So here’s the scenario – you go to the gym, or do a workout somewhere 4-5 days a week and you are really careful with what you eat, but STILL can’t seem to get it right!
And then every time you look in the mirror, there’s that ugly CELLULITE!
Do you ever feel like just giving up with frustration…I mean, what more do you have to do right? Do we have to resort to painful methods like liposuction? And use an array of potions and lotions, rollers and brushes to smooth, suck, and massage the cottage cheese away!
Before you resort to any extreme measures, please understand: you are not alone…I understand. I myself, as fit as I am, have that dreaded cellulite.
We all want flat abs, toned arms and a cellulite-free backside and many times the only thing standing in the way between the body of our dreams is the dreaded C-word: cellulite! The good news is that the damage is reversible!
Cellulite (strange word really) is really only a glorified term for fat – specifically collections of fat that expand and push against the connective tissue of your skin, creating that infamous dimpled “cottage cheese” appearance. Cellulite is the result of excess body fat, and as such, usually collects in high-fat areas of your body, such as the butt, thighs, and stomach.
What causes cellulite?
Compared to men, women have collagen fibers in their lower body that run vertically up and down like a picket fence. This straight up and down distribution of collagen fibers is the major reason females get cellulite and men don’t. (Estimates are 90% of women have some degree of cellulite compared to 10% of men.) The superficial collagen of men forms more of a mesh. If women have the picket fence distribution of collagen, men have the “chain link fence” distribution. Where women’s fibers run up and down, male fibers crisscross. Typical!
This is important because the vertical distribution of female collagen fibers, more prevalent in the female lower body, form a sort of pocket in which fat cells then grow (see the picture above). As the fat cells grow in size they are essentially squashed in and packed tightly together like sardines by the collagen fibers. Picture a soft round ball stuffed in between links in the fence. Squishy…
This tight packing of fat inside the “collagen pockets” creates the characteristic puckering and dimpling of cellulite. Aka…HAIL DAMAGE!
One of the things many women wonder is how come some women have cellulite and others don’t? And how come some overweight women don’t have as much cellulite as some skinny women? These are great questions and that’s where it is important to understand that this is not just about fat lose, but about how the body is working, or not working, and how those hormones are playing havoc with your metabolism. Cellulite is not just an issue of gaining fat or losing fat. It is an issue of doing something to address both fat loss and collagen strength and resetting hormonal imbalances.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on family genetics, some women get cellulite and some women don’t. So, getting rid of cellulite is perfectly possible for some women and far more difficult for others. However, no matter the genetic luck of the draw, the appearance of cellulite can always be improved upon.
An interesting point is that the appearance of cellulite is most common on woman in Western society, and is not often seen on woman of Asian and European descent to name a couple. They could indicate diet and lifestyle differences, differences that have a huge contribution to the effects of all this on our bodies, and how our bodies store fat and metabolize energy.
The cause is really still unknown, but we can identify several theories, which seem to aid the deposit of cellulite, especially in the areas of the butt, thighs and legs.
Diet and nutrition, including too much sugar and processed foods,
Insufficient water consumed,
Ineffective exercise programs.
Maintaining a clean diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, limited fruit, and clean protein sources, as well as adequate good fats
Diet high in acid forming foods
Lack of any exercise
Poor blood flow in certain areas.
All of these seem to play a part in the ‘hail damage” that appears on the legs and butt.
The fat in the lower body of women is also different than that in men. Women have about 9 times more alpha-adrenergic receptors associated with their fat tissue compared to beta-adrenergic receptors. Adrenergic receptors are bound by the body’s most potent fat burning hormones, in which when they interact with beta-receptors, fat is released from fat cells. When they bind to alpha-receptors, fat release is drastically slowed. Confusing I know….so don’t get stuck in the details.
You can thank the hormone estrogen for the large amount of alpha-receptors in the lower body of women compared to men.
What this means for women is that when they lose weight they will often lose weight faster from the upper body (bust, waist, and arms) compared to the lower body (hips, thighs, and butt). So, we lose size off our boobs first (damn!) If you have ever gone into one of those marathon running programs and realized you were losing every where except your hips and butt, you know exactly what I am talking about. Maybe you even know someone that this has happened to.
Firm or build the muscle underneath. The final piece, and probably the second most important, is the building of muscle. Weight training is the only form of exercise capable of strengthening muscle and tightening the connective tissues of the body and the only effective “cellulite exercises”. A lower body resistance-training program that focuses on muscle growth is essential here.
- What causes cellulite? Cellulite is more than a fat issue. It is a fat and a fiber issue.
- Women get cellulite more than men because of the vertical distribution of their collagen fibers.
