Cellulite, why weight loss cannot fix it and Barbie should NOT have it, and Peggy Emch’s Guide to Sexy Pregnancy
Cellulite only affects women. (!) Did you know that? I did not know that. I am ignorant about so many things about womanhood still! This fact was hammered home to me last week when I read the new (and arguably best) guide to primal pregnancy, Primal Moms Look Good Naked by long time primal blogger and new time friend (hooray!) Peggy Emch.
So what’s the deal with cellulite? This is some of what I learned from Peggy:
Cellulite is, in essence, not a condition of fat, per se, but rather the degeration of skin tissue such that “subcutaneous herniated fat starts to bulge through the connective tissue” of the skin.
Translation: cellulite occurs when the normal fat that lives beneath the skin pushes through the skin. This is enabled by the degeneration of skin tissue.
Does losing weight help?
No, actually, not really. Cellulite is a problem of the integrity of the skin, not a problem of being overweight.
Cellulite is almost exclusively found in women and almost never found in men. When in men, it only shows up when they have feminized hormone problems. This is because thefemale hormones estrogen and progesterone cause a slight change in skin structure. Women’s skin has two important differences: 1) it is simply thinner around the buttocks and thighs than men’s is, which makes it easier for the fat that normally lives under the skin to push through to the surface. And 2) it has a different structure than men’s skin, which allows fat to more easily fit into pockets and move about.
Unfortunately, because cellulite is only found in women, and because it has become so common these days, many women see it as inevitable parts of life. In fact, there’s recently been some controversy in the media about body image, natural womanhood, and cellulite.
Demi Lovato, a celebrity of some sort — on one of Simon Cowell’s shows? — recently asserted that she’d like to own a Barbie that has cellulite. While I advocate self-love as much as the next raging feminist, I disagree with Lovato sharply. Lovato says
“Cellulite should be normalized. Many women have it and we are made to feel like it’s some sort of ailment that would go away if we were just better at being women.”
Well, actually, it kind of would go away if we just got better. If we healed.
(Emphasis on the kind-of — I have millions of bucketloads of sympathy for women who struggle with cellulite, I do. The whole point is only that I think it is reversible.)
I learned from Primal Moms Look Good Naked that cellulite is not inevitable, or at least Peggy thinks it isn’t. It isn’t a necessary part of aging from her perspective. It is, instead, the result of several different health problems. Contemporary diet and health has gotten so bad that women throw their hands up with regard to problems like cellulite and stretch marks and just go ahead and accept that they’ll be an inevitable part of their lives.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
What causes cellulite?
Peggy lists three specific causes.
1) Collagen degeneration. Collagen is the tissue responsible for skin’s firmness.
Collagen degeneration is, in turn, caused by a) toxic overload, b) nutrient defciencies, and c) cellular dehydration, three phenomena that often occur in tandem. ”Deficiencies lead to toxicity due to our organs’ impaired ability to eliminate toxins. It might not be easy to find a group of test subjects who don’t hae nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, and a toxic liver all at the same time.” Complete protein, vitamin C, and zinc are some of the most imporant components of nutrient sufficiency for healthy collagen and skin. Re: cellular dehydration, I recommend checking out Peggy’s site or book to learn more about it. It’s complicated and fascinating, but the gist of it is that water is necessary for cells to thicken layers of the skin as well as to release clumps of fat from the skin cells.
Nutrient deficiency is why cellulite shows up in pregnant women. Pregnant women share nutrients with their babies, so if you struggle to have adequate nutrient stores, cellulite and other nutrition problems become harsh realities with the introduction of a fetus into your system.
Boy, that’s a mouthful if I’ve ever read one. Glycosaminoglycans are another molecule I just learned about and got to researching today. (You can read just about everything there is to know about glycosaminoglycans here.) According to Peggy, glycosaminoglycans are responsible for keeping cells in the skin hydrated. Some of the reasons for depletion are sugar, inflammatory foods, and also excess fluoride in water and diet. Another big one is estrogen dominance. You need more glycosaminoglycans to heal cellulite, and one of the best ways to do so is with bone broth.
3) Congested Lymph and Toxic Liver
The lymph and liver systems are our bodies’ detox systems. If they become overloaded, then toxins move into fat cells, and the fat cells get sick and crowded.
One helpful thing that Peggy does throughout this whole book is write a list in response to all of the problems she descirbes: “You might have this problem if….” This enables us to self-diagnose based on the symptoms we experience.
Peggy does that with all of the different cellulite problems, and then goes one to list strategies and discuss means by which to eliminate cellulite. It should come as no surprise that exercise, detox, and antioxidants are on the list of bonuses. Cellulite creams, Body warps, and other cosmetic procedures are also discussed.
