Q: Ive gained some weight, and Im worried that this is a turn-off for my guy. What can I do to feel more confident?
A: Know this: a little bit of weight is never a deal breaker in a loving relationship. Odds are, your man still finds you as sexy as ever. But if youre feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, take control and figure out what will give you more confidence. The fact is, feeling insecure about your body will affect your sex life, even if your guys desire for you hasnt changed one bit.
The best place to start is actually outside of the bedroom: improving your diet and sticking to your exercise regimen can help you shed the pounds in a healthy way for a happier, more confident you.
And while youre on track to becoming more fit, try to focus less on what you dont like about yourself and more on what you do appreciate. What body parts are you proudest of? Your sexy shoulders? Your backside? Show them off in a sleeveless shirt or flattering jeans. Wearing clothes that make you feel hot will naturally make you feel more self-assured.
When youre in the bedroom, if you still feel self-conscious just dim the lights or use candles. As for positions, woman-on-bottom ones (think missionary) are more forgiving and help flatten a stomach pooch. Just remember, though: the goal is not to hide your flaws but to feel comfortable enough with your body to share it fully with your man.
Q: Lately, Im too tired, stressed, or grumpy to feel up for sex. Help!
A: Im going to let you in on a little secret: if all women waited to be “in the mood” before getting busy, very few of us would ever do it. Most women need to be stimulated mentally and/or physically before they actually feel turned on. The good news is you can single-handedly transform your libido by trying what I call self-seduction.
Throughout the day, conjure up past sexual experiences that really got you worked upthat should get you in a sexy mind-set. Feeling relaxed is also key. So when you get home, unwind with a glass of wine or do something else that will give you a mental break from stressors that may be affecting your sex drive.
It may help to read a supersexy noveladd self-stimulation, if you want to. And from this moment on, make sex a top priority. Dont wait until after the laundry and Greys Anatomy are done to get down to business. Surprise your man the minute you get home from work, or get more spontaneous in the mornings. If you wait until you collapse into bed, odds are your only desire will be for sleep.
You told us!
Whats your number-one turn-on?
53% A great sense of humor
13% A great bod
9% Smarts (the geekier the better!)
3% Someone who can cook like Jamie Oliver
Q: My husband and I enjoy dinner with our neighbors, but theyre big foodies and like incredibly expensive restaurants. Advice?
A: Right now, money is tight for virtually everyone. Theres nothing wrong with saying, “We are so excited to spend time with you guys. But were keeping an eye on our money these days and cant spend more than X amount on dinner. Do you know any good restaurants in that range?” Yes, its bold. Yes, it will feel a bit awkward. But chances are, your friends will be happy to explore new dining options. If their answer is no, dont give up.
Research good, cheaper restaurants to recommend, space out how often you go out, or invite them over for a meal sometimes. One caveat: if you sense that they care more about the fabulosity of the restaurant than your company, you may want to cut them loose.
Q: Everyone tells me to save, but exactly how much, and for what?
A: Good question. Ideally, you should save 15 percent of your gross income (5 percent for nearer-term needs, like a down payment on a house, and 10 percent for retirement; thats on top of stashing away at least three months of living expenses in case you lose your job). But in this economy, 15 percent might feel like a tall order, so try to get as close to that as is comfortable for your budget.
Start by having a set amount automatically transferred into savings each month. Dont have a lot of extra cash? Look at your big monthly expensescable, cell phone billsand see if you can get a better deal or lower-priced plan. Winnowing these down is much easier than denying yourself small treats. Set aside just $50 a month, and invest it in the stock market; over 10 years youll have $8,600 (assuming a 7 percent annual return)!
Q: A lot of people have been laid off at my office. I try not to focus on it, but I keep worrying that Im next. Its impossible to concentrate! What can I do to keep my worry from affecting my work?
A: Its not surprising that you are unable to focus. Losing your job in this economy is scaryand a very real fear. Your brain has set off the anxiety response, sending you into fight, flight, or freeze mode. And right now, it sounds like youre frozen. You know you should be working even harder to prove your value to your company, but instead youre milling around, waiting for the ax to fall. You need to allay your fears enough to get back into productive mode.
How do you do this? First ask yourself, “Whats helped me the most when Ive been afraid in the past?” For some people, getting more information about the situation is useful, because it can help them feel more in control of things. That might mean figuring out how long you could afford to be out of work or coming up with a Plan B: what would you do if the worst came to pass?
It could even be talking to your boss to find out what your chances of losing your job are and creating a strategy to make yourself indispensable. (Try simply asking what extra assignments you could take on or what contributions you could make to help the company succeed.)
Talking to a close friend about your worries can be comforting, as well. While youre at work, stay motivated by choosing the most interesting piece of work you have to do, then move on to the next most interesting thing.
You may find that it helps to incorporate all of these strategies, or you only need one or two. Whatever you do, remember that staying frozen is the worst option. Remind yourself: “Ill feel better if I just get going!”
Q: Ive been so crazy-busy lately that I have zero time for friends and have let a lot of my friendships fall by the wayside. I feel so guilty about it. Help!
A: Its natural to feel like we dont have enough time to do the “wants”like staying connected to good friendsrather than the “needs,” like making dinner or paying our bills. But the fact that you feel guilty about letting friendships lapse means that you want to make a change.
Heres how to begin: track where you spend your time for one week, and see if you can find a free half-hour by dropping something. (Do you have to vacuum the whole house weekly, for instance, or cook a full-blown dinner on the weekends?) If you find you really cant carve out any time from your crazy-busy days, get creative. Run errands with your friends, pencil in get-togethers like theyre mandatory work meetings, and get the kids and your man to help with housework to free up social time for you. (No, they wont do it as well as you, but I promise that its good enough.)
You dont have to go out with the girls all the time to stay close, though. With todays technology, its possible to catch up without even leaving your home. Thanks to the magic of headsets, I talk to my friends on the phone while making dinner, doing laundry, and straightening the house.
E-mail and photo sharing are also wonderful ways to stay connected. Just dont let the phone and e-mail become excuses for not getting together. Theres really nothing like catching up over a coffee, so try your best to squeeze that in, even if it happens just once a month.
3 ways to stop stressing right now
The next time you feel overwhelmed, try one of these tension-relieving tactics. Youre sure to feel better almost instantly.
- Consciously relax all your muscles one by onethis actually forces the body to let go of stress.
- If youre freaking out about a deadline, stop what youre doing and tell yourself, “I have all the time I need.” It hits pause on your panic button and allows you to slow down enough to focus on your task and get your work done more efficiently.
- Laugh, even if you dont feel like it. Its been shown to reduce stress and release feel-good hormones. TiVo your favorite sitcom (30 Rock and Modern Family are always good for a smile), log on to FunnyOrDie.com for giggle-out-loud videos, or grab a book by a funny writer. Try Chelsea Handlers Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.