As a Certified Venice Nutrition Coach with seven years of experience teaching others on how to become their healthiest and achieve their optimal physique, my friends turn to me for all of their nutrition and fitness advice. This past weekend was no exception. While sitting at the pool with a few girlfriends, the conversation inevitably turned to our worrisome body woes as well as what works and what doesn’t to fix them. As you can guess, cellulite was top on the list. What is cellulite? Why do so many women have it? And most importantly, what can be done about it? As I looked around the pool, my friends had a point. Even the fittest and leanest women flaunting in body revealing bikinis had varying degrees of cellulite. And truthfully, even at my leanest and fittest, I’ve always had it myself. So I decided to do a little digging and share the facts for all of you women out there with cellulite questions. The good news? Though you can never completely banish cellulite, there’s a lot you can do to minimize its appearance (and keep it from ruining your day at the pool!).
What is Cellulite? Why do I have it?
According to experts cellulite is essentially fat that produces a dimply appearance typically on the thighs, hips, buttocks, and occasionally the stomach. Over 85% of women have cellulite, mainly because underneath our skin, we have fibrous bands of tissue that follow almost a jagged pattern. As fat accumulates, it pushes through the fibrous bands, causing the cottage cheese like affect that so many of us dread. Males have these fibrous bands too, only the pattern is in even rows, so as they accumulate body fat, it’s less likely to create a dimpled appearance. In addition, men have thicker skin, which hides any imperfections underneath. Though the majority of women have cellulite, its severity is largely genetic. That helps to explain why even lean, fit women can have more cellulite than someone who isn’t as lean or fit. Thanks mom! So how can I get rid of my cellulite?
Because there are a number of ways to reduce cellulite, I decided to examine the issue from many angles. I’ll begin with ways I know help to diminish cellulite naturally (read: inexpensively!) that have worked for me and many of my female clients.
It all begins with your nutrition. By stabilizing your blood sugar (eating small, frequent meals every 3 to 4 hours that have the right balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat), you can help to release stored body fat. Remember, cellulite is essentially fat! As you lower your body fat percentage, the appearance of cellulite will improve as well. Please note that counting calories, eliminating whole food groups like carbs or following any fad diet just won’t cut it. You’ve got to stabilize blood sugar to truly change the way your body handles fat. You either burn fat or store it, and stabilizing blood sugar is the best way to burn it.
It even goes a step further. The next step is to focus on including as many whole, natural foods (read: not processed) into your daily diet. I can’t begin to explain the importance of “eating clean” while trying to fine tune your physique and reduce cellulite; it truly makes all of the difference. I recommend that you visit your Help/Support tab and locate your Online Manual. Take some time to review your Quality of Food Chart so you can identify the natural, un-processed foods. Consuming these high quality, natural foods (think oatmeal in place of bread) helps to stabilize your blood sugar longer and better so you can burn more fat. Other benefits include more energy and less bloating due to the lack of sodium and artificial ingredients in natural foods. In addition to eating clean, drinking a minimum of 64 oz. of water (and this is the bare mininum!) a day will help to flush out water weight and give you a leaner appearance. Avoiding sodium will also have the same positive, bloat-free effect.
As you probably already know by now, exercise is critical to burning body fat. As a Certified Venice Nutrition Coach, I’m always explaining to others the physiology of the human body and how to exercise correctly to build lean muscle. Remember one pound of lean muscle burns an extra 50 fat calories a day, even while at rest! I have found in my seven years in this industry that the majority of people, (even some personal trainers I have come across in the past) do not know the fundamentals of correct exercise. I personally have Mark MacDonald to thank for teaching me the right to work out. As a member of Venice Nutrition, you have access to his expertise on exercise as well. I recommend that you visit your Exercise Tab in your program to learn his tips; you won’t be disappointed! A combination of white fiber and red fiber cardiovascular exercise, along with a balanced strength training routine is most effective for changing your body (and greatly reducing your cellulite).
