Loading up on comfort foods may feel nice in the colder months, but when bikini season rolls around, it's time to unveil the body that's been hiding beneath those warm sweaters and winter boots. For many women, toning the bottom and legs can pose a particular challenge, but with a combination of strength training and cardio, you can get your rear view in peak condition. Incorporate a few healthy, fiber-filled diet tweaks and you'll be more confident to flaunt your lower half by the pool or on the beach.
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, feet pointed about 45 degrees outward, to perform plié squats. Squeeze your glute (butt) muscles and lower until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly rise to start and continue for one set of 20 repetitions. On the last repetition, squat and rise just a few inches in a pulsing motion. Pulse 20 times. This exercise tones your glutes, thighs and calves.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward, to perform a "touchdown," a combination squat and reverse lunge. Bend your knees 90 degrees while sticking your bottom out behind you. Take a large step backward with your left foot, then bend your knees at 90-degree angles to lunge. Push off with your left foot to return to start. Continue squatting and lunging, alternating legs, for 15 to 20 repetitions on each leg. This move combines leg and bottom strength training.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart to perform an explosive jumping lunge. Step forward with your right foot and bend your right and left knee at 90-degree angles to perform a basic lunge. Jump upward, switching legs midair. You should land with your left leg in front and your right leg behind. Bend your knees to lunge on your left leg. Continue for 10 to 20 repetitions. This exercise blasts your calves and thighs.
Stand with feet together and your right foot on a folded towel so that your foot slides across the floor easily. Bend your left knee 45 degrees as you slide your right foot to the side. Slide your foot back to start as you straighten your left leg. Do 10 repetitions or as many as you can do in 30 seconds, then switch legs. This exercise targets your glutes, outer thighs and inner thighs.
Stand with a medicine ball held firmly between your ankles. Step forward with your right foot, squeezing your legs together to keep the ball off the ground. Walk forward for 10 to 20 steps, then walk backward to your starting position. You'll feel this move in your inner thighs.
Perform at least 150 minutes a week of moderate cardio -- including running, swimming, biking or elliptical exercise -- to burn excess calories and tone your lower half.
Skip soda and drink pure water instead. Drink an ounce of water for every 2 pounds of body weight every day. Soda isn't as hydrating as water, and the bubbles can cause bloat.
Swap your white pasta and white rice for quinoa, brown rice or even popcorn (without butter and salt). Three servings a day of whole grains can help fill you up with fiber and decrease body fat.
Eat three to five daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain water, fiber and nutrients but no unhealthy fats and sugars.
Eat raw nuts and lean meat, including fish, chicken and lean cuts of beef, for low-fat protein boost. Nuts also contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats to keep you full without packing pounds.
Consume 2 tablespoons of vinegar daily. Acetic acid, the active ingredient in all vinegars, has been shown to help jump-start the enzymes that break down fat. If the idea of guzzling vinegar straight ruins your appetite, eat salad with a vinegar-based dressing to get your daily dose.