Category Archives: Women’s Health

How To Know If You’re Wearing The Right Bra With 9 Easy Tips

Like the tedious task of selecting the perfect bathing suit, finding the right bra can be a difficult, frustrating challenge. Not only can certain bras make your boobs look super awkward, but some fits can be so bad they’re just flat out unwearable.

So, to successfully end the struggle of picking out ill-fitting bras that are either too tight, too loose, or just too… not the right bra for you, I spoke with several underwear experts to get their tips and tricks for ending up with lingerie you love.

“Finding the right lingerie for you is a blend of finding the right size for your body, silhouette for your frame, and style for your needs,” Marissa Vosper, intimates expert and co-founder of Negative Underwear tells me via email. “There’s certainly no set rule book — but it can definitely make a big difference once you find that right fit.”

Finding the best fitting bra will not only be more comfortable on your body, but it will also make your clothes fit and look better. To easily find your best intimates match, here’s some need-to-know tips and tricks to remember next time you go bra shopping.

1. Measure Your Underband

We often tend to think that comfortable straps are a good indicator of a great bra. Lauren Schwab, another co-founder of Negative Underwear, argues that it’s actually the underband of the bra that determines whether you’ll get the best fit possible. Located beneath the cups, the underband is usually the part of the bra that’s fastened in the back. Since this part provides the majority of the support, Schwab stresses the importance of making sure your underband fits correctly.

“Most women don’t realize that the underband on a bra — not the straps — should do the majority of the support work,” explains Schwab.

A properly-fitted underband should rest below your bust and around your rib cage. A band that digs in or rides up could signify that it’s too small. Additionally a loose band (Schwab tells me you should only be able to fit a few fingers between your body and the band) signals that your band is probably too large.

“Most of us wear our bras for way too long — resulting in bands that are overstretched and under-performing,” Schwab adds. “The main reason that straps tend to dig into shoulders is because the band is too loose, so all the work gets transferred to the straps.”

To measure your underband, Schwab recommends using measuring tape to get your size.

“Be sure to measure directly below the bust line — essentially in an even line around your rib-cage where the bottom of your bra band would lie,” says Schwab. “If you get an odd number, you round up to the nearest even to get your band size.”

Try: Measurement Tape Rule, $4, Konga

2. Measure Your Cups

Like your underband, cups play a big part in finding a great bra. Your cups should usually sit comfortably against your body, and never dig into your skin or be too loose.

“The cup of your bra should fully hold all of your breast tissue,” says Colleen Leung, technical designer from lingerie company Adore Me via email. “Along the neckline of the cup, your bra should sit smoothly against your body, without cutting in, or leaving a space between you and the cup.”

To find your perfect cup size, you’re definitely going to want to get a precise measurement. Stephanie Alexis, a New York City-based stylist, recommends measuring your cup with measuring tape, and loosely measuring around the fullest part of your breasts, with the tape straight across your back, bringing it to the front

3. Calculate You Bra Size

Once you’ve found your band and cup measurements, your next best step is to calculate your bra size. Your bra size is usually found by subtracting your band size from your bust measurement. So, if your bust is 37 inches and your band is 34 inches, you would simply subtract 37 from 34 to get 3 inches. Each inch usually represents a cup size, explains Alexis.

“To get the best fitting bra measure both the band and the cup size,” Alexis says. “Once you have your measurement, subtract your band measurement from the bust measurement and the difference calculates your bra size. Each inch represents a cup size.” So one inch would be an A, two would be a B, three would be a C, and so forth.

4. Inspect Your Underwire

Especially if you have a bigger cup size, underwiring gives breasts the shape and support that they deserve. Orit Hashay, founder and CEO of bra discovery platform, Brayola, stresses that underwire also is crucial in finding that great bra fit, making it super important for you to inspect the wiring when shopping for intimates pieces.

“The wire needs to be adjacent to your armpit, and the cups should lay flat on your breasts,” says Hashay through email. “If there appears to be a slight gap, this may be an indication of the wrong size.”

Aside from gaps, other wiring red flags include ones that feel like they’re digging into your chest. This can make both you and your bra feel very uncomfortable.

“If the wire is cutting into or squeezing your chest at any point, it likely means the cup size is wrong,” notes Vosper via email.

Try: Fantasie Selina Full Cup Underwired Bra, ₦ 15,100.00, Whispers nigeria

5. Don’t Forget Your Straps

Although the majority of the support comes from the band, it’s just as crucial to make sure your straps are performing correctly. Straps that are too tight can make things quite painful for your back and shoulders.

“The straps serve to support the lift of the cup and should help to smooth and support the side of the breast,” explains Colleen Leung. “Straps should be worn comfortably, sitting easily over the shoulders while not falling off. If the straps are cutting in, they are too tight, and the band may be too loose.”

6. Check Fabric

Fabrics aren’t as important as your band, straps or cups, but they can play a role in determining what bra is right for you. Some fabrics can be really be irritating against the skin, making it important for you to pay extra attention to what kind of materials you select. When possible, always go for breathable and non-irritable fabrics, as they are usually gentle enough for sensitive skin types.

“The materials of the bra, including the straps, the fabric and the elastic should be comfortable and soft against your body,” suggest Leung. “Nothing should feel scratchy or irritating as you move in your bra.”

