Multitasking Miracle

Like any busy mum I find it hard to incorporate a solid beauty routine into my already jam packed day.  That’s why I appreciate products that have multiple uses.  So, discovering DermaEraze Miracle Oil was an absolute boon!  This little bottle of fabulousness can be used on the skin and hair.  Although it is an oil, it absorbs like a lotion.  So, it is the perfect primer under my make-up for my dry skin.  I use it at night as a moisturiser and absorbs so quickly your skin feels soft and smooth from the first use.  But, it can be used over the whole body and is particularly good for scars and stretch marks.   I obviously have extensive scars over my entire body due to plastic surgery and have noticed a visible difference in the last three months of use.

miracle-oil

Created by world renowned Skin Repair Specialist Lorena Öberg, This formulation is made from the purest Olive, Almond and Avocado oils.  The healing properties of the oil make it an ideal product to use alongside aesthetic procedures such as micro-needling as it aids the skins ability to repair itself.

The Miracle Oil has done a beautiful job in keeping my hair extensions in great condition.  I use it prior to straitening and any other heat treatments as it keeps my ends smooth and shiny.  Again because it absorbs so well there are no issues with it causing the extensions to slip or the bonds to break down.

This is certainly a product that will remain a staple in my beauty routine.

Coming soon I will be revisiting Lorena in clinic to try her world famous DermaEraze Stretch Mark Removal Treatment. Just in time for bikini season!

Click here for more information on the DermaEraze Stretch Mark Removal Treatment.

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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…

#NoExcuses

14721649_669567459868728_1004468577750512185_nSo it begins! I have never made my advocacy  for the Abby Pell’s of this world a secret. Those amazing super humans who embraced the “no excuses” hashtag with both hands and got mostly hate for their effort.  I remain an advocate for all body shapes.  But, why is it that these women who have chosen to push their physical limits get so much hate?  As anyone who has followed me knows I used to weigh over 350 pounds.  I am certainly not the poster girl for gym bunnies by any stretch of the imagination.  But, this topic intrigues me, particularly in light of the recent controversy over Eugenia Cooney’s YouTube channel and the petition to ban her.  Now I do agree she certainly has an eating disorder.  But, has the pendulum swung so far that it is now ok to body shame those we consider too skinny?  There are super sized (by their own description) fashion bloggers that if they were experiencing the same vitriol as Eugenia we would be going out of our way to defend them.  Are they not just as much of an example of an eating disorder as Eugenia? I don’t know the answer.  But, I digress.  This is about really digging deep and saying NO actually there is no excuse for this middle age spread.  Yes, I have lost a lot of weight and have been incredibly lucky to have been able to have the extensive plastic surgery to remove loose skin.  But, that just put me on a more level playing field with the majority of women.  I am an extremely busy mum of seven year old twins.  I don’t want to get up at 5am to do crunches in my living room any more than anyone else.  But, having lived most of my life in a fat suit feel I would be doing myself the ultimate dis-service by not finding out what is possible.

7d8d319de325f162b18b58dfdf687460So, my question was; what happens when an average mum drops all excuses and hits the gym?  Well the first step like most of my body transformation would require expert help.  This would seem the easy part.  But, I soon found out that picking a personal trainer is very much like finding a therapist or partner for that matter.  You need someone you trust and that you can work with.  I searched for months before I found Darrell Wilson of DW Holistic Fitness.  During our first meeting he blinded me with the science of exercise.  It’s not that I expected a personal trainer to be dim.  But, I suppose we all hold silly stereotypes of the super fit perhaps being more muscle than brain, to which I profusely apologise.  Darrell has an incredible knowledge of not only the science of behind exercise, but also knows everything you can possibly think of about the nutrition needed to lose weight and gain muscle. His ability to explain the reasons behind every movement is nothing short of astounding.

Over my many years as a serial dieter I have possessed many a gym membership.  For the most part it was the usual story.  Following the obligatory “New Year’s resolution” I happily handed over my bank details to a very pushy sales person and for a month or two religiously went to the gym losing that same two stone repeatedly each year only to gain it back the second I eyeballed a cream cake. But, the fact is walking halfheartedly on a treadmill and pushing around a couple of dumbbells for an hour does not a six pack make.

There is certainly much more reason to be motivated when you have someone at your side to tell you exactly what is happening to your body during exercise.   Having thought I knew quite a lot about the topic myself soon learned I didn’t know much at all.  So, having found “the one” we started training. I think the best part of working with a great PT is that you are really motivated to make progress.  Was I sore the next day?  Yes!  I found muscles I didn’t know existed.  The feeling of satisfaction following each workout cannot be put into words.  The truly amazing thing is how quickly I felt the results.  I am obviously a work in progress, but having been working with Darrell for just over a month now the difference in my body is very noticeable.  The satisfaction in seeing the free weights go up each week is an awesome feeling.  He is a ball buster in the nicest possible way!  The workouts are always challenging, but the fact that I am seeing the results is such a great motivator.  I started out with a marked weakness on my left side as compared to the right.  But, over the last few weeks I have seen such a big difference that my left side has nearly caught up.

