Dr. Weil's Typical Day

Dr. Weil is a busy man with many varied responsibilities, so no day is exactly like another. But he does build healthy choices into his life every day.

How does your day begin?
I nearly always get up when the sky begins to get light. I don’t use an alarm, I just automatically wake up then. So the actual time varies…in midsummer, it might be five or earlier. I do this even when I am traveling and have a hotel room with no view of the sky. I don’t know how that works, but it works.

I brush my teeth, and then do some sitting meditation. Usually, I do breathing exercises – the bellows breath followed by the relaxing breath. I sit and just observe my breath and what is going on in my body. I don’t try to stop thoughts, I try to note them, just witness them. Then I get up and go to the kitchen and start making some preparations for breakfast, which includes getting tea water on. About that time, the dogs come in and want to be fed. I get their breakfast together, feed them and let them out. And then I eat my breakfast.

Which is?
This morning, I had a bowl of fruit and some Greek yogurt that I have wanted to try, from Trader Joe’s. I also had a bowl of matcha tea and some nuts. Then I do dishes and clean up the kitchen. Often I have just rinsed the dishes from the night before, so I will do those in the morning. Sometimes I have NPR on the radio and listen to that.

Normally, then, I come over here [the converted stone-walled stable that he uses as an office], meet with my medical partner, and check email and talk on the phone. Then I might make a tour around to see what is going on in the garden, with the houseplants, the grounds and other houses on the property, to see if anything needs attention. Then, around 8:30, I meet with Nancy Olmstead [his administrative assistant and scheduler], check my mail, and check my schedule for the day. Then I come back here for a period of morning work. I write, edit, deal with various requests – which are many, and which come from various channels, including my publisher, the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Weil Lifestyle and so on.

So we are up to the middle of the day.
That’s when I like to work out. Usually, these days, I swim laps in the pool for 30 minutes. I do the crawl for the first 15 minutes, then the backstroke, and I push myself – I like to be huffing and puffing when I get out.

Lunch is usually something simple and light: soup or salad, or the sardine sandwich spread, which I generally eat from a bowl, without bread. I might do some reading on current research. I also tend to meet with people in person here in the afternoon, just because it’s a long drive for most people and it’s hard for them to get here in the morning. That’s also when I will meet with [ranch manager] Juan [Vargas] or [gardener] Jared [McKinley] and again with [Dr. Weil’s medical partner] Brian [Becker] or spend some more time on the phone.

Who comes to visit?
Fellows from the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, journalists, people who have projects they want to discuss, it’s a wide variety.

The staff starts to leave around four, and around five, I might take a walk with the dogs and watch the sunset, which is usually pretty spectacular out here. Then I feed the dogs again and start a cooking project of some kind.

Do you have guests often?
Yes, very often, and we generally all cook together, which is fun. After dinner, I may read, or I really like to watch movies on DVD in the evening, and I like to have people over to do that. In the last few weeks, some I have liked are Walk on Water, Pan’s Labyrinth and Thank You for Smoking. And then I turn in early, by 10, or even 9:30.

In summer, you live in your house on Cortes Island in British Columbia. How is your life different there?
I get up early there, too, and I work in the garden with Diana [his 17-year-old daughter] more there than here. Once a day, I take a good, long swim in Hague Lake. I do have an office and do email and writing in Canada, but I am harder to reach there, so the workload slows down.

And what about days when you travel?
On the road, on a book or speaking tour, it’s obviously difficult to set your own schedule, so I just handle sleep and exercise as best I can. When it comes to restaurants, I tend to seek out Japanese restaurants. It is simple, healthy food. So that’s my travel-eating advice: when in doubt, go Japanese.

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