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The LipoTherapeia Practice in London

Friday
Jan102014

Cellulite prevention advice for models and dancers

Practical advice for models and dancers on maintaining a firm, smooth skin and preventing cellulite

Here is a list of practical recommendations that will help you prevent skin looseness, fluid retention and cellulite, and also boost circulation, overall health and appearance: 

  • Make sure you have enough protein in your diet. Many models/dancers diet too hard and this leads to insufficient protein intake. Since blood vessel walls, as well as your skin, muscles and connective tissue (i.e. everything that keeps you toned) are made of protein, having less protein in your diet is a big mistake. Lack of protein means reduced production by your fibroblasts of collagen and elastin, i.e. the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic. Protein doesn't make you fat, carbohydrates, saturated fat, lack of exercise, or the combination of those three things does. It is just impossible to get fat by eating too much lean protein, simply because fat-free protein is so filling it is impossible to routinely indulge on excessive protein intake as is the case with saturated fat and carbs. Lean protein, i.e. protein rich food that doesn't contain saturated fat, can be found in fish, seafood, lean cuts of meat, skin-free chicken/turkey/duck, eggs, skimmed milk. Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils are also decent sources of protein. Processed soya, especially soya milk should be avoided, as it contains anti-nutrients that negatively affect your thyroid function and gut nutrient absorption.
  • Never, ever crash diet, and especially never, ever, ever yo-yo diet. Crash dieting leads to loss of protein form your skin, fascia and muscles, which is then replaced by fat when you put on the weight again. As you understand this changes your body composition, turning your skin from firm and fresh to flabby and puffy - clearly not an option for a model. Yo-yo dieting goes one step further and compounds the problem by replacing the lost muscle with fat...
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates (all types of bread, sugary foods, fruits juices, flour products, white rice, jacket potatoes). You may eat unrefined carbs such as brown rice, pasta and (not-too-well-cooked) potatoes, but only immediately after exercise.
  • Exercise a lot, even if you can maintain your weight just by dieting. The main reason for this is that exercise, especially running, fast walking, aerobics, vibration plate training and other high impact exercises, as well as swimming, provide valuable mechanical stimulation which keeps your skin's collagen-producing cells (fibroblasts) in good form. High impact exercises also prevent the accumulation of skin fat cells, i.e. cellulite. Staying slim by dieting only is not an option if you want to stay smooth and firm for life - period!
  • For the same reason, i.e. fibroblast stimulation and cellulite prevention, try to have regular high-power radiofrequency treatments or at least vigorous, cellulite-specific massages. Low power radiforequency treatments or fluffy massages, such as lymphatic and swedish, and deep muscle massages, such as deep tissue massage don’t work unfortunately. Cellulite-specific massage exercises your superficial blood vessels, ensuring your circulation and natural lymphatic drainage are in top form, and if performed properly you can actually feel the benefits of the treatment within a few minutes.
  • Make sure that you get plenty of flavonoids and other phytonutrients in your diet. Flavonoids are essential for blood vessel health and collagen metabolism, helping keep your skin firm and your circulation and lymph drainage efficient. In addition they help ward off cancer and all other civilization diseases. These substances are contained in plentiful supply in berry fruits and vegetables, as well as decaf coffee, cocoa and green tea. Try to have as many vegetables (cooked or salads) and berry fruits as you can. Vegetables and berries contain very few calories compared to the amount of nutrients that they offer you, and can be consumed without thinking about calories. Berries and veg are the best examples of a foods that, no matter how much you eat of them, they simply cannot make you gain weight. Decaf coffee should not be consumed with sugar or artificial sweeteners which are harmful to your health, and should be drunk either unsweetened or sweetened with stevia, the only natural and good-for-you sweetener. The same applies to cocoa: you can make a hot chocolate with it, sweetened with stevia or unsweetened. Chocolate however is definitely not the health food that chocolate manufacturers try to convince you it is - even 70% or 80% chocolate. This is because the other 30% is made up of sugar, i.e. 6 teaspoonfuls of sugar per one 100-gram 70% chocolate bar! The only chocolate I recommend is 100% chocolate, and even that should be consumed in moderation as it contains high amounts of saturated fat and carbs. And finally, do take a good vitamin C and bioflavonoid oral supplement will help keep your veins in good shape avoiding thread or varicose veins.
