How Can I Lose Body Fat and Tone Up My Lower Body?

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question-icon-newI am a 22-year-old girl that weighs a healthy 110 pounds. I do not want to lose any weight but want to lose fat and tone up my lower body. I have fat around my hips and above my thighs. When I bend sideways my skin bulges into rolls. I have also developed a pear shaped body and want to tone it up to a sexier shape.

My problem is I am at a healthy weight and don’t know how to go about losing the fat in certain areas while maintaining my weight. I am not sure if I need to do toning exercises or cardio. I know if I do cardio I’ll lose weight but if I lift weights I will gain muscle. So, I am confused on how to go about toning my love handles, hips, and butt. If you could direct me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it!

answer-icon-newI have to start by telling you how refreshing it is to hear a 22-year-old woman say she is at a healthy weight. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard that. With so much pressure on women to always be thinner and thinner I applaud you for not getting dragged into that void. The way in which you asked your question really gets me excited because the way your question was asked comes from a genuinely healthy view of yourself. This is more important than most people realize because it means that you’re feeding yourself positive criticism as opposed to negative criticism. There is certainly nothing wrong with critiquing yourself, in fact, it’s quite healthy. But the manner in which we go about this analysis makes all the difference in setting us up for success. Positive criticism comes from our striving to better ourselves. Whether it’s in music, art, school or our fitness goals, it energizes us for action. Negative criticism sends an inherently negative signal through the body resulting in bad moods, lack of energy, poor impulse control and lack of commitment. So again, I applaud you and hopefully the following tips can help you reach your goals.

Before getting into the specifics of particular exercises or a nutritional program it is critical that we make one principle very clear. Your body does not pick and choose where it loses fat. In other words, working a specific muscle group will not cause your body to lose weight in that specific area. This is what is referred to as “spot reduction” and it simply does not work. Now it is true that women in general will have a tendency to store fat along the hips, thighs and butt area but you cannot perform exercises to specifically burn fat in these areas. Just as with men, who tend to store excess fat along the belly, they cannot perform exercises to specifically burn fat along the stomach. It is however, very possible to perform exercises to strengthen and tone specific areas of the body. Doing this while also performing various fat burning cardio workouts and modifying your eating habits is what gives the appearance that you are losing fat in specific areas. It is truly the combination of these 3 efforts that will give you the results you are seeking.

tone-up-lower-bodyThe resistance exercises work by strengthening and toning the muscle groups. Over time, as these muscles are strengthened they become more defined and hold their structure better. They will have the appearance and feel of being tighter. This is great in and of itself but in order to make this definition more visible we have to remove the layer of fat that is above the muscles and that is hiding them. That’s where the fat burning cardio workouts and your eating habits come into play. So let’s take a look at how you can utilize these 3 things to see some results!

Exercises
Below is a list of the best exercises to tone and strengthen the areas you mentioned. All of these exercises have a link to a page showing how to correctly perform the movements. It is important to note however that other areas of the body should be strengthened and toned as well such as the arms, back and chest. This will not only keep your body in proportion but will also target secondary muscle groups which will help you achieve a full body workout. So take some time to look over many of the pages of exercises and see which ones you would like to begin adding into your workout routine.

Cardio
What type of cardio exercises you do largely depends on your personal preference. Jogging, walking, biking, hiking, jumping rope, swimming and rollerblading are all fantastic forms of cardio exercise but the specific ones you choose to do will largely depend on your personal circumstance and preference. If running hurts your knees for example, and you have access to a pool then maybe swimming is a great choice for you. If you don’t have a bike but love to hike then there you go! The point is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or limited to one specific exercise. In fact, when you choose to do different exercises you work different muscles of the body. So just as with your resistance exercises it’s important to incorporate as many different exercises as you feel comfortable with. The duration of each exercise also largely depends on your circumstance and overall fitness level. Ideally, 30 minutes a day is a good place to start but if you find that length too demanding then 15 minutes is great. The important thing is to just start and build from wherever you are.

Nutrition
The general idea with eating is to eat small nutritious meals throughout the day. Without getting into watching every calorie you take in, the biggest thing you can do is to cut out all processed foods. This means all man-made foods such as chips, soda, breads, pastas and candy. These products have a high calorie count and very little nutritional value. As much as possible, keep your meals to lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. And keep your beverage intake to mostly water. Water has zero calories and it’s really the only liquid your body needs. By following these guidelines you will be well on your way to helping your body burn its excess fat stores and reach your goal of having a toned and sexy body!

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