No doubt about it. We over here at xoNecole are true fans of The Lip Bar founder Melissa Butler. So much in fact that we did a feature on her (see "How Lip Bar Founder Melissa Butler Went From 'Shark Tank' Rejection To The Shelves Of Major Retailers"). I also enjoyed a TED Talk that she did around this time last year on beauty and body image. As she was sharing about how easy it is to succumb to the pressures of other people's standards of what is beautiful, I thought about two things that a lot of us, as women, continue to struggle with—our body size (and type) and cellulite.
Isn't it something that, even though the current average size of women in the United States is between 16-18 and between 80-90 percent of us have cellulite, there are still so many of us who are either embarrassed or straight-up pissed by these realities? Even though curves and cushion are two things that make us look like grown ass women, oftentimes we want to find any and every way to get rid of what makes us…us?
As far as cellulite goes, I'm between a 10-12 and I have it on my thighs, right beneath my buttocks. Although I must admit that when I'm binging on junk, that's when it shows up most, even when I was smaller and pretty athletic, a dimple here and there would show up. I stopped stressin' about it once I read what cellulite actually is. Long story short, it's when the layer of fat that is right beneath our connective tissue starts to poke through the tissue itself.
Cellulite has grades of "severity". The first is also known as "orange peel skin" (because that's what it basically looks like), the second is cottage cheese skin and the third is called the "mattress"; it's when there are 10 or more depressions in any given area. As far as what causes cellulite, weight gain, hormonal shifts, age (due to a lack of collagen) and good old-fashioned genetics are all factors. Know what else is? Diet.
It's that last point that I'm gonna touch on today. If your cellulite is getting on your very last nerve, before you sign up for something like laser treatment or a procedure like carboxytherapy, see if you can soften the appearance of your dimples by simply altering your diet a bit.
I like bananas. Admittedly, I don't eat them a lot because I want to get to them before they get all brown and slimy. If you totally feel where I'm coming from, a cool hack is to wrap the stems in plastic wrap. When you do that, it helps to keep the ethylene gas from speeding up the ripening process. Anyway, bananas are good for you because they are loaded with potassium, manganese, fiber and vitamins B6 and C. Bananas also aid in improving digestion, keep blood sugar levels balanced, are packed with antioxidants, improve kidney health and can reduce muscle soreness after working out.
The reason why they are a smart fruit to eat if you're trying to prevent or reduce the appearance of cellulite is they also have zinc in them. Zinc is a mineral that improves the appearance of your skin overall. Another bonus with bananas is, thanks to the potassium that they contain, blood flow throughout your body increases whenever you eat them. The more flow that you have, the less of a chance that cellulite gets to form.
Best: Cilantro and Parsley
When it comes to things like cilantro and parsley, a lot of us don't think about their benefits beyond adding a little taste to a dish or garnishing our plates. But cilantro is good for you because it's an herb that fights inflammation, contains anti-cancer properties and protects skin from UV ray damage. Parsley is a winner because it's packed with antioxidants that supports bone health, strengthens your heart and has the carotenoids lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin to protect your vision.
Add more cilantro to your meals in order to remove heavy metals that typically hide in fat cells and prevent normal tissue formation. Add more parsley because the vitamins A, C and E in it will smooth out the appearance of the cellulite that you may have while flushing your system of toxins that may have stored up.
If you adore avocados but you're sick of how short their shelf life are, I recently read that Krogers are starting to sell some that last longer (do some research on that; sometimes what's too good to be true is just that). Either way, avocados are a fruit (technically a berry) that have vitamins B5, B6, C, E and K. Avocados also contain folate and potassium (more than bananas) in them. It's the kind of fruit that has oleic acid to reduce inflammation and promote brain health, monounsaturated fatty acids to keep your heart healthy, avocatin B to prevent and reduce (leukemia) cancer cells and even properties that help to prevent food poisoning.
