Welcome to My Morning Routine, where Nastia Liukin and other good-life gurus share their personal (frequently surprising, often healthy) morning rituals—to help you make your a.m.’s more awesome.
Olympic gold medalist, retired gymnast, entrepreneur, and NBC Olympics analyst
I generally try to wake up early—around 5 a.m. I start the day with hot water and lemon. Then, I have coffee with almond milk or I’ll make an almond milk latte.
My fiancé and I both try to eat really well. It’s not about being skinny or dieting, but just about feeling good. My parents taught me from a young age to think of food as fuel, so eat what makes your body feel good and energized. It’s nice to have a partner in that goal now.
We eat almost entirely organic, and for breakfast we’ll make eggs with gluten-free bread topped with sliced avocado. If I’m waking up super-early, I’m not generally that hungry, so I’ll sometimes just make my own green juice with whatever veggies and fruit we have at home. If I’m out traveling, I love drinking Suja juices—they’re so delicious.
I also try to always journal in the mornings, if I can. When I was younger, I was so physically exhausted and I thought it would get better once I retired, but now I find that I’m more mentally exhausted. I have a journal, but I’ll use my phone if I’m on the road or not able to physically write it out.
Meditation is also crucial to my mental health. For me, it just involves stepping away from my phone, closing my eyes, and focusing on breathing. The combo of journaling and meditation is my saving grace for clearing my mind and focusing on my day. I sometimes have so much going on and it can feel overwhelming, but doing both of these things first-thing [in the morning] really calms my mind and allows me to focus on what I have to do.
I’m usually out the door pretty early—and will be out all day—so packing a bag with all my stuff is mandatory. The bag I just created with Caraa is perfect because it looks chic, but it’s really practical and durable. I’m a very organized person, so I made sure that there were pockets and compartments for everything I need so there’s easy access and I’m never digging around for my phone, wallet, or Chapstick.
I generally try to work out first thing, before anything else can pop up and get in the way, but I never do any gymnastics anymore. I love mixing it up with SoulCycle, Bar Method, and Barry’s Bootcamp throughout the week. I’ve been really into boxing with my trainer lately, or if I’m running low on time I’ll just do a quick run along the West Side Highway. When I was competing, my body was so used to doing the same thing seven hours a day, six days a week, and when I stopped I didn’t know what to do—I always had someone telling me. So working with a trainer and trying out all of these different studio classes has been really fun because I get to try out different exercises, but someone is telling me what to do and when to go.
After I workout, I’ll get ready for the day. If I don’t have to dress up for anything, I generally keep my face clean and makeup-free and just make sure to have Chapstick—I’m addicted. I love Burt’s Bees; I probably have at least 15 in my bag and around my house at all times!
When I get dressed for the day, it’s fun to play around with different trends and fashion, but I’m also definitely a leggings-all-day kind of girl since I spent so many years living in them. When I was an athlete, there weren’t as many cute options out there, so it’s so fun to see how many different brands and styles are popping up. I love to try out news, cute brands—Koral, Michi, and Alo Yoga are probably my favorites—but I’m also really into the brands that have a message of female empowerment behind them, like Athleta, Nike, and Adidas. Women love to wear activewear because it’s comfortable, but it’s also about embracing that strong and healthy from the inside-out lifestyle—I love that that’s becoming so mainstream.
Liukin is currently in Rio for the 2016 Olympics, reporting as an analyst for the women’s gymnastics competition.