11 Steps to be Your Best Possible Self
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus, by William Ernest Henley
There are some things that we just can’t control. The weather, other people’s behavior, and the rotation of the universe – just to name a few. Yet, we actually have much more control than we tend to think. Are you ready to master your fate?
Science says: Willpower is the highest in the morning.
Create a routine and start with your most important tasks as early as you can. Keep in mind: your wellness is the most important task. Just like you defrag and reboot your computer, your body, mind, and soul need some tuning. There is nothing better than to do it first thing.
The longer the day goes on, your self-control weakens with fatigue. The early morning hours hold your strongest potential to master your day.
The following 11 Practices are designed to improve your quality of life by slowly incorporating them into your daily routine. I recommend you try out a few that you feel most passionate about, and remember that consistency is key to start seeing progress.
Ready to get started?
1. Writing (15 – 30 minutes)
“Just write every day of your life. Then see what happens.”
Ray Bradbury said it! Write every day of your life and watch what happens. I use an online spreadsheet where I keep track of my life. It helps me to stay focused and organized. Additionally, I track my time, prepare weekly menu plans, jot down what I am grateful for, and streamline my thoughts, ideas, and dreams. I have yearly, monthly, and weekly schedules. Typically, I like to pre-plan in 3-weeks increments, so I can tweak and optimize. I’ve been keeping spreadsheets for about 15 years. I attribute weight loss, quitting smoking, and even moving to Colorado to this practice.
If you don’t have a system of record, I recommend starting with a notepad. You can streamline your thoughts and ideas, create a plan for the day and what you are grateful for. Writing creates a discipline of thinking. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about remembering to pay your bills or not to spend extra for lunch, etc. If you would like an easily accessible online journal, Click Here to download the SOFLY Wellness Planner.
2. Rolling (10 minutes)
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
Since your body is the only place you will live your entire life, take care of it! I love rolling out! Typically I start with my calves, progressing towards my neck. I use deep breathing and focus solely on the process.
You can start with a foam roller or even simple tennis balls.
3. Music (as much as needed)
“Music can change the world because it can change people.”
Bono nailed it! Music is a large part of my morning therapy. I don’t have a specific playlist; I just stick to anything that makes my soul smile. When you find something that you really love, listening to music becomes an active meditation. Often, when I catch my mind wandering and stressing, I can simply bring it back to the serenity of the music.
4. Meditation (5 to 10-minutes)
“This is a donut. It is very sweet and very good. But if you’ve never tasted a donut, you wouldn’t really know how sweet and how good a donut is… meditation is like that. Meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this donut.“
Sweet like a donut and no consequences! Meditation has truly transformed my life. I’ve been fortunate to spend years with master yoga teachers, taking many classes in addition to my 800 certified hours as a yoga instructor. At the beginning of my journey, I religiously followed a customized practice created by my teacher, Chase Bossart. I needed discipline. After some years of practice, I switched it up a bit. Currently, I practice my meditation right after I roll out and jot some notes. My mind is pretty quiet at this point.
There are only two rules for my meditation:
1) “KISS” – Keep It Simple, Stupid
2) Keep it Consistent.
I focus on breathing for about 12 to 20 rounds.
There are many forms of meditation. For me, something simple and short works really well. Sitting for hours with an empty mind is nearly impossible, and I’ve never met anyone who can. If you are interested in meditation, the best approach is to find a qualified teacher who can tailor the practice based on your needs.
5. Movement (30 to 45 minutes)
“I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues in sweat and concentration, and took the time necessary to learn karate and became a world champion.”
Just like Chuck Norris, I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues. Well, I never became a world champion. But working out turned a little chubby and clumsy kid into a fitness maniac!
I have worked with many personal trainers, Star Pilates instructors, and top physical therapists for the last 15 years. Now I feel like I know exactly what I need at any given stage of my life. I currently spend between 30 to 45 minutes working out with weights, high-intensity workouts, and knee rehab. Sometimes, I just spend 5-10 minutes dancing around the house.
