To banish or diminish cellulite, exercise hard, eat right

Fitness Q & A

September 16, 2005|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Could you explain exactly what cellulite is and how best to eliminate or diminish its appearance? I eat right and work out, but my outer thighs and backside have visible cellulite. I strive for a toned physique, and can lose weight, but the cellulite seems to hang on for dear life.

We posed your question to Dr. John Emmett, author of Turning Back the Hands of Time, who says cellulite is a widespread problem for women and men. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle are contributing factors.

According to Emmett, the difference between cellulite and normal fat is that cellulite originates from deep layers under the skin. Estrogen, he says, causes the breakdown of collagen, or connective tissue of the skin, especially around the hips, buttocks and thighs. This breakdown allows the deep fat to herniate up through superficial layers of the skin, causing a dimpling or pitting of the skin's surface.

To combat cellulite, forget pills, creams, rubs and loofahs, says Emmett. Instead, he suggests taking these steps:

First, to increase the blood and lymph flow, do "a lot" of cardiovascular exercise.

Then, to decrease the fat, eat cleanly, avoiding refined simple sugars and saturated fats, and stay hydrated.

Adds Emmett, "If you have the discipline to eat right and exercise hard, I promise the cellulite will melt away very quickly without creams, rubs, or liposuction."

About a month ago, I saw an infomercial for what looked like a cool exercise. It was a combination of modern dance, yoga and ballet. I haven't seen the ad a second time, so I don't know how to order the video or how to find out if there are classes anywhere. Can you help?

The program is called Yoga Booty Ballet. The trend started in Hollywood (celebrities such as Tori Spelling publicly endorse it) and it has quickly spread around the country. While you can't take Y.B.B. classes, you can buy the instructional DVD or VHS online. While it isn't cheap (expect to pay roughly $40 before shipping), it is a hybrid body-sculpting workout and people swear by it. For more information, go to yogabootyballet.com.

Do I really need to stretch? I have so little free time that I can barely fit in my workout and a quick breakfast before work. Stretching is usually the last thing on my mind.

There are 24 hours in a day - that's 1,440 minutes. Why not wake up 20 minutes early to leave time for a stretch?

Not only does stretching help ease aches and stiff muscles, improve flexibility and shorten recovery time after a pulled muscle, it also has been shown to boost athletic performance.

While the enhancement may not seem like much (a 2 percent to 5 percent improvement in muscle power, speed and jumping ability on average, according to the September issue of Consumer Reports on Health), it could be just the edge you need.

Ideally, stretch after warming up, and again after your workout.

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to fitness@baltsun.com, or online at baltimoresun.com/healthscience, or in writing to The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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