According to science, it pays to be a morning person. People who wake up earlier make healthier food decisions, have more productive work days, and are more likely to win the lottery. Okay, that last one isn’t true, but those scientific claims are no joke.
While it’s clear that getting up early has its benefits, researchers don’t exactly spell out how to spend those precious hours between waking up and walking into work. Should you work out? Make breakfast and read the news on your phone? Call your mom?
Here, seven CEOs working in the wellness space share how they spend their mornings, setting the tone for the rest of the day. See what resonates with you and try out their tips for yourself.
Mentally prepare for what’s on the agenda
“Aside from chatting with my husband for a bit, I love starting my day with a quick run,” says Payal Kadakia, the CEO of fitness megabrand ClassPass. “It’s almost meditative for me in the sense that it helps clear my mind and energize me for the day ahead.”
Another way she mentally prepares is by looking at her to-do list—before she gets to work. “I check my email and calendar over a cup of green tea,” she says.
ACV, then breakfast
As the owner of NAO Nutrition, Nikki Ostrower, MS, goes with her gut: The first thing she does in the morning is a shot of apple cider vinegar. “Then, I read a daily meditation, get my blood flowing with a workout, and my husband treats our daughter and me to a healthy, home-cooked breakfast,” she says. How’s that for an idyllic morning?
Get the kids going
If you’re a parent, mornings can be a little chaotic—even if you are the founder of a buzzy meditation studio, like Unplug‘s Suze Yalof Schwartz. That’s why she gets up extra early, around 5 a.m., to meditate, while her kids are still sleeping. “After that, I caffeinate, check my email, wake up my three little boys, and get them off to school.” See, even a meditation expert starts her day with coffee and emails.
Spend it with the fam
Like Yalof Schwartz, Inscape founder and CEO Khajak Keledjian is another meditation guru who likes to start his morning with his family. “I daydream for a few minutes in bed, hug and kiss my wife, and then go wash my face and brush my teeth. Then, if I’m not playing with my kids, I do 10 to 20 minutes of yoga or work out on the rowing machine or elliptical,” he says. But his morning doesn’t stop there. “After I work out, I meditate for 20 to 30 minutes—and 45 on weekends. And one day a week, I have a private yoga instructor I practice with for 90 minutes. Last, I like to have a fresh juice before I leave for work.” Talk about #morninggoals.
Put out any fires
You probably expect every wellness guru to say that they don’t look at their phone in the morning, but this is the real world: Emails happen. “I know it’s a big faux pas, but the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone and look at any important emails that have come up,” says Tata Harper, the founder of her eponymous skin-care line. “I like to address any urgencies first thing. Then, I catch up on my favorite blogs and lifestyle sites, which takes about 20 minutes.”
After she’s all caught up, Harper says she showers, has breakfast, and goes through her skin-care regimen, which takes another 20 minutes. “Then, I go back to bed, put my blinds down and meditate for 20 minutes before heading to the office,” she says. “I like to get ready with Indian bhajans or meditations from Deepak Chopra, or something really relaxing and calming.” And bonus, she can meditate without worrying about her inbox since she already checked it.
Read your favorite websites (ahem)
SoulCycle CEO Melanie Whelan starts her day with her phone in hand, too: “I try to wake up before everyone else in the house to get a few moments to start the day, which I spend checking my email and reading headlines.” On her list: TheSkimm, The New York Times’ Morning Briefing, Wall Street Journal’s Top Stories, Page Six, and about 10 Google alerts.
“Then, I go through a quick, low-maintenance beauty routine, go to Starbucks for a cold brew with almond milk, and drop my kids off at school.” After that, she takes a SoulCycle class and heads to the office. “Working out in the morning is key for me to feeling refreshed and energized throughout the day,” she says.
Actually talk to your barista
Even though she’s the co-founder of buzzy tea brand Dona Chai, Amy Rothstein admits to starting her day with something a little stronger. “I can’t go without coffee in the morning—but the rest of the day I drink tea, I swear!” For her, it’s just as much about the ritual of going to her favorite coffee shop as it is getting the energy kick. “It serves as a friendly, social break to my day,” she says. And if you’re in the habit of rarely taking a lunch break, that’s doubly important.