The Big Boy Room

The thing about proper gym training is that the relationship you build with your trainer becomes so much more than that of a task manager.  The thing about being with someone who really knows what they are doing is that at a certain point they know your body and its limits better than you do.  Darrell stepped up our training by taking me to the area of the gym where the big boys train.  That part that I dared not tread in the past as I felt this area was off limits to me.  I am not sure if this is the former fatty talking or just someone who happens to have a vagina rather than a penis.  But, there is something about the testosterone fuelled weight lifting floor that scared the hell out of me.  But, full of excitement and a bag of nerves I followed Darrell into belly of the beast, also known as the body building floor.

Today we were going to do dead lifts.  I was going to do deadlifts!! My form was good and I felt stronger than I ever had my whole life.  That’s the thing about living in a fat suit, when you are in it though you are pushing every possible physical boundary with the sheer mass you are carrying you don’t feel strong.  Quite the opposite, you feel weak and at the mercy of something you need for survival yet can’t control.  So, this new feeling of strength was something almost spiritual.  Having spent the better part of my life hiding my body the idea of lifting weights was a bit cathartic.  The “big boy” room thick with testosterone and heaving with the kind of men that I feared would judge me actually respected my effort.  It was another stamp to add to my “passport” of places I felt I was not allowed to enter as a fat girl.  Whether societal or self-imposed there were just some things that were off limits to me in my old body.

But, this wasn’t all about my head.  Under Darrell’s expert guidance my body so beaten and scared from weight loss and plastic surgery was toned and taut.  The results were hard to dismiss and furthered my original hypothesis that it was all about excuses.  Once the barriers were dropped and I really took on board what Darrell was teaching me I had complete faith in the process.

Since this was written Darrell has moved.  What is a huge loss to me is a massive gain to clients in Leeds.  Darrell is so much more than a trainer.  He helped me in ways I could not have imagined.  You see the last thing I had wanted in the beginning was a male trainer.   Men in the gym generally had been something I tried to avoid at all costs.  But, the idea of working one on one with a male PT was something of nightmares.  It was my own jaded view of men in general I suppose, but in my mind they represented everything that kept me weak.  These were the kind of guys that mooed at the 16 year old Melissa.  I suppose I stereotyped all “fit” men in this way.  But, Darrell changed all that.  He showed me that my only limitations were self-imposed and anything was possible.  He pushed me continuously and encouraged me to lift more and was always there to spot me when I needed it, whilst at the same time knowing when to hold back and let me take care of business.  The sessions we had were about pushing the limits I had and helping me attain a strength I didn’t think possible. We had many a conversation that started with me saying “I want to be able to do Tough Mudder or I think I want to enter a charity boxing match or I want to be able to do pull ups unaided.”  His reply was always “you can do it” “we can train for that”.

So, Darrell I can’t possibly thank you enough for what you have given me.  You are a credit not only to your profession, but more importantly to your gender.

I will continue this journey with a new trainer.  So, this is not over yet!

Watch this space…

A Clockwork Orange Peel

Cellulite!!  Ugh!  It is not even a pretty word.  A bit like moist, every time I hear it I just cringe!  First of all everyone has a bit of cellulite at one point or another.  But, unfortunately I have it all the time.  Primarily because I spent the majority of my life morbidly obese, cellulite is the price I have to pay for my years of gluttony. Although I have lost a huge amount of weight and have had reconstructive surgery for loose skin, the cellulite in one form or another remains.

I have tried lotions, potions and various notions.  Short of voodoo I have yet to find a miracle.  Now I am sure you have heard of the various anti-cellulite tights and leggings.  There are several companies that make them, all with very ambitious claims about “impregnated” fabric and that they sacrifice a live chicken in the factory to ensure your positive results.  Ok, I made that last bit up!! But, you see where I am going.  There are some very grand claims out there for what is often a very mediocre product.   As some of these products are very expensive, the last thing you want is to spend £200 on what ends being a pair of lazy pants you wear on the school run.

