Get Fit Through Winter!

Just like the weather, some girls’ activity levels turn sluggish when the winter blows in. But no more using the big chill as an excuse to camp out on the couch! We have some fantastic ideas for getting fit indoors during the frosty season -- without having to pay for a ridiculously expensive gym membership.

Get Fit by Going to the Mall

Walking is great exercise, and a shopping mall serves as an excellent indoor track. Grab a friend and do a lap around each level of the mall. Oh, and take the stairs -- not the elevator! Pick up a pedometer (usually available at dollar stores) to gauge your mileage, and add several more steps to your route each week. Reward yourself with some shopping once you’ve met your goal.

Get Fit in Front of the TV
Don’t just veg out on the sofa. Hit the floor for some sit-ups and pushups while you watch TV. Turn on a dance show, or a music channel, and bust a move. Play Wii, or pop in an exercise DVD. (Some libraries lend DVDs out for free or a small fee.) If you have on-demand cable, surf the menu to see if any exercise programs are offered. You can even jog in place or do jumping jacks -- just no cartwheels in the house, please!

Get Fit by Staying After School
Take advantage of after-school sports programs. Try out for the basketball team or the indoor soccer league. Take tumbling lessons. Learn karate. If your school doesn’t have programs that interest you, check with a local recreational council. You can also organize your own activity: Ask school officials if you and your friends can use the gymnasium for a weekly just-for-fun game of kickball.

Get Fit While Scoring Points
Want to score points with the parents? Offer to help around the house! Your mom will be shocked when she sees you vacuuming, dusting, folding laundry ... whoa. Not so sure you want to sign up for this? Look, tackling household chores might not be your idea of a fun workout routine -- but it really does flex muscles and burn calories. So consider it a triple-doozie of an investment: You’ll get fit, have a clean room and maybe earn more privileges when your parents see how responsible you’ve become.

Fear Is Not Your Friend

Ah, fear. Whether it’s about acing a final exam, talking to your crush or hitting your parents up for a later curfew, the one thing that can throw you into a tailspin is fear. It’s a powerful emotion, but we’ll walk you through some ways to say, “Hey, fear! You don’t scare me!”

“I have to do a class presentation, and it counts as a big part of my grade. I’m totally nervous.”

Fear Tactic: Feel it!
Don’t fight it. If you want to shake the jitters, give in to ’em a little. As you prepare for the big day, whenever you feel a wave of fear come over you, feel the discomfort of it. Fear multiplies and super-sizes when you resist it, but feeling the fear allows it to move through you (buh-bye). Then make it a point to have fun putting together that project -- and carry that positive vibe into the classroom.

“I’m going to a party with my crush, and I’m freaked out because his ex-girlfriend is going to be there. Help!”

Fear Tactic: Face it!
This is a good time to get in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. Get grounded in your confidence and don’t carry with you any icky feelings, such as jealousy or insecurity. Be your absolute best self at the party, and boldly but humbly confront the face of fear by introducing yourself to the ex-GF. Just smile, make eye contact and warmly say, “It’s so nice to meet you.” Was that so bad? Now enjoy the par-tay!

“I want to hit up my parents for more allowance, but I’m scared to even approach them about it.”

Fear Tactic: Forget it!
We’re not telling you to give up on your dream of getting your parents to pad your allowance (or whatever privilege you want). But we are telling you to stop thinking about it so much. Overanalysis can cause emotional paralysis. So just tuck this subject away in the back of your mind. The next time you see an opportunity -- that is, when your parents have their guard down and you’re feeling particularly brave -- just take a deep breath, walk up and just ask.

“I’m trying out for an all-girls ice hockey league, and I’m so afraid I won’t make the cut.”

Fear Tactic: Flip it!
The thing about fear is that it often feels very similar to another emotion: excitement! Is your heart racing? Is your brow sweaty? Shift your thinking from being afraid to being totally geared up for an awesome challenge! So what if you don’t make tryouts? You enjoyed yourself in the meantime. Now you can spend time improving your ice skills, or you can take up another activity. It’s entirely up to you; life is an adventure for the fearless!

Crafts We <3!

If you really want to spread the Valentine’s Day love, make a gift that comes from the heart! We have awesome craft ideas for your bundle of beloveds, right here:

Valentine’s Craft for the BFFs: Pretty Pink-painted Tees
Make personalized tees for your besties!

  • What you need:

    Plain white T-shirts or tanks (tip: you can buy these in multi-packs in the boys’ underwear section)
    Piece of cardboard
    Fabric paint pens or permanent colored markers

  • What to do:

    Put newspaper down on your work surface, then fit the T-shirt onto the cardboard so the front of the shirt is flat and facing you. Now draw whatever your, er, heart desires! Use pinks, purples and reds to make swirly patterns, polka dots, flowers or whatever. If you really want to be fancy, you can also sew on a few sequin accents. Don’t forget to make one for yourself!

Valentine’s Craft for Mom: Movin’ Groovin’ Love Mobile
Create a whirling whimsical hanging mobile for your mom ... or aunt or grandma

  • What you need:

    Construction paper
    Playing cards (preferably an oldie with a few cards missing)
    Coat hanger
    Fishing line, yarn or string
    Beads, loose earrings or other baubles (optional)

  • What to do:

    Cut out heart shapes from colored construction paper or any other decorative paper (such as sturdy wrapping paper or sheet music). Punch holes at the tops of the Queen and King of Hearts from an old deck of cards. Break out the glue and glitter to decorate your heart shapes. Now flex your imagination! Use various lengths of string to tie your creations along the bottom of the coat hanger, adding any beads or other adornments until you’ve achieved mobile magic.