I have certainly come a long way from the “Davina” hand weights collecting dust under my bed.  Having that support from someone at your side each session is extra motivation to stay on track.  I have been resistant to having a trainer in the past because I felt self-conscious.  But, Darrell in addition to knowing what he is talking about is a genuinely nice person that spurs you on in such a positive way.  I can’t think of a better cheerleader in this very foreign territory.

So, I remain without excuses and on the way to finding out what is truly possible.  This is chapter one of a series on building a better body.  Will I end up with a six pack? Don’t know! But, what is certain is that building a better body is so much more complex then losing weight.  So, with science, good nutrition and a truly inspirational Trainer there are no excuses and no limits!

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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.

 

Sun Damage

meand pipI suppose to a certain degree we have become desensitised to the body shaming that takes place in the media.  When I agreed to speak with a journalist from the Sun during the summer holiday about my position on health promotion for children I did not expect that six months later a completely fabricated article would show up online.  What is really disgusting is the fact they chose to body shame my child in their pursuit of a controversial headline.  When I saw my face along with my little girl staring back at me under the headline “The NHS needs so sort out my obese child” I felt sick.  I have been asked by several media outlets for a response on the article.  But, as I know it is not possible to trust anyone to accurately express the absolute disgust I felt when I saw the Sun this morning I decided it was best to do it my way.

I will address the various points attributed to me starting with the obvious glaring horror that is gastric balloons for children.  I would never, ever recommend any gastric procedure for a child.  What I had actually said and this is a direct quote; never would I ever recommend a gastric balloon for any child, but particularly mine.  When asked specifically about gastric surgery I said that in older teenagers with extreme obesity, in a case by case basis and when all other treatments had been exhausted perhaps a balloon could be considered.

The purpose of my voicing an opinion was to discuss the need for more activity based programs for children similar to what is done for adults with the “Steps to Health” programme.  Adults can be referred by their gp for 12 weeks of gym membership.  My thought on this was a programme where children could build peer to peer relationships with other children with similar issues with weight where they would feel free of judgement and bullying.

There is also the issue of personal responsibility.  My blog has been live for over a year and is public record.  My feelings on this have always been clear.  I in no way blame the government or anyone else other than the individual for poor eating habits.  Any issues with my children’s eating habits lay squarely at my doorstep.  The point I had made in my interview had been that I have a boy and a girl that eat the exact same diet. (the diet by the way is very mixed and balanced, which again was turned into a sugar fest for the purpose of sensationalistic nonsense) Yet they clearly have completely different metabolisms as my son is much smaller than my daughter.

In addition to the blatant fabrication of the truth pictures were taken from my blog which were related to reviews I had done of vitamin infusions and fat freezing and attributed to my weight loss surgery.  I was quoted as saying weight loss surgery was a magic wand.  Again anyone who has read anything I have written knows this is not my opinion.  Weight loss surgery is an extreme solution and not an easy journey.

But, the saddest thing for me about this is that the whole reason for raising awareness was to prevent children from being bullied in the way I was as a child.  Yet this disgusting rag chose to use this in order to incite bullying and fat shaming against me and my child.  I am a big girl now and over the many years of being shamed and bullied I have developed thick skin.  But, what is absolutely deplorable is to deliberately set up a child to be ridiculed and bullied.   This is reprehensible for a journalist to feel it acceptable to body shame a six year old.  Anyone who has read my blog knows what I went through as a child at the hands of other children.  For an adult to set up a child like this is nothing short of evil.

I am choosing not to use a link or screen shot of the original article as I do not wish to give it any further power.

Fatty

love a bit of cakeI have been thinking lately about why my relationship with food is so bad.  I think that for much of my life food has been my method of self-harm.  Instead of cutting myself I have chosen to fill the cracks in my psyche with fat.  Sadly, there is little sympathy for those with my particular method of self-destruction.   If I were jones’in for a line or syringe of something a bit more rock and roll I believe there would be so much more help available.  I wish it didn’t hold so much power over me.  To a certain degree I think that had so much of my journey not been public I probably would have gained it all back by now.  It kills me that I struggle to see myself as I am and not as the little fat girl that everyone hated so much (or at least that’s how I felt).

I cannot pinpoint the exact point it started.  But, I can still vividly remember being bullied to the point of peeing myself so a teacher would send me home.  I must have been around 9 or 10.  An older girl pushed me to the ground and got right in my face.  She said you make me sick fatty!  This was one of many, many episodes that sadly dominated my most formative years.  I would do literally anything to stay home from school.  Throwing myself into a ditch, riding my bike into a wall, anything I could to cause enough damage to warrant a pass from school.  Finally, when I was 11 my mum finally relented and I was home schooled from that point.  I look back and wonder if by doing that I allowed the bullies to win.  But, I suppose nobody knows what to do in that situation.  All I craved was respite from the daily cruelty and abuse.

szwet4rh7yjtrtdgmqrmBut, by leaving school I am not sure the outcome left me any better.  I had very few friends and I soon learned adults could be just as cruel as children.  I suppose this is part of the reason I crave some of that youth I missed out on.  I have the body I so desperately wanted at 18 and feel like I need to recapture the many, many moments I missed out on.  Is trying to cheat Mother Nature a little really the worst thing in the world?  Surely not…   There was so much pubescent loneliness.  I remember hearing about the various dances and school events I missed.  I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter, that I didn’t care.  But, I did and I do know I can’t get those things back.

