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Paige Waehner

The Truth About Cellulite

By June 14, 2012

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Cellulite. If you have it and, frankly, most of us do, you probably have a number of interesting names for it: Cottage cheese thighs, orange peel butt, the mattress phenomenon etc. I bring this up because a client asked me the age-old question: "Why do my thighs look like cottage cheese and how can I get rid of it?" She also expressed surprise when I mentioned most people, particularly women, have cellulite, myself included. In fact, in his article, "Cellulite: A Review of Its Anatomy, Physiology and Treatment," Dr. Len Kravitz states that about 85% of women (post puberty) have some degree of cellulite.

Though it seems that way, cellulite isn't some kind of punishment for all of our dietary wrongdoings. It's simply fat that lives beneath the skin and protrudes through it in what we consider an unattractive way. The reason it's more prevalent in women is because their connective tissue is structurally different from men. In women, this connective tissue allows the fat to expand into the skin. In men, there can still be fat under the skin, but it moves internally instead. If you look at it philosophically (which I highly recommend you do), it's just one of those differences that makes us who we are.

The question is, is there any way to get rid of it? You've no doubt heard of treatments such as shock wave therapy, massage, topical ointments, etc. Unfortunately, most of these things don't work, at least for the long-term and most don't have any objective scientific evidence backing up their claims. The best treatment will come as no surprise to you: Losing fat with a complete exercise program and a healthy diet. Even that won't get rid of all cellulite, but it can definitely help.

What about you? Do you have cellulite and, if so, do you give it mean names? Have you tried to get rid of it and, if so, what has your experience been? Leave a comment and tell us what you think about cellulite.


Kravitz, L; Achenbach, N. "Cellulite: A Review of Its Anatomy, Physiology and Treatment." IDEA Fitness Journal, 2010;7(4): 37-43.

Rawlings, A.V. "Cellulite and its treatment." International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2006;28(3): 175 - 190.

May 7, 2010 at 11:53 am
(1) KarenZ says:


May 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm
(2) Gypsy says:

Look great by reducing your carb intake and increase toning, has worked great for me.

May 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm
(3) Diane says:

Yes, I call it “hail damage” .

May 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm
(4) AnnieJ says:

Yes, no matter how thin or fat/toned or flabby I am, it’s still there, though it looks least awful when I’m most healthy. I call it a good reason to wear longer skirts and pants.

May 8, 2010 at 2:30 am
(5) Fitness fan says:

This question doesn’t apply to me, but I’d like to offer up an opinion. I think a woman’s beauty comes from within. The outward appearance is a distant secondary priority, although we know if we look healthy and not fat, we have a more positive self-image.

IMO, looking healthier/thinner usually isn’t a substantive goal for diet/exercise. A true commitment to becoming more fit, losing excessive fat and weight are what’s needed to sustain healthier living. It could be that a person with a deep commitment to self-improvement is looking beyond just looking better.

May 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm
(6) salgal says:

Yes, I have it; and I call it ‘cottage cheese’ thighs and butt. Working in an office and having to sit all day doesn’t help.

May 10, 2010 at 1:57 am
(7) ajja says:

I used to have cottage cheese legs … Especially in the back of my legs and right under my bum… Exercise…weightloss…and weight/strength training … DID IT FOR ME!! I’m 26… And just now enjoying skirts and short shorts … Good luck laduies!! And don’t watse your money on lies…. Go to the gym… Commit…and stay focused… And cellulite be gone!!

May 10, 2010 at 9:11 am
(8) Katie says:

I think we women care about cellulite far more than men do. Perhaps by covering it up so much we are perpetuating the myth that it’s ugly and unusual. I say stop stressing about it…even Kate Moss has some :)

May 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm
(9) pix says:

I go to the gym and I have it….can anyone suggest a diet that helps combined with exercise?? Thanks and its true there are men who dont care much about it.

