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Q & A

Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.


I am 5'1" and I teach three spin cycle classes a week, one basic yoga class and an introduction to belly dancing. I also take belly dancing classes. I have not lifted weights in about four years. (Bear in mind the cycle is cardio and resistance tension for the lower body.) I weigh around 115, but I have always had problem with cellulite in the back of my legs and glute area. Any suggestions? I eat healthy &mdash my downfall is two glasses of wine nightly.


(Article continued below.)

One of the most frustrating aspects of cellulite is that it can plague even thin, fit people. That's because cellulite is not so much about fat as it is the connective tissue around the fat. When the connective tissue becomes uneven, it gives the cellulite its dimply appearance. It plagues mainly women, and heredity does play a factor in its appearance.

While you'll probably never be able to make the cellulite disappear completely, there are a number of things you can do to minimize its appearance. They fall into three categories: exercise, diet and massage. We'll tackle them one at a time.

Exercise:
Since you make money as a group fitness instructor, you'd think you should have this nailed down, but actually you could make some modifications in your routine to improve the appearance of the cellulite. You say that you haven't lifted weights in about four years &mdash maybe it's time you started picking up the dumbbells again. It's true that your spin classes offer some resistance training, but adding one or two sessions of lower body exercises to your weekly routine will help a lot. Because most of your exercise involves varying intensities of cardio, you are staying thin, but it's likely that your body fat ratio could use some improvement. Even thin people can carry too much fat mass and not enough muscle mass. The more muscle you have in your lower body, the more fat you will burn overall from both your cardio and daily activities, and the less cellulite you will have. While you're at it, you might want to do a session of upper body exercises too. It sounds like you may be neglecting your arms, chest and shoulders, and it would be a good idea for you to build up some strength and tone, both for functionality and appearance. (The added upper body muscle will also help burn more calories and fat overall, which &mdash surprisingly enough &mdash also help with the cellulite in the long run.)

Diet:
Obviously you don't need to lose weight, but there are probably a number of areas in your current diet that could use improvement, even if you consider yourself a healthy eater. You call your two glasses of wine a night your "downfall" &mdash while that's not very much alcohol, it could be helping that cellulite to show up. Anything that dehydrates you &mdash and that includes both alcohol and caffeine &mdash will make cellulite more obvious. Salty foods, refined foods and saturated fat aren't great if you're trying to get rid of cellulite either.

What's good if you want to banish those dimples on the back of your legs and glutes? Lots of water &mdash drink as much of it as you can, at least 10 cups a day if possible. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you can go for a few weeks without the wine or any caffeine, and cut down on refined, salty and prepackaged foods and saturated fat, you should see improvement in the appearance of your cellulite. If you do, then continue eliminating these foods from your diet.

Massage:
Massage does two things for you that'll help diminish the appearance of cellulite. On the physical side, deep, regular lower body massage can help break up the uneven connective tissue and smooth out cellulite. It also helps release toxins. On the mental level, it also alleviates stress, which believe it or not, can make cellulite worse (although some women will argue that it's the cellulite that's stressing them out in the first place!). Massage has shown to have a positive effect on cellulite, but only as long as it's being done regularly. When you stop, the cellulite returns to its former appearance.

One of the most effective types of massage when it comes to cellulite is endermologie, which uses electrically powered rollers to deeply knead the legs and rear end. It's an expensive procedure, and out of the price range of most women (not to mention the fact that it's not exactly a pleasurable experience), so the best thing to do is to find a masseuse who can give you deep massages on a regular basis, and in between massages, brush your skin with a massage brush or a massage glove to stimulate circulation. Even if it only does a little bit to improve the appearance of your cellulite, it always feels good to pamper yourself!

While you probably won't be able to get rid of the cellulite altogether (it tends to get worse as you age), you can definitely improve its appearance by tweaking your exercise routine, your diet, and treating yourself to a regular, well-deserved massage. Good luck!

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