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Originally published Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:31 AM

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Tackle your body’s trouble spots to prep for summer

Get your tummy, hips and upper arms in shape for some warm weather exposure.

Special to The Seattle Times

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On Fitness

Spring has sprung, and you know what that means: shorts, tank tops and swimsuit season. No matter what it is, everyone has his or her own personal “trouble zone” — the one area of your body you’re self-conscious about, and less than thrilled about exposing to the world.

Complaining and hiding it under layers of clothing won’t fix it. What will? Good, old-fashioned diet and exercise.

While spot reducing, or losing weight in one specific area, is impossible because fat loss occurs all over the body, you can focus on specific trouble zones during exercise and build muscle underneath the skin to tighten and tone the appearance.

There are three common places that people cite as their trouble areas: the midsection, the hips or saddlebag area, and the underarms. If one of these is yours, don’t spend another sunny season under wraps. With a little planning and hard work, you can tackle your trouble zone, change it for good, and be proud to show it off.

The Tummy

A little extra something around the midsection is one of the most common body insecurities. Belly fat, however, is also the most dangerous for your health. While you can’t spot reduce, you can come closest in this area. Belly fat is a clear sign of an unhealthy diet. Take inches off your belly and tighten its appearance by cleaning up your diet.

Avoid processed foods, especially processed carbohydrates like white bread, cookies and crackers, as well as saturated fats and sugars. You can then add additional definition by doing core and ab exercises. Exercise will sculpt your abs, but no one will see them if a poor diet keeps them hidden under a layer of fat.

The Saddlebags

The saddlebags are the area on the outside of the hips where fat accumulates, usually accompanied by dimply cellulite. While cellulite is something some of us are just blessed with, you can take inches off your thighs and smooth out their appearance with exercise.

Squats just aren’t going to cut it: Your legs are used to working in a forward or backward motion all day long, so to shock them and hit all the way around the joint, try lying leg raises using bands or ankle weights for resistance.

Play with the angles of your legs to really hit the outer and inner thighs. Glute work plays a big part as well. Try dead lifts, as a higher, firmer butt will elongate the legs, making them appear thinner.

The Under Arms

The tricep underarm jiggle is usually a female complaint, causing many to choose long sleeves over tees and tanks even in the hot summer months. Firm up your bat wings with tricep exercises like kickbacks, extensions and pushups.

Experiment with different arm positions like overhead extensions and pulldowns and vary your hand positions and the speed of your pushups to really challenge the triceps.

A proper diet and consistent exercise will help to shrink body fat all over, but to see results in the shape and appearance of these specific areas, get specific with your resistance workouts.

Instead of spending so much time in the mirror picking apart your trouble zones, spend some time in the gym giving them some positive attention.

Kelly Turner: kellyturnerfitness@gmail.com; Turner is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified-personal trainer and fitness writer. www.KellyTurnerFitness.com; on twitter @KellyTurnerFit.

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