This CEO Traded In 5:29 a.m. Wake-Ups For A More ‘Spacious’ Morning Routine That Includes Her Most ‘Cherished Ritual Of The Day’

Fortune Well August 30, 2023

Lifestyle

This CEO Traded In 5:29 a.m. Wake-Ups For A More ‘Spacious’ Morning Routine That Includes Her Most ‘Cherished Ritual Of The Day’

In our CEO wellness series, we ask executives about their day-to-day habits to gain insight into the tactics they use to minimize stress and maintain their well-being.

Rebecca Parekh is the co-founder and CEO of THE WELL. Prior to founding THE WELL, Parekh was the COO for Deepak Chopra Radical Well-Being and a director at Deutsche Bank Securities, where she held various positions including head of cross product sales and head of the U.S. Private Institutional Client Group. She is also a certified yoga instructor and serves on the board of several nonprofit foundations. 

 

Coffee or tea? And what do you put in it?
Both! Coffee in the morning with whole milk and chamomile tea in the evening.

What is your go-to breakfast?
My go-to breakfast is eggs and a smoothie with a combination of berries, greens, and coconut milk yogurt. I also like to add cinnamon, hemp seeds, and flax seeds. After years of running out the door on an empty stomach, I’ve noticed such a difference in how I feel when I start my day with a nourishing meal, incorporating as many nutrient-dense, well-sourced foods as possible.

Tell us about your workout routine.
I practice yoga at home in the morning, and it’s my most cherished ritual of the day. My mom was teaching yoga in the ’70s when she was pregnant with me, so I’ve truly been practicing my entire life. It wasn’t until I did my yoga teacher training that I started building sequences and practicing on my own. I also practiced ballet growing up, so I love a good barre class.

How many hours do you sleep on a typical night?
I sleep eight hours a night or I start to feel terrible pretty quickly. For many years when I worked on a trading desk, I sprinted straight out of bed and was at the gym at 5:29 a.m. when they turned the lights on. Even then, I had to commit to getting to bed on time to get the rest my body needed. Thankfully (and very intentionally), my mornings are much more spacious now. I fall asleep easily and wake up naturally around 7 or 7:30 a.m. Losing the alarm clock was a game-changer. 

How do you de-stress?
Nature, time with my family, live music, cooking—really anything that takes me out of my head and into the present moment. Nature is an instant reset for me. I love to travel and spend time in the mountains or at the beach, but even just a walk along the Hudson River in NYC will do the trick! I’m also proactive with my calendar and schedule downtime and nights in to relax, cook, and think my thoughts. When my days are jam-packed, I need that space and quiet time. 

According to your phone, what’s your daily average screen time from last week? 
4 hours and 44 minutes

What app do you use the most?
Mail and Messages are tied, according to my phone. I also live for the Calendar app. 

When’s the last time you took a day off? What did you do?
I took a few days off at the end of March to visit my parents. Lots of walks outside, delicious food, and quality time catching up. 

What’s one thing your company is doing to prioritize employee wellness?
Something we often acknowledge in our work is that wellness isn’t one-size-fits-all. This feels as true for our team as it is for our members and guests—what one team member values may not be meaningful to another. With that in mind, when thinking about supporting the well-being of our team, we started by working really hard to get the best possible health insurance plans we could as a small company, giving our team members a range of options from which they can choose.

Then there are little things we infuse into our daily culture like not scheduling team meetings any earlier than 10 a.m. We know some team members are caregivers and have morning drop-offs or a dog they have to walk before they get into the office. For others, simply being able to ease into their day before diving into meetings is something we wanted to create space for. Being in the business of wellness, we are also able to offer wellness services to our team—extending free classes and access to services at cost. 

What’s your favorite treat?
Ice cream for sure, but not just the actual food—the whole ritual. I love going to a local ice cream spot on a hot summer night with family or friends. 


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