Cellulite. The word sends a shudder through every woman. Because the thing about cellulite is that it affects both bigger and smaller girls in equal measure – it is attributed to both genetics and lifestyle.

The good news is, nearly every girl has a little bit of bumpy lumpiness somewhere on her body – me included. The even better news, nobody will ever notice as much as you do. And the fault-finders on the beach who are looking out for a shaddowy thigh usually have a few issues themselves that they need to work on #dialatherapist.

So, although cellulite is a pretty normal thing, I think it can also serve as a wonderful message from the body when we have lost our balance in some way. Instead of our enemy, cellulite can be our friend. It warns us of a few things.

That we may be eating too much of the wrong foods

For myself personally, sugar is culprit which causes many body issues. Now I’m not going to cut out sugar altogether. Putting that sort of pressure on myself would be pointless and set me up to fail. But, being aware of it can be powerful. I now choose my sugar carefully. If I’m going to eat it, it has to be worth it (Mum is making a Nutella chocolate cake this week, this would count as worth it).

Coffee is something that can also cause my body to hold onto fat. I have read that coffee can aid weight-loss, but I think it depends on the person. If you are a bit of a stress-bug (I am in this category), then your nervous system is already quite stimulated. Add coffee into the mix and this can trigger stress hormones that lead you to store fat. And at the end of the day, coffee is a toxin.

Processed foods are another danger-zone for me. They have a lot of hidden ingredients such as sugar. Also, if I don’t know what the word means on the ingredients label (and I have a chemistry degree), it concerns me.

To make life easier on myself, I live by the following loose rules. When I am home, I eat as healthy as possible. Lots of salads with either fish or chicken on top. Or, on meat-free days I will top my salad with roast veges such as kumera and make a yummy dressing. At home I try to stay away from processed foods if I can. However, when I am out for a meal, or at a friend’s for dinner, my rules go out the window. This is a method that has really worked for me. It isn’t so rigid that life gets miserable.

Lack of movement

I don’t mean you have to do Grit class five times a week. But our body was made to be moved every day. When I stop moving, my body and my mind suffer. I tried to do regular hard-core exercise, but I can only do it once a week. I love relaxing exercises like yoga and hiking. The good news is, these activities, if done consistently, are great for releasing fat. Especially when considering that stress is linked to fat storage. This leads me nicely to my next point.

Quiet stress

Notice here that I have written quiet stress. I believe that this is the real problem. Obvious stress such as break-ups, deaths in the family, job loss etc, often warrant times of rest and reflection. Our friends rally around and give us love and support, we take time off and we grieve. When we are so completely flattened by something and we are 100% aware of it, we can take the steps to nurture ourselves (or eat a tub of ice cream and wail whhhhhhhhhy?).

However, quiet stress is constantly in the background, often going unnoticed for long periods of time. For example…you are keeping your head above water at work, but you are feeling beaten down by life. You no longer enjoy what you do but you feel stuck because you have a mortgage. Your boss is at you, you never make it out the door on time and when it gets to the weekend you just want to put your pjs on and watch Greys Anatomy episodes back-to-back. Or, your relationship hasn’t been good for a while. You know a conversation must be had, but you are too tired from the late nights at the office…

This is quiet stress and I think it affects more women than we realise. Often we don’t want to admit things aren’t perfect – we just want to get on with it all. We then drink heaps of coffee, eat way too much chocolate and takeaways, drink wine, hate ourselves and vow we’ll do better next month.

The thing about quiet, chronic stress is that the body is always operating in survival mode. Our fight or flight response remains over-active. This response occurs in the face of perceived danger. We are ready to protect ourselves, or run away. To prepare, the body stores fat so that it will have a reserve of energy to take us into battle, or to get us through a time with limited food. Although we have evolved, we still see work stress or relationship stress as danger. Problems in both of these areas lead to fear that we will lose fundamental human requirements – security and love.

If you are interested in holistic healing, it has been said that cellulite also results from suppressed anger in the body. From a scientific (however, to my knowledge, unproven) perspective this would make sense. Suppressed anger can be incredibly stressful and again, could trigger a fight or flight response in the body.

My Tips

So, I can’t help your, or my, genetics. However, I can discuss some of the lifestyle changes I have implemented to keep my body in the shape I want it to be in.

1) I use honey as much as possible instead of sugar. This includes my salad dressings and my cups of tea. On the subject of salad dressings, I make these myself. There is a lot of hidden sugar in store-bought dressings.

2) While the weather is still nice, I have taken to parking my car further away from my destination and enjoying a walk in the city. Walking has always been one of the most powerful exercises for my body for multiple reasons. 1) A brisk walk gets your heart rate up, burning fat. 2) It is relaxing, which can pull you out of your fight or flight response. 3) It provides a space to think about things that may need to be changed in our lives – so it acts as a form of meditation.

3) Meditation for stress-relief. This is a hard one I know. Many people find mediation very difficult. But I truly believe you just have to find the type that works for you. We are all different and have different needs. For those of you who are terrified by the idea of sitting with your own thoughts, try this meditation here. It requires you to repeat the word release over and over which I found far less scary when I first started to learn meditation. I use a couple of different meditations in practice that I find amazing. I will share these in a later post.

4) Sprints. From an exercise perspective, I have always found sprints to be the ultimate for fat-burning. When I played netball, I was in the best shape of my life. And I truly believe that is because I was doing short, sharp bursts of high-intensity activity. Sometimes I used to feel like I was going to pass out, because I had actually used up all the oxygen in my lungs.

5) I find both yoga and Pilates to be amazing. For me, these two exercises combine relaxation with activity. So they are a two-for-one.

6) A good smoothie. I am not someone who is naturally high in muscle mass. I am a bean pole, always have been. As you all know, less muscle means less fat-burning is occurring at rest. So, instead of upping the meat content in my diet to get more protein, I have a smoothie to which I add a scoop of natural whey protein powder. My smoothie recipe is simple – almond milk, banana and blueberries. You can add some honey if you like things sweeter.

7) Write out your anger. As women, we often believe that it is not socially acceptable to get angry – or we don’t want to look like we’re over-reacting to a situation that has us really pissed off. I have learned that we are entitled to feel angry, it is our actions that define us. Just because we are super angry and hurt about something, doesn’t mean we will go and do something stupid. In fact, acknowledging it and journaling about it may lead us to take a far healthier, calmer approach to the situation. Bottling anger is like trying to over-stuff a wardrobe and shut the door. At some point, some poor unsuspecting person will slide the door open just a little, and a mountain of shit will come falling out on them.

8) Avoid that full-length mirror for a while. Believe it or not, constantly looking at cellulite will not make it go away. Actually it will stress you out more and it is less-likely to go away. Stay away from the damn mirror. It will just lead you to say bad things about yourself and your words become your reality.

The other day, my bestie and I were sitting on the beach talking about bodies. The cellulite, the stretch marks – the lot. And I said to her…

I’m tired of caring. I think it is just time to not care so much anymore. I want to walk down to the edge of the water in my bikini and not even think about anything except the sparkles of the sun on the ocean and the sound of the waves on the sand. I want to quiet the voice that says sort yourself out, girl and listen to the voice that says what a perfect day, I’m so lucky to be here.

Playsuit – Witchery   Hat – Flea Market

Much love XX

Photo: Addeana Husaini

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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