If you are a female over the age of 13 you have a 90% chance of having cellulite. Not that this fact will make you feel any better about it, but it does impact a vast number of women and men all around the world regardless of whether or not they happen to be overweight or not.
We have come to believe that cellulite is primarily a ‘women’s’ condition, but this is actually not the case. Although there’s definitely no denying the fact that cellulite is much more apparent in females than males, males can also find themselves having to deal with it.
The beauty industry has a thriving cellulite cream market, of which I think I have bought each and every one of them!
Unfortunately, cellulite is a very intricate problem that requires a comprehensive approach to the treatment of it, unfortunately, as much as I would like it not to be so, a cream is just not going to fix it, neither will liposuction, slimming wraps or massage.
What is cellulite?
Throughout my 36 years as a beauty therapist, I have been told on so many instances that cellulite is a beauty industry marketing tool to sell creams to the unsuspecting female population, that it simply that it does not exist, that it is just fat. I have also been told is that it is toxic build-up under the skin and that you can get rid of it by dieting, or exercising.
Cellulite is a condition involving both body fat and skin structure. It is mainly found on women’s bottoms and thighs, however, it also occurs around other areas of the body where excess body fat is likely to accumulate. In women more so than men it can be found on the lower abs, the lower back (on males more so than women), and the upper half of the arms.
Cellulite is caused due to a protrusion of subcutaneous fat within the fibrous connective tissue. In a healthy area of the body where cellulite isn’t present, we have fat tissue and then above that, there is a layer of smooth skin tissue.
The result is a dimple-free appearance on the skin. Where there is cellulite, however, you’ll have fat tissue seeping into the skin structure, pulling on the various attachments that join the skin to the body fat cells, causing them to buckle and dimples to form.
The fat tissue press’s up into the skin matrix, so hard, that you get a dimpled effect as certain portions of the skin are pulled taught right into the body fat.
So although fat underneath the skin does definitely play a role in cellulite formation, it is not the cause of the cellulite.
The cause is due to the way the skin is structured and the fact it is allowing the fat to press up into it, producing these protrusions. Since every single person on earth has some degree of body fat underneath the skin (except for perhaps the professional competitive bodybuilders who get down to extremely low body fat levels, or anorexics), anyone can find themselves with cellulite.
The reason you see cellulite more obviously on a woman is the way in which a women’s skin structure is formed.
Our skins tend to be quite different to that of men’s. With men, the connective tissue that connects the skin to muscle cells run in a cross-hatched pattern, this produces a more smooth and continuous appearance, reducing the chances that fat can seep into the pocket holes.
With women, the connective tissue tends to run vertically along the skin with the attachments coming only so often along the skin to the muscles. Therefore, there is a larger opportunity for ‘fat pockets’ to form, which is where the fat will seep inwards and begin pressing up, creating a dimpled appearance.
Women also have much higher levels of essential body fat than men do, due to their need to be able to reproduce, therefore they are naturally going to have more body fat underneath the skin, which is why it can be so hard for a woman to rid herself of this unsightly tissue and why thin women are far more likely to suffer from cellulite than thin men.
Cellulite is also more likely to form as we age (another cruel joke against ageing women!) And is extremely common in post-menopausal women.
If you are an estrogenic woman – someone who is pear-shaped or hourglass – someone who when slim is still curvy – your chances of suffering from cellulite are higher than an apple shape or an androgenous triangle-shaped female. The reason the later shapes do not suffer from cellulite on their legs as much is that they have less fat in those areas. Apples will sometimes suffer from cellulite around their middle though.
When you are young, the skin tissue and collagen matrix is rather elastic and supple, therefore if the fat presses up, it’s more likely to maintain its overall structural integrity.
When we age, however, the skin loses this elasticity and that can make it far easier for the fat to move into the skin pockets, pressing up against the skin. Additionally, as one ages, the skin loses its elasticity, which can further augment the situation. This is why you may not have had cellulite formation when you were younger but now that you are starting to age in years, you may be noticing more of it developing. To add to this, you have the issue of hormonal concentrations shifting in the body. Hormonal factors play an integral role in the formation of cellulite so if you’re not keeping track of where your levels are at and making smart adjustments to accommodate, you could definitely be putting yourself at a higher risk for seeing it occur in your lower body region, if not all over.
Stress is another cause of cellulite – actually stress is a major cause for many physical problems women deal with.
Many women suffer from toxic stress due to our never endingly busy work and lifestyle schedules. We try to succeed at work, keep a healthy and happy home, raise children, go on diets to stay looking good, exercise and be good wives.
We become sleep deprived, if not due to enough hours in our beds, but often due to waking up in the early hours of the morning worrying about things we have not had time to do. We run in never-ending smaller and smaller circles till we end up giving up our exercise, just for another hour of sleep, drink too much alcohol to slow us down enough to stop us from killing the husband and children, and eat multiple bars of chocolate and drink huge amounts of coffee to keep ourselves upright.
One morning we wake up, take a look in the mirror and are horrified by what faces us, a haggard woman with dimpled flesh all over.
Unfortunately, no matter how much you exercise, you cannot exercise away cellulite.
Exercise will definitely help you lose weight, tone up the muscles creating a smoother more toned body, but it’s not going to get you so incredibly lean that you can eliminate all the fat under the regions where cellulite is forming. But exercising is going to help the blood flow through the fatty tissues, drain the lymphatic system and help you feel good as it lowers your stress levels. It also helps you sleep, which helps you burn fat.
Cardio is needed to improve lymphatic drainage, whilst weight training is needed to tone and smooth – so ensure you do a mixture of both. Please note – you don’t have to go to the gym to do weight training – you can do light weight workouts from home using hand weights – gentler, not as intense – yet still affective.
A correct form of dieting is the best way to lose cellulite.
Reducing your calorie intake and eating the correct foods will have more effect on your cellulite than any other form of attack. Crash dieting is not going to help cellulite, just cause long-term health problems.
Do not start a healthy diet though in such a single-minded way that you find yourself stressed trying to find all of the correct foods and those alone so that you end up really stressed as that will undo everything.
Take on what you can from the advice below, do your best and do not beat yourself up if you fail. Remember you are only human, and the diet is there to help you, not control you. And allow yourself two days off per week, as that will help you stay on the straight and narrow.
Eating a fresh food, preferably organic diet is the fastest way to control and manage cellulite.
Add to that omega’s such as fish, flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil, walnuts and avocado in decent if not high quantities – omegas help nourish the skin, moisturising it from the inside, supporting collagen health and stimulating your metabolism.
Consume legumes such as cannellini beans and lentils, lots and lots of green vegetables raw or lightly steamed, mushrooms and tomatoes, minimal low fat red and white meats (if not vegan or vegetarian) almonds and watery fruits will help you smooth your skin.
This also ensures that you get enough fibre, as this is also important to help your body detox.
If not allergic to dairy or vegan – organic full cream milk, organic butter, organic yoghurt (plain), cottage cheese and hard cheeses. There is research available that shows that when dieters consume 1 -2 serves of full fat dairy products per day they show an increased rate of fat loss from the abdominal region.
There is also research is proves dairy is inflammatory – so if you are prone to joint pain, headaches, or urinary tract infections – I highly recommend you drop the dairy and stick to almond yoghurt over coconut yoghurt as it is high in protein which coconut is not (even if it is a good fat).
We need to keep up the healthy fats and fibre in our diets such as flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil helps support the tissues in the skin, besides having multiple health benefits such as containing Omega 3, 6 and 9, plus zinc.
Coconut oil helps smooth the skin from inside as well as out. As does olive oil and fish – both are great healthy fats and Chia seeds are high in fibre and high in antioxidants.
Healthy carbohydrates are also needed in moderation, oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa (which is also very high in protein) couscous, barley and sweet potatoes. Eat these in the morning rather than later in the day. Although if you are having trouble sleeping, carbohydrates at night will help you get a better nights rest – so this is where you make the decision instead of following another program which you could fail at as it does not support your body’s personal needs.
Do start each day with a glass of warm water with lemon squeezed into it. This will help cleanse the lymphatic system, and detox the liver.
This should be followed by eight glasses of water a day, interspersed with cups of green tea. The caffeine in the green tea stimulates the metabolism and detoxes the body. Just be careful not to drink too much too late in the afternoon, as it is caffeine and will keep you up at night.
Avoid all white flour-based foods, sugars and trans fats. Avoid all processed meats and pre-packaged snack foods. Stay away from fizzy drinks that contain sugar or sugar substitutes, both are toxic to the body. Salty foods such as chips need to be avoided as well.
Avoid chemicals, in household cleaning substances, toothpaste, skincare and fly sprays. Although I said that cellulite is not toxins built up under the skin, anything which strains our elimination system is going to slow down our body’s ability to detox itself and remove the cellulite. Chemicals end up in our liver, kidneys, and intestines, this hinders the detoxification process.
Support your thyroid. A healthy thyroid is important because it regulates our metabolism, which controls every single reaction taking place in the body.
If your thyroid is functioning properly, you will burn calories more efficiently, feel energized and suffer less from fatigue. Any woman over the age of 37 in her perimenopausal years, may find that her thyroid could possibly be slowing down. If you have noticed weight gain without you having changed anything in your life, constant fatigue, hair loss just to name a few things, this could be one of the reasons.