Valentine’s Craft for a Boy: Hunks and Chunks o’ Chocolate
Whether you have a BF or a crush, you can’t go wrong by giving a boy food! Really ...

  • What you need:

    Milk chocolate bars or semisweet chocolate chips
    Microwaveable glass bowl
    Baking pan lined with parchment paper
    Nuts and dried fruits (such as raisins or cranberries)

  • What to do:

    Put the chocolate in a bowl (if you’re using bars, break them into pieces first). Place in the microwave on high, stirring at 30-second intervals until melted. Pour the melted chocolate into the pan lined with parchment paper, using the spatula to spread it out to about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle the fruit and nut toppings into chocolate and gently press them in. Place the pan in the freezer to set for approximately a half hour. Once it’s hardened, break the chocolate into chunks and put them in a nice box or tin. Store in a cool place before giving them to your guy. Mmm ... chocolate-flavored kisses!


Beat the Winter Blahs

It usually hits when you’re washing off the last of your sparkly New Year’s Eve makeup: the post-holidays slump. You’re staring down gray, icy weather minus all the fun, festive celebrations. Luckily, these pick-me-ups are proven to raise the temps on your mood thermometer -- stat!

Bundle Up
It’s important to get outside -- yep, even in cold temps -- to keep feel-good vibes flowing. Nature can definitely amp up your mood, but the key is to move while you’re outdoors. Even just walking around for five minutes works! So make snow angels with your sis or take Fido for his walk. By the time you step back inside, you’ll feel better.

LOL -- A Lot!
Good news: YouTube is good for more than just wasting time. Its hilarious clips can leave you ROFL, and research shows that laughter’s an awesome way to get in a good mood fast. We know what you’re thinking: “Duh!” But here’s the thing: You have to get to “this is so funny I can’t not laugh” territory. So search for your favorite “iCarly” clips and watch, laugh, repeat!

Hit the Mall
New research proves shopping is an easy way to feel happier fast. (So that’s why they call it retail therapy!) Bonus: The study found that pulling out your wallet when you’re feeling blue doesn’t necessarily make you buy tons of stuff you’ll later regret. Try this: Get a couple of besties to come with and have fun trying out crazy outfits you know you’d never really wear on a day-to-day basis. It’s cheap and it’s a blast!

Strike a Pose
Yoga is one of the best ways to get your chillax on, according to studies. There are tons of inexpensive DVDs available to walk you through the basics, and on-demand TV often offers them for free. Work on your tree pose and you’ll feel more blissful faster than you can say, “Ommm.”

Lend a Hand
Volunteering not only helps someone else out, but also gives you a boost. Surveys show that people who give to others typically have happier lives. First, find something you’re into. Love planning parties? Use those super organizing skills to kick a can drive into gear. Is amazing cupcake-making your thing? Whip some up and have a bake sale for charity. Are you practically the dog whisperer? Clock quality time at your local animal shelter. Just don’t blame us when you have a smile plastered on your face afterward!

A GirlÂ’s Guide to Summer Hygiene

You’re having massive breakouts? Embarrassing armpit stains? Not sure if the pool and your period are a good mix? Yeah, your feminine hygiene catches a whole new wave when summer rolls around. Here, we help you navigate those choppy waters.

Summer Hygiene Lesson No. 1: Bikini Line Dance
When it comes to that spot on your legs that peeks out from beneath your bathing suit, well...there’s often some hair there. And shaving that sensitive area can be tricky at first. Try these tips:

1. Get into a shallow bath or shower -- do not attempt to shave while dry!

2. Lather the area up with a good fragrance-free shaving gel.

3. Spread those legs, or prop one leg at a time up on a ledge, and gently shave along your bikini line with a new -- never dull! -- razor.

4. Rinse your body (and the razor) with water, and pat your parts dry with a clean towel.

Breaking out along the area where you shaved? Those are razor bumps, caused by shaven hairs curling back and growing into the skin. Stop shaving until they clear up. If they don’t go away within a week or so, talk to your doctor about treating the area with hydrocortisone cream.

Summer Hygiene Lesson No. 2: Sweaty Pit Stop
Naturally, there’s no part of us that’s sweatier in the summer than the armpits! Of course, be sure to wash yourself daily. To avoid those nasty T-shirt stains, use a good antiperspirant (not just a deodorant). Carry it with you in a backpack or purse so you can reapply often.

If excessive sweating continues to be a problem, try dusting a little cornstarch or baking soda under your arms in the morning after your antiperspirant has dried. (Tank tops are not recommended with this method.) If you’re not shaving yet, this might be a good time to ask your mom if you can start, since underarm hair can increase sweat and odor.

Summer Hygiene Lesson No. 3: Swimming ... Period
It’s the question that every girl asks at least once: “Can I swim when I’m on my period?” The answer is yes -- if you wear a tampon. You cannot get into the water with a pad or no protection, as you risk leaving a trail of blood in your wake. Ugh.

If you’ve never used tampons before, talk to your mom or other parental figure about it. If you decide tampons are right for you, lock yourself in the bathroom next time you’re having a period and follow the directions that come in the box until you’re comfortable with it. Then, grab your bathing suit, jump into the pool and make a splash!