As we get older, our skin becomes thinner and less elastic. Something that can give our skin a bit more of a youthful appearance are foods that are rich in essential fatty acids (EFA). Avocados have a lot of these acids. The more tone our skin is, the less noticeable our cellulite will be.
Best: Cranberry Juice
Now before you get all excited about this one, just remember that Ocean Spray cocktail is not gonna get you the benefits that I'm about to share. To reap these rewards, you need to go over to the health food aisle and get that 100 percent unsweetened juice kind. Drinking it isn't exactly a cakewalk but still, if you make a point to consume a few glasses a week, cranberry juice is able to reduce the free radicals that are in your system, kill the bacteria that causes UTIs (urinary tract infections), support post-menopausal health, help prevent tooth decay from forming and decrease kidney decalcification.
Cranberry juice is really good for cellulite because the properties in it are able to emulsify fat deposits so that they are able to flush out of your system easier and quicker.
While it might not be the kind of food that you regularly pick up at your local grocery store, treat yourself to some homemade buckwheat pancakes every once in a while. They'll do your body good because buckwheat is the kind of seed (yep, there is actually no wheat in buckwheat) that contains antioxidants and fiber. Buckwheat is gluten-free, loaded with protein and 12 different amino acids and is able to strengthen your heart and protect your body from getting cancer.
On the cellulite tip, buckwheat is good for you because one of the amino acids that it contains is lysine. The cool thing about lysine is it helps to repair damaged skin tissue while also giving your collagen levels a boost.
Best: Dark Chocolate
How awesome is this? Not only does dark chocolate contain antioxidants, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and manganese; not only is it able to lower your blood pressure; not only can it reduce your risk of heart disease and protect your skin from sun damage, dark chocolate is just one more food that fights cellulite. So long as you're eating a bar that's made up of no less than 75 percent cocoa, the antioxidants in it will break down the fat that leads to the dimples. As a bonus, the caffeine in dark chocolate is able to dehydrate fat cells so that cellulite is harder for you to see.
As much as I enjoy cheese, the older that I get, the less I consume it. Mostly because of the mucus that it produces in my system. But now that I know it's a cellulite trigger, that's even more of a reason to push the extra slice of pizza back. Processed cheese is high in sodium which can lead to water retention and bloating that can make cellulite more obvious in appearance. Plus, pretty much any kind of cheese (other than cottage cheese or perhaps feta) are huge sources of saturated fat; that can lead to slow blood circulation and that can ultimately result in the breakdown of connective tissue which can definitely result in more cellulite.
Worst: White Bread and Bagels
You might've heard that you shouldn't eat anything that's made out of white flour. If you never really knew why it's such a no-no, it's because it's a refined carbohydrate. When we eat this kind of carb, it breaks down into sugar and then glucose. When that happens, the collagen in our system can become damaged and that can make cellulite more apparent.
If you love nothing more in the mornings than a bagel, at least try and cut back on how many you eat. As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, bagels are one of the biggest sources of salt around. Matter of fact, some contain as much as 600 milligrams of sodium per serving before putting a single thing on them. Salt leads to water retention and water retention can create a more dimply appearance.
Worst: Barbeque Sauce
OK, I'm pretty sure that you didn't think that barbeque sauce was one of the healthiest condiments on the planet, but I'd be surprised if you thought it was a top-tier cellulite causer either. It is, though. Why? Basically, it's because it's loaded with the unhealthy combo of salt and sugar; more sugar than salt. How much more? I'll put it to you this way—two measly tablespoons of sauce equates to 15 grams of sugar; most of the sugar is fructose corn syrup. Yuck.
If you can't imagine eaten certain dishes without it, at least consider making your own with some honey or molasses. Asian plum sauce is pretty good too. Just remember, the less barbeque sauce you eat, the less cellulite you'll probably have. Some chicken or ribs with plum sauce and less dimples seems like a pretty good trade off, if you ask me.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood