Welcome to Kitchn’s new series My Healthy Morning, where we show you how one person greets the day in a way that makes them feel their best. Each post will chronicle how that person defines healthy for themselves, and the habits and recipes that make their morning a little bit better.
The founders of the popular finance site The Financial Diet may have similar views on money and budgeting, but when it comes to health and their morning routines they stand in two different camps. Lauren Ver Hage loves waking up early, working out, and is obsessed with breakfast. Chelsea Fagan, on the other hand, is more productive at night, never eats breakfast, and relies heavily on a pot of coffee to get her through the morning hours. Here both of them share their morning habits and rituals and how it fits into what they consider to be a healthy lifestyle.
Lauren Ver Hage
Lauren is a graphic designer, art director, and co-founder of The Financial Diet. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and a bunch of herbs she’s trying not to kill.
What Does Healthy Mean for You?
To me, being healthy means eating a well-balanced, moderately healthy diet, getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and exercising around three times a week. Sleep is very, very important to me; it’s essential in keeping me feeling motivated and productive. I can easily feel run-down if I have a few nights in a row of post-work events, activities, and social outings. When I do those three things, I generally feel my best, confident, and happy.
I love to go running in Central Park when the weather is nice, and doing the loop around the reservoir is just beautiful! Watching the sun come up over the water is just insanely pretty, and usually motivates me to get up and out early. Also, there are so many people taking their dogs and puppies out at that time, so that’s a natural added bonus. However, I can really only get my butt up out of bed early around once a week if I’m being honest — typically on Friday morning — but when I do it, I feel like superwoman.
Also, spending time socializing with friends and family always gives me something to look forward to during a busy week.
My Healthy Morning Routine
I would definitely consider myself a morning person, and I feel the most alert, productive, and energetic when I first wake up. I usually set my alarm for 7 a.m. or a bit before that depending on if I’m going for a run that morning.
As soon as I wake up, my first thought is literally coffee, and putting the espresso pot on is the absolute first thing I do. I grind up some beans, and use a moka pot to make espresso. Since it’s summer, I’ll usually ice it by adding cold water, some milk, and a bunch of ice cubes. I cannot function without caffeine, so that’s like, priority number one for me.
Then, I religiously put on WNYC so I can listen to the radio while I get ready. As the espresso bubbles away, I’ll scroll through Instagram, Twitter, and email for a few minutes until the coffee is ready.
I’m very big on breakfast foods, and since I typically wake up starving, I never skip that meal. Usually I’ll make myself something within a half hour of waking up. Some of my favorite things to whip up are yogurt with granola (homemade if I feel the urge on Sunday to put some together) and fruit, soft-boiled eggs with Sriracha, toast with jam and almond butter, or an egg wrap with avocado and salsa.
After that, I’ll usually jump on my computer to work for an hour or so before we meet for our morning meeting online at 9:30 a.m. On the days I don’t go into the office, I’ll keep working until around 10:30 a.m. or so in my pajamas (or something else super comfortable) before it dawns on me that I should probably get dressed in real clothes.
Weekends play out similarly, in terms of when I wake up and what I do, but instead of getting a head start on the workday I’ll do a little cleaning while listening to a podcast, or read a few chapter of a book I’m reading.
Chelsea is a writer and the co-founder of The Financial Diet. She lives in Manhattan and cooks a lot.
What Does Healthy Mean for You?
For me, healthy means different things for different parts of myself. Physically, I walk around 12k steps a day, and I practice intermittent fasting, which allows me to eat within my maintenance calorie needs without worrying about it. I like the feeling of just doing what is right for my body — having energy through the day, being tired at night, and not overdoing it on any one thing (usually).
Mentally, “healthy” means challenging myself. I like pushing myself to approach things in a smarter way, and to take on projects I feel are out of reach. I also treat my relationships with that same “active” feeling — I feel most healthy when I’m calling people, reaching out, setting dates, catching up. Generally speaking, my mental and emotional health mean a certain elasticity in how I think, and a creativity in how I approach my day-to-day challenges and even my relationships.
My Healthy Morning Routine
To be clear, I am 100% not a morning person. Even as a child, I would struggle to fall asleep before 1 a.m. or so, and I naturally prefer to wake up no earlier than 9:30 a.m. But for work, I’ve gotten myself in the routine of waking up around 8:30 a.m., because we have our morning meeting every day at 9:30 for TFD. (Luckily, I work from a home office, so my commute is 30 seconds.)
After hitting the snooze button on my phone four to five times, I usually spend the first 20 minutes or so in my bed scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, seeing if I have any obscenely urgent emails, and playing around with my dog, Mona. I walk Mona in the afternoons during the week, and in the mornings and afternoons on the weekends.
I roll out of bed somewhere between 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., where I make espresso in a moka pot, which I then combine with hot or cold water to make an Americano, then I add a little whole milk. I then put on my clothes for the day, and sit down at my desk. As I mentioned, I practice intermittent fasting, so I don’t have anything but coffee and water until about 2 p.m., but I am never, ever hungry in the mornings, so no breakfast for me!
Long story short, I am generally deeply unproductive (and not very pleasant to be around) in the morning, and just being present for the basics is already a victory, but if this were a profile of what we do at 10 p.m., you would be shocked at how productive and creative I am.
Thanks so much for sharing your healthy morning routines with us, Chelsea and Lauren!