I’ll admit that in addition to eating clean and exercising, I have spent hundreds of dollars of hard earned cash on countless cellulite creams and potions. The result? I’m still on the fence about this one. I religiously apply a basic cellulite cream every day and still have some cellulite. Because I’ve never gone long without it, I’m not sure how my body would look without it. That’s why I did a little research to see what the experts had to say on these “magic” creams. According to a well known Dermatologist who provided her expertise on the subject at webmd.com, these lotions are not all they are promoted to be. She advises patients to “not waste money or time on creams”. That being said, she does acknowledge that the caffeine found in many of these creams, as well as the actual massaging motion of applying them, can help to temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite. As I continued my research, I found that the majority of experts hold the same opinion. Basically they don’t recommend creams to their patients, but if a patient wants to try one, they are fine with it. One particular expert commented that if you are going to invest in a cellulite fighting cream, make it a cheap one from the drug store. The fancy expensive versions generally have the same ingredients as the drug store varieties, only with a much higher price tag. In my non-expert opinion on this particular solution, I think that experimenting with an inexpensive cellulite cream may not be a bad idea. Just don’t set your expectations too high.
Another trick I rely on to help camouflage my cellulite is to use self tanner. A tan (specifically a fake tan) provides a healthy glow and helps to hide ripples and dimples. I’m a big fan of the spray tan machines and even the hand sprayed tanning salons that have become so popular. Once you find a place that does a great job, you might be hooked too. A self-applied cream version that I am fond of? I like Banana Boat Medium/ Dark self tanner. Not only is it creamy in texture and easy to apply, it’s pretty inexpensive and can be found at any drug store.
The verdict is still out on the use of supplements as a means to reduce cellulite. There is one well known dermatologist and cellulite expert in particular who regularly advises the use of a combination of anti-inflammatory amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Though many experts disagree that supplements can improve cellulite, it is proven however that many of these supplements are exceptional for improving overall health. The way I see it is because the right vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids are proven ways to benefit health, why not try them? And if by chance they help to minimize the appearance of your cellulite, well that’s great too! It’s important to always talk to your Nutrition Coach or an expert before taking any supplementation.
So what about all of the new magic devices that are being used at high end spas to treat cellulite? There are a lot of options out there but I found an overall theme in my research. According to experts, if you have the disposable income and are very patient some of these methods may provide effective yet temporary results. They warned though that not everyone will get results, most people will need to continue treatment for as long as they wish to see results and worse, some of these treatments (such as injections) may be harmful. Every expert highly recommended that if considering any of these options, you do extensive research and speak to a dermatologist or professional with knowledge on the particular method. A few years back, I tried Endermologie and did have pleasant results, but only for as long as I could afford the treatments (this is before the economy crashed and I had disposable income!). What attracted me to the procedure was the fact that it was relatively safe. Would I do it again? No, probably not. I don’t have the time or money or patience to invest in something like that but I can honestly say that I did see results.
In short, there are quite a few ways to diminish or hide your cellulite. You will notice as I have after all of my research that good old- fashioned nutrition and regular exercise are the most effective solutions. This is obviously great news considering both are natural, inexpensive, and provide countless other benefits to our health (benefits much more important than hiding cellulite!). Though I was happy to dig up some research on cellulite to share, writing this article also opened up my eyes. Why are we women so eager to shell out so much money and frustration on a few dimples that over 85% of us have? Of course, I will continue to eat well, exercise, drink water and use the inexpensive cream or lotion. In my quest to conquer cellulite, I’ve come to the realization that no matter how hard I try, I most likely will always have it. And you know what? For once in my life, I think I’m okay with that. The next time I’m at the pool, I’m going to make it my goal to not worry about a few dimples. I recommend you do the same. After all, if we are worrying about cellulite, we are not truly letting go and enjoying ourselves, and where’s the fun in that? Enjoy your summer!
Valerie CogswellLead Nutrition Coach and Head Chef
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.