Eight months ago, Sara Smith, a wife, mother, and Associate Brand Manager at MUDWTR found herself struggling. Life’s hustle and bustle was wearing her down mentally and physically. But over six months, Sara embarked on a health and healing journey—and she hasn’t looked back.
It Started With a Wake-up Call
Last year, Sara was functioning on auto-pilot. She was juggling a move, a new job and the daily challenges of raising two kids under four, all while being present for her family. Her energy was divided, and her health was suffering the consequences.
“It’s really easy, when you’re a mom, to put yourself on the back burner and not prioritize your own health," said Sara. "You’re so busy worrying about everyone else."
But Sara realized that always being on the go isn’t sustainable—it’s a recipe for burnout and health troubles. She knew it was time to prioritize her health when she tried out the Oura Ring—a device given to MUD\WTR employees that provides personalized health insights. For healthy individuals in their mid-twenties like Sara, it should show a heart rate variability (HRV) between 55-105, which would show a balance between the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system. Functionally, HRV demonstrates whether your body can quickly switch between active and rest times. While everyone’s body and goals differ, having a high HRV is generally favorable.
For Sara, the proof was in the numbers. Her HRV sat at a low 38, but it wasn’t just the number that bothered her; her body was also trying to tell her something.
“I was just sitting on the couch. I was reading a book and thought, 'I feel like crap,'" Sara remembered.
The more she thought about it, the more she realized her habits weren’t serving her.
“I’m not doing anything to make myself feel better, I’m eating junk food, I’m sedentary most of the day, spending all this time at my desk, and coming home and sitting on the couch," she added.
As Sara sat on the couch, looking at her HRV, she felt surprised and disappointed. But she couldn’t sit in those feelings forever; it was time to act.
Next Step: Find the Right Habits
Naturally, the next question Sara had was what, exactly, should she do. In the time of Instagram gurus and countless self-help books, Sara wanted to cut through the noise and find tried and true advice. She discussed what type of teachings she’d like to follow with MUD\WTR’s health and wellness coach and, ultimately, she found her way to Andrew Huberman.
“I loved that he is a neuroscientist and a doctor. It went beyond someone on TikTok telling me how to live my best life. It was facts, and the information was accessible. [All of the advice] was backed by science,” Sara explained.
She started exploring Huberman's advice while listening to his podcast and reading his blog; both sources are filled with science-backed advice to improve quality of life. After learning about Huberman’s habits, it was time to set them into motion. It wouldn’t be easy, but Sara was up for the challenge–and that’s precisely what it was. Sara challenged herself to try all of Huberman’s morning advice for six months straight.
Sara’s Andrew-Huberman-Inspired Morning Routine
Huberman has six steps to his morning routine that Sara decided to employ. Every component centers around setting yourself up for an energized and successful day. The practice revolves around “sleep and wake up times, and making sure you’re prioritizing your time awake,” Sara explained. Here’s exactly what she did.
First, Sara had to focus on simply waking up. Huberman recommends rising with or right before the sun, so Sara began setting her alarm for between 5-6:00 am. This early rise is followed by the next step in the routine—sun exposure.
“I try to get out while the sun is rising and watch the sun come up to help regulate my circadian rhythm,” said Sara.
Regulating her sleep and wake cycles has made a massive difference in Sara’s sleep quality, and now, she doesn’t even need an alarm in the morning. Waking up early naturally allows Sara to cherish the quiet start to her day and focus on anything she wants to get done before her kids wake up.
Another addition to her early mornings? Hydration.
"I learned you’re really dehydrated throughout the night. You don’t go eight hours during the day without water," Sara said.
Now instead of reaching for caffeine in the morning, she starts with water. After her morning water and sun exposure, she’ll get her kids ready for the day. Then she’ll do a 30-minute HIIT workout, usually involving weights. While Huberman recommends weight training, he supports people getting active in whatever way works best for them. Sara has also started incorporating yoga into her routine for additional mindfulness and flexibility.
During her morning workout, and even for a bit longer after that, Sara practices intermittent fasting. She drinks only water until around 10 or 11:00 am, breaking her fast with MUD\WTR's :rise Cacao blend. By delaying food for a bit, Sara says, “I feel better, more awake, and more energized.” She’s found that waiting for her morning drink makes the small kick of caffeine go much further.
“It seems to work better and longer…it doesn’t feel like it just crashes,” Sara said.
After her morning beverages and workout, Sara adds a supplement to the mix; greens. There are a variety of green supplements that can be mixed into water or milk and provides additional nutrients that can be hard to get throughout the day. This extra dose of nutrients is followed by the final step in Sara's morning routine—a 10-minute cold plunge. She doesn’t own a cold plunge tub, but using her regular shower makes cold plunging accessible and an easy habit to stick with. Sara says the science behind the cold plunge is hard to beat; by triggering a fight or flight response, “it makes a huge change with any anxiety I usually get early in the morning…I feel more calm, ready for the day, and mentally prepared."
Getting to a 10-minute cold plunge didn’t happen overnight. Sara started with just 60 seconds and over time she became “more adapted to it and learned breathing techniques.” Once Sara practiced this morning routine consistently, she soon noticed that her HRV score was steadily improving. Though there were waves of motivation and a lack of motivation, Sara was committed to keeping up the challenge and finishing strong.
No Longer a Challenge But a Lifestyle
Sara's six-month challenge is technically over. But she’s kept up with every single habit, even eight months later.
“There are some days when I don’t hit everything perfectly, but the general idea is to keep my health at the forefront of what I do and keep my caffeine consumption low," said Sara.
Her kids are paying attention too, and while they may be too young to pick up on the habits directly, she’s noticed her youngest likes to play in the cold water used for her cold plunge. Sara has seen a massive difference in her energy levels and feeling of contentment. Her kids aren’t the only ones paying attention either; her husband was inspired by the changes he saw and has started using Huberman’s advice too.
“It wasn’t always easy,” Sara reflects. Sometimes she felt like quitting, especially during the second week when her excitement had worn off, but the routine wasn’t quite a full habit. “I did one day choose to sleep in and not follow the protocols, but when I did that, I saw a direct impact on my Oura data…It was a motivator to keep it up.” Since then, she hasn’t looked back.
Now Sara’s getting the most out of her morning and wouldn’t change a thing. What sticks with her the most? The sunrises. “Those are beautiful every single day,”