A nine-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Erin Oprea made history when she was chosen to lead the first all-female platoon attached to the infantry in a war zone. Oprea’s time in the Marines prepared her for a career as a personal trainer to some of the fittest names in music, including Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, and Carrie Underwood. Aside from her work training celebrities, The 4×4 Diet author also spends her days sharing advice on maintaining well-being on her social media platforms. Oprea’s busy schedule keeps her moving, so having a consistent and healthy morning routine to start her day is extra important to her. 

Here, Oprea walks Thrive through her morning routine — which starts before sunrise — and offers easy tips you can try to give yourself more energy throughout the day.

Thrive Global: What time do you wake up? 

Erin Oprea: I normally wake up around 3:30 a.m.

TG: How do you wake up — via an alarm, or naturally? 

EO: There really is no natural alarm for me at 3:30 a.m., so my phone wakes me up!

TG: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

EO: The first thing I do is drink a bottle of water. Your body gets dehydrated as you sleep, so it’s important to replenish that right away.

TG: Take us through your morning step by step.

EO: After I wake up and drink my water, I turn on the news, make a cup of coffee with Vital Proteins collagen peptides, and grab some homemade oatmeal out of the fridge. I warm it up, then top it with egg whites and either blueberries or raspberries. I enjoy that with a three-ounce shot of beet juice, and head out the door to train my first client.

TG: What’s your preferred breakfast? 

EO: Oatmeal! Steel cut, baby. I’ve got an awesome crock pot steel cut oats recipe that you can customize with your favorite toppings or spices. Check out the apple cinnamon version here.

TG: What’s your beauty routine?

EO: I’m not big into makeup because I’m always training clients and working out, but I’ve learned the importance of taking care of my skin; I really regret not caring for it earlier on in my life! I see @nashvillebeautygirl and she has done wonders!

TG: What’s your workout? 

EO: I recommend a mix of cardio and strength training throughout the week, exercising at least four times a week. But if that seems like too much, just move your body every day! Check out my book The 4×4 Diet for a huge list of Tabata workouts, quick four-minute bursts of exercise to do throughout the day that are super effective, and join StepBet! It’s a great way to push yourself to get in that all-day movement.

TG: Anything special you do that is part of your routine?

EO: Tabatas really are my favorite, and I do them with all my clients. If you haven’t tried them out, they’re a killer addition to any workout routine — quick, simple, efficient, and effective, targeting different portions of the body for 20 seconds of exercise, then 10 seconds of rest.

TG: How do you set yourself up to thrive for the day? 

EO: I prepare for my day so that I know that I have what I need. I always carry a lunchbox with plenty of water in it plus clean food to get me through the day: another serving of the oatmeal that I had for breakfast, hard-boiled eggs, 100-calorie packs of popcorn, another shot of beet juice, and a serving of fruit that’s usually an apple. Honeycrisps are the best. Those things are always packed! Sometimes I treat myself with a protein bar.

TG: Which foods do you avoid? 

EO: Yeast. Yeast makes my belly bloat so much, so as much as I love pizza, I avoid eating traditional pizza on a bread crust. I discovered cauliflower crusts a while back (Cali’Flour Lite Pizza Crusts are the best), so I still get my pizza fix in.

TG: How do you organize your day? How do you prioritize your to-do list? 

EO: My days are typically full, going from training one client to another, so I am on full-throttle all day long. Because I cater to my clients’ busy schedules, I have to schedule everything the weekend before and slip in all my extra business stuff where I can! Staying on top of it is key, and I’m lucky to have an assistant to keep me on track.

TG: What is your relationship with technology? How does it impact your day? Do you take tech breaks? 

EO: I am not a big tech person — that’s my husband’s thing. But, my phone is always nearby to get calls and texts, and so that I can keep up with my Instagram and interact with my followers. I would be 100 percent lost without my Fitbit. Since I host StepBet games every eight weeks, I am never without it. Tech keeps me on track and focused. I — unfortunately — never take a break from it.

TG: What do you do to unwind before bed? 

EO: I take a shower, jump in my jammies, then sit on the couch with a cup of relaxing hot tea. Hot tea is something I’ve really gotten into this year, and I love ending my day with a cup.

TG: Walk us through your evening routine. 

EO: I have a cup of coffee to start around 5 p.m., and give myself 30 minutes for it to hit me. That’s when I catch up on Instagram and have a small snack. Then I head out to my gym for my own workout, which starts with a ton of jump rope — while making business calls — then weights, when I normally answer all of my DMs. Then I’ll shoot an evening post for social media, finish my weight training, or run on the treadmill. I head inside to cook my dinner around 7:30 and eat with my family. I finally get a shower, and like to be on the couch with my hot tea by 8:45 to watch Dateline and unwind. If it’s a good night, I’m in bed by about 9:30!

TG: Is tech a big part of your evening?

EO: I hop on Instagram to interact with followers and answer DMs most evenings, and I watch a little TV, so I guess so.

TG: How do you set yourself up for a good night’s rest? 

EO: I start that set-up with a great workout, really. Tiring out my muscles and clearing my head are crucial for me to get good rest. Having a nighttime routine is also really helpful, like my tea and Dateline.

TG: What keeps you up at night? How do you combat that? 

EO: I have a lot going on right now, and sometimes it gets hard to turn my brain off. I combat it with my workouts and by writing everything down. I have a digital calendar, but it really helps me to see things on paper, too. Luckily, I have never had trouble sleeping. I think I’m so busy that by the time my head hits the pillow, my body knows I’m exhausted and it’s time to rest.

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  • Lindsey Benoit O'Connell

    Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships at Thrive

    Lindsey Benoit O'Connell is Thrive's Deputy Editor, Entertainment + Partnerships. Prior to working at Thrive, she was the Entertainment + Special Projects Director for Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Woman's Day booking the talent for covers and inside features. O'Connell currently lives in Astoria, NY with her husband Brian and adorable son, Hunter Fitz.
  • Ashley Camuso

    Entertainment Editorial Intern

    Thrive Global