  • Make sure that you get enough fish oil and evening primrose oil. Omega-3 long chain fatty acids (LCFA) such as EPA and DHA are essential for health, especially blood vessel health. In addition they help you stay slim as they encourage fat burning in your tissues. In the past I used to recommend oily fish, but taking into account the levels of pollution in our oceans today, I would not recommend fish more than three times a week. To get extra omega-3 LCFA you should supplement with a highly purified, ideally molecularly distilled, fish oil. Beware of cheap fish oils that may contain as many unwanted chemicals as fish does. A good amount to take is a total of 600mg or more of actual EPA and DHA (usually 1800mg of fish oil). In addition, increased fish oil consumption may lead to imbalances in the body, so I recommend a high strength evening primrose oil to supply you with the Omega-6 long chain fatty acids (GLA). The amount of actual GLA to consume should be 130mg (usually 1300mg of evening primrose oil). Beware of borage oil as a source of GLA as it also contains potentially harmful very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA).
  • If possible avoid all non-organic animal and fish food, which may contain endocrine disrupting pesticides. Endocrine disruptors (xeno-estrogens) mimic estrogen in the body with undesirable health concequences.
  • Avoid the vacuum suction-based, "palper-rouler" type of treatments that do provide mechanical stimulation but also overstretch your skin and cause spider veins, thereby giving with one hand whilst taking with the other.
  • Also, do not waste your money on laser treatments or electrical stimulation treatments (you know, the ones with the electrical pads placed on your bum and thighs), as both types of treatments are a sheer waste of time and money, offering you no benefits in terms of cellulite reduction or skin firming.
  • Apply a high quality anti-cellulite cream (one that contains several different ingredients and in good concentrations) to help prevent or reduce cellulite, fluid retention and loose skin. Unfortunately, most cellulite creams on the market today either contain a small concentration of active ingredients or a small number of different active ingredients, and therefore cannot effectively fight cellulite. For best results do your research and identify a good, comprehensive and concentrated cream that works. Ingredients to look for in a good cellulite cream are, among others:
    • Mint, mandarin, cypress, rosemary, horse chestnut, butchers broom and vitamin K that help support your blood vessels and relieve your legs of tiredness and puffiness after a long day of castings, fashion shows or photo shoots.
    • Herbal extracts and caffeine to help prevent the accumulation of superficial fat deposits (cellulite)
    • Vitamins A, C and E for their antioxidant and skin protecting properties
    • Hyaluronic acid, jojoba or coconut oil, to keep your skin supple and hydrated naturally
    • Lipo-peptides, vitamin C and flavonoids to help keep your skin firm
  • Try contrast showers and body brushing before applying the cream, for increased absorption and synergistic results. Contrast showers create a pump effect on your blood vessels, thereby exercising them, while body brushing and other methods of exfoliation allow the celulite cream to be absorbed far better than just by merely applying it ont he skin. However, dry body brushing, has no other discernible effects against cellulite, contrary to popular belief.
  • Avoid contraceptive pills, patches and injections at all costs, or at least switch to a lower estrogen pill. Hormonal contraception is a major cause of cellulite today: excessive estrogen encourages fat cells to multiply out of control in the thigh and buttock area, when combined with inactivity or excess calories. Excessive artificial estrogen is even worse than natural, ovary-derived estrogen, both for cellulite and for overall health.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking initially helps you keep your weight low because it reduces your appetite and because it reduces fat accumulation in the fat cells. However, smoking also causes free radical damage and inflammation, and regular use has cumulative effects which manifest as skin weakening and ageing, poor circulation and water retention.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine consumption (cola, coffee, "energy" drinks etc.). Decaf coffee is fine, as it contains no caffeine and is rich in flavanols - a powerful ally against cellulite, loose skin and circulation problems. Decaf coffee these days is made by a water extraction process, with no chemicals used whatsoever, and is a fantastic health food/powerful food supplement available to the masses at a low price - do not miss on the opportunity!
  • Do stretch your calves and thighs regularly and perform calf-raises on the edge of a step (three sets of twelve reps per leg, three times a week) to increase deep tissue circulation, suppleness and muscular tone.
  • Daily perform five sets of 25 reps per leg of hip extensions whilst you sit “on all fours”. This s the ultimate bum-lifting exercise because it works the gluteus maximus muscle, which gives the buttocks a pert, round shape. This is probably the only exercise that can be performed without limitation by women, as the more you do it the more lifted, firm and round your bum becomes - and who doesn’t want such perfect buttocks.
  • Practise interval training for 30-60 minutes, twice to three times a week. The simplest form of interval training involves one minute of running followed by two minutes of slow walking, repeated for 20-40 minutes. Good warming up and cooling down are essential (10-20 minutes in total).
