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Ever since the first woman dared to bare her pins in a swimming costume, the word 'cellulite' has been bandied around to describe the normal state of most female thighs.
We say normal because up to 90 per cent of women have some form of cellulite on the backs of their legs, buttocks and sometimes on their stomach, so this is not a rare condition that affects just a handful of us who don't do enough exercise - although you wouldn't think that was the case by skimming through magazines where celebrities' dimpled skin is helpfully highlighted and pointed out to interested readers.
Cellulite is often conflated with obesity, but you don't have to be overweight to get the familiar 'orange peel' look - you could be a size eight and still have dimpled thighs, just because of the way your body displays fat deposits below the skin.
Nonetheless, if you do feel self-conscious about your thighs and bum, there are steps you can take to reduce the appearance of cellulite. There is still plenty of time before beach season starts, so read on to see how you can improve your confidence levels enough to strut confidently in your bikini this summer.
First of all, it's vital to get your diet right. We all hear and read about the importance of eating well, but unless you make long-term changes to your diet you'll always feel like there's no point continuing with the healthy eating plan if you succumb to a bag of crisps once in a while. The whole point of a good diet is that it gives you the right nourishment and energy you need to get up in the morning and carry on through the day, so banish crash diets and say goodbye to faddy food regimes.
To tackle cellulite, we need to focus on rehydration. Water is the best drink to replenish the cells so aim to consume two litres a day if you can - this is the equivalent of four pint glasses, so if you're at work make sure you keep topping up your mug at the water cooler and take a bottle of water with you when you go shopping, head to the gym or take a long car journey.
Although cellulite is thought to be linked to water retention, you need to keep up your hydration levels to make sure any toxins are flushed through the system. Aromatherapist Patricia Davis explained to Cellulite.co.uk that back in the 1950s, the condition was attributed to water retention and was considered to be treatable.
"In fact, we now know that although cellulite and water retention are linked, they are not exactly the same thing," she noted. "In the 1950s the condition was thought to be caused by poor kidney function, which meant that excess water could not be excreted. Now of course, we know that cellulite is caused by a sluggish lymphatic system."
To kickstart the lymphatic system, stock up on food that is high in dietary fibre, such as lentils, whole grains, pulses and fruit and vegetables, including lettuce, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, apples and peaches. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat, red meat and dairy products, but keep up your protein intake in the form of nuts, nut butters and soy.
Refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine are also no-nos for those with cellulite because these can affect adrenaline production and put too much stress on the liver and large intestine, leading to blockages.
We know how important it is to get moving but unless we can see instant results we're less likely to dislodge ourselves from the sofa and go out for a run. But research shows sitting down for long periods of time - such as at a computer for eight hours a day - leads to less effective circulation, and many healthcare providers note that hardened cellulite deposits are most common on the area of the thighs where a woman's legs meet the chair edge.
If you can, try to do 30 minutes of exercise each day. This doesn't have to be a hard-hitting workout every time, but just do enough to get your heart rate up and leave you slightly out of breath. Squats are a great activity to tone the legs, bum and thighs, and you can add light weights to help deepen the exercise and burn more fat.
You don't need any equipment to do cellulite-reducing exercises at home, but if you feel like upping the ante, it's a good idea to invest in a Yoga mat so you can learn how to tone up your whole body safely, or buy some bamboo cotton sports clothes to ensure your skin can breathe while you sweat out all those toxins.
Getting rid of cellulite requires a holistic approach. We've covered what you should put into your body in the form of food, and how you can improve the outside of your body through exercise. But you can also work on problem areas with herbal oils and products like Fushi's Really Good Cellulite Oil, which contains a blend of circulation-boosting ingredients such as gotu kola, green coffee bean oil and sweet birch essential oil.
To see results within a fortnight, apply the oil to your thighs and other affected areas every morning and evening, sweeping it in a circular motion towards your heart. This will stimulate the lymphatic system and improve drainage, meaning that dimpled skin will gradually appear firmer and smoother.