6 Ways to Reshape Your Body

Maybe you've finally decided to do something about your less-than-satisfactory shape or you're already fit but want to tweak a few things. Where do you start? Health and fitness experts agree, the best way to reshape your body is with overall fitness but focusing on specific exercise styles can have varying effects. 

What are you looking to do?

1. Get Thinner:  Losing weight comes down to basic math. Consume fewer calories than you burn. Increase aerobic/cardio exercises like walking, running, biking, and swimming to burn more calories and tone up major muscle groups.  Add strength training with free weights or weight-machines to build muscle.  The more muscle-mass you have the more calories you'll burn. You'll remake your shape by burning fat and uncovering muscle.

2. Get Better Muscle Definition: Vary your weight lifting routine to continually challenge your muscles. Whether using free weights or machines, start with a low weight and aim for 10-20 smooth, controlled repetitions. Your final repetition should be difficult but smooth.  If it's too easy, increase weights, not reps.

3. Get Better Core/Abdominal Muscles: Crunches, modified sit-ups and leg lefts are all good for toning abdominal muscles.  Improve ab and back strength with yoga, resistance bands and weight machines. Try working out with a fitness ball.  These large vinyl balls increase utilization of all major abdominal muscles.  They make traditional exercises more effective by adding balance and stability challenges and provide extra support for your neck.

4. Get Longer/Leaner Muscles:  Pilates and yoga are famous for creating long lean muscle lines. Pilates exercises train several muscle groups simultaneously with smooth, continuous movements to build strength without bulk, slender thighs and a flat abdomen.  Yoga strengthens all muscle groups, increases flexibility, posture and balance.  Faster-paced practices like Vinyasa, Bikram and core-power yoga turn the traditionally mellow practice into a vigorous, total-body workout that combines aerobics, flexibility and strength training.

5. Have a Healthier Appearance:  A diet that includes a wide variety of foods: healthy protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, nuts, beans, seeds and a little wiggle room for the occasional dessert is your best bet for maintaining total health. Ignore fad diets.  Athletes participating in competitive weight lifting or endurance sports need a little more protein than average but not much.  All your nutritional needs can be met by consuming whole foods and minimizing processed foods.

6. Have a Healthier Attitude:  Be realistic about what shape you're meant to be.  Body's come in all shapes and sizes and genetics can't be changed. You can't make yourself taller but you can make yourself more fit.   Every body benefits from exercise and good nutrition. A positive, motivated attitude about supporting your best health goes a long way toward reshaping your self-image.