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Let’s talk cellulite.
At any age, cellulite may feel like a curse or a physical attribute that results in many days of wearing long pants. Noses have been turned up at the mere sight of it. And a wave of shame or embarrassment may wash over you when you catch a glimpse of your reflection.
But cellulite is, in fact, normal and there is nothing wrong with it. Even though men can have cellulite, women are more prone to the lumps and bumps because of their hormonal structure and their fat distribution. It really is no big deal and does not mean that you are “disgusting” or that your body is “unattractive.”
Let’s get real — babies have cellulite!
Women of all shapes and sizes can have cellulite! How noticeable it is can be based on your genes, body fat percentage, age, and the thickness of your skin. Some women are more prone it, no matter how much they do to reduce it. For others, it could be a sign that their lifestyle choices need some adjusting.
You are never going to totally get rid of cellulite, but you can possibly reduce it by making a few small adjustments to optimize how your body responds.
Changing Your Viewpoint
When I was 15 years old, we stopped at a not-so-local McDonalds for lunch on our day trip with my aunt and cousin. It was a hot day so my shorty shorts and my tank top were the perfect outfit to keep me cool on a warm day of exploring. Young, insecure, and uber impressionable, I sat there eating my french fries and burger, not thinking much other than how good the meal was tasting. All of a sudden, I was brought back into reality when my aunt breaks the silence and points out the cellulite on my thighs and continues to proclaim to the table that I better watch what I eat because I was “getting fat.” My teenage hormones took over and I become embarrassed, emotional, and full of shame and insecurity. I remember not enjoying the rest of my lunch because I couldn’t stop focusing on my “fat legs.”
I am not alone in this. We live in a society that has deemed cellulite to be a sign of being overweight, aging or being unhealthy. This is not necessarily true.
We all have it.
It is normal and not harmful.
And, it is time to start having compassion for our beautiful bodies and learning that it is ok to love your body, cellulite and all.
It is not about the cellulite and the amount you have on your body, it is about how you are taking care of you, your physical body, and your overall health. And, if you reduce the cellulite in the process of getting healthier? Bonus!
What Is Cellulite And What Causes It?
Cellulite consists of several changes in your skin’s normal structure and changes within the fat cells themselves. It is also coupled with circulation issues. Have you ever touched the lumpy skin on your hips, thighs, and buttocks? Chances are that it may feel a little more cool to touch because of the poor blood circulation.
When the skin overlying certain areas of fat is pulled downward to the deeper tissues by connective tissue bands, cellulite can occur. This is seen by the uneven surface that it creates. It is most commonly found in the hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and breasts.
The collagen fibers between the skin and muscle separate the underlying fat into multiple pockets. This is why cellulite can become more visible as you age and your skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity. All of this exposes the rippled connective tissues underneath.
Poor diet, lack of exercise, an unhealthy lifestyle, accumulated toxins, genetics, weight gain, pregnancy, and hormones could all cause cellulite.
The body is incredibly wise and it’s hormones are designed to continually play a dance of balance so that the body can function optimally. Unfortunately, and depending on your season of life or your lifestyle choices, those hormones can become unbalanced, with some hormones moving into a state of dysfunction. Because of this, cellulite can be more dramatic on some than it is on others.
Most women are going to have cellulite, just because they are women, and looking more dramatic depending on what season of life they are in (puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc). Let me explain…
The woman’s back of her thighs are very responsive to her hormonal balance and profile. Estrogen prevents fat breakdown and loss by increasing the activity of thigh fat cells. Estrogen also stimulates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, or LPL, which is responsible for fat growth. Now, this can appear in the buttocks and the abdomen, but it is often most seen in the back of the legs.
Then there is prolactin. Prolactin, also known as the breast-feeding hormone, increases water retention in the fatty tissue, making each cell look larger and lumpier and making cellulite more visible.
So this leads to the next question — If estrogen and prolactin do this, then why does a women in peri-,post-, and menopause often experience such dramatic affects of cellulite? There are multiple answers for this (less active, less collagen production, etc) but one huge factor is another hormone.
Estrogen and progesterone affect how your cells respond to insulin. After menopause, changes in your hormone levels can trigger fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. You may notice that your blood sugar level changes more than before, and goes up and down.
Exercise, managing stress, and eating a diet lower in carbohydrates all help to manage your blood glucose and insulin levels.
Whenever you eat a carbohydrate-rich food such as donuts, ice cream, pasta, bread, candy, etc or drink a carbohydrate-rich drink such as soda, juice, beer, wine, etc, your body releases insulin to manage the glucose, or the sugar from the carbs, that are entering your bloodstream. Ideally, your muscles will welcome it and use it for energy or store it for later use.