  • If you suffer from digestive discomfort (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, pain, indigestion, reflux) avoid all milk and wheat products (including yoghurt and wheat bran fibre), as both can be highly irritating to your gut lining, for several reasons. Milk and wheat products contain antigens, i.e. proteins that irritate your immune system. Milk also contains a sugar called lactose which can also be irritating. Wheat fibre (wheat bran) literally scratches your intestinal lining and therefore is not the best source of fibre. Prefer the much milder and more beneficial soluble fibre instead, in the form of flax seeds, oats and psyllium husks. In addition, make sure you also consume quality insoluble fibre derived from fruits and cooked vegetables.Constipation can be a major cause of water and toxin retention in the body (both important aspects of cellulite), and insoulbe fibre, together with loads of water, is your best ally against constipation.
  • Take a strong, quality probiotic in capsule form, as opposed to sugary, milk-based probiotic drinks found in the supermarkets. The right strains of acidophilus, bifidobacteria and saccharomyces boulardii in the right potency (30 billion, 10 billion and 5 billion organisms per capsule respectively are good potencies) can work wonders in your digestive system in as little as twenty minutes!
  • Avoid sugar in all it’s forms and guises (sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), agave syrup etc.), and at all costs. Sugar is the number one cause of cellulite today and the increase of the appearance of cellulite in young women has coincided with the increase in sugar, sugar derivative and sweetener consumption. Excessive sugar, if not used immediately by the body ends up in the liver and/or fat cells where it is metabolised into fat. Once a fat molecule ends up in the fat cells or the thighs and the hips it is not easy to release it into the general circulation again. Sugar over-stimulates insulin secretion (which sends fat molecules and sugar itself straight to the fat cells) and causes damage to skin and blood vessel proteins (via a process called glycation and by stimulating inflammation), leading to skin ageing and weakness and impairing circulation. Sugar is evil. Period. Artificial sweeteners are not better either, as they only temporarily trick the brain to believe that you consumed sugar: by the end of the day your brain compensates with appetite increase which leads to the consumption of more calories...
  • Avoid salt which leads to fat accumulation in the fat cells - in addition to it's well known effect on water retention. Use low sodium salt instead, marketed as Low Salt, LoSalt, Solo, So Low etc.
  • Save your money and steer clear of extremely expensive, “miracle”, "lunchtime" procedures that promise instant cellulite elimination with one or two treatments. These kind of instant cellulite solutions only exists in marketers dreams and the only thing you will lose if you decide to dish out £500 or even £5000 for one hour of treatment (yes, they do charge as much as £5,000!) is your money - not your cellulite. If you can't be bothered to follow a proper, session cellulite reduction plan consisting of 10-15 sessions, along with proper exercise and diet, it is better to make better use of your money on a good holiday instead. These miracle treatments do not give results, regardless of how much money you waste on them or how "posh" the clinic that provides it is. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is too good to be true! Instead, go to speak to an honest, down to earth practitioner, who understands your needs and who will devise a realistic plan, based on things that work, such as vigorous, cellulite-specific massage, diet, exercise, and quality anti-cellulite creams.
  • Avoid fried food at all costs too. Oxidised (burned) fat is a major contributor of toxins trapped under the skin in the tissues affected by cellulite. Hydrogenated fats or trans fatty acids (contained in margarine, pastry, biscuits, pasty etc.) are even worse: the short-circuit your metabolism and undermine your health in multiple ways. The only oils you can safely eat are extra virgin olive oil, and cold-pressed, organic vegetable oils found in health food stores and contained in glass bottles. Never buy oil contained in plastic bottles which can leach harmful, fat-soluble chemicals into your oil!
  • If you plan to have cosmetic surgery, such as liposuction or smart lipo, make sure you arrange post-surgery treatments immediately after surgery with a suitably qualified therapist that can start treating you from the third day after surgery. This is in order to prevent the scar tissue, skin hardening, excessive swelling and uneven skin surface, that typically accompanies these procedures. As with all types of post-surgery physiotherapy, post-cosmetic treatment three weeks after surgery is still OK, but nowhere near as beneficial as when treatment is taken immediately after surgery. Here it is also important to make it absolutely clear that cellulite cannot be reduced by any type of surgery. Liposuction, smart lipo and VASER may be the only ways a model can remove stubborn unwanted fat, however, this is deep fat, not cellulite fat. Cellulite fat is very superficial and being an integral part of your skin is not removable - unless you want to remove your skin itself!

As you understand, this guide applies to all women, not just models and we hope it has been of help. Please let us know if we can be of further help, by clicking on the "contact us" button on the top navigation menu.