Managing Cellulite

Whether a teen or an adult, cellulite is the bane of all women.  If fact, one statistic I came across claimed that the percentage of cellulite in women compared to men is 90:10, respectively.  That’s estrogen for you!  On top of that, many women feel so much cultural pressure to look a certain way that changes in appearance can become quite distressing.  What’s a girl to do?

Well, this discussion is going to take us  beyond the aesthetics of appearance to consider how cellulite is actually a visible clue of deeper levels of change in the body related to health and function. Choosing to stay healthy is a powerful motivator which can help us manage cellulite in a way that goes beyond vanity towards improving both our appearance and our health!  We begin by discussing four key factors in the development of cellulite: collagen, fat, estrogen, and circulation.

Orange Peel

The Big Four: Collagen, Fat, Estrogen, and Circulation

Collagen is a chief constituent of the connective tissue matrix (ECM or fascia) that forms the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Cellulite is the adipose fatty tissue component of the fascia which lies between the skin and the muscles.  While the matrix gives the body its shape and allows structures under the skin to slide past each other, fatty adipose tissue serves to insulate the body from cold or heat, stores energy and nutrients, and cushions the body and organs against impact.  Estrogen, a hormone circulated in the blood, has been implicated in the formation of cellulite, either due to a lack of it or an excess of it in the body.  Aging and obesity lead to reduced microcirculation of blood, depriving the ECM 0f necessary nutrients for the adequate production of collagen fibers to support the structure of the matrix.  Dehydration and thinning of the matrix causes the skin to lose its elasticity and tone, allowing underlying fatty deposits to expand and push up against the skin’s surface, creating cellulite’s signature orange peel appearance.

Naming Cellulite as a Problem

According to Scientific American, cellulite first began to be considered a problem in the 1970s.  Research has  linked it to smoking, stress hormones, endocrine imbalance, genetics, contraceptives, edema, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. We could probably add exposure to estrogenic chemical compounds to the list too.

Unfortunately, rising numbers of young people are succumbing to obesity due to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).  The appearance of cellulite at younger and younger ages signals dysfunction in the body related to excess intake of fat, endocrine dysfunction, poor circulation, and loss of collagen, something that should alarm us all.

Managing Cellulite

Today, the cultural anxiety surrounding cellulite has fueled an explosion of products and treatments to address the condition.  To counteract the breakdown of tissue in the body, increase circulation, and balance hormone production, dermatologists, researchers, and clinicians suggest the following approaches:

•    Increase circulation to the area – cupping and gua sha are very effective
•    Flush toxins – lymphatic drainage
•    Strengthen collagen – exercise, walking, dancing,  stretching, vitamin C
•    Reduce dietary fat — add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water

As they say, knowledge is power.  Hopefully these tips will help you manage cellulite by addressing the underlying conditions that promote it.

To your health!

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Read more: http://sams.scientificamerican.com/article/is-cellulite-forever/

 

 

3 Steps to Healthy Living

If you’re alive, then health matters to you and your loved ones. A healthy state allows us to do the things we love while giving us the strength to fulfill our cherished roles as partner, husband, wife, father, mother, grandparent etc.  It also supports us in contributing to society in general.

Unfortunately, the fast pace of life keeps us distracted and we put off developing a healthy living plan.  We may even overlook signs of decline like chronic aches and pains, high or low blood sugar, fatigue, poor posture, sleep issues, high cholesterol and/or blood pressure, and digestive problems. I know from personal experience what a challenge it can be to maintain and nurture a healthy state of mind and body.  The following suggestions have made a big difference in my life and I hope you will find them useful too.

Lovin’ Life

3 Steps to Healthy Living

Step #1.   Life is motion—so move!  Did you know that movement practices like stretching, walking, pilates, qi gong, or yoga actually generate minute electrical pulsations in our tissues which help us maintain our form and stay flexible?  Do you suffer from back pain, sciatica, or scoliosis?  You can improve back posture and reduce pain with scoliosis stretching exercises and sciatica exercises to increase mobility and reduce pain. Thomas Hanna, a pioneer in movement exercises and successful aging, demonstrated that postural decline over time is not inevitable and can even be reversed.  He suggested beginning a program in our 30s.  No matter what your age, begin a movement practice if you don’t already have one in place.  Daily stretching is key to releasing muscle contractions/patterns that have habituated over time.

Step #2.  Choose wisely—you are what you eat.  As awareness about processed foods, salt, sugar, fat, and dairy begins to build, consider changing you dietary habits and buy locally grown organic vegetables and fruits when possible.  Farmers markets can be a great place to find fresh produce.  Since your body is a composite of various interactive systems that require high-grade fuel to keep it running at optimal levels, help yourself go the distance.  Choose foods highest in nutrients and include a variety of colors, textures, and flavors to entice your palate: fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, and whole grains.

Step #3.  Guard your thoughts—protect your sense of well-being.  The daily grind can begin to wear us down, putting us in a negative state.  Negative thinking causes excess wear and tear on body systems that regulate stress, reducing our capacity to cope.  Thoughtful meditation, breathing practices, prayer or some form of spiritual practice, affirmations, and loving, supportive relationships will reinforce our ability to stay present so that we do not habitually project into the future or get bogged down in the past.  Susan Aposhyan, a leader in bodymind practices, suggests that we “align ourselves with life.”  Remember, well-being is intimately related to good health and is anchored in the body.

Making lifestyle changes can be daunting.  Easy does it.  Begin first by thinking about what changes you would like to make and then formulate a plan.  Find like-minded people who will support your positive decisions and then just put one foot in front of the other, moving in the direction you want to go!  Here’s to your health!

What steps have you taken lately to “align yourself with life?”

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