Bathing suit season is upon us and cellulite is a hot issue of concern among many ladies. No matter how love-your-body-the-way-it-is people aim to feel, cellulite seems to prevail as a pretty common “I’d rather do without it” thing. So let’s see what we can do about that.
First of all, what is cellulite?
Cellulite is swollen fat deposits pushing through weakened connective tissue in the skin, creating a dimpled appearance. It’s most commonly seen around women’s thigh and butt regions.
Cellulite is incredibly common, affecting 80-90% of post-adolescent females. Although weight does play a role, cellulite affects people of all body types.
Women are much more prone to cellulite than men because we carry more fat on our bodies (three layers of fat in the abdomen and pelvis!), and we have less supportive connective tissue to keep it in place.
What causes cellulite?
Genetics, aging, and lifestyle. Hereditary factors determine how much cellulite your body will show relative to your lifestyle factors. As we age, hormonal changes weaken the connective tissue in our skin, causing skin to be less “tight” and allowing for the visibility of underlying fat deposits.
Lifestyle also plays a role, because it affects how much fat you’re storing in your body. The larger a fat deposit, the more it pushes out on weakened skin. Obviously, poor diet (e.g. the Standard American Diet) and lack of exercise contribute to excess body fat.
But the fat cells are swollen for another reason too. Our bodies store toxins in fat, to prevent them from poisoning our vital organs. The more toxins your body takes in, the more swollen your fat cells are going to be, and the more their healthy functioning will be hindered (read: the harder it is to burn fat).
So, what to do??
Although there’s no known “cure” for cellulite, its appearance can be significantly reduced by a) maintaining a healthy weight and body fat, and b) reducing the amount of toxins stored in your body.
Here’s what you can do:
Exercise. An active lifestyle can help you reduce the appearance of cellulite by shedding excess fat and toning muscles in cellulite-prone areas (stronger muscles help to tighten the skin in that area).
Don’t just focus on cardio, though. While cardio can help maintain a healthy weight and body fat composition, strength training is much more effective in increasing muscle tone, tightening skin, and reducing the appearance of cellulite.
Drink water. Staying hydrated helps flush toxins from your body, keeps your connective tissue flexible, and helps maintain a healthy weight–all things that can help reduce the amount of dimpling that’s visible.
Eat well. Consuming a well-balanced, plant-heavy diet will help to reduce inflammation and excess fat in your body. See this post for 10 simple rules to eating well, and this page for healthy recipe ideas.
Limit exposure to toxins. Our bodies are exposed to toxins through the food we eat, air we breathe, and products we apply to our skin. To limit your exposure, eat organic, GMO-free foods, use chemical-free personal care and cleaning products, don’t smoke, and pay attention to your indoor air quality.
Sweat it out. One of your body’s main mechanisms to remove toxins is sweating. However, wearing antiperspirant blocks your sweat ducts, preventing the release of sweat, and thus the toxins it’s working to eliminate. Try going antiperspirant-free to let your body carry out this natural process. (A halfway-there option is to use an all natural deodorant, like the one suggested in this post, or the homemade recipe here.) Also, make sure you get sweaty regularly, either by getting your heart pumping with physical activity, or by visiting a sauna if that’s an option available to you.
Dry brush. Dry brushing is thought to help remove cellulite in two ways: First, it stimulates the lymphatic system (located directly beneath the skin), helping to flush toxins from your body. And second, it stimulates circulation to the skin, which helps to repair and strengthen tissues. There’s a “right” way to dry brush, so check out this tutorial for specifics. This is a good body brush.
Moisturize (healthfully). Regularly use a healthy, all natural moisturizer with skin-firming ingredients like coconut oil and almond oil. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into skin, where it helps to repair underlying connective tissues, keeping them healthy and flexible.
Relax and think positive. Stress is correlated with higher amounts of cellulite, because it triggers more fat storage and limits the body’s healthy functioning. Combat cellulite by working to manage your stress levels and keep a positive outlook. (This will be good for you in many other ways too!) If you need a starting point, here’s an article on how to practice more gratitude in your daily life.