For many years, I hated my lower body.

You may be thinking, but Tara…shouldn’t we love our bodies, perceived flaws and all?

Ahhh…you HAVE been paying attention to what I say…and the answer is YES, absolutely. We are given a pretty doggone miraculous body, and we should be grateful for that.

But let’s just say I wasn’t as enlightened back then when all I could see were my supposed flaws.

So, what did I do? Probably what a lot of women do when they aren’t satisfied with their bodies…I up’d my training, and lowered my calories.

I thought if I just added a few more miles to my running schedule and taught a few more group exercise classes and cut back even more on my eating (even though I was starving), my lower body would lean out and all would be great.

Long story short – I was mistaken. It definitely did NOT happen, and if anything, it got worse.

So what did I do to FINALLY lean out in those areas?

Here are the top three things that changed the shape of my lower body – resulting in inches lost, tighter/perkier booty (if Nick is to be believe 😉 ) and the appearance of narrower hips.

1. Kick long duration, moderate intensity cardio to the curb

The runners are going to hate me for this, but when done in excess like I was doing, long duration cardio was not my friend. I was wasting muscle like crazy – in fact, my exercise and nutrition habits (along with other stressors in my life) pretty much guaranteed me being what Metabolic Effect calls a Muscle Burner. Basically, when given a choice, my body preferred to burn muscle instead of fat from exercise. Ouch.

In 2008, when I enlisted the help of my friend, Jill Coleman, this was one of the first things we went to work on. We traded long runs for short track workouts and incline sprints. It did wonders for the lower body (and abs as well!)

2. Add heavy weight training several times/week

I knew back then that lifting weights was a good thing for women. And I did lift, but the issue was I was doing mostly group “power pump” type classes which consisted of lighter weight and lots of reps.

We changed this to heavier weight training – staying in the 8 to 10 rep range – to stimulate muscle growth and body shape change. The results came quickly. Within about 8 weeks, my body took on a different appearance, My waste looked smaller, my butt, legs and hips were tighter, and my shoulders took on a nice “capped” look. I was blown away.

As an added bonus, some clothes got bigger and I filled others out much better.

Before and After
Tara Before & After

3. Complement weight training with short-duration high-intensity cardio and metabolic conditioning

As mentioned in #1, I switched from doing long-duration, lower intensity cardio to short sprints, both flat and incline. This did amazing things for my lower body and midsection.

SN: if you want to feel a nice midsection soreness, head to the track or outdoor straighaway, and run 20 to 30 seconds all-out, eight or ten times. Report back, and let me know how those abs feel the next day :-).

I would alternate sprints with HIIT type intervals on the stepmill or doing a 20 minute Metabolic Effect style conditioning workouts. These types of workouts use a bit lighter weights and serve to get that metabolic burn going. These workouts are still my favorites, all these years later.

Of course, there was a nutrition overhaul – but that is a subject for another post.

My point in all this is that if you want to change the SHAPE of your body, long duration cardio is probably not going to get you there. You may lose weight, but losing fat and building lean muscle will be difficult, if not impossible – and THIS is what changes the look of you body.

I am SO glad that Jill has a new program called #FastPhysique that combines all the elements above into a 9 Week plan to change the look of your body. We chatted about the program, and specifically how it can help women over 40 in the video below.

#FastPhysique is only open until Friday, 4/7 – so grab it now! Order from this link, and as a special bonus, you’ll get live group coaching once/week for the first four weeks. We’ll troubleshoot any nutrition struggles, as well as anything with the workouts. We officially start together on 4/17/17. 🙂 Email your receipt to to get your spot!

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