It’s Day 2 of the Catalyst Morning Challenge. (If you haven’t already joined the challenge and you’d like to learn more about how routines can help you meet your goals, visit this link for instructions and to get your free Catalyst Morning Challenge journal).

Today’s contributor is TV personality, author, and chef, Robin Miller. Robin is the author of ten cookbooks, is a New York Times bestselling author, and her popular show, Quick Fix Meals, aired on Food Network for five years. Currently, you can watch her on NBCUniversal Bluprint’s Real Life Cooking.

After reading what Robin has to share, think about one of your goals. What’s one step you can add to your morning toward that goal, beginning today? One theme you’ll notice throughout Robin’s morning is prioritizing herself early in the day.

Why is your morning routine important to you? I’m the quintessential morning (routine) person! I have a few things I do every day, and once those boxes are checked, I feel alert, organized, and off to a great, solid start. I always do yoga stretches, and a few core and leg exercises (planking, squats, lunges). This gets my heart rate up and my brain revved; in less than 15 minutes. The best part about these exercises is that I can do them anywhere; at home, in my hotel room when traveling, and at the homes of friends/family when visiting. I never have to miss a day. Nor would I want to.

Are you naturally a morning person? Even as a kid, I was up with the sun (or my Batman and Robin alarm clock); ready to rock-and-roll. That said, I have two teenage boys – one is a morning person and the other would sleep until noon if he could! My late sleeper has enlightened me; I now realize that everyone has their own, individual schedule; a circadian rhythm that regulates how they function and feel during the day. I find that if you “listen” to your internal clock, you’re more focused, happy and energized – all important qualities for work and family life.

What are your “essentials” for starting the day right? A fresh face and clean teeth! I plan ahead every day, so I can make my mornings seamless and stress-free. I pre-pack my boys’ lunches and snacks, I lay out clothing for myself (and my boys if they need something special for school), I arrange my work in the order of importance, and try tidying up the kitchen and other rooms of the house the night before. Who wants to start their day with a sink full of dishes? I like to start every day renewed and burden-free. I realize that’s not how everyone operates; it’s what works for me.

My morning routine: My alarm goes off at 6:15 (during my sons’ track and cross-country seasons, I’m up at 4:15 AM to get them ready for practice) … and I’m off to brush teeth and wash my face. Truth, I put lip shimmer on (yeah, that’s a confession, but I don’t feel ready without it). By 6:25, Hank the puggle is fed. Next, I finish packing the boys’ lunches and I make breakfast. Once I’m sure THEY are set, I do my morning stretching and exercises. At about 7 AM, I post my first blog of the day (I try to post that recipe/blog by 7 AM so it hits the east coast at 10 AM). I promote that blog on all social media outlets immediately after. My boys are out the door by 7:15 and I’m off for my morning run (7-8 miles). Once I get back, I enjoy a tall iced coffee and begin recipe testing. The rest of the morning is filled with writing, cooking, blogging, and social media outreach (and lots of dancing around the kitchen).

Words of wisdom: I discovered that giving myself a 15-minute head start (waking up before my kids) changed my morning game entirely. The stretching I do every day is for ME. The house is quiet, my thoughts are mine. Starting my day this way eradicates stress and, because I don’t feel rushed, I’m a better person, thus a better mom. I carry this energy with me the rest of the day. My advice for all those other amazing women would be this: Find time for yourself, whether it’s 15 minutes or 5 minutes. Whatever you can get, you deserve it. Not only will you feel personally rewarded, the people around you will sense it, appreciate it; and learn to respect it.

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