Very cool stuff! Cellulite is nasty, but it’s not intractable! Liver, bone broth, high antioxidant diet, reduced inflammation, and hormone balance….
and none of our Barbies are going to have cellulite.
Not if women like Peggy and I can help it!
The following is a guest post written by Kate of Eat, Cycle, Repeat. I love her stuff. I really can’t say anything more. I can say that I had no say whatsoever in the egregious compliments she pays me throughout this post. At her request I have left them in — but please know that I do so bashfully. :) She’s raw, open, loving, and, get this, has a quote at the top of her page:
“intuitive eating – find what makes you come alive.”
I don’t know if she sources that quote to the same place I do, but it resonates with one of my all time favorite quotes:
“Don’t think about what the world needs. Think about what makes you come alive, then go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
This is Kate in her own words:
My name is Kate. My favorite food is Japanese sweet potatoes. I have an eccentric list of things I want to do to celebrate my life. My favorite kind of shopping is food shopping or buying sustainable, second-hand, or fair trade goods (usually kitchen related). I’m originally from Sherwood, Wisconsin, but I’ve lived in Boston, Dublin, Geneva, and now a little agricultural corner in Chiba, Japan. It is certainly interesting to eat a primal diet in a foreign country, but it is challenging, perspective-altering, and a fun way to grow. I put a lot of my time into preparing and eating great, nourishing food, but there are other areas of my life that need nourishment and stimulation as well.
Kate then lists happiness, community, emotional wellbeing, adventure, and using fear to grow as those areas — with beautfiul elaborations on each and the role they play in her life and the world.
I’ve been doing every thing that feels right – intuitive and good. I’ve been honoring my body, acknowledging my emotions, shifting my mentality, and cultivating my spirituality. I dance. I laugh. I seek nourishment in all areas of my life.
I did a modified GAPS diet and Chris Kresser’s 30 Day Reset to heal my gut. I take two types of probiotics. I take magnesium for regular bowel movements (yeah, I’ve even started openly talking about poop). I eat an ancestral/paleo diet, avoiding phytoestrogens and all other foods that irritate my gut and immune system – nuts, eggs, seeds, nightshades, and ALL sweeteners, including some types of fruit. I did a 21 day sugar detox. I couldn’t sleep well so I added carbs back into my diet. I supplement according to a knowledgeable practitioner.
I took a few months off of hard exercise and only did yoga in order to give my adrenals some rest. I focused on calming sleep anxiety even though it meant gaining an extra 5 pounds over the winter. I started doing Crossfit in the spring, as well as sprint exercises. I still do yoga and stretching. I love moving my body.
All of these physical steps came a year after emotional healing. I addressed my sleep issues – improving my “sleep hygiene” and doing my best to be in bed early and prioritize & honor the healing, revitalizing process that is sleep. Since my brother introduced me to Paleo for Women last year and the genius that is Stefani, I’ve been working to acknowledge my emotions, actively practice loving myself, and have patience as I shift to new habits and new self-dialogue to move away from emotional eating.
I pursue a practice of nourishing my spirituality by being a steward of the environment, practicing vulnerability and advocating against shame, writing, learning, and meditating. Consciously, I was doing everything I knew I could to heal.
I do all these things – and then I realized that I STILL thought that I had a broken uterus.
Here is the honest to goodness truth of a knowledge bomb: No part of you is ever broken. That should not be your identity. Your disease, addiction, problems, concerns – none of that DEFINES you. You have the privilege of choosing what defines you. I may have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, PCOS, and some other related issues, but that isn’t ME. I knew that, and my conscious brain believed it. Apparently my subconscious had other ideas.
I was walking to work one day and I felt some cramping in my lower abdomen. I figured it was my intestines, since those usually are complaining with either discomfort or downright pain when they need attention. And I thought, just for a second, is it cramps?! I realized I hadn’t felt anything in my uterus in a long time. I haven’t menstruated in about 4 years. I had a thought – it’s almost like things feel kind of dead in my womb.
This is not a fun thought. When I first found out I had PCOS three years ago, I was terrified. I thought that I would never have children and be barren and scarred for the rest of my life. I never thought there was a “cure”, or rather, a way to recover naturally from PCOS. Then my brother suggested a paleo diet, and I found Paleo for Women. Stefani’s work has helped me address a lot of emotional fears and resistance and learn to love myself again. She opened up a world for me that is crucial to physical repair – emotional healing.
So I thought I was aware. I thought I was addressing every possible aspect of my healing – emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. But I still have some deep-rooted fears ~ things I was so afraid of I wouldn’t admit them to my conscious self. I’ve been doing a 30 Day Anti-Diet Challenge, and the previous evening we had been working on a guided meditation to access the wisdom and message of the subconscious. It didn’t appear right away, but when I was walking this message came to the surface: I was still afraid of not being enough. For all that I talk about shame awareness – I had a deeply held belief that I wasn’t woman enough because, right now, I can’t give someone, the world, a baby. I don’t want a baby at this point in my life, I just want to get my period. I want to be a part of that rite of womanhood that is as ancient and traditional as conscious life.
And all this fear got funneled down into the very core of my being – the part that gives and sustains life. My uterus needs more than just physical nourishment and hormonal balance – it needs acknowledgement, respect, and unconditional love, no matter what it’s abilities. It needs the same thing that I need as a person, that all people need.
One of the first intentions that changed the way I engaged with life, bringing me to a much healthier place now, is this: you deserve it. When I first heard it I started crying. It touched something in me faster than my brain could process the implications of what it meant. I had spent many years thinking I wasn’t (skinny/pretty/talented/athletic/smart/fill in the blank) enough. Once I realized that I did indeed deserve everything I wanted – love, positivity, health, relationships, joy, and more – making the healthier, more intuitive decisions came easier. It’s taken patience and more than a few mistakes, but each day keeps improving, and I have no desire to go back to what I used to do: emotional eating, negative self-talk, and spiritual disconnect.
I don’t have the complete answer on how to nourish my emotionally-stunted uterus. The lovely and not so lovely thing about the internet is we get to see all kinds of people having a whole bunch of success in healing, because they have found what is right for them. And I used to get jealous (I still get a little jealous) and wanted to do exactly what other people were doing, because I was desperate for something that worked. I had to learn to trust my body, which became much easier once it wasn’t hijacked by all the crazy, inflammatory, addictive substances that pass for “food”. I had to stop repressing emotions and learn how to feel through them safely and compassionately. I had to quit doing what I thought society dicatated I should do, and follow what fed my spirit. I learn and grow from my mistakes, and I trust the process that will eventually bring me to optimal health, even if the way is not always clear.
I do know that the answer begins at self-worth.
I deserve to feel like a woman. A sexy, radiant, fertile woman. It doesn’t matter that my hormones are imbalanced or conception is currently a physical challenge. It doesn’t make me any LESS of a person, especially one of the feminine persuasion. I am going to act as if I am already what I want to be – fertile and attractive, full of light and life.
Whatever your ailment, your “disorder”, your challenges – it doesn’t make you any less of a person. It has no impact on your self-worth, your ability to love and be loved, or your need for connection and joy in your life. That is what we deserve, and that is what we must demand for and respect of ourselves.
Major thanks to Stefani Ruper, and all her glorious self-love hacks, ingenious PCOS Unlocked, evocative podcast, and generally being an awesome dancing fiend. Also to Liz Wolfe, for introducing me to the idea that fertility is an important marker for health.
Huge honors to Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel and her 30 Day Anti Diet Challenge – your meditations rock my world.
Have a food blog? A feminist blog? An ovaries blog? Feeling inspired and want to write a post? Shoot me an email at email@example.com.Read More
Guest Post by Alison Golden: On Art, Creativity and Using Your Talents to Improve Your Health and Your Life
“The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides — valuable, reliable, objective, non judgmental guides — to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.” ― David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art and Fear.
I write a blog. I also write books. And write about ghosts and ghostwrite for others.
Simply stated, I write. And write. And write.
It is a core skill of mine. One that I am in constant demand for. Because, it seems, no-one likes to write, or thinks they can write (which isn’t true, actually, many people are just fine writers).
Let’s go back a little
I already had a blog when I decided to eat the paleo way.
Naturally, I wrote now and again about paleo and what I thought of it, but The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman was more of a personal journal type blog and many of my readers weren’t paleo or interested in it.
But when I wrote a blog entitled 27 Ways to Live With Your Non-Paleo Spouse, it got spread around the paleo-sphere in short order.
And I went, hmmm…
Someone suggested I start a blog about living paleo in a world that isn’t, but I already had far too much on my plate.
In addition to my blog and its’ various social media appendages, I had clients, and a family, and a transatlantic travel schedule that saw Virgin Atlantic cabin crew recognizing me on sight. I really didn’t need another blog.
But I have something of an ego and the demand to write another blog appealed to that part of me. But still, I’m old enough to know that ego-driven activities soon pale if there isn’t some other call to action.
I needed something more concrete to push me off the mat.
People I knew in real life who weren’t paleo, but did read The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman, started asking me about it. I became known as someone who “does paleo”.
And I noticed a behavior change. Not in them, but me.
I upped my game. I became more committed to paleo. I thought about my choices more carefully. I said “no” more often.
I considered growing my own food.
I saw that perhaps there was a benefit to writing a blog on doing this paleo thing. For me. I saw that with more investment came more accountability, more knowledge, more commitment.
And she’s away!
So I set off, establishing a portfolio of writings that sought to stake out a corner of the paleo interweb that wasn’t being addressed: the corner that addresses behavior change, habit formation and transitions.
I also wanted to talk to people who more like me – who knew the “what” and the “why”, and who didn’t need more persuading, but who did want more on the “how”.
And those who’d never been inside a Crossfit box. Or got tatted up. Who weren’t interested in the paleo dramas, who just wanted to get on with it.
More and deep
Since then, I’ve gone to develop Paleo/NonPaleo beyond my wildest imaginings: thousands of subscribers; kudos, recommendations and well-received guest posts on respected blogs. A book. More clients. It’s all been quite spectacular.
But most of all, I’ve deepened my commitment to paleo. I’ve researched, tested and refined my approach to eating paleo in a non-paleo world.
I try things out on myself, then write about what I’ve learned. Or sometimes it works the other way around, and it is during writing and exploring my ideas that I hit on a new success strategy.
I’m communicating with my readers, but I’m also communicating with myself.
Learning and solidifying
My thirteen-year-old twin sons are often put into “learning pairs” at school by their teachers. The teachers know that sharing what students have learned with one another strengthens the new teaching.
This is, in effect, what I have done with my blog, and I suggest we all do the same when we are developing a new passion, skill or set of habits.
What is your core talent? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What are you passionate about?
And then apply your talent to creating something to teach paleo concepts to others.
If you like to code, design an app to meet the needs of someone who is following a paleo lifestyle. If you like to present or entertain, get yourself a booking at a local venue to talk on the paleo diet. If you like to host parties, give your next one a paleo theme.
You can apply this idea to any realm – quilting, scrapbooking, sculpting, interior design, anything.
“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” ― Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Get creative and come up with an idea. Use your own skills to spread the paleo word and strengthen your own commitment and skills in the process.
Creativity occurs in the margins; where interest and inspiration overlap
When you produce your art, mix it up with something that illustrates paleo ideas. Combining my skill in writing with my desire to embed healthier eating habits into my life naturally led to a a blog on paleo living. What talent do you have that could be used to deepen your own commitment to, and teach others about, great health, individual responsibility and paleo?Read More
I have fallen behind on my PfW blogging! There are so many things I have lined up for this week and next, but for some reason or another they continually keep falling off of my plate. I am en route to home in Detroit, Michigan to visit my family. Things keep coming up that trap me in Boston. And to-do’s, as I said, keep disappearing off of my to-do list. Maddening, that is.
Fortunately great things have happened in the meantime. Least of which being that I have made progress on The Book (!) to a significant degree, and I could not be more relieved to continually lighten that burden. Plus it’s turning into a lovely and exciting thing, and I cannot wait to share more details with you.
Unfortunately, I have let something as powerful as the most recent podcast I recorded go unshared, a fact that breaks my heart. This was my favorite podcast I have ever been on, possibly because I am an ego-maniac and it’s all about my soul, but also because I’m a few other things other than an ego-maniac and I think sharing these things is a powerful way to foster empowerment and love and a sense of fellowship in questing in our world.
Anyway. When I searched the podcast to put it up today, I found it and also the kindest thing anyone has ever said about me. Go here to read it (I am an ego-maniac, but not enough of one to post praise for me on my own blog, at least today), and also to download or stream the podcast. You can also get it on iTunes.
I met Kaila at Paleo fx, and we had that instant sort of resonance that told me I had found a hell of a gem, and in a woman I could relate to, too. It’s been an enormous honor to learn from her and to share this discussion with her, and I cannot wait until her work starts helping even more women and men than it is right now.
In this podcast, we discuss
-My struggles with lonesomeness and anxiety over the last several years
-What has helped me find peace with food
-How easy it is to use science to make us of fearful of any food
-Isolation in the modern world’s ideas of adulthood
-The panic attacks I started having about dying when I was four years old and how they’re related to my career as a philosopher, my sense of purpose, and my desperate compulsion to live as fully as possible
-How I wrestle with basing my sense of self worth on achievement
-Why I think “perfectionism” is the wrong word and “neuroticism” might be better
-Why writing this blog is so bad for me and I’m going to be done with it some day
“Don’t think about what the world needs. Think about what makes you come alive, and go out and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Ladies! Today’s my day up at bat in the Sexy Back Summit! Whoopah!
Listen to my free presentation on PMS called The Pre-Menstraul Myth: Causing, Debunking, and Overcoming PMS and learn:
*Why so much of what we think we know about PMS is wrong
*The complex biochemistry driving cravings, depression, and irritability
*How your diet directly impacts your ability to stay happy all month long
*What’s the deal with menstrual cramps?
*And the long list of things you can do to help make PMS a part of your past.
It’s only available for free until 9am PST tomorrow (Thursday morning 5.23.13) — though if you miss it you can purchase it until the end of the week for 50 percent off — HERE!
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