Cellulite: What It Is, Why We Get It & How to Reduce It
As shorts and bathing suit season rolls around each year, cellulite tends to re-emerge as a topic of concern among many ladies. No matter how love-your-body-the-way-it-is we 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 derrière regions.
Cellulite is incredibly common, affecting 80-90% of post-adolescent females. Though weight does play a role, cellulite affects people of all body sizes.
Women are much more prone to cellulite than men because we naturally carry more fat on our bodies (particularly in our abdomen and pelvis), and we have less supportive connective tissue to keep it in place (our skin needs to be able to stretch during pregnancy).
What causes cellulite?
Cellulite is caused by a combination of 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 more 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 fat cells also swell 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 become, and the more their healthy functioning will be hindered (in other words: the harder it is to burn fat).
So, how to get rid of unwanted cellulite?
Although there’s no known “cure” for cellulite, its appearance can be significantly reduced by:
maintaining a healthy weight and body fat composition, and
reducing the amount of toxins stored in your body.
Here’s what you can do:
An active lifestyle can help you reduce the appearance of cellulite by decreasing 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 more effective in increasing muscle tone, tightening skin and reducing the appearance of cellulite. To most effectively reduce the appearance of cellulite, aim for a regular and well-balanced fitness routine.
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.
Consuming a well-balanced, plant-heavy diet will help to reduce inflammation and excess fat in your body. (Refresh on our top tips for healthy eating, or check out our curated healthy recipe ideas on Pinterest.)
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, non-GMO 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 for remove toxins is sweating. However, wearing antiperspirant blocks your sweat ducts, preventing the release of sweat, and thus the toxins your body is working to eliminate. Try going antiperspirant-free to let your body carry out this natural process (use an all natural deodorant instead). 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 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: start at your feet and work upwards, always brushing toward your heart, encouraging lymph flow toward the main ducts of the lymphatic system. Use a dry body brush (this is a good one) on dry skin, gentle strokes, and stay away from your face (ouch!).
Regularly use a healthy, all natural moisturizer with skin-firming ingredients like coconut oil or almond oil. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the 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 is obviously good in many other ways too!) Some effective ways of relieving stress are: meditation, exercise and practicing more gratitude in your daily life.
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Try the tips above to help cleanse your body of toxins, firm your skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
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