Try: Fantasie Eclipse Moulded Balcony Bra, ₦ 15,700.00, Whispers nigeria

7. Treat Your Sports Bras With The Same Caution

Sports bras’ lack of cup sizes might seem more straightforward, but it’s still pretty easy to pick one that doesn’t support your bust. Keeping your breasts supported during workouts is key, and it’s always smart to select a piece that offers double the support of your everyday wear bra.

“A sports bra must offer extra hold and support,” explains Leung. “Depending on your type of activity and your cup size, your needs in a sports bra will vary, but any piece you choose will need to feel more firm around your body. ”

To find a sports bra that offers support, Leung recommends finding one that has a wide band around the bottom edge. The band should sit under your breast tissue, and shouldn’t shift while you move. In addition, she notes that your straps should be firm and not too stretchy.

“The straps should be firm with minimal stretch,” says Leung. “However, they should also be soft to the touch, so the straps don’t cut into your skin.”

Also, you should do some tests in the dressing room to see how it reacts to movement. “Jump up and down, reach your arms above your head and bend forward and to the side,” Leung suggests. “Once you stand up, the bra should still be comfortably held in place.”

Try: Elomi Energise Underwire Sports Bra, ₦ 13,800.00, Whispers nigeria

8. Do A Comfort Test

No matter what kind of bra you choose, finding a comfortable piece generally means you’ve also found one that fits. Trying on your bra before purchasing — even if it’s the size you usually wear — is highly recommended.

“If your bra is really uncomfortable then there probably is something wrong,” says Hashay.

Trying on bras underneath a few of your go-to wardrobe pieces is also recommended, especially since it’s helpful to see how your bra looks in your favorite tee, sweater, or blouse. Vosper recommends inspecting your profile from front to back to make sure your bra doesn’t look awkward underneath your clothing.

“Assessing bra fit is often charged with our own (often skewed) body perceptions — sometimes seeing how your shape looks with your favorite clothes on can help lend a bit more objectivity,” adds Vosper.

9. Try Using Tech

Selecting your bra definitely causes some added frustration, especially since many women are surprisingly wearing the wrong bra size to begin with. So, if you are looking for a fresh approach to the awkward in-store measurements, new apps allow you to find that perfect bra fit, right from the comfort of your own home.

Using patented computer vision technology to analyze body size in relation to the iPhone’s dimensions, the ThirdLove iPhone app helps users find with their correct bra size (including our exclusive half-cup sizes). All you need to do is take two photos of yourself in a mirror wearing a supportive bra and fitted tank top, and the app will do the rest in under 10 minutes.

Your relationship with your bras is about to get a whole lot healthier.

Images: Caroline Wurtzel (2), Andrew Zaeh (2), Bianca Consunji/Bustle; Milada Vigerova/Unsplash; Foundry, adamkontor, Unsplash, Hans/Pixabay

8 signs you are a side chick

Being a side chick usually isn’t by choice. Often times men make women side chicks without their knowing and these women end up getting hurt when they discover they aren’t ‘the one’. So if you think your man isn’t being straight with you, here are seven signs that you may be a side chick.download36

1. His house is a CIA secret

You’ve never been invited to his house for a date. You have no idea what his house looks like or where he even lives, despite the fact that you two have been dating for months now. When a guy is entirely uninterested or unwilling to show you his home or invite you into it, it’s likely because he shares his home with another woman. He doesn’t want to get caught in his lie anthere’s not enough time to hide the evidence and then put everything back into its place.woman-sad-couple

2.  He never spends the night.

That’s because his time is being accounted for by another woman. He has to be home by a certain time, or even if his woman knows he’s cheating, all she cares about is that he comes home every night.black-couple-laying-on-bed

3. His phone never leaves his sight

Men who are players tend to be highly protective of their phones. He has a password on his phone and makes sure to lock it after every time he uses it. When the phone rings, he either goes into another room to take the call, ignores it completely, or turns the volume down super low so that you can’t possibly hear a thing that is being said.black-man-cheating

4. He doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to  

Let’s just say he does make plans with you, but constantly stands you up with no explanations or apologies. If he gets ghost a lot, that’s a serious red flag.woman waiting for her date

 

5. You’ve never met his parents or friends

Most men who are proud and happy with their relationship will eventually introduce their girlfriend to his parents and/or his friends. If you have never met, let alone spoken to his parents or friends, this is a huge sign that you can’t be known amongst his inner circles. Why? Because he’d immediately be ousted as a cheater and a player.black-couple2

6. He NEVER talks about the future

Asking him about his views on the future of your relationship is like pulling teeth. Simply put, this guy doesn’t want to think about the future because he really isn’t planning one. In his mind he’s probably well aware that keeping you as the other woman won’t last for too long, so why plan on a future at all?African_couple_arguing_in_bed_GOGOCAA00446-e1324034198374

7. You aren’t on any of his social media pages

Somewhere in convenient survey land is a stat that shows Facebook and Twitter is the fastest growing catalyst for failed relationships. It’s very easy to get caught slipping on such Social Networks which is why if a guy refuses to acknowledge you on his timeline he’s trying to hide your affiliation. This same guy may also disable his facebook wall to prevent your inevitable declaration of crush on him. Typical excuses include “I’m not saying that I don’t want people to know about us, I just don’t like to air out my business”<— relatable BUT where some guys are genuine with this others know what they’re doing when dealing with a side chickstop-friends-from-asking-you-what-your-relationship-status-is-facebook.w654

8. Your relationship is almost entirely physical

When he compliments you, it’s about how nice your body is or how good you are in bed. When you two spend time together, it usually ends up between the sheets. He doesn’t wine and dine you often but instead focuses more on having you and getting out. When a guy refuses to connect with you on a mental or emotional level, it could be because he’s already connected that way with his main woman.Black-couple-kissing-2

 

If you consciously go into a relationship knowing that you are the side chick, then good luck! But if that’s not your goal, please know that you deserve and are worth much more than what he is giving you.