I am very much a believer in finding those special treasures in places you would not normally look.  I love the idea of trying something from a lesser known company as often they have something super special, but perhaps the world hasn’t discovered them yet.  I met this amazing and very inspiring entrepreneur Fabia Santos at a plastic surgery conference.  Her company called Yoga Compression Garments was not one I had heard of before, but her belief and dedication to her products hooked me right in.  I wasn’t sure why at the time, but she was definitely someone I wanted to know better.  There was the added bonus I suppose because it is a Brazilian company I thought if anyone in the world is going to know how to make your ass look good, it’s going to be them!

Over the course of researching the products what I learned was that in addition to the leggings which I will get to later, Fabia has dedicated herself to helping women going through reconstructive surgeries.  She attends hospitals herself to ensure post surgical garments are fitted properly and educates medical staff on the importance of garment fitting in the healing process.  I suppose this resonated with me because I have been in the position of trying to get myself into post surgery garments that in retrospect did more harm than good.  One very ill-fitting corset I had following abdominoplasty  I referred to as “the juicer”.  The second I put it on my clothes were soaked with the excess drainage.  So, the work she does is an integral part of the healing process for women that are already feeling quite vulnerable following life changing operations that are not always cosmetic.  As a professional Fabia is someone who really “walks the talk”.

The leggings are called The Yoga Emana.  They absorb heat from the body and return in the form of “long infrared rays”.  The rays are then absorbed into the skin and stimulate circulation and cellular metabolism.  The leggings contain bio-active crystals and so these properties are not lost when they are washed.  Amongst the many benefits that are purported:

Increased cellular metabolism
Increased skin elasticity
Reducing the appearance of cellulite
Thermal equilibrium
Reduction of muscle fatigue

So, with my magic leggings in hand I was off to try them myself in hopes of conquering these beastly dimples! Putting aside that they are meant to benefit you by wearing them, as a product they are beautiful and really flattering.  The instructions are that you are to wear them 12 hours a day.  I must say this was easy as they go with everything and really give you a beautiful shape.  They are so comfortable, yet hold everything in as well as pushing that excess junk in the trunk up perfectly.

The initial trial is meant to show results within weeks.  As I have particularly bad cellulite I took before pictures over six weeks.  The results were everything that was promised.  There was a marked difference in the smoothness of the skin and I definitely found the dimpling in my upper thighs in particular to have reduced.

Although I was primarily trialling them in order to ascertain the anti-cellulite properties I did actually find that there was a marked difference in how my legs felt following a run when wearing them.  So, there is definitely something too the claims about reducing fatigue.  From day one I was able to pack more punch into a workout wearing my Emana’s.  All in all the trial was extremely successful.  I can’t recommend them enough.  They retail for £95, which is a reasonable price for leggings that deliver the goods.  They remain in my normal rotation as my go to workout wear as well as sneaking them under other garments as a much more comfortable option to your standard “suck in your gut” pants.  An all around great product from a fabulous company.

 

Unbotched

1235099_10151916503800955_1325535349_nIt seems at the moment we are saturated with headlines and television shows all about the horrors of plastic surgery and aesthetics gone wrong.  Now don’t get me wrong I love a bit of reality television.  My own massive physical transformation was the result of participating in  reality/documentary television.  But, I have been thinking lately that the emphasis seems to have shifted from the “feel good”, albeit cheesy style of the ugly duckling that in the end becomes a beautiful swan to the disasters.  Because if you unpick the whole aesthetic and plastics industry you will find that for every botched boob job or filler fiasco there are thousands and thousands of very happy patients whose lives have been changed for the better following their procedures.  I do love a fairy tale! But, what this is really about is celebrating the amazing work of those who do get it right the first time. 

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Before reconstruction

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After

My own experience could not be further from the “Woman’s implant explodes on the school run” horror stories that get so much attention.    Following a huge weight loss I had a disfigured body.  Even the biggest body confidence cheerleaders could not possibly argue that the body I had following weight loss was nothing less than a train wreck.  Masses of loose skin that hung from every bone on my body, which even the most vigorous boot camp, would not be able to shift.  In addition to the unpleasant aesthetic, the skin was a health hazard that only served as a dark reminder of what decades of obesity had done to me.  It was a dark cloud that hung over the success of my weight loss.

