Morning Rituals

Mornings. I love them. I became a morning person in college when I was introduced to crew at Harvard. The stillness of the city, the sunrise over the Charles, and the camaraderie of 5:30 am meets at the boathouse forever changed me.

I am often asked about my morning routines – beauty and otherwise. I wrote about this a couple of years ago here, some things are the same, some have evolved.

For many years, I woke up at 5 am. For the past year, I have been waking up between 4:30 and 4:50 am on weekdays. Somehow, those minutes before 5 am seem particularly precious. By 6 am, I am working (in the office or on the road), or working out (running or SoulCycle).

What I do:

  • I get out of bed immediately. No snoozing for me.
  • I light a candle. I love Aveda Shampure candles and have them all around the house. Lighting them makes the house smell good and feels like an act of kindness and sophistication that I do just for myself.
  • I make my bed. It looks good, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something, like I have control over my surroundings. (Even Navy SEALS feel this way about this small task)
  • I check my phone (emails, social media). Everything I have read about morning routines says not to do this. For a while, I tried not to do it – but that frustrated me to no end and did not contribute positively to my mornings. So I do it, unapologetically!

What I think about:

  • What am I looking forward to today? This can be a work project, a meeting, a trip, date night… Starting my day with something specific to look forward to helps me get out of bed.
  • What are the three most important things I need to accomplish today. I have an endless to-do list, so prioritizing three daily goals helps me stay on target.

What I eat and drink:

  • A tall glass of water with one Emergen-C Super Orange packet. If the rest of the day goes crazy, at least I will have done something good for myself!
  • I have the same Krups coffee maker I bought during my freshman year in college, and I love it! It makes the best coffee. Milk if I have it in the fridge (which is infrequently!), otherwise black.
  • No breakfast. I stopped eating breakfast a few years ago, when I realized that the Danone vanilla yogurts I was eating every morning were nothing but sugar. I have not missed them (or breakfast) since.

My beauty routine (post workout if I work out that morning): 

One ritual I am trying to add to my routine is to use the free weights I got over a year ago to strengthen my arms and shoulders. So yesterday I took them out of their dark closet and put them by my full-length mirror… let’s see seeing them helps me use them…




Ada Polla

I get up at 5 am and this is what happens…

A couple of weeks ago, my sister Rachel paid me the best compliment in the form of a question. She asked me how I did it all. How did I manage the work load, the stress load, of running a beauty brand, how did I manage to still look good and act coherent with short nights and sometimes up to 5 flights per week. Did I have any tips or secrets to share with her?

Her questions made me pause, and reflect. Did I have any strategies to share? And I do. This is the first of a few posts to share my morning and evening routines, and a couple secrets, which keep me sane.

My morning routines depend on the type of morning I am having, which fall into four “types.”

  • Mornings when I wake up at home in DC with no travel plans.
  • Mornings when I wake up on the road somewhere.
  • Mornings when I have early flights (7 am or earlier, which happens more often than it should).
  • Weekend mornings.

All mornings share a few things in common:

  • A regular wakeup at 5 am (except if I have a 6 am flight or it is a weekend). And yes, my iphone is my alarm.
  • A tall glass of water with Super Orange Emergen-C. People are fascinated that I fly up to 150,000 miles per year and am not sick more often. I credit this morning ritual.
  • Inspiration from three sources: Danielle LaPorte Truthbombs. Harvard Business Review Management Tips of the Day. And a Milepost quote on running.

Mornings when I wake up at home or on the road without an early morning flight, I exercise. SoulCycle or a run in DC. Hopefully a swim while on the road (even budget-friendly hotels often have swimming pools). Part of what helps me keep it all together is a regular exercise routine, with a minimum of 3 workouts per week.

Mornings when I have a flight at 7 am or earlier are my fastest, most minimalist, mornings. I have learned to get ready in 20 minutes tops: no exercise, no breakfast except for a power bar on the way to the airport, no coffee until I get to the airport (gives me something to look forward to). Those mornings require extra red lipstick.

Weekend mornings are precious treasures. I catch up on sleep during the weekends, and try to have at least one 10-hour night per weekend. The most luxurious morning weekend involves waking up next to my husband around 8 am after a long night. Those mornings include a long run and brunch, catching up on my reading, and on my day-dreaming.