When you sit for a few hours and then stand up, do you sometimes think, “Oh, wow, I feel so achy and stiff”? Do you ever feel that way after getting out of bed in the morning? I do. It makes sense; you’ve been staying in the same position (or awkwardly tossing and turning) for 6-8 hours! Even if you have the most heavenly bed, your joints and muscles need to move around after that!
I’m a big believer in listening to your body. If your body is telling you it wants to move around, you do it! So below I'm sharing my six favorite morning movements (also called "resets") to help you rise and shine better than ever, inspired by Original Strength: Breathing, egg rolls, neck nods, low rockbacks, low lunges and cross crawls. A note here: These are just some examples of how to move your body around. There are countless other variations on the below movements but these can get you started.
Just as early morning meditation can help set your intentions for the rest of the day and start you off in a nice de-stressed state, so can five minutes of moving your body. You’ll be waking up your vestibular, visual and parasympathetic nervous systems, which is a fancy way of saying your sense of balance, coordination and well-being will LIGHT UP first thing in the morning!
Ready? Let's get to it!
We do it every day. But are we getting the most out of it? A lot of us breathe with the accessory muscles in our necks and chest, rather than taking full diaphragmatic breaths. This can cause musculoskeletal "tightness" up and down our bodies, putting us in a chronic state of fight or flight.
HOW TO DO IT: Get into a comfortable position on your back or stomach. Feet can be on the floor with knees bent or extended or you can hold your knees to your chest. Your arms can be at your sides, on your stomach, or overhead. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose (helping your breath get deeper into your body than when you breathe through your mouth). Breathe in nicely and slowly and exhale nicely and slowly. You can even try counting to five on your inhale and five on your exhale. Do this for a good minute or two.
2. EGG ROLLS
We live in a very linear world where we only move forward and backward. But the body needs rotation in its life! So let's give it what it needs and roll like an egg on a counter!
HOW TO DO THEM: Hold on to your knees. To roll onto one side, look with your eyes first. When your eyes go first your head will follow and then your body will follow! Make sure you breathe the whole time you roll, even during parts where you might feel "stuck".
The cool thing about looking with your eyes first is that it helps your brain take in a lot of information as you work through the movement. This can ultimately help with spatial relation and balance. It also allows your neck to chill out and not do so much work. AND, the cool thing about rolling around on the floor (or bed or yoga mat) is that your body's nerve endings get a LOT of stimulation which ALSO feeds your brain and wakes you up. Start with 10 egg rolls or so to get going (you can always do more if you want!).
3. NECK NODS
Where the head goes, the body follows. And since our heads are typically buried in a computer or phone or tablet, think about what that's doing to our spines! Have you noticed that some people whose heads jut out in a forward posture tend to have scooped-under pelvises (almost as if their pelvis is trying to catch their head)? Think about how that must feel up and down the body!
Posture is a reflex and if you can't control your head, no amount of "core work" will get you standing tall. So by doing neck nods, we can regain some head control and help improve our posture! (This is a great write-up of why neck nods are so darn good; I highly recommend it, it goes into a lot of detail!)
HOW TO DO THEM: Roll onto your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms; if you feel any pinchiness in your lower back, move your arms forward slightly. Keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, look up toward the ceiling. Let your head follow. Now, look down your shirt and let your head follow. It doesn’t matter right now where you breathe in and out as long as you actually DO breathe in and out. Don’t go into a range of motion that triggers pain or dizziness, either. Find YOUR range of motion.
If you think that movement feels pretty good, wait until you do the next step: Look behind you (I like to say, "Look between your feet with your eyes," and then let your head and spine follow). Do take it slowly so you don’t get dizzy, and don’t forget to breathe.
A note on dizziness: If you get dizzy often or ever suffer from vertigo, work on moving just your eyes. You'll still be giving your vestibular system a workout. And if your dizziness/vertigo persists, see a doctor. Do 10-20 neck nods up-and-down and side-to-side.
4. LOW ROCKBACKS
As babies, we rocked as a precursor to crawling, which helped us develop our gait pattern (the way we walk)! Rocking also helped our spines develop their S curve! Rocking is, essentially, the coolest.
HOW WE DO THIS: Get on all fours, with your knees under your hips and elbows under your shoulders. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth and your eyes on the horizon. Then, rock forwards and backwards as you breathe in and out through your nose! If this position feels uncomfortable, do some rockbacks on your hands (check out this handy tutorial). Do 10-20 low rockbacks.
5. LOW LUNGES WITH CHEST & HIP OPENER
I really just like this one because it feels super-duper great. :) It also helps separate your legs from each other and encourages some of that awesome mid-spine rotation we rarely get.
HOW TO DO IT: Place one leg in front of you, knee bent with your heel under your knee. Lengthen the other leg behind you, letting your hips relax down toward the floor. Now, place your hands on the floor to the inside of your front leg. (Whew, that was a mouthfull!) Reach your inside arm down and away from your body and feel the stretch between your shoulder blades. Let your eyes follow your hand. Then, reach that same hand up toward the ceiling, letting your eyes follow once more. Remember to breathe through this! Do 5-10 on each side.
6. CROSS CRAWLS
Now you're probably ready to stand :) So go ahead and get tall and let's tie the two sides of your body and brain together before you get on with the rest of your morning!
Here's the deal with cross crawls: By touching one side of your body to the other, you are letting the right and left sides of your brain communicate. This does WONDERS for balance, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness.
And since this maneuver lights up your neurological system, it can be a great pick-me-up during those mid-afternoon slumps at work!
