Health & Fitness

By Kate Becerra

The BUTT is big this year and a favorite question I hear a lot is “Is there an EASY way to get rid of my cellulite?” The answer is no, there is not an easy way to get rid of cellulite, and even if you do absolutely everything you should be doing, the best you can do is fight it. Even buff, skinny women have some after a certain age and it’s a normal part of life and shouldn’t be the cause of any great distress.

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There are, however, definitely ways you can trim and tone your butt area to make it look firm, shapely and fairly ripple-free. Diet and exercise of course are key. And there are creams, gels and lotions that definitely help with skin’s elasticity. Additionally, there are medical interventions that people turn to when they aren’t feeling the results of fitness programs.

As a person who has crossed over from the low-fat camp to the low-carb one, I am an advocate of a high protein diet which should include yogurt, lean meats and fish as well as plenty of vegetables and not a whole lot of starchy refined carbohydrates. Being a leaner, healthier person is going to make it easier for you to exercise and you will burn calories more readily if you build up your muscle mass with a protein based diet. Urban legends such as the one claiming that carbonated beverages cause cellulite are not even something I want to think about or that would mean me having to give up seltzer and beer and I just don’t want to.

Hiking, kick-boxing, rock-climbing and step classes are all great ways to lift and firm up your gluteus maximus. A simpler, at-home routine you can do with great success is a squat with weights. Try starting with five or eight pound weights and try to build up to ten. Stand upright with your feet around twenty inches apart, toes pointing outward. Hold your weight in both hands at your pelvis level. Keeping your butt tucked in and your back very straight, slowly bend your knees until your butt is almost at their level. Slowly return to standing position. Do a set of twenty of these. At first you will think you are working your thigh muscles only. I thought the same but it is not the case. Do a second set. I promise you will begin to feel the effects of this on your butt after a few days. Gradually increase this to four sets per session. I LOVE this exercise. I felt a huge difference when I started doing it.

Your skin tone can be improved with products and this will reduce the appearance of puckering. Keep in mind that any product that promised to “zap away fat” is overstating its capabilities but do expect to enjoy nice soft skin if you find the product that suites you best. Hydrating properties are less highly-touted in thigh firming and cellulite products than they are in the bust creams I reviewed last month.

And speaking of “zapping away fat”, the first cellulite product I sampled was called “Zap Away Reducing Gel” from Life Works. This gel and its sister product, “Cell Erase,” are billed as ‘excellent metabolic skin stimulants, which aid in circulation and have characteristics of anti-inflammatory, vascular and slimming properties.’ And you know what? They ARE excellent skin stimulants. The first is a wonderfully peppermint-scented rapidly absorbed blue gel which truly made my skin tingle. The second, Cell Erase did not share the same olfactory benefits but did leave my skin feeling tight and firm. As a temporary means of smoothing and firming, products with ‘anti-inflammatory properties’ do have some benefit. Long-term, however, these are not going to ‘zap away’ years of sedentary behavior or a nacho-chip-based diet. Available through www.healthwagon.com.

When I first sampled Caudalie’s Huile Minceur Slimming treatment, I was intrigued by the aroma, a mixture of lemony and rosemary scents. I applied it after a shower and immediately began to feel a tingle which quickly progressed to a burn. I left it on for ten or so minutes then became very alarmed at the red, raised condition of my skin and the burning feeling that accompanied it. Finally I jumped back in the shower and carefully washed it off. The red raised burn remained. I put this product away and figured that was the last I would touch it. But I decided to give it another chance and the second time was less alarmed by the effects which did gradually subside. Through the use of plant based ingredients, this products really stimulates circulation. It just takes some getting used to. The key ingredient in this and all Caudalie products is an extract from grape seeds called OPC (procyanidolic oligomers) which the company claims fight free radicals and “refine the silhouette” as well as reducing the lumpy appearance of skin. For me personally, the burning is too intense to keep me using the product on an ongoing basis and therefore I can neither challenge nor support their claims. Huile Minceur is 72 dollars in fine department stores.

Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Firm Lift Body Lotion is a light silky lotion that is quickly absorbed and has a very faint scent. It is not a particularly hydrating product but operates on the principal of firming rather than just moisturizing. I have found it to be very effective at leaving the thigh area feeling firm but nor necessarily smooth. It is 36 dollars at the Elizabeth Arden counter at department stores and at their Red Door Spa.

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Davines of Parma Italy makes a ‘double action cellulite cream’ called Thermofreeze. Thermofreeze has no scent whatsoever and leaves a residual sticky feeling that I did not love. It claims to contain “microspheres which gradually release functional components stimulating the skin in depth, which then re-activate blood microcirculation”. Huh? It does promise to heat up then cool down on your skin and this claim is true. Thermofreeze is $48 and can be purchased by calling 800-257-7104.

Sisley makes two products that are very thoughtfully meant to help your cellulite issues while being kind to your pocketbook. The hard-hitter, “Phyto-Sculptural anti-cellulite” cream is pricey clean-smelling, greaseless and pleasant to use. It contains green tea, herbs like butcher broom (that’ll knock the cellulite off you!) and caffeine and is meant to be applied twice a day for maximum effectiveness. There is a contingent product, Botanical Special Body Contour Cream which has a lower price-point. The idea is to switch off between ten days of the Phyto Cream then use the less expensive Bontanical Cream during an interim period. These are very pleasant products with nice, silky consistencies, good hydrating qualities and definitely leave surfaces feeling tight and smooth.

You don’t need to break the bank to keep your thighs smooth, however. Both Nivea and Vaseline make very nice firming lotions with rich consistencies, pleasant scents and highly moisturizing results. Both can purchased at your local health and beauty aids store for under ten dollars.

OK. Let’s address the more drastic approaches to dimpling and cellulite. You might have heard about the injection for cellulite. It’s called Mesotherapy and it involves injecting tiny quantities of natural plant extracts, homeopathic agents, pharmaceutical agents and vitamins into middle layer of the skin, thus stimulating the lymph – the body’s drainage system – and breaking down the fatty tissues, so that the fatty deposits can be picked up by the lymph system and eventually wash away. The injections are administered over around eight sessions with multiple shots being administered at each visit. Painful? Yes. Effective? Many say yes. However, according to Dr. Andrew Kleinman, a board certified cosmetic surgeon with offices in Manhattan and Westchester County, the results are fleeting. “I have never seen anything to indicate that the results of these treatments are anything but temporary”, says Dr. Kleinman. Kleinman also expresses skepticism about the efficacy of the “wonder drug” theophylline, while admitting that one study showed that the topical application of this asthma medication had been shown to have long-lasting results. “I just don’t think it’s very safe to use on a long-term basis”, says the doctor.

Dr. Kleinman performs liposuction on patients who wish to reduce fat deposits on their hips, thighs and other areas that are difficult to tone. My personal opinion is that liposuction will not make you happy in the long-term. Why? Because should you lose weight after your procedure and find yourself toning and firming, you have disrupted the natural contours of your body and there will be areas that are not even or consistent.

So, eat right, exercise, stay moisturized. You are a woman. You are allowed to have curve, shape and texture in some places. Besos a Jennifer Lopez!

Originally published November 2003
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