At one point or another, almost every female client of mine has asked me about cellulite.
Why is it there? How can I get rid of it? What in the holy hell is it? And why does it seem to plague some of us more than others?
First of all, I’ve never seen an issue so universally shared by women than the fight against cellulite. It’s a selling point for endless books, online manuals, and even one of the companies I work for (Aquaspin, by the way, and I’ll tell you in a bit how doing underwater cycling can actually help in this effort!) – and as a trainer, just uttering the words “cellulite reduction” is bound to get you at least a couple hits/views/likes on your social media.
But let’s be real. Cellulite is body fat, and just like any other excess fat on the body, it takes overall calorie reduction and lean muscle gains to disappear (or simply reduce in prominence). Sure, it’s not super attractive (comparisons to cottage cheese or an orange peel are common, both ew) but it’s also not fatal. As a health professional, I wish more people were concerned with their blood pressure, glucose levels, or sugar intake rather than a few bumps on a thigh, but I promised I’d write about cellulite so I digress.
The basic concept of cellulite is that it’s the outline of the compartments that separate fat cells, forming a round-shaped pattern. Imagine overstuffing a mattress (in this case, the fat cell) and seeing the excess bulge out around the edges – that’s what cellulite looks like in the human body.
And in case you’re wondering why you don’t see it as much in men (lucky bastards), it’s because their “compartment outlines” run horizontally, in a cross-cross pattern rather than a rounded one, preventing the bulge visibility – plus their skin is naturally thicker so the cellulite they may have is less visible beneath it. Again, jerks.
Remember that no matter the gender, fat is soft (versus muscle, which is hard) and doesn’t lie flat under the skin – it puffs out, takes up more space, and is more visible than lean muscle. This leads to my first point – that reducing overall body fat and increasing lean muscle, especially in women over 30 (we lose muscle at an alarming rate after this age), is your first and best defense against cellulite.
Movements like side lunges, donkey kicks, and squat-lifts target the common “sitting” areas where cellulite lies (thighs, hips, and glutes) and allow for easy progressions in difficulty from bodyweight-only to versions using dumbbells or barbells.
Second, cellulite is often a symptom of poor circulation, and I’ve seen clients actually derive great results from simply incorporating dry brushing (or self-massage, whatever floats your boat) into their morning routines. Using a dry brush to stroke the body in the natural patterns of the lymphatic system can help increase fluid drainage, move toxins away from the body, and yes – decrease the surface-level appearance of cellulite.
If you want to take your circulation game to the next level, consider coffee scrubs after your dry brushing routine – just combine 1/4 cup of coffee grounds with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and massage it into affected areas with an anti-cellulite brush for about 2 minutes per area, per day. The caffeine can actually help tighten and rejuvenate the skin by removing dead cells and improving appearance.
Finally, consider your diet and hydration patterns when you’re trying to work on cellulite reduction. Simply being dehydrated can make the skin look deflated and loose against already-fatty areas, and diets high in white starch (yep, that includes sugar), saturated fat, and sodium only make it worse. Structure your diet around the cornerstones of high-water-content fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and nuts to help lean out all over (and boost energy to boot!).
The main point of me telling you all this great stuff about cellulite is to emphasize that despite its fancy name, at the end of the day cellulite is just fat. Plain and simple. To reduce fat you must reduce caloric intake, build lean muscle, and stay active. Boom – no secrets.
What have you tried to reduce cellulite – or body fat? Have you had success?