 But, I was offered the holy grail!   My loose skin was removed under the most professional and expert conditions.  Mr Paul Baguley is nothing short of amazing!  He, like the many other professionals registered with The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS – Ya I know!) that do amazing work.  These are in fact the very people often left with the task of putting humpty dumpty back together again following a fall off a dodgy surgeons table.  But, sadly what we see most of the time are the disasters.  These are often the ones that will be discussed on internet forums for what is seen as “stupidity in the name of vanity”.  Putting aside that at some point there was probably a really good reason they wanted the surgery in the first place.  One should never be punished for the desire to improve how they look or correct something that is not quite right.

IMG_20140227_110505Yes, as a matter of fact I am trying to recapture my lost youth, what is wrong with that?  Sadly when I was in my 20’s the world was not ready for the 300 pound pin up.  Keep in mind this was a pre-Beth Ditto/Tess Holiday world.  As glamourous as I tried to be I was never going to be anyone’s pin up girl.  Unfortunately I was relegated to the fat heap with the rest of the retro rejects.  I am not in any way condoning that but, it was what it was.  As a result I never enjoyed the body freedom that I wished for.

The fact remains that plastics along with the non-surgical options such as Botox, fillers, thread lifts, etc give those that choose it a much needed boost some times.  It is not about making you look like someone else, but about looking like a better version of yourself.  I understand the politics and this essay is not about that.  I will save that for another time.  But, what I am talking about is focusing on the safe and talented professionals out there that are making people’s lives better.  I for one am grateful for every nip/tuck and syringe I have had.  It has allowed me to be the person I didn’t get to be at 18.

**There are of course situations when things do go wrong and luckily there is help out there when that happens.  The Safety in Beauty Campaign is an initiative that supports those who have had less than satisfactory results.  They use their position to educate the public about safe practice and advise those who in extremes are left disfigured by poor practice.

Hiding the Evidence…

YouTube - Mel - YouTube - Google Chrome.mp4_snapshot_00.37_[2015.02.27_13.04.51]To say my body has been through the wars is probably a huge understatement.  The combined damage done to the very structure that holds everything together has been inflated and deflated within an inch of bursting on multiple occasions over the last 30 years.  The final deflation being the 12 stone I lost in the 18 months following my Gastric Plication that freed my damaged shell from super morbid obesity.  Following that there was the amazing rebuild that took place at the hands of Paul Baguley.  Having been an amazing transformation I could hardly complain about the scarring that this type of massive reconstruction leaves.  In many ways they were the battle scars, the physical proof of my history reminder of all the work I had put into changing my body so dramatically.

11418262_10153464841360955_593986283_nI wasn’t overly concerned about them initially.  To be fair the scars were neat and tidy and only noticeable at certain angles. I was so happy to have been liberated from the prison of skin that I had been encased in the scars rarely entered my radar. However, they were there and over time I had begun to look at them as the last bit of evidence of what a poor steward I had been over this body.  I thought about it and did some research.  It appeared that for the most part the recommendations were limited to various oils and silicone patches to lighten and flatten them.  Nothing particularly dramatic, but it would seem that would be what I would have to settle for.

11324103_10153464841345955_929175080_nRecently I was approached by Dr Daniel Sister, who I had heard of previously.  He is a pioneer in anti-ageing treatments with his method of Dracula Therapy™.  This procedure involves taking a vile of your own blood and spinning it in a centrifuge in order to separate the red blood cells from the clear serum and platelets.  The platelets are then injected into the skin, normally the face in order to reduce the signs of ageing. The injections encourage DNA repair thus, making the skin appear more youthful and rejuvenated.  Dr Sister was looking into how this treatment could be used to reduce the appearance of scars.  Obviously, knowing who Dr Sister was I jumped at the chance to work with him.

