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How To Wake Up And Not Feel Like Going Right Back To Bed

Culture

Fitness gurus share their morning routines

How do some people manage to look so darn perky as they sip coffee and smoothies in their Instagram stories in the morning? It all comes down to establishing a winning routine, one that’s easy for you to do every day and leaves you feeling awake, alert, and inspired. You don’t have to steal an entire routine from these fitness and wellness experts, but they have some pretty great suggestions of places to start.

Once you begin to develop a routine of your own, optimize it to your specific needs. Meditation for 20 minutes might not work for you, but maybe you can handle five minutes. Yoga might not be your jam, but what about a few basic stretches instead? And journaling can feel a little cliche, but what about a Google Doc where you list one thing daily that you’re grateful for? We don’t all need to be fitness and wellness junkies, but we can all get a little bit better at managing our mornings and crushing the rest of our day.  

Stay Offline 
"I'd say my number one tip is to get ready for your day, whether that be breakfast, journaling, meditation, or working out before looking at your phone,” Sophie Gray of WayofGray.com says. "I recommend being off of your phone for at least 30 to 60 minutes in the morning! I like to do this because I can check in with myself first, before checking in with others.”  

Productivity gurus and the authors of Peak Performance, Brad Stuhlberg and Steve Magness, also back this one up. The more time you can stay off your phone and not be distracted, the better. Getting your primary workout for the day done before the flood of emails, Instagrams, and text is going to make the day feel a lot smoother. 

"This year has officially been the year of slowing down and learning to give myself what I need in order to thrive throughout the day with sustained energy and inspiration,” adds The Balance Blonde blogger Jordan Younger. "You could say I am a notorious overcommitter and a workaholic-slash-iPhone-aholic—who isn’t?—so I decided to get serious with my morning routine, to start to cultivate more peace and serenity in my daily life. I start each day with a digital detox where I do not look at my phone until I feel ready to be on and communicate with the world!" 

Get Some Sun 
"Working from home can sometimes mean there’s no need for you to leave the house, but, for me, getting outdoors every day for fresh air, a sense of vitality, and vitamin D is so important,” says Melissa Hemsley of the Hemsley Sisters. "Daylight helps to reset your internal body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep and allowing your body to tune into what it needs. I’ve got a staffy called Nelly who I take for runs around my local park, so it’s a non-negotiable for me!” 

Studies bear this out: We need vitamin D to stay happy and energized. One such study even linked vitamin D deficiency in young women with depression. You don’t need to start supplementing to get it. Just getting sunlight should do the trick. And if, like Melissa, you work at home, a walk outside can give you the divide between "you time" and working hours.

Add a Yoga Flow 
It’s no shock that Strala Yoga creator Tara Stiles starts every morning with a yoga flow, though as a new mom, her routine varies daily depending on what she needs and how she feels. And that’s a good thing! Even if you’re not nursing a newborn, switching up your yoga flow makes the morning a bit more exciting. Strala Yoga has a ton of quick and simple morning flows that Stiles created, and most of them run between seven and 12 minutes. Check out this one and this one if you prefer to have a video to flow with, or just do a few sun salutations and poses that make you feel particularly good.  

A regular yoga practice—10 minutes a day is over an hour a week!—can increase strength, balance, and flexibility, calm the mind, and reduce stress, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It can even help battle things like lower back pain, according to a recent study

Scrape Your Tongue (or Whatever) 
"Tongue scraping with a copper or stainless steel tongue scraper removes the toxins that brushing and flossing your teeth doesn’t,” says the other Hemsley sister, Jasmine. "Quite frankly, I’d rather forget to brush my teeth!” If tongue scraping isn’t for you, that’s fine, too, but having a morning beauty/cleansing routine can go a long way toward making you feel more awake and alert if you’re having a tough time crawling out of bed and perking up.  

Meditate 
"I wake up, make a matcha tea or coffee in my kitchen, stretch on my yoga mat, and do a mindfulness meditation practice,” says Younger. "I have also gotten very into crystals, sage, essential oils, and palo santo. The morning is my 'me time' to play around with all of my yogi, kundalini grounding practices and also get some reading or journaling in. Then I head off to teach yoga down the street and feel like a new human! Also breathing. It sounds simple, but it's been a game changer to really focus on my breath.” 

Meditation also makes you more creative, according to one study. And another championed morning meditation because that’s when we’re at our most spiritually aware. 

It’s not just the yogis who are doing morning meditation, fitness junkies are into it, too. "Everyday is different for me, but no matter where I am, I make sure to spend a few moments alone setting my intention and purpose for the day through meditation,” says Karena Dawn of ToneItUp.com. It really helps me stay centered and focused.  After that, I head out for my workout. If I don't workout in the morning, it usually won't happen." 

Get in a Quick Workout
Dawn also digs a morning workout to get the blood pumping. If you’re an early riser and can sneak in a quick run or strength workout, it’s a great way to kick off the day. And bonus, if you do a low-key workout before you eat breakfast; you’ll reap the benefits of fasted state training and gain extra strength and aerobic capacity in the process. Bonus: You can burn almost 20 percent more fat if you exercise pre-breakfast, according to one study. Plus, let’s be honest, breakfast will taste a whole lot better when you’ve really worked for it.  

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Credits:
Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds

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Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.