- The dimpling and puckering that occurs in cellulite comes from the buildup of fat and fluid in these “collagen pockets”.
- One of the reasons cellulite can look better some days and worse others is due mainly to fluid distribution shifts, especially when “Aunty” comes to visit (period time)
- Females have a difficult time losing fat from the lower body due caused by their female hormones.
The very hormone which helps us relax during pregnancy decreases production of collagen, which is the protein which helps keeps skin elastic and strong. When elasticity decreases, there is a greater likelihood of cellulite.
Strength training allows more testosterone production, so performing more weight type workouts, instead of endless hours of cardio could also be another way for women to reverse the estrogen levels and thus the cellulite reaction in their bodies.
Our lymphatic system also plays a critical role in the development of cellulite. The tissue weakens and the decrease in lymph drainage causes the fluids which should carry away waste to be trapped, the tissue then becomes fibrous and tightens even more on the underlying fat cells. The fats and toxins won’t be removed because of the poor circulation.
You can see that a healthy lymph system is critical to stopping the formation and breaking the cellulite building cycle.
Our sweat glands, kidneys, liver and lymph system are all critical to ridding our bodies of toxins. Toxic build-up is the primary cause of the stagnant lymph, which is at the crux of cellulite. When your body is overburdened with chemicals, additives, and other toxins, these organs are unable to keep up. If you think about these organs as screens or filters, it makes sense that they would need to be cleaned regularly in order to work efficiently. Detoxing, is not a crazy idea, and even done for a 2 week period can have incredible affect on your overall metabolism.
Well balanced hormones also play a role. During periods of great hormonal fluctuation life pregnancy or perimenopause women may experience an increase in cellulite. We’ve known for many years that estrogen plays a role in keeping skin elastic and firm, due to the role it plays in increasing the formation of collagen. When your hormones are not balanced, the walls of your veins and lymph vessels are less resilient – and they are not as efficient in removing toxins. This weakness also causes lymph flow and blood to stagnate.
Your body’s systems are all connected, and the cellulite you see is a symptom of something going on in your body. It’s important to clear your body of toxins regularly, feed your body what it needs and be aware of ways to keep your hormones balanced.
So,the burning question is… how do we get rid of cellulite?
There is no quick fix, or magic potion that will take cellulite away, but over time, it can be reduced, maybe even eliminated by the examples below. Many women feel that cellulite is their destiny – they may have family members with cellulite or have been told that cellulite is just to be accepted. By raising your awareness of the process that contributes toward cellulite development and supporting your all-important lymph system, you may find the combination which helps you diminish or alleviate cellulite.
- Be aware of toxins and limit your exposure. Preservatives, chemicals, additives, alcohol and caffeine all test your lymph system. Eliminate sugar completely from your diet. Sugar interferes with Vitamin C metabolism and vitamin C is critical to the formation of elastin and collagen.
- Detox…do a detox, even for a few days every now and then to eliminate rubbish and bad habits from your diet.
- Breathe! Meditate….Lowering cortisol levels will have a huge impact on the overall wellbeing of your body, and it’s functions.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps increase muscle tone and burn fat. Both help to reduce the appearance of cellulite..
- Manage your stress. When our bodies are stressed, blood is directed away from the skin, affecting circulation and decreasing the nutrients being delivered to our skin. Increased cortisol tells the body to store fat which contributes to cellulite.
- Gently massage areas of cellulite – massage the area in a circular motion. This will help break down fat and toxins and increase blood flow to the area.
- Weight training!!!! So important to build muscle in the troublesome area’s and the only way to build muscle is resistance or weight training. So…get pumping iron!
- Get your hormones checked. Have a proper saliva test to see exactly where your body is at with all the major hormones, including cortisol. Until you know what the facts are, you can’t make a plan.
- Get a good night’s sleep. 7-8 hours/ night.
- Eat a high fibre, high protein diet that and include
- Alcohol…limit alcohol consumption.
- Avoid any packaged and processed foods (good rule of thumb: if it has more than three ingredients on the label, don’t buy it!)
- Avoid or reduce the consumption of caffeine, chocolate and cocoa
- Avoid calorie laden condiments: ketchup, relish, chutney, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce
- Avoid all simple sugars!!!!
So, there you have it. Even I have it, and through this, I have learned to follow a cleaner diet, change the way I exercise, limit my alcohol and caffeine. It keeps me on the edge, and keeps me from being complacent with my nutrition and exercise….And it reminds me that I am not perfect.
We need to remember to be happy where we are at, on the way to where we are going!
For more advice and ideas on how to eliminate cellulite from your body, feel free to drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.