The Health Diaries

Why the Founder of Headspace Wakes Up at 5 a.m.

Andy Puddicombe is ‘pretty much vegan’ and thinks everyone should meditate

There are many ways to live a healthy life. The Health Diaries is a weekly series about the habits that keep notable people living well.

AsAs a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace, a meditation app that’s raised more than $75 million from investors, Andy Puddicombe, 45, is a pretty chill dude. Meditation has been a part of his daily life since childhood, and now he’s succeeding at bringing it to the masses. Since 2012, when Puddicombe and his business partner launched the app, Headspace has amassed 32 million users in more than 190 countries.

Puddicombe lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife, Lucinda Puddicombe, who is a sports scientist, and their two sons, 18 months and four years old. Most weeks, he splits his time between the recording studio (Puddicombe narrates the app’s meditation sessions) and the Headspace headquarters, while also making time to speak at conferences and to media as the face of the company.

Puddicombe talked to Medium about how he balances his own health and wellness with the daily duties of being an active father and entrepreneur.

Every morning, I wake up at 5 a.m. In my early twenties, I traveled to the Himalayas to study meditation. I spent 10 years traveling around the world and was eventually ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. In the monastery, we got up at 3 a.m., and when my son Harley was a baby, I got up at 4 a.m., so 5 a.m. doesn’t feel all that early. I love that time of day, and I always feel excited for the day ahead. It also allows me to exercise before anyone else in the house has woken up, so I have more time with the family. I don’t use an alarm clock unless I have a flight.

The first thing I do after I wake up is take a few minutes to appreciate that I’ve woken up. Then I exercise for an hour.

I get exercise by running, cycling, rowing, surfing, stretching, and playtime with our kids.

My daily eating typically looks like: a vegan Core bar crumbled with nuts, dried fruit, and a local farm’s sheep yogurt for breakfast; a plant-based chocolate protein smoothie with almond butter for lunch; and a vegan grain bowl with lots of fresh veggies and tempeh for dinner. As someone who trains a lot, I get a little extra help from Vega protein supplements and some of their recovery products.

As a family, we are pretty much vegan, maybe 95 percent, and have been for many years — the kids, too. The few exceptions are sheep’s yogurt from a local farm, and some eggs once in a while. We eat like this for health, environmental, and ethical reasons.

I’ve stopped worrying about life. On the one hand, we have limitless potential, and so every single moment is vitally important. At the same time, life is impermanent, temporary, and ever-changing, so there is nothing to worry about or hold on to.

I’m trying to get better at being patient and kind with my son in challenging situations, when I don’t necessarily feel like being patient and kind.

Right now, my nightly routine is bath and bedtime stories with the kids, dinner with my wife, more bedtime stories with the kids, watching a show with my wife, more bedtime stories with the kids, checking my email one more time, and then preparing for the following day before bed.

A wellness trend I’m into is meditation. I wouldn’t describe as a trend, given that it’s been around for 3,000 years, but meditation is often described that way, and as a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of Headspace, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m a big fan of the practice. The emphasis with mindfulness is to maintain awareness throughout the day, no matter what we are doing, but of course I still find time for some formal meditation practice each day. Typically, it’s either early morning or sometime during the day at work.

An activity I engage in each week is trying to surf. I’ve had a couple injuries of late, but otherwise I try to do it weekly. There is something about being immersed in nature, untethered from the digital world, and at peace with the ebb and flow of the ocean.

I think more people should try meditation because who wouldn’t want to feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, and less distracted? Who wouldn’t want to experience more calm, more clarity, and more harmonious relationships in their life?

Health and science journalist. Former editor of Medium’s Covid-19 Blog and deputy editor at Elemental. TIME Magazine writer before that

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