Fight age and gravity by devoting time to strengthening your muscles. Skinny isn't attractive; strong and lean is what you want staring back at you in the mirror.
Whether in a gym, boot camp, Pilates class or simply at home, the rules are simple. You must lift weight that is heavy enough that it fatigues your muscles after 8 to 12 repetitions. If you have 3- to 5-pound weights lying around and are expecting them to change your body, forget it. They can't and never will.
Bodyweight and multi-joint exercises that challenge are what you need. Pushups, lunges, squats and planks are the kinds of movements that will quickly and efficiently exhaust the muscle and yield fabulous results.
Kick it up a notch
If you are jogging, try intervals -- short bursts of powerful sprints followed by recovery periods of lesser intense activity. Do these two days a week and add weight training on three nonconsecutive days. If you want results in a hurry, you've got to hit it hard and do it right.
Free-weight workouts and movements like wood chops, weighted medicine ball throws, burpees and pull-ups will make you want to surrender, but will make you proud by giving you lean arms and sexy shoulders.
Finding those elusive abs
If it takes six-pack abs to make you smile in the mirror, just remember where you'll find them. It's not in the gym -- although strength training is how you first acquire them, they can't be seen if too much body fat is over top. No, a great core worthy of a bikini is actually made in your kitchen. Eating lean proteins and lots of fibrous vegetables will peel away that fat to reveal the abs that have been there all along.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.