Olympic swimmer Dara Torres not only spent years training in the pool, she also trained herself to be an early riser.
“I’ve always been forced to be a little bit more of a morning person because of the fact that I always had early-morning workouts,” she told HuffPost.
Torres says her mornings are often the busiest time of her day. She gets in a workout, makes a healthy breakfast and helps her daughter get ready for school. She also makes time to care for her skin: Torres lives with psoriasis, a condition that mostly affects the skin and joints.
Psoriasis, which affects more than 7 million people in the United States, is classified as a chronic inflammatory disease of the immune system. It can cause itchy, red and painful dry patches on the surface of the skin and also increases a person’s risk of other illnesses like depression.
Torres was diagnosed with the disease in the 1990s, when she was training for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and has since become an ambassador for the “Show More Of You” psoriasis campaign as a way to bring more public awareness to the condition.
“I think when you’re going through psoriatic disease, whether it’s all over your body or just in patches, you’re self-conscious about that,” she said. “I like to share my story to show people that you can still live well, even if you have this condition.”
Living well for Torres includes making the most of her mornings. Below, she shares her wake-up routine and how she takes care of her health:
What time do you wake up in the morning?
I would love to wake up at 8 a.m., but that never happens. I’m kind of forced to wake up around 6:30 because I have three dogs I have to let out and I have to get my daughter ready for school.
Do you use an alarm or do you wake up on your own?
I prefer to set my alarm just to be safe, but I never sleep until my alarm. For some reason I have this thing where ― even if it’s a minute before ― I wake up before my alarm and I turn it off.
I have to set my alarm to make sure that I get up, though. I feel like I’ll be up all night if I don’t set it.
What’s the very first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Go into the bathroom and brush my teeth.
Do you prefer to exercise in the morning or at night?
I’m the type that, as much as I love to exercise, I like to get it over with, too. I also feel like I’m more awake after I exercise, especially when I was training. I loved the feeling of it being 5:30 in the morning and swimming 3 miles. Then you get out and you’re ready to start your day.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
I love yogurt. I also will have a banana or some fruit or some oatmeal with raisins. I also like eggs for protein. I usually mix it up ― there’s not one certain go-to. It depends on how hungry I am when I wake up.
Coffee or tea? What’s your stimulant of choice?
Tea as long as it has caffeine in it. I have my first cup when I wake up.
Fill in the blank: My ideal morning consists of _________.
A healthy breakfast and exercise. Those are the two biggest things for me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.