11418315_10153464841330955_1993958428_nI travelled to Dr Sisters London clinic, Beauty Works West for a consultation.  Due to the amount of surgery I previously had Dr Sister certainly had his work cut out for him.  But, knowing his amazing reputation I was in great hands.  He started by explaining to me how the procedure would work. He would take a small amount of my blood and spin it in the centrifuge and then re-inject the clear serum back into the scars in order to stimulate the body into repairing itself.

The injections themselves were almost pain free.  I don’t believe I even flinched once.  The truly outstanding thing was that the following day there was already a difference in the scars.  I was blown away at how dramatically they changed.  Over the following weeks what had been quite pink in places became lighter and flatter. The results have been miraculous.  For me this has been unbelievable and further increased my confidence as it means I get less looks and awkward questions as for the most part my scars are no longer visible.

However, as ecstatic as I am with the results it is particularly important to consider how life changing the Dracula Therapy™ could be for someone with extensive facial scarring. This treatment is certainly a game changer to say the least.

melissa

Un-ageing Gracefully

In the run up to my 45th birthday I thought it only right to look at some of the ways to beat back the hand of time. This is the first article in a series about women and ageing.  More accurately the lengths at which I intend to go to in order to look the way I feel.  I suppose it is all part of the bigger transformation.  As a young woman I was so overweight I didn’t have any self esteem.  I don’t think I was ever able to fully experience the luxury of “youth”.  I spent the years I should have been having fun and being carefree stuck inside wallowing in my relative fatness.

So, call it a mid-life crisis or perhaps just complete unadulterated insanity, but I want my youth back, now that I can fully enjoy it!  The fact is I don’t feel old.  I have young children, I am active and love all things trendy.  I don’t see the point of letting father time win.  So, I have made a decision that I am going to opt out of the ageing process or at least fight it kicking and screaming.

Having relatively decent skin for a pre-geriatric I have gone on a quest to find out the most advantageous ways to un-age gracefully.  Over the course of the next couple of months I will be undergoing treatments involving needles, infra-red probes, heat, electricity, more needles, exercise and just plain old good nutrition.   So, with the help of some of best Aesthetic Professionals in the world the clock stops here!

Butterflies and Beginnings…

Happy New Year Beautiful People!!  I am wishing and hoping for health, happiness and prosperity for us all!!

So, this New Year has me thinking about beginnings.  I have seen lots of beginnings this year.  Not the least of which has been the change in my body, in image and in the physical reconstruction of my actual body.  I was thinking about the sacrifices we make to change ourselves.  After losing so much weight, I was obviously left with lots of loose skin and also perhaps lost a bit of the youthful plump that all of the extra adipose tissue gave me.  In other words I once was like a balloon blown up and deflated basically.

Do I regret the loss of this bit of youth fat had afforded me?  Well, no, not even a little bit.  Because what I gained in self-esteem and health far outweigh all of this.  The new me can run!  The new me will live longer and the new me can do anything!  I have been extremely lucky that with the intervention of an amazing surgeon in Paul Baguley, I could be brand new.  Through plastic surgery I could have the body I worked so hard to get.  I have been looking through the pictures I sent into the television company prior to the surgery.  I remember being so humiliated sending them, that I actually cleared my browser and email account of any trace of those messages with pictures attached.  I looked at them and thought; there could not be any possible way to come back to anything remotely normal looking.

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Now in retrospect looking at my after pictures, particularly my thighs and stomach, the results are unbelievable.  I am not ashamed of those pictures anymore.  It is a bit like looking at a discarded cocoon now.  Although not perfect, I am very happy with the butterfly I have become no matter how oddly I fly now and then.

Breaking News!!!  Coming soon My first VLOG post where I will be reviewing some amazing new products.

“Rear Pressure”

I know I write a lot about our bodies and how we feel about them. I have been reading quite a lot about the #safetyinbeauty campaign.  It has really had me thinking about the danger some of us are willing to put ourselves through for our individual perception of what beauty is.