 

Tricks that will help you get a flat tummy – No Exercise Required

Experts reveal the surprising tricks that will help you get a flat tummy – and there’s not a sit-up in sight

  • Drink lots of water but avoid anything carbonated as it is full of gas
  • Chewing gum is a no-no as are root vegetables, lentils and pulses
  • Eat oats for breakfast and make sure you drink green tea first thin

Do your trousers feel tight after lunch? Does your belly look twice its size at the end of the day? If the answer is yes, you are suffering with bloating.

While bloating can be caused by various conditions, such as gas, water retention and constipation, there are simple eating and lifestyle changes you can make that will flatten your tummy.

These include drinking six to eight glasses of water, chewing each mouthful of food until it almost turns to liquid, and avoiding all beans, root vegetables and pulses.

By making some simple eating and lifestyle changes, you too can have a perfectly flat tummy

NutriCentre’s head nutritionist Shona Wilkinson told FEMAIL: ‘To reduce bloating the main foods to avoid are sugar, wheat, caffeine and alcohol as these are the ones most likely to cause bloating and weight gain.

‘By cutting these out, drinking more water and eating more lean proteins you’ll also help balance your blood sugar levels, which means you’ll have a steady amount of energy to help stop those cravings for unhealthy, fattening foods like crisps, sweets and chocolate.’

And it is important to pace yourself when eating; rush and you may end up consuming more calories.

Shauna explained: ‘Chew each mouthful until the food is almost liquid; not only will this help to ensure that the food is properly digested, but it will also help you to eat slowly and enjoy your food, so can prevent you over eating.’

Here are Shona’s top tips on how to beat the bloat.

Peppermint

This powerful herb has an anti-spasmodic and calming effect. This helps with any gas to escape, leaving you less bloated. Try drinking a peppermint tea as a tasty alternative to your usual tea!

Peppermint tea helps gas escape your body
Including oats in your diet provides you with fibre

Peppermint tea (left) helps gas escape your body. Including oats (right) in your diet provides you with fibre

Drink your food and chew your soup

Chew every bite a minimum of 30 times. Chewing enough not only stimulates the secretion of digestive juices needed for proper digestion but it also ensures that your food is properly mixed with saliva and is swallowed with less gas.

Unbroken down food in the gut leads to many problems, one of which is gas. Don’t forget to chew on liquids foods, such as soups and smoothies. If you don’t chew on them, your body won’t produce adequate enzymes!

FOODS TO SPEED UP METABOLISM

Egg whites: Branched chain amino acid kick-starts your metabolism.

Milk and yogurt: Calcium encourages your body to burn fat

Kale: Zero calories and high levels of fibre.

Grapefruit:  A glass of juice a day can help you burn body fat, increase metabolism and reduce appetit

Drink 30 minutes before each meal

Ensuring good hydration will allow your body to make sufficient Hydrochloric acid, one of the digestion acids.

The 30-minute gap will help you ensure that there is no water in your stomach to dilute it. Try to avoid drinking water with or immediately after a meal as this will dilute the hydrochloric acid and make digestion less efficient.

Lactase enzyme

If you are intolerant to the milk sugar lactose, then you might suffer with excess gas and bloating. Adding a lactase enzyme supplement may be necessary for those who struggle with this milk sugar digestion.

Salt is your worst enemy for water retention

Salt (left) is your worst enemy for water retention

Live Cultures

The microorganisms in our gut play an important role. They especially help with the digestion of lactose. Try taking a daily culture supplement such as Optibac Probiotics One week flat, an advanced formulation of unique probiotics and prebiotics.

Get screened

If you constantly suffer from excess gas, ask you GP or natural health practitioner to screen you for food intolerances and other gut related disorders.

Foods like beans are notorious for causing bloating.
Chewing gum can lead to swallowing air

Foods like beans (left) are notorious for causing bloating. Chewing gum (right) can lead to swallowing air

GET A FLAT STOMACH IN A DAY

BREAKFAST

Eat: One slice of wholegrain toast with nut butter or porridge with berries and almond butter or two hard boiled eggs and a cup of berries. 

Drink: Start the day with water and add juice from a lemon. It will make you feel invigorated and it contains antiseptic and cleansing powers. If you start your day off with lemon in your water you are stepping off on the right foot with your digestion.

MORNING SNACK

Eat: Small cup raw unsalted nuts and one clementine or celery sticks with peanut butter 

LUNCH

Eat: Kale or spinach leaves with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, avocado, hard boiled egg, sunflower seeds and lemon and vinegar dressing. 

