Can exercise and diet really help me get rid of cellulite or am I stuck with it?

ask the trainer, jim beatty

First, let's discuss cellulite and what it really is. Cellulite is a description rather than a physical object. Cellulite is the expression used to describe pockets of fat which are trapped and cause dimpling in the skin. This dimpling is irregular and patchy, and usually occurs in the thighs, buttocks and the abdomen.


The causes of cellulite are poorly understood and may involve changes in metabolism, hormonal factors, genetic factors, the structure and alterations in connective tissue, changes in circulation, and fluctuating levels of inflammation in the body. Due to the individuality of each person, and the number of possible contributors, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. There certainly appears to be a strong correlation to the hormone estrogen as cellulite is rarely seen in males, but this has yet to be proven.


Underneath the skin are three specific layers of fat. Cellulite tends to develop in the subcutaneous fat layers. This layer of fat is unique in its structure compared to the other layers because its fatty parts are structured into specific chambers by strands of linked tissue around it. The subcutaneous fat layer in a woman is organized into large upright chambers allowing fat to be stored. In men, these chambers are organized into smaller slanting units. These store smaller quantities of fat and are not likely to form cellulite.


Because the exact causes of cellulite are still unknown, it's impossible to say whether you can get rid of it all together or if you're just stuck with it. There are many “treatments” out there, from herbal mixtures, lotions, lasers, and “magic potions”, all of which show varying degrees of effectiveness. The only two things that I know of that are guaranteed to improve the look of cellulite are keeping the skin softer, smoother, and well hydrated, and reducing the amount of body fat.


A moisturizing lotion may help, but hydrating the skin and cells from the inside is best. The human body is made up of almost 75% water, and each of us should be drinking a minimum of 64oz of water per day, depending on activity.


As far as reducing body fat levels, it's the same strategy that works every single time regardless of who you are, or how much fat you have to lose. This strategy is called synergy, and it's the combination of moderate aerobic exercise, strength training to maintain or even increase muscle, and supportive nutrition. When all three pieces of the synergy puzzle are in place, watch out! You'll feel better, you'll function better, you'll look better, and your cellulite will at least improve, if not completely disappear.