There has been a lot in the press about the controversial and extremely dangerous butt implants.  Now, I suppose we can go on an asswitch hunt to find the originator of the desire for a bottom that is completely disproportionate to one’s figure but that seems pointless.  However, there are some high profile “stars” that have embraced this with both cheeks.  You know who I mean, not necessary to spell it out.  I am all for the celebration of curves.  However, I believe what has been created is ”Rear Pressure”. Personally and I say this as someone with some junk in the trunk, albeit a lot less junk then I used to, that I actually find this look quite unattractive.  There is a massive difference between looking healthy and looking as if you have been having some sort of ass bash with Mike Tyson.  It looks unnatural unless your body is proportioned in that way.  Now as someone with breast implants I get that I may sound hypocritical.  But, young women are risking their lives for this.  Someone very local to me was, sadly the girl who lost her life in Thailand having butt implants.

I have no desire to look like Jessica Rabbit or any variation of her, real or otherwise.  I find it hypocritical as a society that as women we have been very quick to point out all the ways that make Barbie a poor role model.  Yet we bow at the well pedicured feet of some ridiculous and impossible to emulate “real” bodies.  Personally, I think Barbie in the right context is an aspirational figure.  She has even been president!!!  Never had a reality show and has chosen not to get married and concentrate on her career as an “insert this year’s job here”

I get the desire to look like whoever the latest celeb is, I really do.  I also understand everything about the desire for plastics.  But, we as women are risking everything for something that doesn’t really exist.  What we are seeing in magazines has been photos shopped to death and are not possible to emulate.

The fact is butt implants are particularly dangerous and unless you have been naturally blessed with that type of body look ridiculous. I could just be having a crazy rant.  But, seriously peeps have a look at the #Safetyinbeauty campaign.  There are some scary things going in plastics.  If you want plastics, do it for you.  Don’t let yourself be led by rear pressure.

Finding Me…

I was reading an article about the impact of plastic surgery on patient’s families.  It is one of those things you consider, but I suppose at the time the desperation for results overtake anything else.  I knew my body change would have an effect on my children, particularly my daughter.  I tried to protect her from this as much as I could, but mummy being covered in bandages from head to toe is a bit difficult to hide.  At this point I predict a teenage girl asking for implants because “mummy has them, so why can’t I”.  I am not sure how I will deal with that, luckily I have quite a few years to come up with an answer.

meand pip

But, the last thing I want is for her to feel like there is anything wrong with her body. She is only five and is already way too aware of body issues.  The reality of this hit me the other day when in the course of a conversation she mentioned someone we knew needed a doctor.  I questioned what she was talking about.  She said Mrs X needed to see mummies doctor because her skin was hanging under her arms.  I had an arm reduction, so this has normalised the procedure in her eyes.  Thank goodness she brought it to me before telling some poor woman she needed her bingo wings removed.  But, it got me thinking about how I can rationalise the clearly mixed messages I must be sending.  I try as much as I can to build her self-esteem and talk about being beautiful as she is.  But, I worry I have set a bad example.  What I have said about my surgery was that my skin made me poorly and it hurt.  But, everyone is beautiful in their own way.  Am I a hypocrite? Can I send the right messages or is my credibility in this area gone?  It is so hard; the last thing I want is for her to grow up as I did feeling there was something wrong with me.  I want high self-esteem and for her to feel invincible.

I allowed my weight and self-esteem issues keep me from doing so much.  In fact now I feel like I am having an epic mid-life crisis.  Loving my new confidence, but, hating the fact that at 44, something’s are just not possible to re-live.  I can’t get back the dances, proms, and parties I missed out on.  I am trying to find a way to recreate the youth I feel I was cheated out of.  Can I do this?  Maybe?

me

The Big Reveal

IMG_20140227_110505Waking up in a haze, it was all over.  My thighs and stomach bandaged up from ankle to torso it was hardly glamorous.  But, it was done and for the first time in my life even under the weight of staples and stitches, I was the proud owner of a shiny new “normal” body.  The recovery was difficult I had lost a lot of blood due to the complexity of the surgery and sheer volume of skin requiring removal.

Once I was home the weight of the journey I had undertaken had hit me.  Like a magic wand being run across my body the evidence of my obesity was erased.  Mr Baguley removed several pounds of skin. Where it had creped my body was now taut and contoured.

