Rise and Shine Challenge: Week 4

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!

Two to try

Sure, you could go to a tried-and-trusted class, but wouldn’t you like to try something different? Why not spinning, or hot (or Bikram) yoga? A few tips if you decide to try either:

Hot yoga
As you sweat a lot during a class, make sure you hydrate yourself properly before a class and afterwards, too.
  • Wearing clothes such as shorts, loose tops or even swimwear is recommended, and having a towel to stand (and drip) on and wipe yourself down with is essential.
  • Many studios have showering facilities for students.
  • Remember, if you don’t like the heat, you can leave the room.
  • As with all new exercise regimes, get clearance from your doctor before you try this out.
Arrive a few minutes early so you can set your bike up properly. If it’s your first class, let the instructor know so he or she can keep an eye on you. And while you’ll want to try to keep up with everyone, concentrate more on your own tolerance: If you need to, you can sit when the group is standing or ease up the tension when it’s too tough for you to pedal.

Here’s how to saddle up:
1. Set up the bike
Most spinning bikes have knobs that allow you to adjust the saddle, seat height, and handlebars to get the position that’s best for you. Before getting on the bike, raise or lower the seat to hip height; then get on the bike and adjust the pedal straps around your feet. When seated, your legs should be slightly bent and your arms a comfortable distance from the handle bars. If they’re not, readjust accordingly.

2. Know the lingo
You’ll be instructed through three positions during class: The seated flat is the basic position, in which you’re seated with hands on the upper set of handlebars (those closest to you). The standing flat requires you to stand while cycling, hands on the upper set of handlebars. In the third position, a standing hill climb, you’re also out of the saddle, but with your hands on the lower set of handlebars.

3 Play with the tension
The knob on the middle of the bike frame is for controlling resistance. The instructor will tell you when to change the resistance; if you’re having difficulty keeping up with the class, reduce the tension and find a setting that works better for you.

This week, we’ll look at ways of starting your day the fruity way, with a host of delicious breakfast ideas. And it’s time to try something new for your exercise fix by going to a new gym class.

Enjoy a fruitful breakfast
Fruit is a great source of vitamins and fiber, and fiber plays a role in satiety which is a great reason for including fruit with breakfast.

WeightWatchers.com recipes editor Leslie Fink says, “My favorite way to eat fruit for breakfast is to slice whatever’s in season and use it instead of jelly with peanut butter on light toast: sliced pears, apples, bananas, plums, peaches or strawberries. I also love to put blueberries on my peanut butter and toast, too. I press them down and it’s like eating fresh blueberry jam. Yogurt topped with fruit and granola is also excellent. My favorite combo is mango, kiwi and blueberry.”

Keep in mind that tomatoes and peppers are technically fruit, so if you want to make an omelet with them, that counts, too. You can also try tomato slices on a bagel with cream cheese, or tomato slices on a light grilled cheese.

A fruity breakfast can be harder to make ahead, as many fruits oxidize, or turn mushy in a make-ahead salad. So try our recipe for a citrusy salad; citrus fruits don’t lose their integrity when they’re combined ahead of time.

And if you’re one of those people who shies away from fruit because it’s too tart first thing in the morning, bananas are a lifesaver. Creamy and mild, they’re unbeatable sliced into yogurt, oatmeal or cereal.

Our favorite fruity recipes:
Indulge in some group therapy
By now, you’ve hopefully gotten into the habit of exercising in the morning, which makes you feel strong — and smart — for the rest of the day. But by this fourth week of the Rise & Shine Challenge, maybe you’re finding it hard to stay motivated, or to push yourself enough to break a real sweat. If so, then group exercise classes may be the answer. Follow our checklist to get started:

  • DO pick a class you'll like. Always been interested in self-defense? Take boxing. Stressed? Try relaxing yoga. Want a well-rounded aerobic workout? Take a step class. Love to dance? Zumba!
  • DO bring a friend. Once you make a commitment to someone else to be there, it's harder to make excuses not to go.
  • DO be prepared. Check out the class ahead of time, and determine whether you need to get there early. See if you'll want to bring a towel. See what people are wearing.
  • DO wear something comfortable. If you have to splurge on a new outfit, do. It will make a big difference when you have one less thing to feel self-conscious about.
  • DON’T compare yourself to others, thinking about how much slower or older you are than the others in the class, or how much thinner than you they all are. Everyone’s too busy concentrating on themselves to look at you, so just go into it with the attitude of having fun.
  • DO consider location. Stand or sit either off to the side or a bit behind everyone (instead of front and center), so you can have some room for error while you learn the techniques.
  • DO try variety and try again. If you've tried a class a few times and you're still just not getting into it, try something else.
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