The Self-esteem Makeover!

Karate chop! It’s time to whip your self-confidence into shape. Hasn’t anyone told you that you can learn to be fabulous? It’s not about your looks -- it’s your thinking. Your happiness, appearance and relationships all hinge on how you perceive -- and present -- yourself.

Tell Your Inner Nag to Shut It!
Stop hating on yourself, would ya? Everyone from the Dalai Lama to Oprah talks about how our thoughts transfer to our experiences. Thinking you’re fat or dumb or not good enough for some guy is the reality as long as you’re believing it.

Try this: When you catch yourself listening to negative self-talk, stop. Picture something you adore about your life, your looks or your little quirks. Like the cool bond you have with your sis or how that blue dress looks so much better on you than it does on the hanger. Smile. Hold that grin.

Believe in Your Own Greatness
Maybe you feel other girls are so much smarter, prettier, cooler.…Well, we can’t argue with the fact that there are a lot of great gals out there. But guess what: You’re one of ‘em!

Try this: Being your total self is about rolling all the best parts of you into one impressive presentation. Instead of wishing you were a clone of someone else, take a look at everyone around you. Realize that you have just as many good qualities as the girl sitting next to you. It’s just that each of you has a unique blueprint. Rock yours!

Give Ugly the Day off
Everyone has that friend who obsesses over her looks. She can’t pass a store window without stopping to adjust her shirt, inspect her lips, tuck a hair. She picks, picks, picks until she scoffs: “I look horrible!” Meanwhile, she’s cute as can be. Um, pardon, is that friend…you?

Try this: Do a single glance in the a.m., then totally avoid mirrors and windows (shiny spoons? dang, vain!). Break free of the focus on your physical appearance so you can look within. Are you getting good grades, feeling fit and hanging with the right people? No mirrors! To pump up your self-esteem, it’s time for inner reflection.

Give Sports a Shot!

Thirteen-year-old Kristen was worried about looking like a fool at field hockey tryouts. Plus, she figured that even if she made the cut, it would take up too much time. Have concerns like hers kept you from going out for a sport? It’s true that joining a team makes you busier, but it also adds to the quality of your life and teaches you valuable lessons. Here are some of the sneaky benefits of being a team player!

Make New Friends
Deep personal bonds develop by sharing exciting victories and dealing with losses with your teammates. You'll really get to know some great girls in your grade and in upper classes who can help you -- on and off the field.

Get Your Fit on!
By practicing a sport, you'll stay fit. You'll strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve your muscle tone. Translation? You can wear that cool minidress and look great. But even better: You'll feel great too.

Learn Life Skills
Our competitive society consists of winners, losers, lucky shots and bad calls. Sports help you prepare for that. Playing on a team teaches you to work in a group and deal with the ups and downs of life.

Stay Super-smart!
Girls who play sports get better grades in school and are more likely to graduate than girls who do not participate in sports. Sure, college may seem like light-years away, but it’s never too soon to start up some activities that will punch up your applications. Selection committees look for well-rounded, active, involved candidates.

Feel Great About Yourself!
Girls and women who play sports have more confidence and a higher self-esteem -- as well as lower levels of depression. Their body image is more positive too, and they experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports.

Have Future Career Success
Sports is where boys have traditionally learned about teamwork, goal setting, the pursuit of performance excellence and other achievement-oriented behaviors -- all necessary for success in the workplace. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, it is no accident that 80 percent of female executives at big companies identify themselves as former “tomboys” who played sports!

Beat Bikini Anxiety

Ugh. Trying on swimsuits definitely isn’t as fun as trying on shoes, right? Shoes never make you look too fat, too thin, too flat, too whatever…but hey, get over yourself! With the right cut and style, you can love your beautiful bod in a bathing suit.

If the Suit Fits ….
Look for your body type below to find the suit that best, um, suits you!

Bootylicious If you’re fuller in the tush than you are on top, two-piece swimsuits with skirted bottoms are way in this season and are perfect for flattering your best assets. Go for solid colors or pretty patterns -- doesn’t matter what you choose.

Itty bitties To compensate for small breasts, you can always go for a bikini or one-piece suit with padding on top. Otherwise, stick to suits with halter-style tops or those embellished with ruffles.

Roundabout If you have a round shape, your best bet is to invest in some dark, solid-colored tankinis. You could also try one-pieces with large florals in bright colors or busy geometric patterns.

