Make time after your workout for these five standing stretches, which help keep your circulation revved, increasing your energy boost. As a bonus, most of the moves target the hardest working muscles in your body, including your thighs, hamstrings, and calves — which tend to be tightest in the AM.
(targets shoulders and chest)
Stand tall, holding a rolled-up towel in front of you at shoulder height with hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping arms slightly bent, exhale and lift them up and overhead until you feel a gentle pull in chest and shoulders. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then return to starting position. Do 5 times.
(targets hip flexors and hamstrings)
Stand with right foot about 2 feet in front of left foot. Bend right knee, bring hands down to floor on either side of right foot, and slide left foot back so leg is extended, left heel off floor. Hips should be level, right thigh parallel to floor, and right knee directly over right ankle. Hold for 30 seconds. Lower back knee to floor and shift hips back, extending right leg and raising right toes off floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat both parts of stretch.
Figure Four Stretch
(targets hips, glutes, and inner thighs)
Holding onto a chair or wall, cross right leg on top of left thigh (just above knee). Bend left leg and press hips back as if you were going to sit down. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat with opposite leg.
Holding onto a chair or wall, stand tall with right foot 1 to 2 feet in front of left, feet flat on floor and toes pointing forward. Bend right knee slightly until you feel a stretch in calf. Don't roll onto the inside of feet. Hold for 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat. To increase the stretch, lean body slightly forward in a diagonal line from crown of head to heel.
Holding onto a chair or wall, bend right leg behind you and grasp right foot with right hand. Pull heel toward butt. Keep hips facing forward, abs pulled in, and pelvis still. Hold for 30 seconds; repeat with opposite leg.
3. Boost Your Fat Burn
You'll reap benefits all day from eating breakfast: A morning meal shifts your body from an energy-conserving state into calorie-burning gear without effort. And studies show that breakfast eaters concentrate better and are more productive — as well as less likely to be obese — than breakfast skippers. These easy, satisfying recipes feature ingredients like green tea that give your metabolism an added jolt.
Recipes by Mindy Fox
Ready, Set, Sip
Blueberry and Green Tea Smoothie
Antioxidants abound in this refreshing — and filling — breakfast drink. Green tea and blueberries protect your cells from free radicals, which damage DNA in the mitochondria, the key players in your body's calorie-burning engine. Almonds provide natural protein and healthy monounsaturated fat, while flaxseed adds inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats to the mix. Brewing the tea the night before saves time in the morning. Drink one smoothie today and refrigerate the other serving for tomorrow.
3/4 c water
2 green tea bags
2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
3 ice cubes
12 oz fat-free vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp whole dry-roasted, unsalted almonds (about 20)
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
Time: 10 minutes + chilling time
Servings: 2 (4 cups total)
1. BRING water to a boil and pour over tea bags. Steep 4 minutes. Squeeze and remove tea bags and discard. Chill tea overnight. If using fresh blueberries, place in freezer overnight.
2. PLACE tea, blueberries, ice, yogurt, almonds, and flaxseed in blender. Process until smooth.
Nutritional Info Per Serving:
334 cal, 13 g pro, 55 g carb, 7 g fiber, 8.5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 3 mg chol, 121 mg sodium