According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, cellulite is a localized metabolic disorder of subcutaneous tissue that provokes an alteration or modification of skin topography evident by skin dumpling and nodularity. In layman’s terms, it’s the stubborn “cottage cheese” phenomenon—where fat deposits show up as dimples or bumps on your skin.
There are many myths about cellulite. The most common are: a. It happens only to a few unlucky ones (80-98% of women actually have it), b. It happens only to those who are out of shape (even some supermodels and athletes have it), and c. It can be treated by expensive cosmetics procedures (Liposuction can actually make it worse).
“It occurs mainly in women on the pelvic region,” shared Mary Anne Luciano-Amon, MD, Fellow, Philippine Dermatological Society. “Genetic predisposition plays a role in the development of cellulite,” she added. If your mom and lola have it, then chances are, you’ll have it as well. While there are many creams and treatments marketed to get rid of cellulite, the truth is, there is no magic potion that can zap it all away. You cannot completely get rid of cellulite, but there are ways to reduce its appearance.
1. Watch what you eat.
According to Dr. Luciano-Amon, your food intake plays huge part. “An excessively high carbohydrate diet leads to hyperinsulinemia and promotes lipogenesis, an increase in total body fat content.” Is your body mass index (BMI) higher than normal? Do carbs and sweets make up a big chunk of your diet? Try swapping your sugary cravings for something healthier and plant-based. It will not only reduce your BMI, but help decrease the appearance of cellulite in the long run.
2. Firm up your skin with exercise.
“You can lessen cellulite by toning and firming,” said Roy Patrick Mallari, PTRP, CSCS, and personal trainer. For best results, he suggests a progressive resistance exercise coupled with a high-intensity interval training program scattered throughout the week. “There’s no need for a monstrous body builder program, but a good and challenging program,” he said. For cardio exercises, WebMD recommends interval training, which involves varying the intensity of your exercises. As for strength training, focus on moves that build up the hamstrings, quads, buttocks, and hips.
3. Improve your flow and circulation.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to more dimpling in cellulite-prone areas, like your thighs and buttocks. “Prolonged periods of sitting or standing may impede normal blood flow,” said Dr. Luciano-Amon. This can cause alterations in the microcirculation of cellulite-prone areas. If you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle (like an office desk job with little to no exercise), Mallari suggests you start by stretching every hour, getting regular massages, and pampering yourself with warm showers at night to improve your blood flow and circulation. Bad news for smokers: Your cig habit reduces blood vessel flow and contributes to the appearance of cellulite [source: Health.com], so that’s another reason to quit.
Elevated stress hormones can increase the accumulation of cellulite. Aside from regular exercise (see #2), engage in activities that promote deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation. Increase your water intake to reduce stress hormones.
5. Embrace your body.
Remember that no amount of exercise, diet, creams, and treatments can completely banish your existing cellulite. Thanks to genetic disposition and inevitable factors like pregnancy and aging, even supermodels and athletes are bound to have cellulite. Remember: You are beautiful—with or without cellulite. Take a look at body positive advocates like model Ashley Graham, fitness trainer Anna Victoria, and singer Demi Lovato who aren’t afraid to proclaim that they have cellulite. Even Barbie has joined the roster of models, athletes, and celebrities telling people to embrace their bodies—flaws and all.