If you are female and over 30, you've probably noticed changes in the way your skin looks on your hips, buttocks and thighs. That dimpled, dented flesh is cellulite. Unfortunately, no lotions, potions, gizmos or garments will completely eradicate the honey-combed web of fat; nor will surgery or a trillion crunches. If it seems there is nothing you can do to minimize the appearance of cellulite, take heart. A food-pyramid healthy diet, aerobic exercise and resistance workouts like Pilates will go a long way towards keeping the dimples in your smile and off your behind.
Fat By Any Other Name...
Cottage cheese skin has become a cottage industry, and with all of the attention it receives, you could easily forget one important fact -- fat is fat, and cellulite is fat. While its appearance is unique, it responds just like fat anywhere else on your frame. By torching more calories than you consume, you will lose fat all over your body, including what may be dimpling on your hips, thighs and buttocks. Eating a diet of lean meat, fish, poultry and lots of fruits and vegetables will keep your calorie consumption low. Engaging in 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity most days of the week will burn your calories.
Pilates for Strength-Training
The American Council on Exercise recommends two or three strength-training sessions every week. If you do not already have cellulite, this increased activity decreases your likelihood of developing it. If you already have it, you can improve the appearance of your hips, buttocks and thighs by strengthening and toning the underlying muscles. Pilates is an excellent way to work all of those muscles along with your entire core. You can work on a mat, using just your own body weight for resistance, or use the Pilates reformer -- a specialized contraption that uses springs and pulleys to facilitate movement and add resistance.
Grab Your Mat
You can do Pilates exercises at home or on the road without any special equipment besides a mat or towel. Begin with five controlled pelvic lifts to target the muscles of your buttocks. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms down at your sides. Exhale and slowly lift your buttocks up, squeezing your glutes. Inhale and slowly lower back down, and then repeat the move with a slight variation. As you come up, hold at the top and pulse five times. Concentrate on contracting and releasing your buttocks, and then lower to the floor. Repeat five times.
Be a Clam
To reduce the appearance of cellulite on your outer thighs, work your abductors. Lie on your left side with your knees bent at a 90-degree position. Keeping your ankles together, lift your right knee away from your left leg and lower, like a clam opening and closing. Do 10 repetitions. Next, repeat the move, lifting both your right knee and ankle to work the outer thigh muscle more deeply. Do 10 repetitions and then repeat both moves on your right side. Perform the exercises two to three times a week.
Learn More About Pilates
To learn more mat exercises or to try the reformer equipment, treat yourself to a class or two from a certified Pilates instructor at your local gym, studio or recreational center. Costs for instruction will vary depending on the equipment used and the degree of individual attention you will receive. Classes offering just mat exercises are typically less expensive than sessions using the reformer equipment. Private, semi-private and group sessions are available starting at about $15 for group classes and range to more than $50 and up for private instruction. Some studios offer discounted pricing for booking multiple sessions.