But in a world where we are less active and are not burning off the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods we are taking in, the glucose has to spill over to the fat cells, gets turned into fatty acids, and then stored as triglycerides. This causes fat cells to squish out and become more visible.
The bad news is that if you are not very active, a high carbohydrate-rich diet will induce more fat cell growth. The good news is that you can balance that out with a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. If you want to lower your insulin response even more, choosing the right kind of exercise and body movement that is right for your body and your stress levels can dramatically help!
5 Ways To Smoother Skin
1. Be Food Savvy
One of the keys to reducing cellulite is to reduce the toxin build-up in your body. Tip #3 and #4 will help with this as well, but it really starts with the food you are choosing to eat each day.
Eating processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, refined sugars, preservatives, unhealthy fats and salt leads to the accumulation of toxins in your body. The body stores these toxins in fat cells. Try to eliminate these from your nutrition plan –
- Trans fats (found in many processed and packaged foods)
- Canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil
- Refined sugar and excess sugar
- Highly processed foods
- Table salt and excessive salt
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and fiber can help to reduce toxins from your body while also providing your body with the nutrients it needs to help balance out your hormones.
There are many ways that you can get a hefty dose of antioxidants and, even in ways that are helpful for multiple health issues. French Pine Bark Extract, an antioxidant known for neutralizing free radicals and toxins in the body, can also increase blood circulation and strengthen your blood vessels. Grapeseed Extract is an antioxidant that is known to improve circulation in the legs, strengthen blood vessels in the lower body, and prevent build-up of fatty tissue and the inflammation in the skin — all of these benefits indirectly helping to reduce cellulite.
Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, etc helps to balance out hormones, improve the integrity of your skin health, and balance out insulin levels, just to name a few. It also helps to keep you fuller longer and staves off food cravings.
One overlooked area of the nutrition-cellulite relationship is hydration. You might believe that if you drink too much water, you will begin to look bloated and cellulite will worsen. This is simply not true! Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day (more if you drink tea, coffee, juice, and any other dehydrating beverages) to flush out the toxins in the body and to hydrate the skin.
2. Get More Collagen Into Your Diet
After you turn 30, you start to lose 1-2% of collagen a year. Hormonal changes can cause even more collagen loss and thinning of the skin. Without your skin having significant collagen levels, the chance of fat deposits being pushed up against the skin and creating the dimpling look is much more likely.
One of the most effective ways to combat this is to increase your skin collagen density by taking a collagen peptide supplement and drinking slow-cooked bone broth. Clinical studies show that collagen peptides get absorbed into the bloodstream and then penetrate and remain in the dermis, triggering collagen production in the skin.
Looking for high-quality collagen sources? Try Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein or Great Lakes Collagen Powder (red can for gelatin/cooking, green can for smoothies). Looking for bone broth? My two favorites are Kettle and Fire and Bonafide.
3. Dry Brush Your Skin
Remember, cellulite appearance is directly connected to your circulation. Dry brushing is a technique to improve lymphatic drainage and blood circulation while helping to eliminate the toxins that break down connective tissue. A whopping 70% of your body’s lymphatic vessels are located right underneath the skin.
Dry brushing doesn’t take long to see results! It also plumps the skin temporarily, lessening the appearance of cellulite and making your skin feel softer and more smooth.
4. Get Your Body Moving
Moving your body helps to build up the muscle, increase circulation, burn body fat, and lower insulin levels — all of these promoting smooth skin and reduced appearance of cellulite. Doing full body movement is important, but focus on exercise and strength training that will build up your lower body and use the body as one whole unit, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, hamstring curls, and leg extensions. This will help to target those areas most prone to fat cell distribution.
If you don’t have time to get to a gym or do a full workout, do chair squats at work or lunges in your cubical. Or, you could go for speed walks on your lunch break.
5. Scrub Your Skin With Coffee
Outside of the caffeine boost, drinking my cup of coffee in the morning was always a delight because I knew that those grounds were having an extended life cycle. I used to save my coffee grounds and use them as a delicious smelling exfoliant body scrub. Sure, it smelled great, but it was also doing my body good. Scrub the body with coffee grounds helps to remove water and toxins trapped in the body and skin.
Coffee scrubs can help to remove dead skin cells, regenerate healthy new cells, reduces the appearance of cellulite. They also have powerful anti-inflammatory and metabolic properties. And, when combined with a natural oil, such as almond, olive, evening primrose, and coconut, the coffee scrub can help to reduce free radical damage and improve your skin’s elasticity.
Even though cellulite is normal and should not be shameful or embarrassing, there are ways that you can reduce the appearance so that you feel more comfortable in your own skin!
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