The Truth About...Cellulite

by Helen M. Ryan
Woman looking through hole

A friend of mine recently asked me how to get rid of cellulite. And if there are any exercises for cellulite. And if cellulite is normal.

Now, those are good questions! To get answer (and to find out how to get rid of cellulite), we must first know what the hell it is.

First off, cellulite is not an accumulation of toxins that can be removed by “detox” procedures. Save your money.

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is fat.

I like to compare cellulite to your sofa or chair pillows. You know, the ones with buttons on them. On your sofa or chair, the little puffy parts between the buttons help keep the pillow fully and looking good. On your thighs or butt, however, the same effect doesn’t look quite as good.

Your fat deposits lay under your skin (thank goodness!) and are attached to the skin with little bands (connective cords). When the fat levels increase, these little bands pull down on the skin at the connection points and small puckers form, “poofing” up the area between them. This, my friends, gives us the dreaded cellulite look. The more fat we have, the more “land” between the bands, the more pillow-y our thighs and butts look. Oh yay.

How can you get rid of cellulite?

First, cellulite can be hereditary, and although you may be fairly thin, you might still have cellulite. Second, don’t despair! There are things you can do to combat or diminish the sofa cushion look.

  1. Lose fat (not just weight but actual fat). The less fat you have, the smoother your problem areas appear (like less “banding” and less poof-ing between the bands).
  2. Exercise and add muscle. While there are no exercises for cellulite specifically, you can “even out the area” by adding muscle (while losing the fat). Muscle gives you a nice shape, too, which is especially helpful if you have lost lots of weight. Sometimes cellulite looks worse after weight loss because the skin sags. Filling the area with muscle gives the skin a nice lift. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Lean muscular legs are better than thinner cellulite legs. Deep squats, anyone?
  3. Drink plenty of water and eat your veggies. Why? Because healthy skin keeps its elasticity better, resulting in a smoother appearance.
  4. Scrub and moisturize your skin every day. The seaweed sponges are great to briskly (but lightly) buff problem areas. This does not reduce your actual cellulite, but it keeps your skin soft and helps bring a fresh blood (and oxygen) supply, which can never hurt.
  5. Sleep more. I know, I know. I keep saying it and sleep is a challenge for many of us. I’m not a sleeper. But anything you can do to keep your body functioning in tip top shape will help improve all parts of your body, including reducing fat and keeping your skin youthful and elastic.
  6. Surgery for cellulite. Obviously. You might want to think about those only after you’ve exhausted your other options. It is expensive and all surgeries carry risks.
  7. Temporary fixes. Caffeine creams, wraps, etc. provide temporary improvements by reducing the amount of fluids in treated areas, making it appear less puffy (and less cellulite-y). For a special event, go ahead and indulge in a cream or a wrap. Just remember the results are not permanent.
  8. Be happy and don’t worry so much about it. Just do the best you can, and that’s all you can do. I remember reading a quote in a magazine years ago from porn star Jenna Jameson (wait, what?). She said she wished women would fret less about what they looked like naked (and during, ahem, activities) and enjoy their bodies. Point taken, Jenna. Point taken.

New medical procedures are being researched and tested all the time, and someday soon we might very well have a more permanent solution for cellulite. But for now, only cleaner eating and exercising — both cardio and strength training — is what will really help.

Sorry. But it’s the truth.

Published July 28, 2019