Drink: After your meal drink organic peppermint or lemongrass tea, which both are great for improve the digestion.

AFTERNOON SNACK

Eat: Natural yoghurt with ginger or sliced cucumber. or watermelon slices.

DINNER

Eat: Grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Drink: Water

Hydrate

Making sure that you are drinking plenty of hydrating liquids such as water, coconut water and fruit or herbal teas.

Eat oats

Including oats in your diet provides you with fibre and an increase in faecal bulk. Make sure that you are consuming seven to nine portions of vegetables and fruit too! Try porridge for breakfast with flax seeds.

Cut out salt

This is your worst enemy for water retention. It is completely unnecessary to be added into foods. We need our water to be inside our cells for hydration, and consuming a high salt diet draws it out of our cells into tissues. A certain degree of salt is needed but no more than what is naturally found in foods.

Dandelion tea

Switch your usual beverage for dandelion tea. It makes a delicious brew, especially just before your menstrual cycle.

Leeks, garlic and onions

Often water retention is due to hormonal issues. Supporting your liver will ensure the correct metabolism and detoxification of hormones. Leeks, garlic and onions are packed with sulphur, which is required by the liver for the detoxification process.

Activated charcoal

It contributes to reducing excessive flatulence after eating. Taken after each meal, charcoal is able to absorb hundreds times its own weight in toxins.

Green tea

Drink green tea in the morning as the caffeine in green tea can boost your metabolism for up to two hours and help to keep your stomach flat. Research has suggested that drinking two to four cups of green or oolong tea may push the body to burn 17 per cent more calories during moderately intense exercise for a short time.

TIPS FOR A FLATTER STOMACH

Eat 5 times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid-morning and afternoon snacks.

Have herbal teas and plenty of water. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day, sipping slowly, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to heighten the cleansing effects. If you normally drink a lot of tea and coffee and are worried about going ‘cold turkey’ then have just one to cups a day, but really dilute to lessen the caffeine.

Got a sweet tooth and worried about getting cravings when you cut it out? Eating regular healthy meals, with a steady intake of protein, should help reduce sugar cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels balanced. But if you need extra help try taking a supplement of the mineral chromium, it will help boost blood sugar level balancing. Take two 200mcg tablets a day, one 30 mins before a mid-morning snack and one 30 mins before a mid-afternoon snack

Eat your celery. Celery is an excellent diuretic, due to its high potassium content, so it can help with water retention. Add celery chunks to salad, look for a good recipe for celery soup, or use celery as one of the ingredients in a vegetable juice

Limit gassy foods. Foods like beans, pulses and root vegetables are notorious for causing bloating and wind.

Always chew food well and take your time when eating. Chew each mouthful until the food is almost liquid; not only will this help to ensure that the food is properly digested, but it will also help you to eat slowly and enjoy your food, so can prevent you over eating.

Avoid all fizzy drinks, even diet ones. Fizzy bubbles in carbonated diet drinks can cause gas to get trapped in your stomach and can cause bloating. Instead, drink water flavored with lemon, lime, or cucumber or try peppermint tea or a herbal tea like Pukka Detox, £2.09, with detoxing aniseed, fennel and licorice.

Don’t chew chewing gum. It can lead to swallowing air, which can cause bloating. It can also stimulate your digest enzymes to expect food which can then stimulate hunger.

Watch your salt intake. Never add extra salt to your food as it increases the amount of water that the body retains and can therefore make you look more bloated and heavier.

Avoid sweeteners. Many people suffer from bloating because they consume too much sugar alcohol in artificially sweetened foods and drinks, and so it is important to avoid these sweeteners.

Tips from NutriCentre nutritionist Shauna Wilkinson 

Waist Training: Cinch Your Waist Thin!

Beyoncé has one. Scarlett Johansson and Marilyn Monroe do, too. According to some, these women possess the quintessential (and covetable) female body shape—the hourglass figure with a large bust, small waist and curvy hips.

These days it appears as if women will go to great lengths to achieve that 36-24-36 measurement. The latest in these attempts is the waist cincher—a compressive undergarment that’s akin to a girdle and meant to “train your waist” to be smaller.

According to Google, searches for “waist cinchers” and related terms have more than doubled in the last year, thanks in part to endorsements from celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Khloe Kardashian and Brooke Burke, who claim that these products are the secret to their toned physiques. Women are documenting their efforts to coach their waist to be teenie tiny in photos posted to social media channels, including Instagram where more than 146,000 photographs have been tagged #waisttraining.

Not only are women donning these garments upwards of 10 hours during the day (and sometimes at night, too), they are also wearing them at the gym in an effort to boost their waist whittling efforts.

Cinch an Inch…Or Seven

But are waist cinchers the secret to a smaller waist? And are they safe?

While corsets have been on the market for centuries (the first true corset was invented back in the 1500s), they have come back into vogue not only as a way to change the shape of the body but to lose weight. In fact, companies are selling products specifically labeled as “fitness waist trainers” and “sports waist cinchers,” designed to increase the impact of your workouts by targeting your midsection.

“Waist cinchers are made of latex and comparable to Spanx on steroids,” says Skyler Sandman from Orchard Corset, a leading retailer of corsets and undergarments.