June 3, 2010 at 5:56 am
(10) Andy says:

It seems the answer to most any physical issue(weight-loss, cellulite, body shape, etc.) is a healthy diet and excercise. I’ve heard that the only diet that works is the one you stick with. In this McD age, we want to find a “fast food” remedy to our health issues. A magic pill here, liposuction there and BAM, the new you is here…for a few months or weeks. I think we need to deal with issues of self-control, self-perception and self-esteem before we can be truly healthy. This approach will help to be healthy inside and out. Besides, who wants to be “beautiful” on the outside and ugly on the inside.
To your health,

June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm
(11) Flashfast says:

This is the worst news of the day for me, and I’m male.

June 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm
(12) TrainerMike says:

I didn’t realize there was a difference in the connective tissue of men and women. This is a great piece of information when discussing goals and results with women. Thanks for the great info!

June 15, 2012 at 10:42 am
(13) LKS says:

My strategy for dealing with cellulite is threefold:
1. Don’t look at it!
2. Wear bermuda shorts or something that covers your legs to mid-thigh or longer.
3. If you must wear a bathing suit, opt for the shorts or skirt style, stay in the water as much as you can, and then cover with a beautiful wrap when you’re on the beach or alongside the pool.
We’re human. Cellulite happens, even to the young and fit.

June 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm
(14) amelia says:

i have it, and every time i hear someone complain about theirs i tell them that a lot of people have it and it’s nothing to go crazy about. i like to squish mine around, as weird as that sounds, because it’s kinda fascinating.

June 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm
(15) Donna says:

Like someone said above, the better my habits, the less appearance of cellulite. When I drink lots of water, work out and limit my intake of carbs and processed foods, it’s substantially reduced (even if my weight stays the same). That’s a good incentive to take care of myself! It never disappears completely but one good look at my butt in the mirror during down-time is usually enough to motivate me to get it moving!

June 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm
(16) sanity runner says:

Cellulite. Hate it. Have always hated it. I am a runner and have been for years – I even run marathons and yep, I still have it. It wasn’t until I noticed my very fit 6 year-old daughter had a “cheese butt” that I realized there never was and never will be anything more I can do to make it completely go away. It’s simply the way I was made and I’ve kinda made peace with it…Kinda.

June 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm
(17) Gael says:

I am not sure if you’ve covered this elsewhere, but adding lower body strength training either aids in minizming the appearance. I’ve been able to blast mine away completely by adding strength training and since am also a marathoner, it greatly improved my performance. Most women shy away from it thinking that it will bulk them up, well not so unless you aspire to be so. This wonderful bit of advice came from my running coach and I’m pleased to tell you that that little pockets on the back of my upper thigh under my bum and on my inner thighs that prevented me from running in my tiny training shorts are no more.

June 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm
(18) Mary says:

I had some cellulite that was visible when I sat down and crossed my legs– it away when I cleaned out my diet and did saunas. It’s not a “friend” at all–it’s a sign that something isn’t right with your health. Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that obesity isn’t preventable and is just something we need to learn to live with.

Look at photos from pre-Little Debbie times…those women didn’t have cellulite.

June 18, 2012 at 5:28 pm
(19) Sid says:

My dears, I am a dude. 99.9% of men who are not gay don’t care about your Cellulite. We accept it as a natural part of your soft Femininity.
I’ve never heard an adult male (not a teenager) mention cellulite negatively in regards to women.

June 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm
(20) stacy says:

I exercised and ate a clean diet. But the velasmooth type treatment absolutely got rid of the most stubborn cellulite for me. It was expensive, but SO worth it. Amazing results- I finally felt comfortable in shorts!!

June 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm
(21) Tanya says:

I am a size 8/10 and no matter what I do I always have it. And lots of it. It looks like I am wearing skin for someone a lot bigger and it sort of hangs off me. I am fit and very active and just can’t get rid of it. Like the above person, I stick to skirts below the knee and trousers.

