Rise & Shine Challenge: Week 2

Shake off those winter blues and welcome spring with this fun, invigorating challenge!

Let’s face it: The Hollywood version of gently stretching awake in a sunny room is a myth for most of us. We grunt into semi-consciousness, smack the snooze button and once again wrestle enough bedcovers away from the snoring spouse in order to get another seven minutes of desperate shuteye.

But it is possible to make some small tweaks to your morning routine that will return maximum benefits. Just think of the sense of achievement you’ll get from checking off so many of your health to-dos before other people have even started their day!

This mix-and-match challenge will give you the tools you need for starting your day in a positive, powerful way. We will give you some exercise routines to choose from — a mix of cardio, strength/toning and stretching/relaxation — as well as some delicious yet easy breakfasts to charge your batteries for the day, and some motivation to get you kick-started. Pick at least one workout of each type, for a minimum of three morning workouts per week, and schedule in a healthy breakfast every day. That’s all there is to it!

Before you begin, print out our weekly worksheet. On it, you will be able to schedule your workouts and breakfasts, and get your daily dose of motivation. Put it where you’ll see it first thing — even tape it to your alarm clock so you’ll have to reach under it to turn the buzzer off! (Just no hitting the snooze button.) Also, head over to the Community to participate in this Challenge there; you'll be able to compare notes with other participants and up the ante when it comes to accountability!

Bump up your breakfast
Last week, we reminded you why eating breakfast was so important. This week, and for the next two weeks, we will give you a bevy of breakfast ideas, starting with a focus on a highly healthy and convenient prepackaged food: Eggs. They’ve gotten a bad rap over the years because they contain a high amount of dietary cholesterol — but that is not the type of cholesterol normally associated with heart disease. In fact, the type of cholesterol obtained from food serves many important functions in your body: It's involved in the manufacture of vitamin D, aids in the digestion of fatty foods and assists in the production of certain hormones.

This week, your breakfast task is simply to try something different (and, it goes without saying, to make sure you eat breakfast every day). We can all get stuck in a rut, making the same bowl of cereal or English muffin every day, so try at least one of these egg recipes.

Egg recipes
Steak and Eggs
Our simple, speedy version of this diner favorite is a protein-packed breakfast that feels indulgent.

Bacon, Egg and Hash Brown Stacks
This tasty morning feast can be prepared in advance and reheated in the microwave.

Bacon, Egg and Spinach Breakfast Stacks
You can make these totally vegetarian by swapping out the bacon for roasted peppers or asparagus —and maybe even cross off a veggie serving while you’re at it.

Tex-Mex Scrambled Eggs
You can dial up the heat on these by bumping up the chili powder and/or including the seeds from the jalapenos.

Work out smarter
Last week, we left the exercise portion up to you; after all, lots of people simply aren’t used to getting their daily workouts in before the rest of the world gets going.

Now you’ve made it up, though, here are three 20-30 minute workouts to get you energized for the day. Schedule them on whichever days you want, or even combine them — there’s a mix of cardio, strength and relaxation moves so you won’t get bored.

Cardio: Morning shadowboxing
Subscribers can watch our One-Two Punch Workout video for more ideas.

Warm up: Standing tall and strong, inhale and bring arms up. Exhale, bring arms down to the side. Repeat to the rhythm of your music. When you feel comfortable, bend your legs while exhaling and straighten while stretching your arms. Repeat until your morning creaks get looser and you feel ready moving on.

Find Your groove: March for 16 beats, keeping your knees lifted and shoulders back. Take 4 touch-steps to each side. Repeat until your steps match the music and you’re ready to move on.

Punch it out: Move your right foot diagonally in front of your left, while still maintaining a touch-step rhythm. Make your first jab-punch with your right hand extended out over right leg, followed by a left-handed quick cross-punch. Both hits should aim for the same place, with your core twisting. Continue the jab-cross for 8 beats. Switch sides, and repeat with a left jab and a right cross.

When you’ve got the flow, try mixing up your punches. Jab-Cross-Jab, Jab-Cross-Uppercut and Jab-Cross-Hooks are easy to keep with a beat. Remember to do each combination on both sides. If you feel comfortable, add knees, elbows, bob-and-weaves and kicks into your routine.

Mix It Up: When you come to an end of a song, try doing jumping jacks until a new one starts.

Cool Off: Repeat warm up, but keep your feet moving. Try a grapevine, 3-point-turn or continue with touch-steps. Remember to inhale as you move your arms up, and exhale while bringing them down. Stretch out your arms and legs (try lunges and toe-touches).

Strength: Fab abs (and everything else)
A Full Body Toning Workout is available for Subscribers.

Pre/post workout: Clear your workout space and keep a floor mat, hand weights and water handy. Stretch for a few minutes after your workout as well.

Warm up: March in place for a minute or two, then stretch out. Try leaning forward to touch your toes or by bending and straightening your knees a few times.

  • Cross arm crunches – On your back, bend your knees and cross arms across chest. Crunch forward by pushing lower back into the mat and engaging your abdominal muscles, exhaling as your shoulders lift off the floor. Inhale as you return to starting position. Repeat 10 times, or as long as you feel comfortable.
  • Crunch variations – Try holding a 5 pound weight (or medicine ball for a more advanced workout) above your chest with both hands, or “crunching” to the side, engaging your oblique muscles.
  • Cobra stretch – Lie on your stomach and position hands beneath shoulders. Push up gently while arching back, keeping your lower body on the floor. Hold stretch for 10-15 seconds, breathing normally.
  • Subscribers can view our Beginner or Advanced ab workouts.

  • Legs: Try alternating squats and lunges to really feel the burn. Remember to keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.

    Arms: Dumbbell presses (either overhead or basic curls) will quickly tone up arms. You may find them a lot easier to do while listening to music and keeping the beat with your repetitions. Also, try besting your number of push-ups (triangle/knee or regular) every week.

    Relaxation – Make morning “me” time
    Savasana/Corpse Pose is a great way to start a calm and focused morning. Lie with your back flat on a mat (or stay in bed) with your feet and knees slightly apart. Let your feet relax, tuck chin slightly to chest, and move arms away from your sides, with palms facing upwards. While you concentrate on deep abdominal breathing, allow your body and mind to completely relax. Hold this pose (remember to continue deep breathing) for 5 minutes. Make sure you don’t fall asleep again, or have another alarm ready just in case you start drifting! For more yoga, subscribers can view our Yoga For Beginners workout.

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