My weekday mornings are like clockwork. When 7:30 a.m. rolls around, my body knows it. I still set an alarm because I like the soothing sound of my Jack Johnson ringtone.
I fire up my French press immediately, take 15 minutes to become business casual appropriate, guzzle my liquid energy, and am out the door just before 8. I join the masses and power walk down New York City’s bustling Fifth Avenue to my office, where instant oats and coffee number two await.
While I’m all for spontaneity over monotony in general, certain things must be strictly regimented.
So when my editor recently asked our team to try a popular morning-productivity hack for a week and report on the results, the thought of changing anything about my routine gave me the chills.
I didn’t particularly want to sacrifice my luxurious 7:30 a.m. wake-up call or make room for intense exercise, so I chose to hack my mornings by eating superfoods. Specifically, I decided to drink those obnoxiously green smoothies you see health nuts walking around with post-workout — the ones that make you feel guilty about hitting snooze and consequently scarfing down a Pop-Tart on your way out the door.
Green smoothies supposedly have incredible health benefits: The fruit-veggie combination offers vitamins and minerals galore, they’re low-calorie but keep you feeling fuller for longer, and drinking them can help you stay hydrated.
Since my goal was to hack my morning with a healthier start to the day, I also decided to eliminate my alarming intake of caffeine for the week.
Go big or go home.
Here’s how my (nearly) coffee-free and green-drink week played out:
Worried I wouldn’t pass a smoothie shop en route to work, I panicked and ran into the first place I saw green drinks — Pax Wholesome Foods. They don’t blend their own smoothies, so I settled for a Naked “Green Machine” juice packed with 10 “green turbo boosts,” according to the label.
I had no reason to panic, as I proceeded to pass upwards of five smoothie shops between Pax and my office.
The lukewarm concoction took a few sips to get used to, but I decided the flavour wasn’t half-bad. It didn’t fill me up nearly enough, however, nor did it provide the same boost of energy my double coffee routine does. I cheated and snuck in half a cup of coffee to combat the Monday yawns.
I stopped into one of the several smoothie places I passed the day before, a tiny juice shop squeezed between a souvenir store and a pizza place.
I ordered the “Amazing Green” smoothie, which contains pineapple, banana, spirulina, and protein. Worried the colour of the drink wouldn’t be green enough, I added kale (turns out the spirulina, a dietary “superfood” supplement, would have provided plenty of green on its own).
The fresh smoothie blew Monday’s Naked out of the water taste-wise, filled me up sufficiently (probably the protein), and provided enough energy that I didn’t even think about coffee, let alone drink it, the entire day.
I decided to research quality Manhattan smoothie spots in the hope of finding the best of the best to close out the week. Tuesday’s hole-in-the-wall made several lists, as did a trendy superfood joint, Terri.
Terri’s vibe was electric at 8 a.m., and several people ahead of me in line ordered the “Green Power” smoothie, so I decided to follow suit. Packed into one cup was a healthy dose of kale, pear, banana, and almond butter — all tied together with creamy almond milk.
I’m starting to see why these are trendy — slurping kale and spinach is not the cringing experience I had made it out to be — but I’m also wondering how sustainable this pricey routine is. In three days, I’ve spent more on smoothies than I typically spend on groceries for the month.
While Terri provided me deliciousness in a cup, it didn’t provide me stamina. I cheated big time and drank a huge cup of coffee.
The vibe at Terri is addicting, and I headed back Thursday morning, this time opting for the “Live Long and Green” juice. I assumed the $US8 juice would be hand-crafted at least, but it turns out the fancy juice comes in a bottle, similar to Monday’s Naked.
The tartness of the cucumber-spinach-apple-lemon-ginger combo was startling and took several sips to get used to. I learned that it’s part of the Terri juice cleanse, in which you exclusively drink juice for the entire day.
I was starving all morning, and drank coffee again to curb my unpleasant mood.
My liquid tour ended at Juice Generation, another hot spot that my Googling from Wednesday directed me to. The Mr. Greengenes smoothie, with mango, banana, kale, and spinach, was a strong close to the week, and it kept me away from the office Keurig machine.
I took note of three different categories throughout the week:
Flavour: Shockingly tasty
Energy levels: The superfood liquids were incredibly filling (save for Monday and Thursday’s juices), and there is something about drinking green stuff that feels revitalizing. The green boost was different from the coffee boost I’m used to, however, and did not combat the caffeine headache.
Experience: I will always prefer my to-go coffee mug over the health-nut smoothie cup, and while it was thrilling to join the smoothie craze for a brief moment, it all got old very quickly — the freaky vibrant green, the no-coffee situation, the brain freeze, the liquid overload, and the ridiculous expense.
Also, I realised that I don’t have a problem with eating my recommended daily amount of veggies, so why drink them?
I’m not writing off super smoothies after five days of brain freeze and a bruised wallet. Conventional wisdom says it takes 21 days to form a habit, and that’s generous — research suggests that it’s closer to 66 days. I’m sure I could rewire my ritualized self to not only accept, but to crave, green juice in the mornings.
If I ever decide to start forming that habit though, it will be years down the road when my bank account and bladder can sustain it.
For now, it’s back to instant oats and double coffee, and I can’t wait.
Learn more about how productive people set themselves up for success every morning in The Success Series.
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