I realise there will never be an opportunity to go to the prom.  Although if anyone should be interested in a slightly over the hill prom date I probably wouldn’t say no.

Escape from Hormone Hell

mbHave you ever woke up and realised pretty much every aspect of your life is toxic?  I cannot think of any time this would be remotely pleasant.  But, 45 it is particularly distressing.  A serious detox was definitely in order!

It seems that stress has overwhelmed me in every possible way.  My ongoing and most tragic relationship with food seems the obvious place to start.  In addition the perimenopause appears to have become the wolf at the door, his knocking becoming louder by the minute.

Putting it into a classically catholic analogy the perimenopause is a state of feminine “limbo” not quite menopause, but not very fertile Myrtle either.  Peri-pause is pretty much all the fun of period and cramps along with the added bonus of hormone hell and hot flushes.  Seriously universe, I only manage to get a kind of normal body and you hand me this?  We need a chat for sure!

Enter the amazing Jenny Adams of The Meadow Clinic.  I have spoken of her before in an article called “Freezing Myself Thin”.  She is an amazing aesthetic practitioner and did some miraculous things with my various fat pockets.  But, in addition to her beauty talent she iPerimenopause_doctors_Chicago_0s a Nutritional Therapist who practices Metabolic Balance at the clinic.  Now of course I am always looking to shift the same 10 pounds I lose and gain each month permanently.  So, following a very intensive consultation about my health goals I decided to go for it.  Now I say health goals because Metabolic Balance is not necessarily about weight loss.  Jenny’s work is about the whole person and looking at how to heal the body’s frailties with the right foods rather than drugs.  In particular Jenny looks at how our hormones can be balanced, thus alleviating the symptoms that women of a certain experience.

I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about nutrition.  But, Jenny is an encyclopaedia of information about the healing properties of every possible food combination.  The plan itself sounds complicated initially.  Basically, the idea is that Metabolic Balance aims to re-boot your hormones, insulin levels and metabolism to help your body maintain it’s ideal or natural weight.  It is not about getting to a certain BMI  but, more about your bodies comfort zone.

Following an extensive consultation you have a blood test to determine what areas of your body need what nutrient.  My results showed that I had an iron deficiency as well as a sluggish thyroid.  In addition I had various deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients.  All of this as explained by Jenny meant that not only did these issues make further weight loss more difficult it also meant that my perimenopause symptoms were much worse than they needed to be.  Hot flushes and night sweats in particular were a huge issue.  I would regularly wake up in a Melissa shaped wet spot from a night of hormone hell.

The first week is tough, but having Jenny on the other end of the phone was a godsend.  The plan itself is not difficult to follow once you get your head around it.  The first two days involve a strict cleanse phase. The first part involves drinking a preparation of Epsom salts to give you good old colon cleanse.  The first couple of days are tough but, totally doable.  Following the cleanse there is a strict adjustment phase.  This sounds very complicated, but it really wasn’t and again Jenny was there to give me recipe ideas and tips to make it easier.  It is so important to have a knowledgeable guide in this journey and Jenny is top notch.  This plan has the potential to change your life with the right guidance.  It is definitely not something I could have attempted alone nor would I recommend attempting this plan without an expert.  The adjustment phase lasts at least two weeks.

After the first two weeks I had started losing weight.  However, as much as I was loving the weight loss it became secondary to the lack of night sweats.  I was literally in shock at the difference a change in diet made to my hormone hell.  Two weeks in and I was flushless and the night sweats had gone.  There was also a marked difference in energy.  My feeling at this point was if I felt this good at two weeks, how would I feel after a couple of months.  There was certainly incentive to keep going.  Plus Jenny is an awesome cheerleader and is always there to spur me on.

Metabolic Balance involves some strict rules that in order to be successful you must follow.  This is why expert guidance is so important.  But, once it is explained by someone who knows their stuff like Jenny you will sail.  The food is clean and delicious.  The really fabulous thing was getting a list of foods I could eat rather than the obligatory forbidden list which is pretty much a guarantee I will cheat!  The plan is based on hard science and the bottom line is it works.  I lost 15.5 pounds in the initial eight weeks of doing the plan.  If I didn’t need further proof that it worked magic on my hormones I had a week that for various reasons I went off plan, my sweats literally came back instantly.  Needless to say I went straight back on plan and ta da!!  No sweats!!  Bottom line this isn’t gimmicky and it’s about proper food and using it to make your body work more efficiently.  It works and I can’t argue with results!

For more information contact the amazing power house that is Jenny Adams at The Meadow Clinic in Leamington Spa.  Keep in my mind it is about finding the right person.  Location is irrelevant.  Jenny conducted the majority of our sessions over the phone and it was rarely necessary to be in clinic.  Needless to say this not so much a plan as a complete change in lifestyle and definitely a keeper.