Companies that sell fitness waist cinchers claim that they compress your core, ramp up perspiration, release toxins, and metabolize fat. The tight fit also restricts your abdomen, reducing your food intake during the day. Advocates assert that these garments will help you lose fat and inches from your waist.

The Myth of Spot Reduction

The premise behind these garments is that they “spot reduce” fat around the center of your body. “That’s an exercise misconception,” says Dr. Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri. “If you want to lose body fat, you’re going to do that through aerobic exercise and a sensible diet. You’re not ever going to be able to target where you lose fat from,” he says.

According to Jan Schroeder, Ph.D. and Professor of Fitness in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University—Long Beach, “Corsets do not cause you to permanently lose fat in the midsection; they cause a re-distribution of the fat and organs in the trunk,” to give you an hourglass shape.

Since waist cinchers are made from latex, they also make you sweat…a lot. “When you sweat, you’re shedding water weight, and that’s not fat,” says Francine Delgado, New York City-based certified personal trainer. “People may lose weight initially, but you would have to wear the thing forever in order to keep the weight off and to keep the shape,” she says.

The Downside of Waist Training

“Wearing a corset for an evening to portray a slimmer waist does not seem to be a problem,” says Dr. Schroeder. Yet, there may be some potential physiological side effects from wearing a waist cincher for prolonged periods of time, according to Dr. Katie Nason, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh.

While Dr. Nason has not treated corset or waist cincher-wearers, based on her medical opinion, she notes that constricting the abdomen and torso could impair lung function by restricting the amount of space available for the lungs to expand into the abdomen and fill with air. “When the lungs don’t expand…they don’t exchange oxygen or expel carbon dioxide, and the person is short of breath.”

If you are wearing a waist trainer while exercising, this could be problematic when your rate of breathing and demand for oxygen is higher. In addition, Dr. Schroeder observes that restricting your lungs may lead to lung disorders, and the lack of oxygenation may even contribute to metabolic syndrome, which can actually result in weight gain. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term impact on the body.

Sandman also notes that these garments are nottrue corsets and that using a waist cincher isn’t real waist training—the practice of reshaping the body by wearing progressively smaller corsets for two to 10 hours a day. “People get the idea that cinchers work for waist training because they look at themselves in the mirror and they have a smaller waist when all they’ve done is sweated out water weight,” says Sandman.

Even for those who are truly waist training, Sandman says that it’s unnecessary to wear the garment while working out. “The amount of time you spend at the gym is not enough time to backtrack in your waist training,” she says.

“Keep in mind that our body shape is often determined by genetics,” says Dr. Ball. “If you genetically don’t have an hourglass shape, you can exercise all you want, but you might not end up with an hourglass figure.” Regardless, the best way to initiate positive changes? Exercise and eating right, Dr. Ball says.

“If you’re not willing to put in the effort, then anything else is the equivalent of taking the magic pill,” says Delgado. “They’re doing that at a significant risk and it’s not sustainable.”

By Christine Yu for Life by DailyBurn 

4 Exercises to Lift Your Boobs

Get ready to bust a move—and boost your bust.

exercises-lift-boobs.jpg

Nothing short of surgery or gaining body fat can actually increase the size of your breasts. As for making them look bigger, well, that’s why the chunk of change we spend on bras each year is larger than the GDP of Iceland.

Push-ups and padding aren’t your only options, though. “Developing the muscles underneath your breasts will enhance the look of your breasts and make them appear larger,” says Jen Comas Keck, a certified personal trainer and former figure competitor.

Let’s be honest: This workout won’t turn A cups into Bs or beyond. But if—like most women—you rarely train your chest, then you’re missing out on a natural way to add a little extra oomph.

The following workout was created by Comas Keck specifically for women. “Working the chest from multiple angles with enough weight ensures plenty of stimulus to increase strength and develop the muscles,” she says. “This can add beautiful shape to the chest.”

The key to making this plan effective: Make sure to choose weights that are heavy enough. You should feel like you could do about two more reps at the end of each set, but no more. “It’s important to challenge yourself with heavier weights in order for muscle growth to take place,” says Comas Keck. Perform the following routine twice a week.

MOVE 1Dumbbell Bench Press
dumbbell-bench-press.jpg
BETH BISCHOFF

Lie faceup on a bench with your arms straight, a dumbbell in each hand(A). Lower the dumbbells until they’re close to the sides of your chest (B), then press them back up to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, then go to move 2 without rest.

MOVE 2Pushup
pushup.jpg
BETH BISCHOFF

Start on all fours, your palms slightly wider than your shoulders, feet close together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe (A). Lower down until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your upper arms at a 45-degree angle to your torso (B). Pause, then push back to the starting position. Do 10 pushups and rest 90 seconds.

Repeat moves 1 and 2 one more time (so you’ll do each exercise twice). Rest 90 seconds before move 3.

MOVE 3Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
incline-dbell-bench-press.jpg
BETH BISCHOFF

Sit on an adjustable bench set to a low incline (about 15 to 30 degrees) and place your feet flat on the floor. Grasp two dumbbells and hold them up above your shoulders, arms straight (A). Slowly lower the weights down to the sides of your chest (B). Pause, then press the dumbbells back up toward the ceiling. Do 10 reps, then go to move 4 without rest.

