I tried Oprah’s morning routine for two weeks: this is what happened

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Alessia Armenise
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Stylist’s Alessia Armenise tries to walk two weeks in Oprah’s shoes…

In September, the back-to-school atmosphere always gets us, even if we finished school a long time ago. If January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, then September is the month to review the year so far, pat ourselves on the backs about our achievements or, more often than not, berate ourselves for things we might not have achieved.

My September looked like a bomb had exploded in my brain. I felt like I didn’t have control of my life anymore (I swear, I usually do), my wardrobe was overflowing and I was incredibly tired after the holidays – which felt as ridiculous as it sounds. In conclusion, I had to Marie Kondo my whole existence.

My main problem was the mornings. My routine was all over the place once I was back at work and this was due to weeks spent doing nothing and not really worrying about waking up. I wanted to make my mornings less stressful and more productive, I needed to copy Michelle Obama and Oprah and become the CEO of my own life.

Jasmine Hemsley scrapes her tongue first thing in the morning, while Michelle Obama and Oprah wake up at 4.30am to do some sport, meditate and take a few hours all for themselves before the day starts. I thought 4.30am was a bit much, so I set my goal for 5/5.30am – which is still two hours before my usual alarm rings.

I decided that, for two weeks, I would try and wake up early, go to the gym and generally have some sort of morning routine. Instead of rushing out of the house with a coffee in one hand and avocado toast in the other and ending up doing my makeup on the bus (which, apparently, it’s really rude), I committed to two weeks of daily training at The Ned. Wish me luck. 

Week 1

Monday: My alarm goes off at 5.30am and, to my surprise, I don’t snooze. Instead I get out of bed, get dressed and am out of my flat by 6am to take the bus to the first yoga class of the week – I even have my Keepcup filled with hot water and lemon to purify my system.

I do an hour of yoga and I genuinely feel great. So much so that I decide to take this experiment a step forward and eliminate coffee from my routine for the next two weeks. By 11am, I feel so tired I could crawl under my desk for a nap. By 12pm, I have a headache so intense – also known as coffee brick – that I have no choice but to go out and get myself a caffeine fix if I want to finish my working day. After the coffee I feel much better and day goes on as usual. I only now realise how addicted I actually am to that black nectar.

Tuesday: This morning I wake up at 5am to go to Pilates. Once again, I don’t snooze and I am very surprised to be out of my flat at 5.30am with my usual hot water and lemon in hand. Once the class has finished, I decide that I need to work and I can’t have the coffee brick messing with me today, so I get a coffee and I head to work.

The day goes by smoothly, like it would if I had slept until 7am. Actually, I think I feel better and I am starting to convince myself of the fact that these two weeks are going to change my life forever.

Wednesday: Waking up today was a bit more difficult but I guess that’s normal as I am not used to all this physical activity. I manage to stick to my hot water and lemon and I arrive at The Ned for a class of Dance Barre. At the end of the class, I am so glad I made it there. I feel that it gave me lots of energy for the day and put me in a great mood. I meet someone for breakfast at 8am – I, of course, have a coffee – and make my way to work.

Thursday: I am not going to lie, today was a struggle. I made the mistake of watching two episodes of a series – Money Heist (on Netflix) is so addictive – and went to bed later than I had planned. After a few days of good military regime, I snoozed twice and when I finally managed to get out of bed I had to rush to go and get the bus.

The Gods of sport must want me to do this because I managed to get to my boxing class on time and it felt like I had to give it my all because of the timing miracle I pulled. The class was great but it literally ruined my arms and made me realise how weak I really am. If you find yourself in a fight, don’t call me.

Friday: My arms are way too sore to do any class without making a fool out of myself so I decide to give the swimming pool a go to keep the experiment going. Slowly but surely, I end up doing 20 lengths and I am quite proud of myself for finishing the week with a five out of five.

I’m going away for the weekend so I may not be able to keep the exercise routine going for the next two day but I am sure even Oprah and Michelle need a rest once in a while. 

Week 2 

Monday: I get to London at 8am with the Eurostar from Paris so my daily exercise has to wait until the evening, which is not ideal but still something. Although, I still woke up at 5am so I decide that this day should count as a victory anyway.

I look back at the weekend and realise that I have walked 15,000 steps which is probably enough to replace a gym workout. I also went to the swimming pool on Sunday and, to be completely honest, I feel like I deserve a medal for the commitment I’m putting into this.

Tuesday: What I was dreading happened: I snoozed and snoozed and snoozed… until it was time to get up and go to work. I am very annoyed with myself but at the same time, I am so tired after the weekend that I can barely crawl out of my bed.

Today, my morning routine was (of course) all over the place since I had to rush out and I’m also going to miss the daily exercise dose since I have a previous commitment for the night. We can consider Tuesday a fail.

Wednesday: I have an early meeting - which means no time for the gym - but I manage to wake up earlier and take some time to start the day with a bit of me time. Having time to yourself before the day even starts is definitely nicer than rushing around to get to work on time. I genuinely think that I could make this a habit, maybe switching up the activities depending on my commitments for that day.

I don’t want to miss my exercise time today so I decide to have a post-work yoga session. Candlelit Flow is on the menu and I have to say I feel quite relaxed and less stiff afterwards. I thought I could try this at home but I would probably end up burning my house down – I’ll stick to The Ned’s classes.

Thursday: I wake up and I am ready to go, even though it’s a chilly 8 degrees this morning which is not helping the cause. All goes smoothly until I realise I missed my stop which means I will definitely be late to class. I try to stay positive and luckily I have a swimsuit with me (that I carry just in case) so I will just swim for an hour before heading to work.

Swimming is confirmed to be the best thing you can do in the mornings – at least for me. I think I’m a solitary player when it comes to fitness and a practically empty swimming pool at 7am felt like a dream.

Friday: Last day! I finish this experiment with a Power Yoga session at 7am and I love it – but I am also looking forward to just staying in bed until I am ‘too hungry to be lazy’ this weekend.

If I could imagine the perfect workout day, it would probably involve dance barre in the morning and Candlelit Flow yoga in the evening. I liked a little push before starting the day, but I don’t think I can go as far as boxing when I am still sleepy.

I am not going to lie, the last few days were pretty difficult. The temperature in London dropped dramatically (especially at 6am) and I found waking up early a challenge, mainly because I found it difficult to stick to an early night routine. The first week I was pretty good at going to bed early, but my fiancé works shifts and with him coming back at 11.30pm, I never got to bed before half past midnight during the second week.

Reviewing these two weeks, I think that this experiment was definitely helpful to point out all the things that I do “wrong” when it comes to my daily routine. When I get home after being away all day, I try to do as many things as possible and I push my bedtime to the latest I can handle which ends up with me zombie-walking out of bed in the morning and get my make-up done on the bus.

During this experiment, it was so nice to take some time for myself in the evenings and mornings. I really want to try and perfect these little habits that can make our lives so much easier. Getting my clothes for the next day ready in the evening was a game-changer. In the morning, I am just incapable of thinking and this caused stress that I am happy to eliminate. Trying not to look at my phone just before bed and just read or talk (in real life) for at least half an hour was a challenge, but it also appeared absolutely necessary to improve the quality of my sleep. 

Last but not least, doing something for myself in the morning; it could be reading, doing some yoga at home or going to the swimming pool. Working long hours could make us feel like we don’t do anything but working all day. Having even only 30 minutes to spare made me feel like my day was longer and fuller.

This experiment was definitely bumpy but I still think it was a success. I may not be as fit and organised as Michelle Obama but I did learn what was wrong and I am willing to improve. Isn’t it what growth is all about? 

The new weekend membership at The Ned includes Club access from 11pm Friday to 11pm Sunday, including Bank Holiday.

Pictures: The Ned


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Alessia Armenise

Alessia Armenise is picture editor of Stylist and In her free time you'll find her tasting vegan street food around east London and sharing her (many) opinions on London Fields Radio. Instagram