Want to accentuate your feminine curves? While you can't completely change what nature gave you, it's possible to emphasize your girlish figure by slimming your waistline and using resistance training to tone muscles. The key is to not just work on your waist, but also perk up your butt muscles to help build a curvier physique. But don't get caught up in the spot-reducing myth -- no exercise will remove fat from just your waist. When you lose overall body fat, your waistline will shrink.
Strength training targets specific muscles for spot-toning though, alas, it does not remove fat deposits. However, adding definition to your abdomen while building up glute muscles can give you a sculpted, curvier appearance. For abs, focus on repetitions rather than weight to avoid adding bulk. Try crunches, front planks and V-ups. For your rear, do lunges, squats and step-ups. As you advance, hold a dumbbell in each hand for added resistance. Three times a week, perform 12 reps of each exercise, eventually working up to two or three sets.
It's not all about building muscle -- aerobic exercise is also crucial for incinerating calories, an important strategy for any weight-loss plan. Many aerobic, or cardio, exercises also engage your abs and glutes. Try running for rapid fat-burning power; at 8 mph, MayoClinic.com says a 155-pound woman uses about 1,074 calories. You may not be able to start out at that pace, so ease into a routine and find an exercise that you're comfortable with. Riding a bicycle, hiking and swimming are all excellent choices.
Sometimes relaxation exercises like yoga and meditation can do as much for your waistline as the toughest cardio. That's because stress reduction can help you make healthier lifestyle choices and guard against pigging out to cope with anxiety. Lower stress levels may also correlate to a smaller waist. When you're stressed, your body emits a substance called cortisol, which in turn signals your body to build up visceral fat. Visceral fat lies deep in your abdomen, expanding your waistline and increasing your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes.
No matter how much you exercise, that fat isn't going anywhere unless you make some changes in your diet. Your calorie intake needs to be lower than your energy expenditure, and it takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose a pound of fat. A daily meal plan of 1,200 calories should do the trick, according to the Mayo Clinic, allowing you to shed weight at a safe rate. Avoid hunger pangs by filling up on low-calorie foods that are high in water as well as fiber or protein. This includes fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, cottage cheese and tofu.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.