Home Exercise 101Fat Loss Q&A Wednesday: Cellulite Trauma

Q&A Wednesday: Cellulite Trauma

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Yes, yes… first it was stretch marks, then it was cellulite…

Q: How does one get rid of all the cellulite?  I wasn’t sure if I should submit this question because I remember your commentary on stretch marks and something about not caring if the map of the world was on your body…that made me lol by the way.

At any rate, I’m in the process of losing weight (22 pounds down thus far) and I’m wondering what I should be doing more of to get rid of some of the cellulite.  I am weight training in conjunction with cardio, hoping to tone up and maybe that will help.  However, so far I notice my thighs getting smaller, but the cellulite doesn’t seem to be dissapating.

What say you?

People swear cellulite looks like the rind of an orange… really?

First and foremost… congratulationnnnnnnsssss! I lift my glass of water to you!

Make no mistake about it – I don’t care about stretch marks because there’s very little that can be done to change that. I accept that and simply do what I can to take care of my skin.

I, personally, believe that cellulite is a different story.

Before I say anything, let me actually define cellulite in as clear terms as I can… that way we’re all working with the same perception and definition.

Fat collection – and reduction – doesn’t happen in a “smooth” process. Let me back track for a minute.

We all have fat cells. In weight gain, those cells expand as fat enters the body (do not read this as the kind of dietary “fat” – as in low fat, fat free, no fat – in foods, though) and aren’t told to go any place specifically… they just go wherever there’s space. There’s debate about whether or not certain chemicals in our food actually dictate what particular region of the body fat may be stored… but then again, that’s just another argument for not eating food with chemicals as key ingredients. If the fat cells become full to a point where they can no longer expand, then fat cells will multiply. In fat reduction, a similar reaction takes place, if only in reverse (though I don’t know that fat cells can be destroyed, but merely emptied.)

Cellulite is what occurs during these processes. It’s fat trapped in small clusters between the skin and the muscle beneath. The more fat you have, the more likely you are to have cellulite and the more visible it’ll be.

Cellulite is a “girl problem” because of estrogen – because a part of estrogen’s job is to help ready us for childbearing, it causes fat to be stored in the hips, booty and thigh area. Since the fat is supposed to be there, this makes it that much more difficult to remove… because should you ever gain weight again (and it not be weight derived purely from sugar, which tends to go straight to the gut), it’ll go straight to those hips and thighs. Again, the blessings of womanhood. Gotta love it.

There are people who endure invasive treatments to get rid of cellulite… buy pricey creams, wrap their legs in mayonnaise and duct tape… I don’t know. I tend to think these kinds of products are selling pipe dreams, and those who claim to experience benefits from them may simply be attributing the results of actual fat burning to a topical cream.. which is unlikely – especially for an over the counter cream. Even if any of those did work, you’re still going to have to deal with preventing the fat from ever returning… which requires you to still do the work you would’ve had to do before you bought the cream or had the procedure: learning how to eat and stay active. So really.. regardless of how efficient a “procedure” or “cream” is (and trust me, they’re not), you’ll still have a ton of work to do.

Doctors often talk about there being nothing that can be done about cellulite… but I think that has more to do with “prevention after a procedure.” No, a procedure cannot prevent cellulite from coming… especially when its origins are related to something that has nothing to do with the procedure! It’d be like interfering with your body’s natural instinct to protect your reproductive organs. So no, you cannot prevent cellulite from occuring… specifically when you have a crappy eating regimen.

Can you reduce cellulite, though? My experiences tell me yes, it is possible. If cellulite is fat trapped between muscle and skin in small (or meaty) clumps, then reducing cellulite would happen by… burning fat! Not only that, but the best way to prevent cellulite from occurring is regular activity that burns fat combined with building muscle mass.

Why is muscle so important in fat burning? Look at it like this: Between a 200lb body with a body fat percentage of 20% (meaning the body only carries 40lbs of fat) and a 200lb body with a body fat percentage 35% (meaning the body carries 70lbs of fat)… the 20% body will burn more calories throughout the day, because it takes more calories to manage and maintain muscle than it does fat…. which means the body is burning more energy when it carries muscle than when it carries fat.

For me, cellulite hasn’t been much of an issue, as I get further along in my journey. The more I run, the less cellulite I see… but then again, that could also be simply because I’m seeing way more muscle fill out my frame, too. I still have some on my inner thigh and upper outer thigh, but that’s okay. With time, my legs have cleared up starting at the knee and working its way up… so while I anticipate it going away as I reach my goal, I’m okay with it if it doesn’t. You should be okay with yours too, and not let it deter you from working to reach or approach your fitness goal.