A couple of months on from the two stages of surgery, I filmed the “Reveal”.  Very interesting experience.  Make up artists applying concealers to some very unusual places.  For the first time I saw myself in a full length mirror without clothes.  I was blown away.  To say the results were dramatic was the understatement of the year.  I was not sure what or who I was looking at or who was looking back.  Definitely not the body I had become used to hating for all of those years.  All inhibitions melted away with the fat and skin.  I was truly brand new in every way.

As I continued to heal I began to realise what a different place the world was for me to live in now.  For some reason my opinion mattered more.  I was treated with greater respect than when I lived in my fat body. People were just nicer.  I learned the term for this was “thin privilege”.  It was a bit like I had been standing behind the velvet rope my whole life and all of a sudden was allowed into “the club”.  I had mixed feelings about all this.  I loved the attention, but on behalf of the fat girl without self-esteem I once was I resented the superficial nature of the way I was now treated.  I recently said to my Mum that all the education and degrees I attained over the years had been a waste of time and money.  So, rather than a college fund at 18, I should have been given weight loss surgery and new set of breasts.  But, the reality was I liked thin privilege and as much as it messed with my mind I had important things to say and this new person I became allowed me the platform to do so.  Like anything though you can either embrace it or let it destroy you…

Resurrection Part Two

So, here I am, having agreed to be on the telly!! I saw Mr Baguley and he said through several procedures he felt he could make me “normal”. I know there are a million versions of normal out there. But, in my eyes I looked like a circus freak. I think for most people, seeing what was hiding under my clothes after losing 12 stone, they would be shocked. I looked like a melted candle, certainly not like a woman in any sense of the word.
So, following the private consultation I would find out what would actually be done on camera! Another trip to York and lots of “takes” later, I learned that I would need a tummy tuck, thigh lift, arm reduction (bingo wings removal) and breast uplift/implants. It was a lot but, I had faith it would be the start of something great. The Bagster was and is my hero. There was never a time I had any doubts about his skills or the promises he made to “fix” me.
In between the surgery I would be filmed running and doing my normal routine. On a cold September morning I had a camera man, sound man and his assistant along with a host of producers and directors in my house filming my daily routine. It was daunting, but I soon got used to having them around. They filmed my daily routines. Obviously, the show being called “My Naked Secret”, you can imagine what it was like. Mostly me in my pants talking about the intense hatred I had about my body. But, soon enough I was on my way to York for the first surgery.
The surgeries would take place over two stages. The first was my arms and boobs. I checked into The Nuffield, York and with bated breath and a film crew, I had the first part of the surgeries. I woke up from the anaesthetic feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. But, ultimately was beyond excited! I stayed in hospital for three days. The difficulty in being in York meant that I would have no visitors and other then my lovely nurses not much interaction with the outside world. It was ok though. I think the underlying excitement of the journey I had embarked on was overwhelming enough to compensate for the loneliness I felt without my family being with me.  Once the healing started and I saw the results I knew it had been worth it.  I had perky and perfect boobs and for the first time in my life felt totally at ease wearing sleeveless tops.  The transformation was incredible!
I went home and tried my best to heal quickly as my next stage was not far off. The whole experience was surreal. I suppose the fact I was having all of this cosmetic surgery in public made it particularly strange. The experience was not going to be just my own. I would be sharing it with millions of people. I felt a sense of responsibility to be particular careful with my eating. I wanted to others to look to my story as one of hope. Make no mistake I have been incredibly lucky and I know that. But, I hoped I could show others what was possible.
So, as Christmas was approaching I was gearing up for the second stage. There was not much filming in the interim. It was all about preparing for the “big one”. As I again checked into the hospital I was under no illusion about what was about to happen. This was the stage that would be the most difficult. Mr Baguley had said I was the worst case he had ever seen and my thighs in particular would be very difficult to operate on as they were a total train wreck.  There were a laundry list of risks: Infection, bleeding, Asymmetry, blood clots.  Well, you get it!  It was serious.  But, you know what?  The risks were worth taking and I had every confidence in my surgeon.

But, again it was all a leap of faith…