Many of us have a love/hate relationship with our bodies: we are quick to find flaws with our physical shape, and yet are unable to separate ourselves from this organism that is our connection to life and leave it behind. One of the most common complaints people have about their appearances is (you guessed it) looking fat. In healthy amounts, fat is a natural part of our human body and should be respected as such especially in the frozen north; in unhealthy amounts brought on by too many cheeseburgers and french fries, fat can take on unpleasant and lethal forms. In recent years, cellulite (a word created by the French and sustained by the cosmetic industries, not science) has become especially reviled as that “dimpled” form of fat hanging out around the butt, thighs, and belly.

If you’re struggling to get rid of cellulite peeking out from your swim suits, take heart. You’re just like 99.9% of other bikini-ed/speedo-d bodies. Before you go to great lengths to achieve a shape worthy of airbrushing, though, consider your motivations. Do you want to look like the latest cover of Cosmo, or to build a healthier body and self-esteem? Before you start changing your body, it’s important to think about your motivation — and choose healthy over unnatural.

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is really only a glorified term for fat — specifically, collections of fat cells that expand and push against the connective tissue of your skin, creating the infamous dimpled “cottage cheese” appearance. Cellulite is the result of excess body fat, and as such, usually collects in high-fat areas of your body, such as the butt, thighs, and stomach. Because women generally have a higher amount of body fat than men, women tend to have a higher occurrence of cellulite.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Cellulite

Don't beat yourself up

Because of its structure, cellulite can be more difficult to eliminate than other forms of body fat. If you’re having a hard time getting the results you want with diet and exercise, don’t beat yourself up. Even supermodels can have cellulite — it’s just harder to see through all that super-confidence and airbrushing. Focus on achieving a healthy body, and over time you will start seeing less cellulite and more muscle. Even if you can’t completely get rid of cellulite, it will be less noticeable as you become more toned and slim.

Eat a healthy diet

As with any other fat, cellulite can be reduced with a healthy, low-fat diet. The appearance of a localized fat lump or dimple may not change, but your overall cellulite can diminish with a diet low in saturated fats and trans fatty acids — both of which are common in processed foods and are more difficult for the body to process. Replace processed foods with fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Reduce your overall fat consumption and choose “healthy” fats (like lean meat or nuts) over junk food. Limit your daily caloric intake to a healthy amount for size and lifestyle. Take a multivitamin, and drink lots of water.

Get regular exercise

Combine exercise with a healthy diet to reduce fat and cellulite. Without exercise, even the healthiest of diets can show minimal results. A combination of cardio (like running or biking) and strength training can help your body metabolize food more efficiently, decreasing the accumulation of excess cellulite and the overall appearance of fat on your body. If you’re not used to a lot of exercise, start slow; try walking a mile or two every day before you take up jogging. If you have a hard time with motivation, ask a friend to join you or find a nearby gym to join and talk to a personal trainer. Be realistic in your expectations for yourself, and remember that thirty minutes a day of any exercise (walking the dog counts) will make a difference. If you want ot try get started with aerobic exercise to help out, you can check out the collections of videos available, some free through Prime, that Amazon offers.

Try intense massages

Some people recommend intense massages designed to get rid of cellulite. The reasoning behind these massages is that the deep tissue pressure can “even out” or “flatten” deposits of cellulite. In reality, most of these massages simply reduce the appearance of cellulite by causing your skin to temporarily expand or puff up. Talk to a medical professional or professional massage therapist about this option before you try it. While this may work in the short term, cellulite will return without significant changes in your diet and lifestyle. Also keep in mind the intensity of massage required to get even temporary results will most likely be painful and may even cause bruising.

Think twice about liposuction

Medical procedures like liposuction are advertised as “fat busters” and promise almost-instant cellulite elimination. The reality is that fat cannot ever be completely eliminated without serious health repercussions. Even after liposuction, fat and cellulite will come back and the dangers of such an invasive process are often much worse than the problem of unaesthetic cellulite.

Commercial Treatments for Cellulite

There seems to be no end to commercial treatments for cellulite, from skin creams to electric shock to herbal supplements to diet pills to cosmetic surgery. All of these so-called cellulite remedies have one thing in common: they promise immediate, long-lasting, spectacular results with little or no effort. Does this seem too good to be true?

Well, it should, because if these treatments actually lived up to their claims to get rid of cellulite we’d all look like Heidi Klum. In reality, most, if not all, of those treatments do nothing but submit your body to unneeded stress and strain and possible danger. Some creams and injections contain ingredients that can react badly with other medications or exacerbate health conditions, and cosmetic surgery can cause extremely painful bruising, scarring, disfigurement, and even death. Diet pills and supplements not approved by the FDA can be dangerous and do more damage than good to your body. Before you shell out for the latest anti-cellulite infomercial cream, talk to your doctor about realistic and healthy ways to get rid of your cellulite.

Natural Methods of Controlling Cellulite

Diet and Exercise

How many ways can we say diet and exercise? Not only is this perhaps the most natural way to control cellulite, the right combination of diet and exercise is really the only guaranteed way to control cellulite naturally.

Targeted Exercise

Exercises that target cellulite-specific areas of the body can give you more control over your fat loss. Cellulite tends to collect more in the thighs and butt, so exercises that target these areas will also target the cellulite. Leg lifts, squats, stair machines, and elliptical trainers all target these cellulite-heavy areas. You may also want to invest in a set of resistance bands, as that will help in your quest…like this set here from Amazon.

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