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This TV Producer Wakes Up At 3 a.m.—Here Are Her Early-Riser Morning Routine Secrets

November 26, 2018
Recipe Developer and cookbook author
By Samah Dada
Recipe Developer and cookbook author
Samah Dada is a New York City-based recipe developer, food photographer, and the blogger behind Dada Eats.
Photo by Milles Studio / Stocksy
November 26, 2018

What's it like to start your day if you're mbg's food director, a yogi, or a food blogger/TV producer who wakes up at 3 a.m.? In this new series sponsored by Quaker® Old-Fashioned Oats, nutrition and wellness enthusiasts let you in on their tried-and-true morning routines and all the nourishing habits that set them up for a feel-good day.

People often think I'm crazy when I tell them I wake up at 3 a.m., but as a morning show producer, that's just part of living out my NYC dream. With a crazy busy day ahead (I also work as a recipe developer for my wellness food and travel blog, DADAEATS), I need a concrete routine to get me ready. 

Let's be real—no day is really ever the same. My mood fluctuates, what I eat may change, and the interactions I have with other people can be different every single day. Knowing this, I feel strongly about having a consistent set of steps to wake up to. Whether it's something as small as snoozing my alarm for the exact same amount of time every morning or making a nourishing breakfast before I leave my apartment, a morning routine is something I can personally control to help set myself up to have the best possible day.

A morning routine is something I can personally control to help set myself up to have the best possible day.

3 a.m.

Ah yes, the beautiful sound of an alarm clock in what is most definitely the middle of the night. I have to be at work at 4 a.m., so my jarring alarm clock goes off at 3 every morning. Since I wake up at basically the crack of dawn, I try to wind down around 7:30 p.m. and get to sleep around 8 p.m. It doesn't always work out that way (I like to have friends; take my favorite spin, boxing, or yoga class; and develop recipes, of course!), but in an ideal world, I would be asleep at 8:15 p.m. But...I'd be lying if I said I actually get myself out of bed at this time. Snooze.

3:10 a.m.

This is me pretending to sleep in. Snooze.

3:15 a.m.

OK, it's time. I get up, and the first thing I do is drink a glass of water—plain, nothing fancy in it!

3:20 a.m.

I'm a nighttime shower kind of gal, so I always get that taken care of before I sleep. Especially when I'm waking up at such an ungodly hour. So now I just brush my teeth, wash my face, and follow with an SPF 15 moisturizer. I've never loved being in the sun growing up (even in California!), so I've made it a habit to protect my skin from those rays. 

3:25 a.m.

I hate to rush into putting my makeup on and contacts in, so I take this time to make my morning smoothie. When I wake up as early as I do, it's really important for me to prepare food options for my day. I like to make my smoothie in the morning so it stays fresh rather than doing it the night before. My go-to recipe is ½ a frozen banana, ¾ cup frozen spinach, 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of almond butter, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 scoop collagen powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, and cinnamon. I'm never hungry this early in the morning (...the night?), so I'll put my smoothie in the fridge to drink a little later on when I'm at work.

When I wake up as early as I do, it’s really important for me to prepare nourishing food options for my day.

3:35 a.m.

I don't put a ton of makeup on every day, but I do have a few essentials. I always go for a little eye shadow, a bit of eyeliner (either something a little more natural or a black liquid liner for when I want a more dramatic look), and lipstick. I put on a touch of under-eye concealer, perfume, and brush my hair. If I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I'll throw a few curls in my hair. But the ambition doesn't always come that early, let me tell you...

3:45 a.m.

I try my best to pick my clothes out for the day the night before so that I have one less thing to do in the morning. I put on whatever outfit I chose and order my car for work. (Luckily, my company pays for me to get a car to work in the mornings—one of the perks of having to get myself out of the house in the middle of the night!)

While I'm waiting for my car to arrive, I put my lunch (made the night before) and my smoothie in a bag. For my lunch these days, I've been really into prepping huge salads to bring to work. I love having a protein of choice, kale, cabbage, carrots, peppers, cucumber, grape tomatoes, half an avocado, and a homemade lemon tahini mustard dressing. I also add some everything bagel seasoning on top because—I'll be real—I legitimately put that stuff on everything.

3:50 a.m.

I'm out the door at this time, headed to work! Nine times out of 10 my driver will ask me if I had a good night, to which I respond, "You mean a good morning—I'm headed to work!" I love the reaction. I check my work email in the car to get into the properly prepared mindset and to also see if there's any sort of breaking news that may affect my day in the control room.

4 a.m.

I arrive in the control room at work around this time. While I'm working on my first tasks of the day, I aim to drink at least 1 liter of water. I always try to drink this much water before my first cup of coffee.

5:30 a.m.

First coffee of the day! I drink my first cup of coffee black and my second cup of coffee (usually in the afternoon around 2 p.m.) with a splash of almond milk. I have my coffee with a bowl of fruit—it's just the best and easiest thing for me to digest so early in the morning. My favorites right now are berries and melon.

8 a.m.

The smoothie I prepped earlier makes its appearance! I'm so busy during the morning that I get to my smoothie around this time. I like to wait for around 10 to 12 hours from my dessert the night before (berries, dark chocolate, and popcorn, always) to have my first breakfast of the morning. I'm definitely not any sort of intermittent faster, but this is rather an attempt to keep my body on as normal an eating schedule when I'm waking up so early.

But if I am hungry before that time, I will absolutely whip out the smoothie before the show starts. The news and stories we cover change every day, of course, but I try to keep to this morning routine to make getting up at this insane hour every day just a little bit more sane!

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