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What to do about cellulite: The Health at Every Size mentality

I think we should all like our booties.

I didn’t always appreciate mine due to it’s…size, but why shouldn’t we like what we’re workin’ with? We have what we have, after all.

Not too long ago, I was thinking out loud about the appropriateness and stylishness of my workout pant collection. Shorts have never really fit me too well- with the bigger rear and all- I enjoy a good pair of snug workout tights.

So while Dr. P was on the computer, I tried on my collection to see which ones still fit  and which were headed to Goodwill dropoff. I was running a stream of consciousness monologue while test driving each one in the study door mirror- how tight is too tight, babe? What about these old pattern ones- too much?

And then there was one pair left to try on- my Big Birdesque, neon yellow capris. An Active Gearup.com super sale find, despite their absurd color, I couldn’t resist a practically free pair of work out pants.

So I tried them on. I turned around, glanced over my shoulder, and wondered out loud if I was getting some noticeable cellulite.

“You’ve always had that,” Dr. P said, looking up from the computer. “Those dimples. You’ve always had them”.

I gasped and dramatically doubled over in emotional agony. I stared at my derrière, draped in neon yellow spandex. I initially wanted to inquire if I had heard my darling husband incorrectly.

But there it was. Cellulite smiling at me with a big Forrest Gump yellow t-shirt grin. If I popped my hip to the side, it got even worse.

Oh boy.

Regardless of the miles I run, weights I lift, yoga I do or carrots I nibble, like 90% of women, I still had some cellulite. What is a girl to do?

I just laughed. Because I’ve learned to revel in my physicality and not sweat the small stuff.

Viewing our bodies as vessels of life can help us take a step back from the culturally influenced string of self-criticism.

When I was younger, Dr. P’s quip may have ruined my afternoon. Or week. It is hard being a woman. We are put under a microscope, objectified, vilified for normal physical attributes, and the expectation is that we ought to appear flawless to be considered worthy.

But how beneficial is this criticism of our bodies and one another? Worrying about our figures is only beneficial if it propels us toward positive change.

Cellulite, for example, can be decreased to some degree by exercise and eating well, not wearing too tight clothing, and supporting micronutrient needs to promote healthy circulation.

But when our best efforts fail, shouldn’t we continue to focus on healthy behaviors and self-love? We can control what we do, how we react, but we can’t always control the outcome.

And diversity is beautiful.

Dr. P and I were in NYC a couple weeks ago. We stayed in Midtown, just a few blocks from Times Square, attended a Broadway play and bounced around town. While waiting in line for tickets, we noticed the billboard hanging highest and most bodacious in Times Square was one of a large, African American woman in her undies modeling for a Dove or Gap commercial or something.

She had big thighs and voluptuous hips, and every time I saw her that week, I smiled. She was gorgeous, and it gave me hope. There are estimations that 60-80% of our body shapes are genetically determined. We should respect all body types while still encouraging what we can control- our lifestyle.

The 20-40% lifestyle component makes all the difference in terms of our health and vitality. Overweight can be healthy, too, if we are eating well and moving enough. The focus should be on our behaviors, not how much we weigh.

Health at Every Size is a movement that supports focusing on healthy habits instead of the number on the scale. Recognition that we all have our own unique genetic code that determines are bone size, hip width, and propensity for dimples is vital to body acceptance.

Body-acceptance and body-kindness are also magically helpful in meeting our goals.

I had a client who I spent hours with- going through her weight loss history, kitchen cabinets, workout routine, and helped her determine a detailed plan for how to meet her pre-wedding weight loss goals. She was motivated. We were on track as a team and excited about our direction. Until she weighed herself after a couple workouts. The scale had gone up a pound, and she fell apart and lost track of her long term goals. She was focused on an extrinsic measure of her worth- her weight- instead of her daily energy levels and progress.

I explained to her that exercise maximizes glycogen stores. Water attaches to glycogen and this can cause the illusion of, what she viewed as, the bad kind of weight gain. With exercise, over time you may be the same weight, but you will likely lose inches, gain lean body mass, and improve your chance for longevity.

Exercise also increases endorphins which helps to improve our moods and energy levels. It strengthens bones, increases metabolic rate, and helps support overall health. Regardless of our size. Let’s focus on activity goals- like running a 5k- over weight goals. This is where true happiness and health begin.

So I wore my yellow pants to the gym. I appreciated my unique physical beauty and physicality.

After all, strength and confidence are what is truly attractive.

Further reading:

Healthy at Every Size website

Benefits of exercise

Bright workout pants

xoxo

Joanna

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