’m really in the zone, I’ll eat meal number three at home, and then head out. Remember–these small meals only take 10-15 minutes, because they are prepared already.
When you are in an office environment, there are tons of distractions. If you are home (alone), then you have nobody to focus on except yourself.
It’s all about building healthy habits. This isn’t the end all, be all. Use some creativity, find out what works for you… That morning routine, juggling the preparation, and having the discipline to actually do it, takes practice. But when you pull it off, be proud of yourself, puff your chest out a little–you earned it.
What are your top health / fitness / nutrition habits? Be part of the community and let us know in a comment below…
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Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Media and Adventurer in Residence at Under30Experiences.