Love Your Body!
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Love Your Body!

We all have trouble spots. Don't stress over yours. Here's how to firm it, smooth it, or hide it!

Upper Back


Why should you care about exercising your upper back? Because better muscle tone gives you that sexy V-shape from shoulders to waist, helping your waistline look smaller. Stronger muscles along the spine also improve your posture.

Firm It These exercises were designed by Carol Espel, M.S., exercise physiologist for Equinox Fitness Clubs of New York. For best results, do each exercise three times a week, with a day of rest between. Look to see improvement in four to six weeks.


  • Holding a pair of 3- to 5-pound weights with arms down at your sides, stand tall with knees slightly bent.
  • Tilt forward from the hips, keeping your back straight and your head aligned with spine.
  • Inhale. As you exhale, pull in abs and, keeping elbows slightly bent, raise arms to shoulder height, as shown. Inhale as you lower arms to starting position. Do two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Smooth It

Unfortunately, blemishes on your back tend to be bigger than the ones that appear on your face, and because the skin on the back is thicker, blemishes are slower to heal, too.

But you can get in the clear by showering with an exfoliating body scrub, such as Neutrogena Body Clear Body Scrub ($5.99) with salicylic acid; washing away dead cells allows anti-acne treatment to penetrate deeper into skin.

After washing, dab on an over-the-counter medication with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide-any product with a higher percentage could be irritating. If you have more than two pimples, it's best to smooth medication on your entire back, says Kathy Fields, clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, in San Francisco. This will prevent future breakouts. (Pimples form under the skin for two weeks before they reach the surface.) How soon will you clear up? Anywhere from five days to four weeks.

Hide It

If you don't want to go backless due to a breakout, wear a flesh-toned shirtdress in airy mesh over a tank top. It gives the illusion of beautiful skin without baring all.

Arms

Firm It

Blame genetics, but women tend to store fat in the backs of their arms. Going from flabby to toned takes persistence, so stick with this exercise and you'll see results.


  • Holding a pair of 3- to 5-pound weights with arms at your sides, sit tall on a straight-back chair with both feet flat on the floor.
  • Press your lower back flat against the back of the chair. Pull in abs.
  • Bending elbows, lift weights behind your head, as shown above. Do not arch your back or rest weights on shoulders.
  • Using the strength of your forearms, lift weights and extend arms over head until arms are straight, then lower arms to sides.
  • Do two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Smooth It

Embarrassed by those little red bumps on your arms? This "chicken skin" is actually a buildup of dry, dead skin cells around the hair follicles, says Michele S. Green, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.

Avoid plain soap and hot water-both are drying, which makes bumps worse. Instead, take a lukewarm shower and use a soap-free, moisturizing cleanser, such as Cetaphil.

A few times a week, switch to a gentle body scrub. (We like Earth Therapeutics Spa Purifying Sea Salt Body Scrub, $8.99.) Or lightly scrub with an exfoliating mitt. While skin is still damp, apply a body lotion with alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) or lactic acid. This will help peel away the upper layer of bumpy skin. If redness continues to be a problem, ask your doctor for a topical steroid cream.

Hide It

A chic alternative to going sleeveless: A sheer shirt with a silky tank with graceful 3/4-length sleeves to cover upper arms while baring the rest.

Bust

Firm It

No exercise can make you a cup size bigger, but the classic push-up is the best exercise there is for strengthening the muscles that support your breasts. Try this modified version, geared to beginners.

  • Position yourself on your hands and knees on an exercise mat. With arms straight, place hands a little more than shoulder-width apart. Cross feet at ankles, as shown.
  • Keep your head parallel with your spine. Fix your gaze about three feet in front of you.
  • Inhale; then as you exhale, tighten abs and butt and lower your upper body until it's a few inches above the floor. Return to starting position.
  • Do two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Smooth It

If your problem with your chest isn't the size of your breasts but freckles, mottled redness or a sallow tone or white spots, you can smooth it. "Yellowing is caused by changes in elastin fibers. White spots occur because UVA rays damage the pigment cells in your skin," says Lydia Evans, M.D., a dermatologist in Chappaqua, New York.

Products with beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) exfoliate surface cells to even out splotchy skin tone while botanicals brighten skin. New: L'Oreal Age Perfect Skin Illuminator and Age Spot Diffuser ($15). If you prefer a hypoallergenic alternative or can't tolerate BHAs, try Almay Kinetin SkinCare De-Aging Neck and Chest Treatment ($18). It contains kinetin, a plant-derived antioxidant that delays aging of skin cells and starts to fade brown spots in four weeks.

To keep freckles from getting darker and new spots from forming, wear an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen with UVA/UVB filters.

Hide It

A sleeveless mock turtleneck is just as sexy as any tank or bandeau. This style draws attention to your shoulders and arms, and the high neckline makes your bust look bigger.

Tush

Firm It

This exercise helps lift a sagging seat and gives you nicely rounded curves.

  • Lie on your back on an exercise mat with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Leave arms down at sides, as shown.
  • Cross left ankle over right knee. Inhale. As you exhale, lift hips four to five inches off the mat until your weight is resting on your upper back.
  • Hold position for three counts, then return to starting position. As you repeat this move, try to hold the position for another count. The longer you can stay in position, the more you tighten your butt.
  • Do one set of 8 to 12 reps; then switch sides and repeat. As you become stronger, increase reps until you can do three sets.

Smooth it

If your problem is not the shape of your rear end, but the texture of the skin on your tush, you can smooth it.

Skintight workout wear and pantyhose can clog pores and trap the bacteria in perspiration, leading to inflammation around hair follicles, according to Diane Berson, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine, in New York City. To eliminate friction that can contribute to blemishes, wear loose-fitting clothing and gym shorts, go bare-legged when possible, and opt for cotton underwear.

Lather up with an antibacterial soap. Apply a body lotion that moisturizes as well as sloughs off the dead cells that block pores. Try Jergens Skin Smoothing Lotion or another that also has beta- and alpha-hydroxy acids.

If skin doesn't clear up in a few weeks, see your dermatologist, who may prescribe a topical antibiotic.

Hide It

A flirty A-line dress or a full skirt floats away from the body without clinging. A skin tight fabric draws attention to any bulges.

Feet

Firm It

Feet take a beating, especially if you play sports or dance. But you can improve the flexibility of your feet with these conditioning exercises.

  • Holding on to the top of a chair for support, stand tall. Pull in abs, push shoulders back, drop your tailbone, and lift your chest slightly. Focus your gaze directly in front of you.
  • Turn legs out from the hips so that knees are directly over feet. If you are standing to the right of the chair, lift your left heel off the floor, or vice versa. Gradually roll on to the ball of your foot, then continue lifting heel until your toes are pointed, as shown. Roll back to starting position.
  • Do three sets of 10 repetitions. Turn around and repeat with opposite foot.

Smooth It

To get your feet in show-off shape, gently massage soles and heels with a wet pumice stone in the shower, recommends Noreen Oswell, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Beverly Hills, California. Then, slather a rich exfoliating cream, such as Get Fresh Rescue Me Intensive Foot Repair Cream ($6; call Apothia, 877-276-8442) on callus-prone areas, a light lotion elsewhere. Be careful not to moisturize between toes, where bacteria can breed and cause athlete's foot.

To prevent corns, buy shoes made of soft leather or stretchy fabric-these materials create less friction. Sandals with broad straps put less pressure on toes than skinny straps. If you already have corns, see your podiatrist. Over-the-counter removers may be too strong.

Hide It

Sexy slingbacks feel as deliciously bare as sandals, but give coverage to toes that are less than perfect.

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