June 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm
(22) evilpinklolita says:

I’m so grateful for this article! Cellulite is the flaw about my body that I’m most embarrassed about. For the first time in my life, I’ve been sticking to a consistent exercise routine and just hired a personal trainer. He is the hottest guy on the planet, and I am so embarrassed for him to see it when I’m doing lunges. The good thing is, looking at him makes me want to work out harder and stick to my healthy diet to get rid of it :)

June 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm
(23) Sara says:

If u can’t sweat it out, lipo it out, and it will be gone

June 19, 2012 at 3:44 am
(24) Annie says:

Yes definitely weight loss, strength training, good nutrition and drink lots of WATER. Water is essential.

June 19, 2012 at 7:06 am
(25) suzi says:

diet and exercise of course helps long term, but drinking water and lathering on plenty of moisturizers also helps short term…it hydrates and puffs up the skin so the cellulite is less visable.

June 19, 2012 at 10:18 am
(26) Aisling says:

It doesn’t help matters when the tabloids keep following celebrities around taking pictures of their cellulite and going on about how “ugly” it is. While it’s certainly not “pretty,” it is completely normal. The tabloids need to get a life. Celebrities are human, just like the rest of us, and they have flaws just like we do.

June 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm
(27) Madavis says:

I have a little bit of cellulite but it doesn’t bother me – it does go away when my weight is down and I’m exercising. I have read articles that mention cellulite as a side effect of drinking a lot of Diet Cola’s. They are terrible for your health anyways, so here’s another good reason to eliminate them from your diet!

June 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm
(28) Dreas says:

Hi Cellulite is part of being a woman and on some women it can be a turn-on! OK enough of that BS! I have two sure firing ways to get rid of your cellulite #1 Began to prepare yourself for a 28 to 30 day fast!
While on this fast, you will walk for ten miles everyday. You’ll be taking breaks in between the walks to do stretching movements and deep knee bends. On the fast you can only drink distilled water nothing else.
#2 Get membership at a gym that has all the best leg training machines.
You’ll start off with squats with a barbell on your back, front squats, leg presses, leg curls, leg extensions, movements on the Glute machine, leg abductions and adductions, calf raises and tibia movement exercises as well as stretching those quads and hamstrings to the limit. Then 30-45 minutes on the treadmill.
Your diet will be a high protein/carbohydrates diet with fruits, vegetables, thermogenics supplements and other supplements daily. You can decide how many days in the week that you want to train and for how long to reach your goal of total cellulite elimination.
Any interested? I’ll be right here.

June 20, 2012 at 8:29 am
(29) hatladysandy says:

oh..Hail Damage, that is so funny!!! exactly what it looks like!!

June 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(30) Yolanda says:

Hi, I have had cellulite since I was 18 years old, I am now 48. The cellulite has only gotten worse over the years. I began working out when I was 15 years old. I have never been over weight. I work out 5 days a week doing a High intensity workout, kickboxing fitness class, Zumba and a 1 hour a weight training class. I still have cellulite everywhere, arms, legs, butt, knees, stomach, sides of waist. I also eat a healthy diet. No breads or white sugar. Meat and veggies, green smoothies. I have tried 2 suction type things, massage, brushing, I think I have tried everything. I don’t think I will ever get use to it.

June 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm
(31) DIdi says:

Absolutely hate it. I am a master swimmer and really hate walking from the locker room to the gym. Every time I see women with smooth thighs without the awful dimples, I am envious. I look OK in pants and long shorts. Do everything in my power to hide that part of my body. I am not over weight, work out in the gym 3 times a week and swim with the Masters group 3 times. I know about the physiology, but that does not make me feel better about myself. I think I look ugly in a swimming suit. Just hate cellulite.

June 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm
(32) Dian says:

Hate it, absolutely hate it. As a master swimmer, I feel embarrassed to walk from the locker room to the pool. I always wear long shorts to hide that ugly part of my body. I am not over weight. Work out in the gym 3 times a week. Do plently of squates, lunges and leg press drills. I am active but am cursed with this awful stuff.

October 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm
(33) butterfly says:

I’ve been working out for 2 years and I still have cellulite. I was anorexic for about 5 years and even when I was very underweight I still had cellulite. I hate it, but I have no idea how to get rid of it. I just call if ugly. I was hoping if I did some good weight training or toning with cardio it would do something, but it has done nothing. I really want at least most of it gone.