Taking iodine supplements in the form of Sea Kelp will help, plus Zinc and Selenium. If you are taking high doses of Garlic for colds, you will be getting plenty of selenium from this source. Getting selenium from garlic is excellent, as garlic also lowers cholesterol in healthy individuals.
Flaxseed oil should be taken, as discussed before, vitamin C for energy and immunity and a natural multivitamin. Personally, I recommend using Sun Chlorella or Spirulina as a natural multivitamin, as they also give you a great range of minerals and added natural proteins – plus they have the added benefits of also detoxing the body.
Treating cellulite from the outside will support our healthy diet and supplementation. Every day dry skin brush with a bristle brush, preferably with rubber nodules on it, starting at the feet and fingertips and brushing towards the heart. Do this just before jumping in the shower or bath for 1 -2 minutes. If in no hurry, give yourself a little extra massage over the areas that really need extra help. This helps flush the lymphatic system and helps stimulate blood flow to the area. Follow your warm shower with a freezing cold one (if you are tired or cold, this will warm and wake you up instantly!) Make a mixture of coffee, salt grains, best salt is Himalayan salt which is full of natural minerals, but whichever salt you use, it must be fine salt, not chunky, and olive oil. Just before the cold-water rinse, massage the coffee scrub into the areas that need treating and then rinse.
If in no hurry, give yourself a little extra massage over the areas that really need extra help. This helps flush the lymphatic system and helps stimulate blood flow to the area. Follow your warm shower with a freezing cold one (if you are tired or cold, this will warm and wake you up instantly!)
Make yourself a natural detox scrub, by mixing a mixture of coffee, salt grains (the best salt is Himalayan salt which is full of natural minerals ) but whichever salt you use, it must be fine salt, not chunky, and olive oil. Just before the cold-water rinse, massage the coffee scrub into the areas that need treating and then rinse.
This treatment is best done in the morning as the coffee gives you way too much of a buzz to do at night. If you are sensitive to coffee, only apply this treatment to areas that are dimply, if not, you can use it all over to help stimulate the metabolism.
Once your diet and exercise routine is in place, you can look at having a course of radiofrequency in-salon treatments. These will help a lot – but not solve your cellulite problem if you are not eating correctly and exercising. They strengthen and tone the skin whilst breaking down the fatty deposits.
There are also DIY units you can use at home – not as effective – but if your budget is tight, and you have the time – they are an option, just ensure you do these as regularly as you would go to a salon.
Another gentler, easier and cheaper treatment to do – is to buy yourself some cupping cups. The best ones on the market are the Bellabaci cups, they are a bit dearer, but they are the best. You can use these with the Everything Skin Oil or their Cellulite be gone oil – I have used them with both – and had equally good results!
As mentioned before, hormones have a lot to do with cellulite. One of the primary reasons causes of cellulite is a high level of estrogen in the body, which is why pubescent girls whose diets are dodgy find themselves more often than not with cellulite.
Therefore, we need to return our estrogen levels back to where they should be. A few of the causes that can lead to excessive estrogen formation in the body include:
- Excess body fat – fat cells themselves produce estrogen, so the more weight you gain, the more problematic things tend to get. It’s an ongoing cycle that only perpetuates itself.
- Estrogen-like chemicals – there are many environmental chemicals coming from plastics and pesticides amongst other origins that will be absorbed by the body and can interact with estrogen receptors and cause serious health consequences.
- Stress – progesterone is another female hormone in the body that is designed to balance out estrogen levels, however, when stress levels are high, progesterone can be converted into stress-fighting hormones, meaning, less progesterone is left over to do what it’s supposed to do –balance out estrogen. Therefore, it only makes estrogen more concentrated in your system and your problems get worse.
Hormonal balancing herbs will help balance you. Herbs such as Dong Quai, dandelion, wild yam, blessed thistle, and chaste tree are just to name a few.
There are specialized hormone balancing blends available that work really well, or speak to a naturopath for the best personalized mix, or see a holistic doctor who can also measure your hormones and offer you natural hormone replacement. This last option is great for perimenopausal women or menopausal women, but if you were sensitive to the pill – choose natural as even the compound hormones possibly can cause issues with puffiness, bloating, weight gain and anxiety.
I am a strong believer in treating the naturally.
And of course – I cannot stress the importance of exercise. Walk, run, swim, dance, play. Any form of movement is going to help the body break down fats and cellulite. Yoga and Pilates are both great for lengthening, strengthening and toning the body. Or hit the gym with an instructor!
Another important thing is to find 10 minutes a day for yourself, do the coffee scrub, go have a massage, it won’t remove the cellulite, but will get the blood flowing! Walk, or go to the gym, anything which will keep your stress levels down, and help you with your will power to not go eat that chocolate bar or piece of cake, but to enjoy a healthy meal.
Make sure you eat regularly – up to six small meals a day to keep your metabolism working and to help you keep from eating toxic foods.
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