HOW TO DO THEM: Stand tall and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathing in and out through your nose. Bring your hand, forearm, or elbow and your opposite knee together; make physical contact. Then do it on the other side! The idea here is that one side of your body is crossing your midline to touch the other side of your body so you can even touch your hand to your opposite shin or foot! Play with tempo here, too! Can you do this slowly AND quickly? Do 15-20 on each side.
Y'all! I'm so excited for you to try these moves to start your day off right! This routine shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes tops every morning, but the benefits will last throughout the day (and much, much longer if you make it a habit!).
I'd LOVE to hear your feedback so if you're trying these out, leave me a comment below!
If you want to learn more resets and how they can help you feel and move better, TruFit Personal Training Studios is hosting Original Strength on Saturday, April 7 as they teach their Pressing Reset workshop! There are still spaces available!
I am a woman who loves (LOVES) structure and routine. Without them I feel untethered and out of control. For example, if I don’t have laundry done, work outfits picked out and set aside for the week, breakfasts and lunches prepped/cooked/boxed up by Sunday afternoon I have a terribly difficult time sleeping through the night on Sunday and getting through the week feeling like I’m on top of it.
But that kind of structure (and I have many other examples) can also leave me feeling tied down, mentally exhausted and unable to be spontaneous (like having an unplanned dinner with friends on a weeknight or feeling bad about choosing to nap instead of writing last week’s newsletter that never went out...).
You yourself likely have 1000+ things that need to be taken care of under the umbrellas of “family” and “work” and “home”. And then there are of course the “friends” and “pets” umbrellas that we love and want to pay more attention to. And then, hopefully not lastly (though for many cases this is the case), there is the umbrella of “me”. How often is it the case that we make sure all of the other umbrellas are taken care of before we get to “me”? SO often, right? And once you get to "me", do you have extra energy to work out on your own?
What if, in this evolving world of "push a button and it's done" services like Lyfts and Task Rabbit, we could learn to outsource things that “me” really doesn’t need to do so that “me” might be able to pay more attention to the big picture items that matter: Exercise; going to the doctor when we need to; sleeping 7-8 hours a night. You know, the things that actually need to happen in order for "me" to stay healthy to properly handle all of those other umbrellas long term.
Another way to think about this is, as a business coach said to me this year: What are the $15 tasks we’re doing that are preventing us from doing the $150 tasks? What can we outsource to make time for the things that we value the most? How can we declutter our time and our minds so we have more time to play with our kids, have a date with our partners, go to the gym, get to bed at a decent time?
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
1. Laundry and dry cleaning: The first time I learned you could get your laundry done for you was from friends in NYC. What CAN’T you have done for you in New York? You can get your dirty laundry picked up and dropped off all neatly folded and ready for you to put back in your drawers and closet the very next day? Well, luckily that sort of thing isn't just for mega cities like New York! Services like Rinse and Laundry Day in the Chicago area have apps so all you have to do is hit a few buttons and voilà! It’s like magic (and can cost less than $15/week, says Laundry Day).
2. Meal prep: I’m not talking about great services like Blue Apron where you still have to make the food. I’m talking about food that’s been lovingly cooked and packaged for you in advance! No, I don't mean mass-packaged Jenny Craig or Seattle Sutton either; I’m talking about local companies who use organic and whole ingredients sans preservatives. I’ve most recently tried Evanston (and female-owned) company Green Spoon Kitchen (and am again this coming week thanks to travel!). BTW, when you use the code Izzy25 you get $25 off your first order!
3. Dog walking: So, yeah, walking your doggie can TOTALLY count toward getting steps in the day which is great. Here’s why I’m suggesting that it’s sometimes more than fine to let someone else do it for you, though: If using a service like Wag can help you get to your yoga/strength training/Zumba/class instead of having to run home to let the dog out which would cause you to miss your sweat session which would help you reach your fitness goals: Get the dog walker!
4. Cleaning your house: We all have a different tolerance when it comes to home cleanliness and that is absolutely OK. The trick is knowing what that tolerance is and what the time cost is to achieve it. The good news is there are many ways of getting help in this arena. If you have the ability to hire someone on a more regular basis (every week/two weeks/month), I might suggest asking friends for a referral. It is a pretty personal, in-your-space service, after all. But if you're not in that boat and want someone to come quickly or less regularly, check out maidsapp.com for house cleaning on-demand.
5. Grocery shopping: Some of us can grocery shop like ninjas (I like to think I’m one of them, creating my shopping list in the order that I’ll find the items at the store…Oh, boy…). But there were times I was using services like Peapod and Instacart because my then-job was so demanding I felt like my time was best used working than wasting time at the store. I have zero regrets. Another plus to getting groceries delivered, beyond time being saved: Sticking to your list! As my friend Jen reminded me the other day, using a delivery service might actually SAVE you money (and calories) if you tend to wander away from your list.
6. Yard work: Some people LOVE pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and raking leaves but if you are not one of these people and you don’t want to commit to a regular landscaping service, you can use a company like Lawn Love. Just like so many new companies (some of which I’ve just mentioned above), you can download an app on your phone, get a quick quote and order a service to be rendered at a scheduled time. (Lawn Love also does snow removal and gutter cleaning, among other things.)
7. Your fitness: Nope, I'm not telling you to hire someone else to do the exercising FOR you but you can certainly outsource the programming! Ways to do this: Hire a trainer (hello!); join a group class facility (think Zumba, strength training, yoga; download the MindBody app to find classes near you); find an already-made program you can follow on your own at a gym; start a Couch to 5k program.
So, OK, we might still not at a Beyonce level of outsourcing but: Did this job the brain a bit about how to possibly take things off your plate that suck time and energy out of your life that could be spent doing things that actually make you healthier? I hope so.
And I want to know: What are some ways YOU'RE delegating life things? Leave a comment!
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