Cellulite: Is there a way to beat it?
Ever caught your rear-view reflection in a fancy change room with angled mirrors and had a mini-breakdown?
Yeah, me neither. Nevertheless, just in case someone out there may have once upon a time noticed an ever-so-slight dimple in their derrière, I sat down with Carmen Cooper, clinical nutritionist and colon hydrotherapist, to talk about how we can get rid of the blasted being known as c-e-l-l-u-l-i-t-e.
What is it?
Hmmm … it's definitely the reason I've had many a spray tan a few shades darker than what's deemed socially acceptable. And also the culprit behind me trying to bring the 'pool skirt' back into fashion (was it ever?).
But Cooper likes to call it, "The 'Mattress Phenomenon' of pitting, bulging and deformation of the skin. The somewhat technical explanation is your collagen breaks down and your fat cells break free, racing to the surface for everyone to see."
AKA, the lumpy stuff in your trunk that drives you to purchase a pair of spanks on the DL, and pray you don't have a Bridget Jones' moment of passion!
Toxins = cellulite
If you're anything like me, you've probably turned into a cellulite MacGyver, trying to solve this unsightly conundrum, asking pressing questions like: Why do I have cellulite and she doesn't? If I'm not overweight, how do I still have cellulite? Will it look suspicious if I back myself into the water at the beach?
According to Cooper, toxins, not just "fat", are a huge contributing influence to the formation of cellulite.
"Toxins create sluggish lymphatic systems and elimination organs (i.e. bowels), decrease connective tissue integrity, and create subcutaneous fat."
She names toxins as things like salt, unhealthy fats, alcohol, processed foods and caffeine.
A dud diet delivers a dimply derrière
What we eat is one of the most significant factors that affects cellulite.
There's no miracle cure to replace a balanced, wholefood diet overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies. Continually overloading our system with excessive amounts of the toxins listed above equals socket skin.
But besides diet (and obviously exercise) what else can I do to smooth the surface of my skin? Here are a bunch of things I've tried. Some worked, others worked in my head. And isn't that important too?
"Cellulite severity is increased by interstitial fluid retention or congestion. Lymph flow is also slowed with cellulite," says Cooper.
"As the lymphatic vessels have no muscles to pump the fluid with, a build-up occurs, aggravating the fatty mass, and thus the cellulite appearance. Capillary blood flow is also slowed, which accounts for most of the reduced lymph flow, as the former affects the latter. Any fluid here depends purely on tissue movement to work."
Aha! So we need to move our lymphatic system – to move the fluid – to move the toxins – to move the fat – to move the cellulite. Capisce?
Can we sweat it out in an infrared sauna?
"Infrared saunas use infrared light to create deeply penetrating heat, at a waveband that is easily absorbed by human tissues and cells," says Cooper. "The skin excretes toxins through sweat, while the infrared energy triggers the release of toxins stored within your cells. Metabolism increased. Calories burned. Weight lost. Body cleansed."
I tried it: You simply chill (or rather heat) in a sauna for 20-40 minutes and sweat it out, while your body expels lots of gunk it doesn't need.
Rating: I feel super refreshed once I'm showered and rehydrated, and I find my face and body look less bloated, especially around my thighs.
Is your bowel holding onto some sh*** you don't need?
An avid colonic fan, I was eager to clarify the connection between a clean colon – and a cellulite-free bod.
"The only way I can very easily explain a colonic's role in this case is – our bowels literally sometimes hold onto the sh*** we don't need," says Cooper.
"It is our waste disposal unit and if we don't empty our 'bin', it gets clogged up and overflows with dirty gunk. Colonics may help reduce cellulite by 'loosening' up our biggest elimination organ, so that toxins can move out freely."
I tried it: Call me cray cray, but I find the experience quite liberating.
Rating: After a series of three, I noticed significant improvements to my digestion, complexion and energy levels. However, no evidence of diminished dimples. Maybe it's a long play.
Dry body brush for a smooth bon bon
Cooper recommends dry body brushing (brushing your body using a natural-bristle brush, in long sweeping movements towards the heart) to "increase lymphatic drainage and offer a positive effect for the interstitial congestion caused by cellulite".
However, she says it "does not treat cellulite directly; rather it treats conditions such as sluggish circulation and increased capillary pressure."
In other words, you won't see results from this as such. But if Miranda Kerr does it, surely it can't hurt.
Bathe your booty svelte with Epsom salts
I'm fairly certain this will do nothing to aid my cellulite mission, and Cooper agrees.
"Magnesium encourages detoxification; however, it would only marginally affect the process if diet and lifestyle modifications hadn't improved."
Righto, so don't follow up your Dominos delivery with a salt bath, and expect to see results.
I tried it: I love salt baths, I do these once or twice a week because they're so relaxing. I usually chill in the tub for about an hour, and then have the most epic sleep ever.
Rating: Much like the sauna, my face and body (especially thighs) appear less bloated and 'de-puffed' after a long soak in some salty goodness.
Move it to lose it
This one's a non-negotiable because NO amount of sauna sweating or salt baths will ever replace the value of consistent exercise when it comes to pumping your lymphatic system, and telling the big C to c-ya lataz!
Rebounding (jumping on a mini trampoline) is noted as one of the most effective ways to love your lymph (just ask Madonna and NASA) – but the main goal is to get moving!
Consistency is what will really kick cellulite's butt, so do something you enjoy – and do it often.
Combat cellulite with collagen
We're all familiar with collagen being used to combat skin ageing on the face, so it makes sense that a breakdown in collagen would result in unsightly skin texture anywhere on the body. The theory is the stronger and healthier the texture of your skin, the less likely it will succumb to dimpling.
Cooper sets the collagen/cellulite theory straight. "Cellulite is collagen breakdown – or at least weakened connective tissue. Increase collagen production by maintaining a balanced oestrogen ratio, with Vitamins A and C, reduce inflammatory foods in our diets. Eating a diet containing as many colourful fruits and vegetables as possible, rich with antioxidants and drinking plenty of water, in addition to frequent exercise."
I tried it: When I came across this theory, I went out bought two tubs (cause one wasn't enough) of the most potent Vitamin C powder I could find (a necessary building block for collagen production).
Rating: If you've ever had cellulite, this point will make sense, as the texture of your skin isn't in good condition. Did my Vitamin C powder smooth out my bum? Um, I'm going to say no, but it's an overall health booster I'm happy to keep in the mix.
Pee out toxins
According to Cooper, hydration is crucial because it "helps maintain collagen production (improving cellular health), removes toxins by keeping the lymphatic system flushing, and promotes suppleness. Think nice juicy mangos and plump grapes versus dried up sultanas."
Love your lady lumps, bumps and humps
Last but not least, love your lumps! Yes, I've been yapping on about crushing cellulite, but no amount of physical self-improvement ever overrides self-love (you can pop my cheese on a cracker now). Keep it positive, flush those toxins, exercise, eat well, have more energy, and be the healthiest most fabulous version of you
I tried it: When I need to boost my self-love mojo, a down and dirty dance class. It always does the trick.
Rating: By the end, I've gone from feeling blah – to wondering why I'm not on tour with Rihanna