MOVE 4Dumbbell Fly
dumbbell-fly.jpg
BETH BISCHOFF

Lie faceup on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells above your shoulders with your elbows slightly bent (A). Keeping the slight bend in your elbows, lower the weights until your elbows are even with your chest (B). Keep the same bend in your elbows as you press the weights back up. Perform 10 reps. Rest 90 seconds.

Repeat moves 3 and 4 (you’ll do each exercise twice).

For more exercise tips, check out our recipe for toned abs here

Flatten Your Belly with This Killer Ab Workout

Get a tight stomach in just six weeks without doing a single crunch. This may be the easiest workout we’ve ever printed

flattummy01

Get ready to whip off your cover-up: This workout, created exclusively for Women’s Health by Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in Newhall, California, combines fat-burning cardio with moves that target your entire core rather than individual muscles (wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical lower abs workout?), so you’ll burn more fat while toning up.

Directions
Do these workout moves three nonconsecutive days a week. Start with the Basic Workout (moves 1-4 at right) to prime your muscles. After three weeks, you’ll be ready to graduate to the Advanced Workout (moves 5-8). For maximum fat burning, perform the exercises as a circuit: Do one set of each move in the order shown, resting for 30 seconds between exercises. Then rest for a minute and repeat the circuit from the beginning.

Melt Your Middle
Follow this interval-training program three times a week after your core workout. It’ll fire up your metabolism and burn off the fat that’s hiding your abs. Intervals are short bursts of maximum-intensity effort—you’re doing it right if you can’t carry on a conversation—separated by periods of easy-pace recovery. In an Australian study, women who cranked out high-intensity interval training three days a week for 15 weeks dropped significantly more weight than those who exercised for the same period of time at a lower intensity.

For this interval workout, remember to include an easy 3- to 5-minute warmup and cooldown. You can run, bike, or use the cardio machine of your choice.

 

Max Effort Easy Pace Reps
Week 1 1 minute 2 minutes 5
Week 2 1 minute 90 seconds 6
Week 3 1 minute 1 minute 8
Week 4 1 minute 1 minute 10
Week 5 75 seconds 1 minute 10
Week 6 90 seconds 1 minute 10

 

MOVE 1Basic Workout: Plank
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Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and hold for 60 seconds. If you can’t make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute. Focus on form: Don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.
MOVE 2Basic Workout: Side Plank
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Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right forearm so your body forms a diagonal line. Rest your left hand on your hip. Brace your abs and hold for 60 seconds. If you can’t make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5; continue for 1 minute. Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.
MOVE 3Basic Workout: Glute Bridge March
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Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor, palms up, at shoulder level. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (A). Brace your abs and lift your right knee toward your chest (B). Hold for 2 counts, then lower your right foot. Repeat with the other leg. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps.

MOVE 4Basic Workout: Lunge with Rotation
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Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell with both hands. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out (A). Take a big step forward with your left foot and, bracing your abs, twist your torso to the left as you bend your knees and lower your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles (B). Twist back to center, push off your left foot, and stand back up. Repeat on the other leg. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps. Keep your elbows straight but not locked.

MOVE 5Advanced Workout: Plank with Arm Lift
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Get into the plank position (toes and forearms on the floor, body lifted). Your body should form a straight line (A). Brace your abs and carefully shift your weight to your right forearm. Extend your left arm in front of you(B) and hold for 3 to 10 seconds. Slowly bring your arm back in. Repeat with the right arm. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps, resting for 1 minute between sets.

MOVE 6Advanced Workout: Side Plank with Rotation
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In a right-side plank position (A), brace your abs and reach your left hand toward the ceiling (B). Slowly tuck your left arm under your body and twist forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor (C). Return to the side plank. That’s 1 rep. Do 2 or 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps on each side, resting for 1 minute between sets.

MOVE 7Advanced Workout: Hip-Thigh Raise
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Lie on your back with your right knee bent and your left leg extended. Rest your arms on the floor, palms up, at shoulder level with your hips about 2 inches off the floor (A). Raise your hips to form a straight line from your shoulders to your left foot (B). Hold for 2 counts, then return to start. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 15 reps on each side. To make it harder, cross your arms over your chest.

MOVE 8Advanced Workout: Reverse Lunge with Single-Arm Press
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Grab a 5- to 15-pound dumbbell in your left hand and hold it up next to your left shoulder, palm facing in (A). Step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your knees are bent 90 degrees (your left knee should nearly touch the floor) while pressing the dumbbell directly over your shoulder without bending or leaning at the waist (B). Lower the weight back to the starting position as you push quickly back to standing. That’s 1 rep. Do 10 to 15, then switch sides.

Find out how to get a killer butt The Best Workout for a Toned, Tight Butt!

10 Ways to Ease PMS Symptoms and Period-Related Pain

Follow these tips, and pretty soon they’ll be just like any other time of the month

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Unfortunately, you can’t really “cure” PMS, let alone having your monthly period. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to take the edge off of their symptoms. Follow these must-try tricks, and you’ll hardly notice any pain at all.

