Three Things I Need to Start My Day

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Many of us have our daily routines, rituals if you will.  These are the little things we do once our feet hit the floor to get our day off to a good start.  Whether it’s having breakfast, reading the newspaper (or I guess reading the news online), talking to the dog before talking to anyone else, these little acts help set us up for success as we begin a new day.  Sometimes missing or skipping one of these events is seen as a sign for a terrible day to come (queue the mystic sitar music), but alas if we survive the day it is likely we’ll make a stronger effort to not skip the ritual the next morning.  Here are three things I need to start my day.

1. Coffee

I love coffee.  I cannot call myself a conessoir but I can say I know a damn good cup of coffee when I taste one.  From my dad’s kitchen table when I was a teenager to the surf side doughnut shop in San Clemente, California; from the mess deck of a US Navy troop carrier floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to a dusty war torn street in Iraq; From the coast of North Carolina to the European cafes and bistros in Stuttgart, Oradea, Lake Como, Budapest, Vienna, Vilnius, Brussels, and Limerick; from the diners in my little home state of Delaware to the sun  beaten countries along the Persian Gulf and Africa.  I have always enjoyed beginning my day with a nice hot cup of joe.  

A warm cup of coffee in the morning always seemed like a nice way to quietly reflect on the past and reflect on the day to come.  As a teenager, having a cup of coffee with my dad before going to school, and eventually work with my pop was a bonding time.  We watched the news, told stories about friends, and laughed.  As a Marine sharing a cup of coffee was bonding time with the men.  In Iraq, the instant coffee wasn’t always the best, but it was a nice break from the physical and emotional rigors of war; I usually built a small fire, guys would take turns heating up their water in a canteen cup, and we’d enjoy the temporary peace and tell stories from back home while sipping joe from our steel cups.

My first cappuccino was had in Oradea, Romania at the age of 36.  As I bounced around Europe on official business and at play, I loved to patronize the little cafes on little streets throughout the European continent.  Something about drinking a cappuccino on a terrace takes me back to a time I did not know but only learned about through movies and history books.  Sipping my morning coffee, watching people go about their day, admiring the architecture around these classic cities always makes me feel like I’m somewhere between the Great War and the end of the 1940’s.

And today, as I prepare my days as a mid-40’s underclassman at the University of Limerick, one of the great joys of my day is waking up before the rest of the house, pouring a cup of coffee, tidying up around the kitchen, and getting started on some school work, blog posts, developing my own online courses, or scrolling through social media to see how my friends and family back in the States are doing.

2. Vitamins/Minerals

Although I always advocate getting your nutrients from whole foods, there are a few vitamins I take daily.  I do not take a multi-vitamin, but I do take a few supplements that I feel my body benefits from.  One to give me an energy boost throughout the day and helps with the production of neurotransmitters, one that helps boost the  immune system and assist with protein synthesis, another immune system booster and anti-oxidant.  There was a time when I ran out of two of my supplements.  I questioned myself as to if I really needed them or if I was getting a sufficient amount of the nutrients from my diet.  As a certified sports nutritionist and  nutrition coach it’s been beaten into my head that a well balanced diet should provide all the nutrients I need. 

However, I am a very active person, I could say (and do) I am an amateur athlete so when I started supplementing it was because, as I had also learned through my studies, that I probably required a little more of the nutrients due to my activity level.  So, when I ran out of these two supplements and decided I was in no hurry to replace them I was without those two supplements for about a month, and my body responded accordingly.  My energy levels were nowhere near what they were when I was taking the additional nutrients, which pretty much led to me skipping out on other activities such as going to the gym, which in turn had an adverse effect on my energy levels as well as my immune system.  After I went out and replaced the missing two nutrients it was like I had woken up from a month long sleep.

3. TP!

One very important lesson I learned in the Marine Corps… always carry a roll of toilet paper in your pack!  In the Corps one could only sacrifice so many shirt sleeves or socks before it became a problem.  Having a shirt with no sleeves was bound to draw an ass chewing from the company gunny.  And losing a sock on patrol was a recipe for disaster when it comes to your feet.  Some may wonder what good is TP with no place to go.  

To that I would submit, it is much easier to improvise and adapt a place to answer nature’s call than it is to figure out what to do when you’re finished!  I am 100% certain there has been a time or times when I have sacrificed leaving extra ammunition behind to make room in my gear for a fresh roll of TP.  Even better advice: don’t venture out into the world without first having your morning constitutional, because after all who wants to carry that burden around, setting yourself up for an ambush of opportunity.  If you really want to understand the importance of TP wait until you discover you have none and now have to disturb the peace of the sleeping house as you yell for one of your kids (or housemates if you don’t have kids) to bring their roll to you because you forgot to buy some when you went to the store.

There are probably other things I do as I prepare to face the day ahead, but these are things I know have the potential to make or break my day before ever stepping foot out the door.  What are three things you need to get your day started?

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Author: James Conner , USMC (Ret.)

I am a 20 year United States Marine Corps veteran. I spent 10 years as an infantryman participating in many overseas deployments to include multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Currently living in Ireland, where I am enrolled as a student at the University of Limerick getting my degree in Exercise Science. Certified Fitness Trainer, Sports Nutrition Specialist,  Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach.