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CindySays™...

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Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, corporate wellness presenter and author of the award winning book, CindySays… "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World." Her web site is www.cindysays.com.

In a recent conversation with a group of women about health, a word that kept surfacing was "cellulite." It's a hot button that conjures unattractive images as well as many questions. 

What is it?

It's a dimpled, bumpy appearance of the skin usually found on the hips, thighs or buttocks. This clumped-up fat that clings to female's hind quarters is dreaded and once embedded is difficult to eliminate. 

How did it get there?

Females typically have a small amount of cellulite simply as a normal variation in the way fat is distributed and stored. Chalk it up to hormones. However, those who eat a high-fat diet/low-fiber diet, eat more calories than they expend and are inactive will likely continue to produce more and more cellulite as they age. 

Can't I just diet?

Reducing calories won't do it, nor will concentrating on cardio exercise. Women who attack it with strictly cardio may be surprised that they still have dimply thighs. Aerobic (cardio) activity actually feeds off of muscle tissue, especially if it's not supported by adequate protein and carbohydrates and essential fats. It is about body composition. To reduce the appearance of cellulite requires a balanced approach that combines cardio, a healthy diet and strength training. 

It's more about building muscle mass. If you're not building it, you're losing it at a rate of about 5 pounds every decade, which opens the door to cellulite. Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., a leading strength training researcher and expert on body composition describes it best: "You have this shrinking foundation under this growing fat layer, and eventually the fat clumps. It's not just a matter of having too much fat. It's a combination of too much fat and too little muscle." He adds that dieting in the absence of strength training can actually promote the appearance of cellulite by causing muscle loss. 

Magic cream?

There are plenty of products marketed that promise to smooth out all those dimples and make life happy again. Supplements, creams, lotions, pills, wraps and more continue to prey on women desperate for a quick fix. These products unfortunately don't live up to their claims. If even one did, there would be no reason to market another. Instead of investing money in a jar of false hope, consider this:

Heredity and hormones play a part, so go easy on yourself.

An exercise program that includes strength training gives you your best shot at warding off cellulite accumulation.

A diet high in lean protein helps preserve and build muscle mass.

Hit the weights at least twice a week and if you're unsure about this, seek out a personal trainer or fitness professional.