Have a Glass of Wine
  1. Have a glass of wine – A nationwide study showed that moderate alcohol consumption—one glass of vino, for example—was linked to fewer headaches during women’s periods.
  2. Get a massage – Any type of rubdown increases blood flow and eases tension all over your body. Focusing on the area around your waist will be especially helpful when you’re feeling crampy.
  3. Drink Milk – A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who drank four or more servings of low-fat or skim milk a day had a 46 percent lower risk of PMS pain than women who only consumed one serving a week.
  4. Opt for oral contraceptives – In a Yale University School of Medicine study, oral contraceptives—especially ones with estrogen and progestin—reduced PMS symptoms in about 50 percent of the participants observed. Of course, if you’d rather not take the Pill, then you can stick with the other methods listed here. But if you’re already using birth control and suffer from killer cramps, it’s worth looking into oral contraceptives.
  5. Hit the gym – Not only can hormonal shifts make it easier for you to do tough workouts during your period, but exercise can help relieve aches and pains. Not in the mood to hit the treadmill? Research finds that practicing Yoga Nidra on the regular may help relieve excessive pain or a super-heavy flow.
  6. Ask about antidepressants – It may sound odd, but doctors sometimes prescribe antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft for intense cases of PMS. They boost your serotonin levels, which can even out mood swings.
  7. Fill up on Spinach – Why? Because it’s loaded with magnesium and iron, both of which have the power to reduce PMS stress and prevent migraines.
  8. Sleep on your back – Other sleeping positions put excess weight on your uterus, which only intensifies PMS pain. Lying on your back takes away that pressure so you can sleep better.
  9. Try Acupuncture – If needles don’t scare you, this is definitely worth a shot (no pun intended). One study found that this treatment relieved PMS symptoms in 78 percent of participants. And in a brand-new study out of the University of California-San Francisco, women who received vitamin K injections during acupuncture also experienced menstrual pain relief.
  10. Take Multivitamins – Look for ones that are high in vitamin E or essential fatty acids; a study published in the journal Reproductive Healthsuggests that both nutrients interact with prostaglandin receptors, which are believed to cause cramps.

The Best Workout for a Toned, Tight Butt

Trust us on this: This is a workout you should seriously get behind

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SHUTTERSTOCK

Blast unwanted fat and create a knockout butt with this two-phase program from Perkins. First, the “Wake ‘Em Up” body-weight exercises are designed to light up your central nervous system and get your glutes primed and ready. “Because they are a particularly sleepy muscle group, performing light glute-activation moves prior to weighted exercises will increase subsequent glute activation,” says Perkins. Follow it up with the “Build ‘Em Up” moves, which will challenge and stimulate your glutes to encourage muscle growth and rev your metabolism.

Two to three times a week, perform three sets of each exercise for the prescribed number of reps, resting 60 seconds between sets. Do all three sets for each exercise before moving on to the next. Remember: The last two reps of every set should be tough, but not so tough that your form suffers.

MOVE 1Prone Leg Raise
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
10/12/15
60 seconds

Lie facedown on the floor with your head supported by crossed arms, legs shoulder-width apart, core engaged (a). Contract your glutes to lift your legs about 12 to 16 inches off the ground and bring them together to touch(b). Pause, then slowly lower back to start. That’s one rep.

MOVE 2Glute Bridge
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
10/12/15
60 seconds

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from your butt (a). Brace your core, then press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling (b). Hold the position for two seconds before lowering to start. That’s one rep.

MOVE 3Straight-Leg Hip Extension
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
15/12/12
60 seconds

Face a low cable machine and attach the ankle strap to your left ankle, holding the machine lightly for support. (If you don’t have access to a cable machine, use a light resistance band.) Shift your weight onto your right leg, keeping both knees soft (a). Squeeze the glutes and extend your left leg straight behind you, keeping your toes slightly flexed (b). Hold this position for two seconds. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete all reps before switching sides.

MOVE 4Plie Squat
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
15/12/12
60 seconds

Stand with feet more than shoulder-width apart, toes turned outward 45 degrees. Hold a barbell across your shoulders and stand tall (a). Bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your chest upright and core tight (b). Press through your heels and straighten your legs to stand. That’s one rep.

MOVE 5Walking Lunge
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
20/24/30
60 seconds

Place a barbell across your shoulders (a), then step your left leg forward into a lunge, bending both knees to 90 degrees (b). Press through your left heel to push up and step forward into a standing position. Step your right leg forward into a lunge and repeat. Each step is one repetition.

MOVE 6Sprinter Kickback
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
15/15/15
60 seconds

Face a low cable machine and attach the ankle strap to your left ankle. (You can also use a light resistance band if necessary.) Lift your left knee up in front of you, right knee bent (a). From this position, squeeze your glutes and drive your left leg back to extend your hip until your leg is straight behind you, pressing through your left heel (b). Return to start and complete all reps before switching sides.

MOVE 7Step-Up
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
10/10/10
60 seconds
Place a barbell across your shoulders and stand in front of a stable stepping block or bench. Stand tall with your core engaged, then place your left foot on the bench (a). Driving through that heel, push yourself up on the bench(b). Step back down to the floor to return to start. Complete all reps, then switch legs.
MOVE 8Single-Leg Deadlift
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THOMAS DANTHONY
SETS
REPS
REST
3
15/15/15
60 seconds

Hold a barbell in front of your thighs, using an overhand grip. Soften your knees and shift your weight onto your left leg (a). Hinge forward from your hips to lower the bar toward the floor, keeping it close to your body and raising your right leg behind you. Your left knee should be slightly bent, and your chest lifted, back flat, and arms straight (b). Press through your left heel and contract your glutes to reverse the movement and return to start. Complete all reps, then switch legs.

