Call me nosy, but one of my pastimes is picking others’ brains about their morning routines. I’m a creature of habit whose diet, exercise and sleep don’t vary much from day to day, and while I’ve found the regimen that currently works for me, I’m keen to learn what other people do to keep their lives humming along. You know what they say about knowledge, after all—it’s power.
Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek’s Program Director, is the latest victim of my brain-picking, and in the spirit of imparting wisdom, here’s what I learned he does on the daily to set the context for why he’s living.
Thanks for making the time to give me the ins and outs of your morning routine, Kirk. To set the tone of transparency, the first thing I do upon waking—besides, admittedly, restraining myself from picking up my phone—is spend two minutes looking out the window from the comfort of my bed, asking myself what I’m excited for that day. Clearly, this can’t always be something like, “I’m excited to go swimming with dolphins,” and it’s often more along the lines of, “I’m excited to take a lunchtime walk with my dogs.” Regardless, this ritual gets me pumped for the day, and sets me up for success. What’s your morning routine?
I start the day by drinking 12oz of filtered water. Next, I take a shower, ending it with cold-water immersion. Once I’ve kickstarted my system in those two ways, I do a Chi Kung energy cycling mediation, while still dripping wet, and make three to four thanks for all that I have in my life. Finally, I set intentions to find peace from preference, joy in presence, and compassion through forgiveness, and make my breakfast and coffee. Yes, that’s coffee with my breakfast, not instead of it!
I have breakfast within 30 minutes of waking to kickstart my metabolism. I’ve really taken to heart what Mountain Trek’s nutritionist, Jenn Keirstead, says about the importance of eating breakfast to stop you from picking at sugary things throughout the day, keep your cortisol levels down (that stress hormone that leads to catabolic hormonal responses), and make sure you have sustained energy all day long.
Sometimes, by which, in all honesty, I mean pretty frequently, I find myself going to bed late, which compromises my morning routine. What do you do when life gets in the way of your routine?
Unless there isn’t a shower, I never let life get in the way of my pre-breakfast routine.
This may come across as trite, but morning routines help me feel grounded. Why is a morning routine important to you?
Starting the day with these rituals sets the context for why I am living, and what I want to actually accomplish beyond the daily to-do list. A morning routine helps me see the big picture, and it keeps me focused on how I can best be my true self. I’m not sure when my last day will be, but I don’t want it to be while I’m living in a state of sleepwalking. Truth be told, while my morning routine awakens and focuses me, my pre-sleep routine is equally as important—it provides closure to the day, helping me rest soundly.
How has your morning routine evolved?
I’ve been doing cold shower immersion, Chi Kung energy cycling and gratitude prayers for just over two decades. My longest routine—coffee with breakfast, within 30 minutes of waking—started 40 years ago.
What would you change, if anything, about your routine?
During our Mountain Trek, British Columbia, season (April through October), I wake at 5:15 to fit in my morning routine. That’s the earliest I’d like to have to wake up, and I do it because it’s necessary for my well-being. When I catch myself not being present in my daily life, I know it’s time to drop one of my activities. For now, I really love my routine, but I’m always open to learning new ways to enrich my life and find a lighter sense of being.
Read more about the importance of morning routines here, and if you’re looking for somewhere to kickstart you into one, join us at Mountain Trek for a week of healthful regimens, including sunrise yoga, hiking through the lush forests and glaciers of British Columbia, Canada, eating nutritiously for every meal, and spending time unwinding in our state-of-the-art spa featuring an infrared sauna, steam room, cold plunge hydrotherapy pool, and jacuzzi overlooking the beautiful Kootenay lake and Purcell Mountains.