Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. — Benjamin Franklin
As a doctor and health expert, people are always asking me what I eat, how I work out, how much I sleep — essentially, how do I take care of myself.
What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that most health care professionals are actually the absolute worst at taking time to care for themselves (Don’t believe me? Take a look at your own nurse or doctor’s waistline…or look at our early death statistics which are, on average, about 10 years shorter than the general population).
This is because most of us that choose to go into health care are drawn toward helping others and have an inborn desire to put others first. But what I always tell my clients is this: “If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to care for others — especially those that are depending on you…”
I do my best to follow this one single mantra regarding my own health: Doctor, heal thyself.
So, here’s is my typical morning now, after much trial and error, to get the body I want, the energy I need, and the clarity and focus I depend on to be a good doctor, coach, father, significant other, CEO, boss, and friend.
I do this, in part, by tying to have a healthy and meaningful morning routine — one that is nourishing, productive, and sets the stage for a healthy day.
To do this, I begin the night before.
What I mean is that I do everything in my power to ensure a full and good night’s sleep. At a bare minimum, this means lights out at an appropriate time and doing everything within my power to ensure a solid 7-9 hours of sleep (Want more sleep hygiene tips? Look for these tips and more in upcoming blogs!).
I also pick out my outfit for the day before I go to bed (yeah, I know, I wear the same clothes every day so it’s easy) (ok, I actually own multiples of the same pants and tops to make dressing easy — a dressing habit I picked up from Einstein and Steve Jobs.
When my alarm goes off at 5:51 AM each and every weekday morning, and after one nine-minute snooze, my feet hit the floor, I do my (bathroom) business, and jump on the scale for a fully naked weight. I like to track my body fat, lean body mass, and hydration status, so I use a scale and app by Weight Gurus.
Most days (ok, 3-4 days out the week), I will do a quick bout of Tabata’s for morning exercise. My routine is simple: 20 seconds of High-Intensity-Interval-Training (HIIT) followed by 10 seconds of rest, for a total of eight repetitions over a total of four minutes. Most exercise physiologists will agree that this is the only cardiovascular activity that you need all day. All in four minutes.
QUESTION: “Dr. Bradley, I hate exercise and I don’t want to exercise first thing in the morning. Also I don’t have time. What else can I do?”
ANSWER: Wake up four minutes earlier.
Then I immediately go put on some old fashioned, English Breakfast tea and by 6:15 AM, my older daughter, Adeline, and I are watching — er, listening to — BBC news.
Morning tea has become a tradition in our house and, more often than not, Adeline will beat me out to the living room, most days reviewing her studies and preparing for her current day’s tests.
QUESTION: “Why do you drink tea? Is coffee bad for you?”
ANSWER: As a doctor, I can tell you that there are numerous studies showing that a small amount of coffee is actually beneficial to the health of most folks.
While Adeline works on her school projects, I answer client emails and prepare for my day’s cases (with plenty of interruptions to talk about school, boys, sisters, and friends).
Around 7:15 AM we break to get dressed and ready for the day — this is when I also carefully wake up my younger daughter, Violet, who is as sweet as they come 9 but not first thing in the morning).
I usually grab a ClearVite and DF PaleoMeal (firstname.lastname@example.org for these and all my supplements) protein shake combo to keep my detoxification pathways supported, as well as to ensure that I have something in my belly for my morning supplements (which include: Alpha Base (multiple vitamin-mineral complex), Thera-B (methylated B Vitamin complex), Vitamin A, Vitamin D3 (I have a genetic polymorphism that burns Vitamin D like it’s gas on a fire, so I need to take a lot — a lot — of this nutrient), 200 Billion CFU’s of probiotics (usually from ProBio-225 or from a custom pharmacy-grade probiotic blend from one of our suppliers), DHEA (due to my low lab scores — I will check these again in a few months and update you), three full grams of fish oil (from Nordic Naturals ProOmega), 28 mg of Reacted Iron (again, lower lab levels), and a product designed to support my cardiovascular system called HTN-180-PX (available by prescription only) (as many of you know I almost died in 2008 from a serious cardiovascular scare — this product has kept my heart in rhythm, my blood pressure in check, and improved my cardiac ejection fraction better than anything I’ve ever been on or seen; too bad most doctors don’t know about it…).
QUESTION: “Dr. Bradley, that seems like a lot of pills. I don’t want to take pills. And I also don’t really want to change my diet. What can I do?”
ANSWER: No one ever said achieving health was easy. You are going to have to change your diet. If you want to live well and live long, you are going to have to supplement whatever your labs are telling you that you need. And you’re going to need to get your labs checked regularly, every three to six months, to know what you need to change or alter to be healthy.
QUESTION: But that costs a lot of money. What is the minimum I can do or take?
ANSWER: You now what costs a lot of money? Being sick. Besides the loss of work and income, you lose life with your loved ones. I strategically plan to invest into my own body. I cut dining out as much as I can. I try to find pleasure in simple things and activities that don’t cost anything more than my time and effort. And, besides, it’s this minimum investment mentality that has gotten us so sick as a nation and it’s up to each of us to take our own health seriously. There are no short cuts and there is no bargain-basement health plan. Invest in yourself. You’ll thank me when you turn 108 years old.
By 7:35 AM we are on our way to school drop-offs and by 8:15 AM I’m on my way to work and I carefully review lab reports that have come in and attend to my most urgent cases.
And by 9:30 AM, I see my first clients.
The rest of my day is fairly routine, with planned breaks for nourishment and movement throughout the day, as well as a 3-4 day-per-week stop at our gym, of which my favorite part is the massage bed after my 30-minute workout (I told you, I don’t like to exercise…).
And welcome to my morning/day. I hope this helped you and gives you an idea of what it takes for me to be healthy — and encourages you to make similar health-conscious decisions.
Light and Love, always.