November 21, 2012 at 1:24 am
(34) Supro says:

…. I hope nobody here actually thinks drinking only distilled water for 28+ days is a good idea.

You will get really sick if you do that. Think serious electrolyte imbalances…. That can lead to cardiac arrythmias. Those cardiac things can make you dead, NBD.

How about we just eat sensibly and do a little O lifting instead?

December 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm
(35) Robyn says:

I am 18 years old and I recently gained a small amount of weight (5-10 lbs over the sourse of 6 months) .. It seems to me to be getting worse as i am trying to lose weight.

I had a small amount of cellulite before this, but nothing noticeable.. I was wondering if I lost that extra 5-10 lbs, would my cellulite appear as it did before or will it stay the same, but my legs will be smaller?

April 10, 2013 at 11:37 pm
(36) Rehtaeh Parsons says:

I always wear long shorts to hide that ugly part of my body. I am not over weight.but I have no idea how to get rid of it.It seems to me to be getting worse as i am trying to lose weight.

June 5, 2013 at 11:58 pm
(37) Dawn says:

I just finished with six Velashape treatments for cellulite on back of thighs & gluts & thanks to hormonal changes from menapause, some cellulite now exists on my stomach! I am 53 And arunner & do lots of ab work . I just recovered from rotator cuff surgery & cellulite looks worse than did before injury.. I do not know if the nearly 3 mths of no running made it worse after my surgery. i was walking up to ten miles a day. I hoped the velashape would work. I spent $1500 on it & does not appear to have worked. It hurts & leaves bruises. I am not overweight, But do have muscular legs. I wish I had not wasted my money on Velashape !

January 13, 2014 at 4:53 pm
(38) jfd says:

I use the Made from Earth Holistic Honey Lotion and somehow I put it on, and at night – IT TINGLES – At first it freaked me out but that’s prove that it’s doing it’s job. Of course, after applying to your cellulite, you must MASSAGE the Made from Earth Honey Lotion several minutes DEEP, so blood circulation can be doing it’s job ( I hope I am not mistaken) …..I can see a MAJOR difference in my cellulite since I have been using it. . .

February 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm
(39) Theresa says:

As a physical education major, 30-years-and-still-going extreme runner (10 marathons, 42 miles per week with hill intervals), weight trainer, and avid hiker, I’d like to tell everyone out there who claims that there’s a cure for cellulite to go jump in the lake. I’ve had it my entire life and it’s always made me miserable, quite frankly. The worst is when someone does see my thighs and responds with, “but I thought you were in shape”. I’ve also gotten, “You need to start working out to get rid of all that flab.” People who don’t have it to this extent have no idea what they’re talking about, so they just preach the same old nonsense that proper diet and exercise can make anyone look smooth, sculpted, and fit. It’s hogwash. Your genetics will determine what you look like no matter what you do. Ladies, no matter how thin I am, no matter how fit I am, I will always look totally disgusting from my hips to my knees because that’s just my genetic make-up. I get sick of hearing people say that they had it and they were able to work it off. Those people don’t have it to the extent that some of us do. I hope I made someone out there feel less alone. It’s hard looking this way forever, but that’s life.

February 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm
(40) Wendy says:

Thank you Theresa. You did make someone feel better !! I appreciate you taking the time to post what did. I realize we should all try our best to eat healthy and remain in our best shape possible, but at some point we need to realize that genetics do a play a role and try to find a way to be a peace with our body.

March 8, 2014 at 11:12 am
(41) leah says:

I understand completely….it has been ongoing for me since I was 14 and I am now 35! Even the Army, Basic Training, where I dropped 50 pounds under the most extreme situations with minimal food intake did not remove an OUNCE of the cellulite I have always possessed: on the rump, the hammies, and the quads…I have heard many times that it was genetics, and I have battled the concept my whole life….my body demonstrates that it is not likely otherwise

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