A summer free of cellulite

Toronto, Canada is one of my favorite cities. Earlier this month I had the pleasure of spending time with one of my favorite Canadian ladies, Marilyn Denis! Today’s episode is my third time doing a segment for her show (though we have actually done four shows together, this one will make an additional two). 

Everyone knows me as the obsessed “fascia-nista” dedicated to educating people on how to eliminate or avoid chronic pain from overtaking your life. But this time around, Marilyn wanted to discuss another horrific issue (for some people they feel this topic is even more critical to understand)—CELLULITE! 

I know, I know, I’m like the bearer of bad news when it comes to the not-so-delightful signs of aging. Instead of just talking about what people can do to help eliminate the lumpy bumps on the back of the legs, Marilyn wants to know a more interesting answer to a question most people never ask: “What is it that causes cellulite?”

That’s just it. If we spent a moment understanding what causes the lumps we would never have to spend time getting rid of it. It’s easier to avoid it than to get rid of it. So let me tell you what actually causes the lumps. Most people think it’s a fat problem, but what I’m going to reveal on her show is, cellulite is more a connective tissue issue more than a fat issue.

People believe cellulite is “excess fat storage”. But if that were true, well, only overweight people would have cellulite. But even people who appear to be of normal size for their body shape still complain of the lumps. Yes, it does have something to do with fat, and how our body manages stress (storing too much fat does have a direct correlation to our metabolism and how our body produces stress hormones) but the thing people need to understand is where it’s being stored.

Fat loves to live in the connective tissue system—more specifically the layer that attaches to the underside of your skin. It’s called the Superficial Fascia. This is the supportive infrastructure of your body that keeps your skin supple, youthful, and lifted. It’s one definable layer of the three-dimensional system that supports, protects, and stabilizes all the systems of your body. When fat gets deposited in this tissue it alters the fluid state of this collagen matrix. Connective tissue is mostly a collagen-based system. If all you do is lose weight guess what? You don’t recover the damage in the collagen thus the cellulite and sagging skin tends to look WORSE! 

If you think of your connective tissue like a sponge, the cells attract fluid into the matrix to bind with the collagen molecules. When this tissue is hydrated, it’s flexible and can morph and adapt to any movement we make. However, when fat deposits into this tissue it gets trapped in the nooks and crannies of this dynamic system called microvacoules. These “spaces” between the collagen fibers get filled with fat cells and tugs on the collagen fibers. 

What we know about collagen is, if you pull or compress the tissue for long periods of time it causes the matrix to collapse and become less stable and resilient. Think of it like trying to fit your body into a size 2 pair of jeans when you should be in a size 8. The fat replaces the vital fluid in those compartments and slowly the collagen loses its integrity thus the fat pokes through the matrix. 

If that’s not bad enough, there are two more issues with the breakdown of this tissue. When fat lives in the connective tissue layer under your skin, the fat cells MULTIPLY! Yikes. It’s like getting gum stuck in your hair. The fibers of collagen weave and collapse into the fat cells. And, boom, you see lumps.

To add insult to injury, what we again know about our connective tissue is, if you compress or pull on connective tissue for long periods of time it causes a dehydration effect. When do you compress regions of your body for long periods of time – especially the back of your thighs? When you SIT! And most people are sitting for long periods of time (which further damages the collagen) and you are depositing fat and it’s multiplying and now you are further increasing stress and the stress response of your metabolic system. You are down the rabbit hole.

What can we do?

So is there something we can do to avoid the lumps on the back of our legs as well as anywhere in our superficial fascia? YES! In “The MELT Method” book, there’s a sequence called the Lower Body Compression Sequence. Do this sequence EVERYDAY so you constantly stimulate the system. Interestingly, the very thing that causes dehydration in this tissue can rehydrate it if you know how. Learning how to compress this tissue in a positive way helps juice the tissue back up.

Here are some other key tips and techniques to keeping your legs lump free and restore the fluid state of your connective tissue daily:

  1. Drink water consistently
  2. Get up off your chair every 30-45 minutes! You don’t need to do much. Just stand up, stretch like a cat, take some deep breaths and if you can. Do a lap around your office. Stand for a minimum of one minute every 30 minutes and you will really help this issue A LOT!
  3. If you have the time and money, getting a quality massage with a qualified massage therapist is the best thing! The problem for most of us is we don’t have time or money to do this daily. But if you MELT in between some focused massage sessions you will support this tissue even more!
  4. Vibration tools. Any type of vibrational tool on your body is GOOD. I found something called the Body Buffer. It’s expensive to buy and looks like a car buffer but I love that thing and it offers other benefits to the skin surface too!
  5. Basic, gentle stretching and activity. Both are beneficial for good circulation and the benefits are far reaching. Get up and move!!!

So remember, before you consider getting the fat sucked out of your thighs, recognize cellulite is a connective tissue issue and you can reduce the signs of it by stimulating the tissue daily. The skin is showing the impression of what’s damaged just under that layer. 

One more thing, remember, your skin layer also loses its quality from what we expose it to on the surface. So use sunscreen when you are in the sun, moisturize, and care for your skin too. Beauty is not skin deep, it’s connective tissue deep—it’s a whole-body issue that you can support. Give it a try and keep your lump conversation to your oatmeal!

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