You won’t be able to control where the fat is burned from, but you will be able to [somewhat] control how much you can burn by staying on top of your eating habits, drinking tons of water and keeping your cardio game tight. If you keep at it diligently, I promise you’ll see more of what you’re looking for. 🙂

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27 comments

Streetz October 13, 2010 - 11:08 AM

Good advice!

the best way to reduce it is to put on lean muscle. When you exchange this muscle for fat, along with burning the fat with cardio, your body composition will change and it should reduce.

it wont maintain if you eat wrong though. diet is definitely 75% of nutrition. I learned it the hard way smh.

Erika October 13, 2010 - 1:19 PM

Slight clarification – there is no literal “exchange”… burning fat has nothing to do with building muscle, even though building muscle helps fat burning take place much quicker and easier.

When it comes to women, I do think cardio is much more effective at fat burning than muscle development, specifically for women who don’t have much. It’s easier for men to put on muscle (thanks to testosterone), so the reverse is correct for y’all. 🙂

Nicole October 13, 2010 - 1:22 PM

Love this! I was just reading this morning that dry skin brushing also helps to lessen cellulite. I do not know anyone that it has been successful for, but maybe someone reading this does?

Nicole October 13, 2010 - 1:37 PM

Erika, just wondering how did you come up with your weight training routine? I previously worked with a trainer, but will probably on my own now. I know some of the things we have done, but the great thing about my trainer was that he changed the routine up so often. Yikes..I don’t even know where to begin.

Erika October 14, 2010 - 6:38 AM

I’m going to hold onto this question for next week… so just sit tight! 🙂

streetz October 13, 2010 - 5:34 PM

@Erika

Lean Muscle burns up to 3x more fat than cardio, so for women, putting on lean muscle would work. I think the best results are achieved when you do both. You may not put on as much LBM but you will make gains!

Erika October 13, 2010 - 7:20 PM

I know that a pound of muscle burns six calories as opposed to a pound of fat burning 2… but you’re still missing the point – in women, muscle is a little tougher to come by… and in terms of cellulite, not simply bodybuilding, cardio is going to be the “best way”… and that’s using your words… not mine. I already conceded that women needed to do both. 🙂

Streetz October 13, 2010 - 7:23 PM

@Erika

Ya mammy!

🙂

lol

Got you now.. be clearer next time 😛

Erika October 13, 2010 - 7:41 PM

Ugh… you’re lucky that I like you. Otherwise… #peopleselbow

JoAnna October 13, 2010 - 9:20 PM

Even at my heaviest (382 lbs), I didn’t see a lot of the orange peel, pebbly cellulite that people talk about on my thighs or butt. I believe it’s because I’ve always been active: walking, dancing, gardening. As my “girth” expanded, I still did those activites but it took me longer, or I cut them out. Mowing the yard took 3 hours instead of 60 mins (I have 2 vacant lots adjacent to my house. Need 2-3 goats to eat the d@mn grass!). Walking 8 blocks was whittled down to 4 due to joint pain, but I did stairs in the house. And I danced less. A lot less. I didn’t start to notice cellulite until I injured both knees late last summer working with a crazed trainer, and was laid up for 12 weeks.

Now that I’m steadily losing, I do see it on my lower abdomen and a little on my upper thighs. Swimming and light walking are my main exercise until my doctor clears me for weight-bearing cardio. I do some floor ab exercises at home visualizing that the pain is from fat cells screaming “I’m shrinking! I’m shrinking!” Leg lifts, are supposed to be very effective on working those lower abs. I’ll be honest… I don’t want to be one of those women who lost a ton of weight, but have to get a tummy tuck later because of sagging. I’d rather use that kind of money to go to Carnival in Rio De Janeiro than pay for lipo. So lack of tummy tuck funds and teeny tiny “I’m shrinking!” shrieks help keep me motivated.

China Blue October 14, 2010 - 3:58 AM

Hi Erika, I couldn’t comment here using my BB last night, so this is just a follow-up from my Facebook comment and your response…

There’s a point at which you stop with the ‘vigorous exfoliation’, of course. Overdoing it can lead to broken veins as well as swelling. You should NEVER do it to the point where your skin feels raw or scratched – just lightly glowing and tingling, and, ideally, in the direction of blood flow (right hand/foot upwards, then down the body on the left towards the left hand/foot.

As you say, (and having read about this in other places that’s a consistent message) weight loss and building muscle is indeed a major factor in cellulite reduction, and the only way to achieve genuine and lasting fat loss – this I’ve seen for myself – but I’ve found that regular surface treatment works well in conjuction with that healthy lifestyle.

