Womenopause, cellulite and the universal cure-all

I was recently describing the pain involved when the doctor tried to push the Novocain needle through the leathery sole of my teenage foot, when a female colleague went off about giving birth in Italy without anesthesia. Gender trump. No doubt. I clearly have never dealt with pain. Or womenopause. Or cellulite. Or…WAIT! Let’s stick to those two and what you can do about them.

First, WOMENOPAUSE: Or,”Hey! Where’d that 10 pounds come from?” That usually starts around age 40 and is a signal of other changes to come. The body produces less estrogen which creates fat cells. But that’s not all bad because those cells help to reduce the hot flashes and mood swings. (In case you haven’t noticed, almost everything in this life is a tradeoff). In addition, your metabolism is slowing down and you’re losing calorie-burnin’ lean muscle tissue. This exchange of lean muscle for fat cells feeds the weight gain and exacerbates the process. So, if you’re reading early enough in the process, take note: prevention works a lot better than anything else. We’ll talk about what “prevention” means in a bit. If you’re already in the middle of it, there is still plenty you can do.

But before we get to that, about CELLULITE: Is it any different from plain old fat? NO. And any claims of dealing with it specifically are just selling something. For example, wraps just compress the fat which changes its appearance for a day or so at best. But CELLULITE does look different. That “dimpled” look seems to call attention to it. Women’s tissue that connects fat and skin tends toward more of a honeycomb appearance and can show itself even on thinner individuals. Ironically, while its look is more objectionable, this is actually subcutaneous fat which is preferable to deeper visceral fat (see my next column for more on this, on testosterone and on MENopause for equal gender attention).

Finally, what can be done about ’em? What is the “CURE-ALL”? The same one that helps prevent
• diabetes
• osteoporosis
• hypertension
• high blood pressure
• memory loss
• stroke
• heart disease
• obesity
• high blood cholesterol

How many ways can I say: Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Drink more water and less alcohol. But, by far, the most important-EXERCISE! Walk. Be more active. Walk. BUILD LEAN MUSCLE. Walk. Burn calories. Try. Walk.

The goal is NOT to reduce calorie intake. Calorie reduction just slows the metabolism even more. And this triggers the body’s self defense system to hold on to any fat cells for self-preservation. This obviously is not the message to send. As a sign in our studio says “CALORIES ARE NOT THE ENEMY; CALORIES ARE ENERGY—JUST USE ’EM!” Calories are our fuel.

The key ingredient in addressing womenopause and cellulite (or any fat cells) is to REBUILD lean muscle tissue by progressive weight resistance training. I’ve tried to briefly explain why that is so important. And it is the only tissue that will help keep the fat off so you don’t just regain it.

We all seem to seek an easy clear answer to complex problems. A magic solution. This one may require effort, like most things of value, but as a result we feel better, we move better, we 
look better and we have more energy. It works.

Ask anyone who does it. Walk, eat better/not less, and build lean muscle. You will never regret your commitment.