Want to take your sex life from so-so to steamy? We consulted experts to give you the best advice.
You love the rush of a vigorous workout: Your mood improves, you have more energy, and you feel more attractive. But what's surprising is how those sweat sessions boost your libido—and lead to you getting a little action.
"Your fitness level is linked with how sexy you feel," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and the author of Pleasure: A Woman's Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that improve your mood and relax you. "This is the state of mind required to feel fully aroused," she says. It's not that you can't have a love life without working out, says Hutcherson. It's just that you'll enjoy it more when you're getting the mind and body benefits of exercise.
Being fit also has a positive impact on your body confidence, says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute and author of Change Your Mind, Change Your Body. "The real-life gains you achieve at the gym—say, going from using a 5-pound dumbbell to a 10-pounder or running an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill—give you an incredible sense of power and accomplishment," she says. "That physical pride makes you feel sexier inside and out. You radiate that, and in turn your partner becomes even more attracted to you." (You can also try The Better Sex Workout to feel better in your body and turn up the heat between the sheets.)
The Ultimate Eats
You may count calories and watch what you eat, but to really feed your libido, filling your plate with the right type of food is key. There's some truth to the rumor that certain foods can get you in the mood, says Robert
Fried, Ph.D., co-author of Great Food, Great Sex. But eating chocolate truffles and oysters on the half shell or drinking red wine isn't going to make you amorous. "So-called aphrodisiacs do nothing to fuel your libido," he says. "Lean meats, deep-green vegetables, and brightly colored fruits, however, are all good for sexual vitality." These foods boost blood flow to your heart and sex organs, which will help you become aroused, increase lubrication, and better your chances for an orgasm.
So what qualifies as a "sexy" meal? Lynn Nezin, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and co-author of Great Food, Great Sex, suggests shrimp cocktail followed by a grilled meat or fish entrée—preferably without a heavy sauce or gravy—a green salad, sautéed spinach, or green beans as a side, and a dessert loaded with fresh berries. Sharing food may also create a more intimate mood. "Feeding each other bites of dessert can definitely set the tone for certain after-dinner activities," says Nezin. (Or make these 10 Seductive Dinner Recipes Featuring Aphrodisiac Foods.)
Sexy and Confident
From getting naked to trying a new position, the pleasure you get in bed connects to how assured you are in your looks.
The key to mind-blowing sex? Get out of your head, says Hutcherson. "While you're worrying about which position flatters your tummy, he's focusing on the pleasure of the moment—and most women miss that," she says. "Your partner's not imagining you 5 pounds lighter or cataloging your perceived flaws, he's turned on by the way you look right now." Another downfall of obsessing over your body during sex: You may seem disinterested. (See more Sex Mistakes Screwing You Up in the Sack.)
Try to put aside your insecurities and pay more attention to what gets you—and your partner— excited, says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., author of The Great Sex Weekend. "Men are visual, and they need to look at our bodies and see that we're confident showing them." Letting him know that you're secure in your looks (a trait that's super-sexy) can be as simple as getting busy in broad daylight or using your senses. "Slip on silky lingerie, sip red wine together, bathe in bubbles and oils, or cue up suggestive music," says Kearney-Cooke. "You can also decorate your bedroom with sensuous colors and lighting and scented candles." Setting the stage for a romantic night shows him you're putting thought and energy into your relationship, and he'll appreciate—and respond to—the extra efforts you make.