Skinny minnie You’re super thin or have an athletic build? Opt for one-pieces with belts or other detailing that’ll give the illusion of a waistline. If you’d rather wear a bikini, go for one that has a wide band under the bust.

Bustin’ out If you’re full-breasted, be sure to get a suit that has underwire built into the top for support, and lining in the bust for coverage. Also, try to find suits that are solid-colored on top but patterned on the bottom.

Rock it body-confident!
The most important factor when strutting your stuff in a swimsuit is to have self-confidence. This is so much better than being self-conscious. There is nothing more attractive than a girl who looks like she’s totally comfortable in her own skin. So instead of freaking out about every little perceived flaw, make an attitude adjustment. All girls are be-you-tee-ful! Start believing it.

Be an Adventure Girl!

Outside is in! It’s time to round up your BFFs and get outta the house.  Enjoy the scenery, tone your bod and flex good attitude. Visit your local outdoor retailer store or go online for books, maps and recommendations for adventures in your area.

Hiker Chic
Water bottle? Check! Granola bars? Check! Flashlight? Check! You’re almost ready to take a hike. Lace up your sneaks, grab your day pack and take in the nature. Hiking is inexpensive, and no experience is necessary. Enjoy trails of all lengths, from blazed backcountry trails to paved urban park trails. Spend an hour or spend a day. Hike a loop trail or walk out and back on the same path. What are you waiting for? Hit the trail!

Catch the Caching Craze
You’re never too old for games. Geocaching is a worldwide game of hide-and-seek! “Geo” is for geography, and “cache” is a hiding place. So, geocachers use geographic information to find a cache or hidden treasure using a GPS. A cache usually contains a logbook for finders to write a personalized entry. This is a fun outing with friends or fam. While GPS receivers can be expensive to buy, you can rent one online. You’re getting warmer.

Rock Your World
Rock climbing lingo includes words like “harness,” “belay device” and “carabiner.” It’s a bit more gear-intensive and important to get proper training so you don’t face-plant into a rock face. But the adrenaline rush is worth it. Test your skills at your local indoor rock climbing gym or do an Internet search for an adventure outfitter offering intro courses to outdoors climbing. Rock this sport with a BFF. Climb on!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Flatwater kayaking and canoeing are relaxing ways to spend a warm day. Local parks and outfitters often rent boats by the hour or day. If you’re paddling downriver, you’ll need a shuttle to get back to your starting point. Or, just paddle around on a lake or open water area. You’ll soak up some sun and buff those biceps. But don’t forget the life jacket! Now, go make some waves.

The ABCs (and D's!) of the Bra

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Big boobs, itty bitties, in-betweenies -- they’re all beautiful! But when it comes to getting a bra, it’s so important to have the perfect fit. We want to keep you, er, abreast of what to look for when bra buying.

Bare Necessity?
Wondering if you even need a bra at all? It’s a personal decision, but maybe your breasts are beginning to bud, and you’re thinking of trying your first bra. It nicely covers nipples, if nothing else. Even if you already wear a bra, you might be bopping around in the wrong size.

Not an 8-ounce Cup!
So, what’s your bra size? Here’s the formula:

1. Use a measuring tape to determine the number of inches around your chest, just below your breasts. Add 5 inches if it is an odd number; add 4 inches if it is an even number. This is your bra measurement.

2. For cup size, move the tape up to measure your chest around the fullest part of your breasts.

     If the two numbers are the same, you need an AA cup.
     If the two numbers differ by 1 inch, you need an A cup.
     If the two numbers differ by 2 inches, you need a B cup.
     If the two numbers differ by 3 inches, you need a C cup.
     If the two numbers differ by 4 inches, you need a D cup.
     If the two numbers differ by 5 inches, you need a DD cup.

So, pretend your first measurement, below your breasts, is 28 inches. Adding 4 inches makes 32. Say your second measurement, across your breasts, is 34 inches. The difference between the two numbers (in this case, 32 and 34) is 2 inches, so you’d need a B cup. Your bra size would be 32B.

The Ultimate Breast Test
Spend time in the dressing room trying on a variety of bras. Once you find one you like, jump around in front of the mirror, then lean forward. Boobs still secure? Good. Now see how it looks under your shirt. No weird bulges or traces of lace? Remember to adjust the straps and the hooks on the back to get the best fit. Not so bad, eh?