The STD You May Have and Not Even Know It

Why the CDC is sounding the alarm on this scary infection

PUBLISHED: JUNE 16, 2014  |  BY ESTHER CRAIN

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No wonder chlamydia has been nicknamed the silent stalker: After analyzing the latest data, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than one in 100 U.S. adults currently have this sexually transmitted disease. That works out to 1.8 million cases—yet only 1.4 of those have been reported. In other words, 400,000 people may have it and be clueless about the risk it poses to themselves and their partners.

But it’s not necessarily their fault they’re in the dark. Most of the time, chlamydia has zero symptoms. “In men and women, it can trigger signs such as abnormal discharge and pain, especially during urination, but the most common symptom is actually none at all,” says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale University.

For men, it rarely develops into a more severe condition, yet having it means they can spread it to their partners. For women, the consequences are much more serious. If left untreated for months or years, the bacteria will move past primary infection locations such as the urethra, vagina, and cervix and into the uterus and fallopian tubes. There it leads to scar tissue that can quietly harm your fertility, all while you have no idea what’s going on, says Minkin. At that point, it can bring on a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which often causes intense pain and cramping. But by the time PID strikes, irreversible damage may have been done. “Chlamydia and PID are huge causes of infertility in women,” says Minkin. Untreated chlamydia infection can also make your system more receptive to HIV.

But here’s the good news: A simple test at your gyno’s office (either a cervical swab or a urine test) can diagnose chlamydia, and if you have it, a quick course of antibiotics will cure the infection. Ob-gyn guidelines call for all sexually active women under age 25 to be tested yearly, but if you’re over 25 and aren’t sure (and we mean really sure) of your partner’s status, consider getting tested, just to play it safe.

6 Moves for Better Sex

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Missionary is the Jan Brady of sex positions—dismissed as plain and boring, never picked first, forever in the shadow of flashier poses such as girl on top, from behind, and reverse cowgirl.

But it shouldn’t be. “Most people don’t realize that because missionary allows for a lot of variation, it exposes your nerves to a wider range of sensations and is surprisingly orgasm-friendly,” says Lori Buckley, Psy.D., a licensed sex therapist in Pasadena, California. Which explains why 33 percent of women say missionary is their favorite position, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. (Guys dig it too—being on top typically lets them control the pace and prolong their orgasm.) Amp up the experience with these hot new twists to the carnal classic.

Rock the Boat
Missionary gets flack for not allowing for much clitoral contact, but one simple adjustment can remedy that. Experts call it “the coital alignment technique” (a.k.a. “the cat”). While he’s on top of you, have him scoot up two inches so that the base of his penis is directly aligned with your clitoris, says sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First. Then, with your legs wrapped around his thighs, press your genitals together so you create pressure and counterpressure, moving in a gentle rocking motion (as opposed to in and out). Your clitoris will let you know when you’ve got it right.

Go Deep
While he’s on top, draw your knees toward your chest (you can grab the back of your thighs for support) and place one or both of your feet flat on his chest. “Doing so puts the tip of his penis in direct contact with your cervix, a sensation many women find pleasurable,” says Sadie Allison, D.H.S., author of Ride ‘Em Cowgirl.

Take Control
Just because you’re on the bottom doesn’t mean you can’t call the shots. Throw one of your legs over his shoulder while you keep the other one stretched straight out on the bed (or bent, with your foot planted firmly on the mattress). At your own pace, keep switching your legs so that one is over his shoulder and the other is on the bed. The up-and-down motion of your legs creates a pleasurable sweeping sensation over the G-spot zone, says Kerner.

Bring Him to His Knees
Awaken a whole new set of nerves by tweaking the angle of penetration. “Lie down and have your guy kneel between your legs while sitting back so that his butt is resting on his ankles,” suggests certified sex educator Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook. “He can use the strength of his thighs to push forward and thrust, or grab your hips with his hands to control the pace.” This position stimulates your lower vaginal wall, which contains nerves that are often neglected during plain old missionary. If orgasm still eludes you, grab a vibrator or squeeze a little lube onto your fingertips and give yourself a hand as he thrusts.

Straighten Up
It sounds counterintuitive, but keeping your legs closed can actually boost your pleasure. Once he’s inside you, bring your legs together (keep them straight) so that his legs are on the outside of yours. Then squeeze your thighs together to create friction against his shaft and your vaginal lips while he grinds (not thrusts) into your goods. “The entrance to the vagina—namely the outer and inner labia—is packed with nerve endings that are activated by this type of shallow penetration,” says Allison. You can also reach back and grab your headboard or place your palms against the wall for even more resistance and friction.

Give Yourself Props
The hottest sex toy is sitting right there on your bed. “Place a pillow under your lower back to tilt your vagina upward,” says Paget. “His penis will hit that top frontal wall where the G-spot is located.” For extra pleasure, try placing your palms on his butt to control the pace and rhythm of movement.

ISSUE DATE: OCTOBER 2010