I’ve lost weight/gained weight a few times over the last 10 years, and all that shrinkage and expanse should be written on my skin. It’s a testament to a good skincare regime that it’s not.

I honestly believe that a good exfoliating tool (used dry or wet; I prefer wet) and your favourite moisturiser are the way forward. Believe me, having spent more than I should have done on fancy French potions in my time, I can tell you that they worked wonders in reducing my bank balance, but didn’t make a blind bit of difference to my thighs! 🙂

Erika October 14, 2010 - 6:34 AM

I think you’re missing my point – I’m not discrediting the value of a good skin care regimen and/or good genes – trust me on this one. Sure, good topical treatments are valuable… but a topical treatment cannot affect body fat. That’s my only point, here. Although excellent skin care (and good genes… and having age on your side) CAN help with restoring elasticity to skin so that sagging and stretch marks are limited… when it comes to actual cellulite? It is all – and only – about burning fat. We don’t necessarily disagree here, though, so thank you for stopping by! 🙂

Emily October 14, 2010 - 5:00 AM

I love your website and have been telling all of my friends about it. I’ve been following along on my journey of losing 65 lbs so far since Dec. 09, but this is the first time I wanted to comment. I am so happy to hear that the changes I am seeing in my legs is normal. I too am tightening and losing the cellulite from my knees up! It is amazing to me to see my body change. I do zumba twice a week, spinning four times a week, walk 8 miles per week,and strength train twice a week. I believe that incorporating spinning has made the biggest impact on my lower body. Any suggestions for inner thigh isolation exercises? Thanks for all of the great advice and always starting my day off with a laugh and some knowledge.

Erika October 14, 2010 - 6:38 AM

Woohoo, Emily!!!!!!! Thank you for finally commenting!

Inner thigh? Hmmm…. I’m going to say crawling squats and these girls here: https://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/building-a-home-workout-routine/leg-exercises/the-plie-squat/

Crawling squats are something like… if you were imitating a spider, and walking sideways. Squat down (like you’re in that plie squat) and then try to walk sideways. That’s how you can target your inner thigh… I’ll see if I can find a video for another one. 🙂

Jasna October 4, 2013 - 1:17 PM

“Squat down (like you’re in that plie squat) and then try to walk sideways. ”

Mind nobody sees you doing that, they may call an exorcist.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 7, 2013 - 9:51 AM

LMAOOOOOO

Aretha October 14, 2010 - 11:45 AM

Thanks for answering this question. Cellulite is definitely a nuisance, but it will not deter me from my goals. The information you gave was great and I know that it will start to dissapear as I continue to burn fat and build muscle!

Marion@affectionforfitness May 26, 2011 - 2:51 PM

I used to have very lumpy legs but now have much smoother legs. I achieved this by greatly increasing the amount of muscle in my legs, while decreasing the fat layer on my legs.

How did I do that? I lost some weight and also started heavy weightlifting (NOT that light “toning” nonsense) and yoga.

At age 43, my legs are much smoother than they were in my late 20’s. Everyone can do this if they are willing to eat better and do challenging exercise.

🙂 Marion

Phalonda June 8, 2011 - 1:52 PM

Love the article! 😉 Every since I came across this site, I have found it very informative, funny and full of common sense ways for us to take care our bodies. I know you say this site is for anybody , but it sure feels good to feel I have a site for black women to visit that gives us this forum it’s not too many GOOD sites to visit for us so…I plan on staying here!!! LOL 😉

Dietter July 27, 2011 - 10:45 PM

I am so glad that I found this site.

Kaycee August 13, 2012 - 7:30 PM

Also, never underestimate the power of a vigorous massage. It, too can make a difference. Dr. Oz also has a remedy on his website you can google that he says helps (I don’t remember the details).

Angelique January 2, 2013 - 11:45 AM

I love your website and appreciate all of your advice.

Ms.Emme September 30, 2013 - 10:29 AM

I love this site! I don’t have that much weight to lose, maybe about 5 pounds. But I have always had cellulite due to being a pear shape. I have had it since puberty so it doesn’t bother me. I have recently decided to start lifting weights due to getting older and not wanting to be “skinny fat”. I don’t know where to start. How do you lift weights on a serious budget?

Erika Nicole Kendall September 30, 2013 - 1:48 PM
Felicia October 2, 2013 - 9:05 PM

Hi Erika, first let say how much I LOVE this site it is so helpful. I’ve purchased a couple meal plans and both my husband and myself love most of the dishes. My question to you is, what are your thoughts on juicing? I know several people who swear by it and I just wanted to get your opinion of juicing for weightloss.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 3, 2013 - 6:01 PM
Joyce Riley May 12, 2017 - 5:58 AM

Nice post.

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