You can enroll in an online fitness program like body-rock or betty-rocker. I’ve tried both, and they offer pretty awesome programs. You could also hire a personal trainer, join the gym, or work out in the comfort of your home. Not to mention, a 15-minute walk or a bike ride really counts. It all depends on where you are now, and your goals for getting where you want to be.
I love dry brushing! It feels like a good exfoliation and massage. Supposedly, Dry Brushing increases skin circulation and works on the lymphatic system. You can buy a simple brush on Amazon and start right away.
7. Warm Oil Massage (10 to 12 minutes)
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
I learned about Abhyanga, or hot oil massage, in Ayurveda. Like dry-brushing, it also feels wonderful. You can mix up sesame, coconut, olive oils, or buy a pre-made oil for Abhyanga massage. It might take a few sessions to get used to it. Pre-make the oils in a larger container and pour as much oil as you need to cover your whole body into a glass bottle.
Steps for Self Massage:
- Place the small bottle in hot water for a few minutes.
- Stand on a towel in your bathroom.
- You can skip your head massage if you don’t feel like washing your hair.
- Message in a clockwise direction, starting with the neck, hands, and navel, moving towards your feet.
- Use long, downward strokes along your muscles and circular movement on your joints.
- You can leave the oil on your body or wash it away with warm water, with or without soap.
- To retain moisture from the oils, skip the soap and just dry off with a towel.
8. Cold Shower (5 minutes)
“The cold is your warm friend. Exposing your body to it in the right way starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and subsequent fat loss, reduced inflammation to facilitate a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins – the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.”
– Wim Hof
Wim Hof is amazing! Honestly, a cold shower wasn’t that much fun in the beginning. Especially since I live in a cold climate. However, the feel-good chemicals do kick in eventually. I’ve been using a contrast shower on and off for about one year. Interestingly, I’ve experienced pure childhood wonder after a cold shower after just a few months.
I learned about the benefits of the cold from Wim Hof. In fact, he offers an entire system for cold immersions. However, you don’t need anything special for it. Start slow. After your warm shower, switch to cold for 20 seconds to start, and gradually add more time over a period of months.
9. Spend Time in Nature (15 to 50 minutes)
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
I’ve spent every day in nature in some form or another. In fact, my husband and I moved to a small mountain ski town outside of Boulder, Colorado, so that we can see the mountains from every window of our house. Typically, I walk my dog, Rocky, every morning for half-hour to an hour. However, I found some time to sneak away for a short walk even when I worked in the office in one of the most crowded cities in the world.
When I couldn’t walk due to my knee injury, I would go on the deck to get some sun and appreciate the natural world.
Next time you head out, notice how going on a walk outside can completely clear your head. So make some time, and go for a hike in the park, forest or ocean side.
10. “Break-fast” (15 minutes)
“Breakfast” is not tied up to any specific time, and it is not the most important meal of the day! In fact, breakfast simply means breaking a fast. In other words, your first meal of the day. My breakfast is a part of my morning therapy simply because I eat my last meal by 2:00 or by noon. Sometimes, I eat only one meal per day. So, my breakfast typically ends my 16 to 20 hour fast unless I am on my cycle. I always incorporate some form of movement before I eat.
11. Quality of Time (Timeless)
“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?”
― Matt Haig, How to Stop Time
One of my favorite authors, Matt Haig, nailed it. In order to create time, you need to stay present with life. The paragraph above is very potent with questions that I often ponder: “Who am I right now?” and “Am I staying present with what life unfolds around me?” When I wash the dishes, can I just focus on the task? When I talk to my mom, can I pay full attention without checking my email and letting my mind wander?
So, my friend, the secret to a good life is to stay present as you are. When you commit to working out and eating healthy, as Nike said – Just do it!
From time to time, I have to push myself to start. I can find at least 1,000 excuses to not practice my morning therapy on any particular day. However, the way I feel after always reminds me why it’s the most important part of my day.
So, my mantra is:“Action Precedes Motivation.”
Remember, you will never be ready unless you start.
I hope you enjoyed this taste of SOFLY in 11 simple steps.
Please feel free to reach out and let me know what resonated with you!
How were you able to incorporate SOFLY Morning Therapy into your life?