5 lessons I learned from following Barack Obama's morning routine for a week

When you’re the 44th president of the United States, carving out time for yourself can be a difficult undertaking.

While a day in the life of President Obama is varied and often unpredictable, his morning routine gives him the chance to spend a little time alone.

Obama usually starts the day with a 45-minute workout, Reggie Love, his former personal aide, told Business Insider.

He alternates between strength training and cardio exercises, a friend of the president told WebMD.

The president is reportedly not a big coffee drinker. His morning beverage of choice is water, orange juice, or green tea, according to Love.

Obama often works late into the evening and sleeps an average of five hours a night, according to the New York Times. As much as possible, the president also aims to eliminate small decisions, such as what he will eat or wear that day, Vanity Fair reports.

I followed Obama’s morning routine for a week, and also tried my best (admittedly, without much success) to eliminate coffee consumption and minimise decisions about food and clothing.

Here are my five biggest takeaways from the experiment:

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Obama does push-ups.

Starting the day with a 45-minute workout is challenging, but left me feeling like I accomplished something before the day started

Before trying out Obama's morning routine, I experimented with Jack Dorsey's and Arianna Huffington's morning rituals, both of which involved early morning exercise. However, those routines included meditation before working out.

I found it a lot more difficult to wake up and exercise first thing. The first few strides of my run always felt like 'shock therapy' -- I hadn't quite woken up yet, but my brain was telling my body to move quickly.

However, I felt like I had accomplished something really challenging first thing in the morning, and that often set the tone for the rest of the day.

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I also learned that 45 minutes of weight-training, if done with little rest, is extremely tiring (but motivating)

I'd only recently started incorporating heavy weight training into my fitness routine. Every time I start my workout, it's painful. But there is something about lifting heavy weights that makes you think: Bring it on, I can take it!

For me, I noticed that starting my day with this 'I can take anything on' mentality made me more willing to start difficult tasks early on.

Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images
Obama runs up the steps of Marine One.

I'm puzzled by where Obama gets his energy

Obama probably only gets five to six hours of sleep every night out of necessity. Before starting this routine, I thought that maybe exercising would eventually make up for any tiredness from lack of sleep.

After just experiencing his schedule for one night, this turned out not to be the case. I struggled to get myself to go for a 45-minute run when I'd only had five hours of shut-eye.

I also had a hard time waking up properly without my morning coffee, which Obama reportedly does not drink on a regular basis. Maybe his energy comes from a combination of stress and responsibility.


Eliminating decision fatigue was harder than I expected

I tried to minimise time spent making decisions by laying out my clothes on Sunday night and grocery shopping with the intent of eating the same meals every day.

However, I still found myself thinking about food, particularly on days when I really didn't feel like chopping vegetables in the morning or craved something other than the boring stir-fry I was planning to make.

Laying out my clothes for the week proved to be quite helpful, though, and did save me the time and effort of rummaging through my closet in the morning.

Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images
Obama with former personal aide, Reggie Love.

It's important to practice willpower on a continuing basis

I wondered what Obama does on days when he feels like he just can't face the weight of the world -- I assume that even the president of the United States isn't immune from human tendencies.

Obama's former campaign manager told WebMD that Obama probably saw his workout as his 'alone time.' Perhaps that time to recharge gives him the willpower to tackle whatever world-changing issues he has to deal with that day.

This experiment reaffirmed the importance of constantly training my mental muscle. Willpower is not something that you achieve and never have to work on again. Mental toughness needs to be nurtured constantly.

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