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Products that melt away cellulite? Fat chance of that

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cellulite is just another word for fat. It’s not a special fat that can be gotten rid of with special soaps or herbal wraps or expensive creams. Fat is fat and calling it cellulite and pretending that it can be firmed up or melted away is a hoax that keeps on happening, over and over again.

But wait. What about the new Dove Firming Soap? It’s been tested on real women with real curves. Dove wouldn’t make claims about getting rid of cellulite if it really isn’t true, right?

Wrong. But at least the new Dove bar is relatively cheap, less than 10 bucks. Consider the concoction called Body Performance Anti-Cellulite Visible Contouring Serum, at $50 or more. The ad campaign promises that it “melts away the fatty look of cellulite.”

Does it? Not according to the British Advertising Standards Authority, which looked into the claims, judged them to be misleading and confusing, and forced Estee Lauder to stop advertising the product to British citizens.

But the anti-cellulite ad campaign continues here in the United States. Lucky us. So let’s just take a moment to review some of the facts about the fat we call cellulite and what you really can do to get rid of it.

  • Face the truth. Cellulite is fat and fat is fat, primarily the result of eating more calories than we burn up. The dimpled variety that has the texture of cottage cheese and accumulates on our hips and thighs looks that way because of the underlying structures beneath our skin.

Women tend to have more of this rippled fat than men because of our hormones and a tendency to carry more fat, period, but especially around the hips and thighs.
If you read about a product or service - a cream, a body wrap, pills, massage - that makes cellulite vanish, don’t believe it. All these methods may mask that lumpy look temporarily by drying up the area around it, causing the skin to tighten, but they will not get rid of the so-called cellulite.

Here’s the truth: All the different anti-cellulite methods you read about amount to short-term scams. Long-term, they don’t work.

  • Eat less, exercise more. The only way to get rid of cellulite is to get rid of fat, and that means being more active and consuming fewer calories. If you exercised enough to burn 250 calories a day, and ate 250 fewer calories a day, you could lose a pound a week. No gimmicks, no hype, no nonsense.

And keep in mind, you can’t spot reduce. Indeed, you may reduce your overall body fat and still not get rid of your lumpy thighs. Sorry. What you can do is get involved in a strength-training or yoga regimen that will, over time, reshape your body. And when your muscles are leaner and longer, and your body tighter and more defined, the rippling effect will be less noticeable.
Remember: Anti-cellulite products are a marketing ploy to get you to buy things you don’t need. A cure for cellulite does not exist. What does exist is the potential to enjoy better health, greater strength and more energy.

If you can achieve that - and you can, starting today - your worries about cellulite will vanish, I promise you.

As long as I’ve been writing a syndicated column about healthy lifestyle issues - and come September, it will be 29 years - I’ve repeated the common wisdom that all fitness experts held to be true: To be healthy, a person ought to drink about eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. It turns out that we’ve been all wet.

Yes, a human needs enough water so the body functions well, but hydration researchers now realize that we get most of that from the foods we eat - fruits, vegetables, even pasta - and from the liquids we drink, including coffee, tea, soda, beer and wine. In other words - and this is the big news - you don’t need to drink just plain water to get the water your body needs.

Whew, I am so relieved. I’ve never been much of a water drinker. From time to time, I’ve tried to force it down, but I am so much happier now to know that it’s the combination of food, water and other liquids that keeps me hydrated, not just glasses of plain water.

So how much water is enough? I wish there was a simpler answer. According to the new guidelines of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine, women ought to get about 91 ounces of water and men about 125 ounces. But keep in mind, these amounts include

the water you get from both food and beverages.

And there is lots of water in your food. Pasta, for instance, is 66 percent water. A raw carrot is 87 percent water, and grapefruit is 91 percent water.

So stay hydrated, but don’t feel guilty if you’re not downing eight glasses of water a day. The real key is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you feel thirsty, drink. If your mouth is dry, or you feel a slight headache, drink.

But don’t overdo it. More and more, people are overhydrating themselves - drinking too much liquid - but that’s a story for another day.

Write Marilynn Preston in care of

The Light, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300,

La Jolla, 92037.