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. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports