There are only 24 hours in a day, 14-16 of them waking if you’re getting proper sleep, so why not make them count? After all, experts say there is such a thing as ‘doing it right’ when it comes to many of our day-to-day activities, save for some customization to account for individual conditions, preferences, and what’s left of your precious free time.
To help you make the most of your waking hours, we asked some of our favorite skin, fitness, and nutrition pros to share some of their top tips. From what to eat to how to sleep, read on as we break down what experts consider optimal routines for living your very best life one day at a time.
The perfect breakfast
Looking to kickstart your morning? According to Beth Warren, a registered dietitian and founder of Beth Warren Nutrition, you’ll want to reach for a mix of proteins, produce (such as fruit), and healthy fats, paired with a quality carb for an extra energy boost of filling fiber that will burn throughout the day.
“A quick and delicious option is Greek yogurt with a little granola and fresh berries. You can also do something fun and out of the box like overnight oats or chia pudding with your favorite fruits,” she advises.
The perfect morning skincare routine
Next, you’ll want to prepare your skin to face the day. “Wash your face clean with a gentle cleanser, adding nutrients with an antioxidant serum, sealing in hydration with a moisturizer, and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 for proper sun protection,” advises Jenny Liu, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota.
How you perfect your routine also depends on your skin type and goals. “For acne-prone skin, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid wash can be helpful for keeping oils and blemishes at bay, and you may want to opt for an oil-free or lightweight gel moisturizer. For dry skin, I suggest opting for a thicker moisturizer with ceramides,” adds Dr. Liu.
The perfect morning dental routine
Of course, no morning routine is complete without proper brushing. “Brushing loosens and removes food particles and plaque from the surfaces of your teeth and gums. It’s the first line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease, and you should do it two to three times a day for two minutes per session,” cautions Lawrence Fung, DDS, a cosmetic dentist and founder of Silicon Beach Dental.
While Fung stresses the most important thing when it comes to toothbrushes is that you use them constantly, there are a few he has come to rely on in his personal life and practice. “I use an Oral B as I prefer the smaller rotating head to get into hard-to-reach places. When I don’t have access to my electric toothbrush, I also like the Hello Replaceable Head Toothbrush with Charcoal Bristles for its soft bristles and handle design, which allows me to clean my teeth and gums effectively with minimal risk for gum recession. For patients with lots of gingival recession, I usually recommend Philips Sonicare as it tends to be a bit gentler,” he explains.
He also reinforces the use of floss for tackling additional blind spots. “Flossing gets in to all the nitty-gritty cracks and crevices, removing debris or what dentists call ‘interdental plaque.’ Look for a wax-coated floss that gets in between your teeth and glides smoothly. Hello’s Activated Charcoal Floss is black, which makes it easy to see the gunk,” he advises.
And don’t forget to rinse! “Finishing your oral care routine with mouthwash helps remove all the germs and nasty bits that brushing and flossing might have missed,” Fung explains. “A lot of patients don’t like to rinse because most mouthwash has alcohol in it that stings. Try to find one that is alcohol-free but still effective in freshening your breath, removing the leftover gunk, and improving overall gum health. This one from Hello has a natural mint flavor for a very mild taste.”
The perfect workout
Don’t have time to dedicate to a 45+ minute workout? Try what Steven Gundry, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon, author of The Energy Paradox, and host of The Dr. Gundry Podcast, likes to call ‘exercise snacking.’ “Aim for short 10 minute sessions (or ‘snacks’) consisting of easy forms of exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime,” he says. “The goal is to move throughout the day with bursts of vigorous movement that condition your metabolism, kickstart energy productions, help boost mental clarity, promote better sleep, and more.”
“The best exercise is the one you actually do and enjoy consistently,” adds Dr. Liu. “Take advantage of the summer season to try out different forms of activity and have fun. From walking and beach yoga to boxing and Zumba, focus on how your body feels and think quality and consistency over quantity.”
The perfect lunch and dinner
To keep energy levels up and avoid the dreaded midday slump, Warren says it can be helpful to think plant-based, “such as a salad topped with protein like tuna and a starchy vegetable like roasted butternuts squash or a legume like chickpeas for an additional boost of fiber to fill you longer. Add a dollop of healthy fat like guacamole or hummus, and you have a balanced meal.”
According to Warren, the ideal dinner looks similar to lunch: a healthy mix of protein, carbs, and vegetables. “Grilled chicken, roasted broccoli (even frozen!), and half of a sweet potato is the perfect blend. There’s also no shame in a quick and easy omelet with fresh spinach and a slice of quality sprouted bread,” she recommends.
The perfect evening snack
Have a sweet tooth or hankering for a late-night snack? “Try a handful of cherries for a treat that will not only fill and satisfy you but could also help you fall asleep!” advises Warren. If you desire something sweeter, you might also try an ounce of 70% dark chocolate. “It has less sugar, more fiber, and more antioxidants than milk chocolate. Buy it in single-serve options to keep the portion control in check.”
The perfect evening skincare routine
With plenty of productivity, nutrients, and (hopefully!) some enjoyment under your belt, it’s time to wash the day away. “Your routine should be similar to that in the morning, again taking your individual skin type and needs into account, but with a greater focus on restoration,” advises Dr. Liu. “In the PM, I like to double cleanse to ensure I’m ridding my skin of all makeup, debris, and other environmental aggressors. In place of an antioxidant, I typically apply a retinoid of some sort (good for mature/fine lines, as well as acne), along with my moisturizer (neck and eye creams are nice additions too). I also like a good hydrating essence, as well as to use an AHA overnight treatment 1-2x weekly in place of retinoid at night.”
The perfect evening dental routine
If using a fluoride-free toothpaste in the morning, Fung recommends switching things up with a fluoride toothpaste at night. “Otherwise, I recommend avoiding toothpaste with sulfates, artificial coloring, or synthetic flavors. If you tend to have sensitive skin, it can also help to find a toothpaste with potassium nitrate.”
Want to avoid a dental nightmare? Fung suggests seeing a dentist for a check-up at least once a year, with additional professional cleanings once or twice a year, depending on your needs.
The perfect sleep
As for when you should hit the hay, studies tend to suggest an earlier bed and rise time could have its benefits when it comes to health and productivity (or, as the saying goes, ‘the early bird gets the worm’). At the very least, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of shuteye for the average adult, with studies suggesting humidifiers can help clear the air for better breathing and hydrated skin (we’re also fans of a good silk pillow for safeguarding skin against wrinkles).
And don’t forget to hydrate! It’s critical to keep hydrated, ideally drinking four to six cups of water per day. “This can include infused water or even flavored seltzers, but try to limit the sweetened options, even if they’re natural,” advises Warren.
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