The Mystery of Cellulite (Solved)

Today’s post is a guest post from Belinda Benn, international fitness model and my co-host at the upcoming Sydney and Melbourne Woman Incredible workshops.  In fact, Belinda is currently on her way to Australia now!

Have you ever been going along your own sweet little way in life, when suddenly you are hit like a ton of bricks with a shocking realization? Not fun.

Let me tell you about one of those moments! I was in a department store dressing room trying on a one-piece swimsuit at age 37. At the time I had been married for 13 years and to be honest, I never really bothered to look at – let alone think about my body.  As you all know, I had never exercised and lived on a diet of coffee, biscuits (cookies) and lollies (sweets).

But suddenly under those nasty fluorescent lights –

I realized my whole lower body was covered in deep cellulite.

My ex-husband was waiting outside the dressing room wondering what was taking so long – the truth was, I was trying to compose myself, close to tears, wondering where the body I once had was. I didn’t recognize the stranger in the mirror.

That was 10 years ago now but just this week that painful memory hit me again, I had forgotten how horrible I looked and today the frightening image of my dimpled thighs and butt is a distant memory.

What caused this flashback was my client here in Panama, Pili.

Pili came to me around 10 months ago. She is one of those drop dead gorgeous skinny girls you imagine walks on clouds all day long. That couldn’t have been further from the truth! Close to tears she told me about her cellulite. I admit I was skeptical it was anything more an a few tiny imperfections here and there. But when she pulled down her workout pants to show me I was stunned….

Despite being very young and skinny (21 years, 5 foot 5, 108 pounds) she was riddled with deep cellulite all over her legs and butt.

I will let Pili tell you her story in her own words (translated from Spanish):

“Before I started weight training with Belinda, I was thin but my thighs and butt were full of cellulite and I had fat around the waist. I felt extremely self-conscious because people were always shocked if they saw my legs! I live in a hot climate so I couldn’t wear shorts, a bathing suit, skirts or dresses without feeling horrible.

At the same time my muscle ratio was way below average, I was very weak and I was underweight. I even tried not eating for a while to try get rid of my cellulite and reduce my waistline, but things just got worse. I kept losing weight but my cellulite seemed to increase. I was very frustrated but fortunately, that is when I met Belinda and started training with her.

My self-esteem was rock bottom to the point that I would avoid looking at my body in the mirror. Then one day just recently I looked again in the mirror and realized that the cellulite was gone. I would not be exaggerating if I said that it was one of the happiest moments of my life! My self-esteem started soaring. I felt good about myself. I started to go out and people would make comments about how good my body looked.

I realized that I had transformed from a thin, thick waist, cellulite-ridden body to a having contoured body with a flat stomach and strong arms and legs. I had gained muscle mass and of course, cellulite was gone. Belinda, with her enthusiasm, positive attitude and sweet demeanor, was able to accomplish something really important in my life which goes further than my physical changes. Not only do I look good, but I really feel better and capable of accomplishing anything.”

Pili Today

Now, if you are like me, you may be skeptical about how bad Pili’s cellulite was so right now I am locating her before pics from her doctor AND we are planning a professional photo shoot for her in December along with 2 other of my clients here! LOL they have asked for a bottle of champagne at the shoot and hey I just may bend the rules for one day – they all deserve it after working so hard (stay tuned for those transformation stories)!

Need more evidence about “skinny fat cellulite”?

What are the take-aways from this?

First, cellulite can affect anyone! It is not weight or age related.

Bad news is, women are far more predisposed to it given the genetic structure of our fat layer (over 90% of cellulite cases occur in women). Yeah tell me something I don’t know!

The good news is, there is a solution – even a cure.

I know because today I have NONE, in fact, OK just for the record here is a competition pic of my butt – the lines you see are the striations of the muscle showing through the skin. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to be this lean again but it makes a point!

If you suffer from cellulite by now you should be feeling some rays of hope shining into that dark place you keep hidden on the inside of you. Things can change so keep reading and stay with me while we cover a little science stuff.

What is Cellulite?

Cellulite is the bumpy appearance of the skin caused by fat cells protruding from lower subcutaneous (fat) layer of the skin into the supporting layer (the dermis). The job of the dermis is to cushion the top layer of the skin keeping it firm and taut. When the fat cells push up irregularly into the dermis it causes the surface of the skin to look dimpled.

It is important you notice how the muscle is directly underneath the fat layer and how the septa is connected to the muscle fibers and the dermis holding the fat cells in place.

How can weight training reduce cellulite?

Now it just so happens I have another client here in Panama who is the leading dermatologist here and during our training session last week I asked her this very question! (I have been working with her this past 18 months to recover her post baby body, which is a story for another time… ).


Woohooo – now to the good stuff that she told me!

When the muscle fibers underneath the cellulite are stimulated with specific and targeted weight training exercises, the muscle becomes denser, thicker and firmer and pushes outward against the skin evenly compressing the fat layer and septa making the surface of the skin smooth so the dimples and bumps disappear.

Now, it’s important to note that the change in muscle fibers does NOT mean you will bulk up! In fact, Pili is the same size as she was as when we started – she has just gained a little muscle and lost body fat so she looks fit, toned and sculpted (actually I just came back from training her and she has her first 2 pack)!

So now she looks just as sexy out of her clothes as she looks in them.

When I realized all of this – I was so excited. Hey obviously I already know the ton of benefits weight training brings but now we all have just another reason to make sure it plays a big part in our fitness regime.

Mental note to self – cardio exercise or generalized weight training alone is not sufficient to stimulate the changes need to get rid of cellulite. Remember the skinny with cellulite post above who exercised?

Wow, this has turned into a long blog post so right now I want to turn things over to you because I understand cellulite can be a very confusing and emotional topic.

Right now your probably wondering what kind of targeted specific weight training exercises you need to do right? That’s a good question! I did go back and analyze what I have been doing with Pili and found some answers. And I also have also been researching an anti-cellulite workout program that seems good. More on that to come in my next post….