Double Espresso Please

Mega Matte liquid_web_imageSo, now you have your luscious lips all you need is a great lip colour to finish off your sexy new persona.  I consider myself a lipstick aficionado.  But, as much as I love a bold beautiful colour even the superstars have let me down in the stamina department.  Often the bolder colours either peel off or just don’t have the staying power of the more natural shades.  So, when someone challenged me to try an extremely dark colour in a brand that I had never heard of I did not hold out much hope.   Enter Acti-Labs a French company that makes a whole host of products including a vast make-up range.  Now I need to say at this point I had sworn off writing about products that would be classed as “multi-level Marketing”.  Not for any other reason than up to now I have found that many of them are not great and it can be awkward because you are often dealing with someone trying to make a business from their home rather than a faceless PR.

lipss.PNGBut, after speaking to the gorgeous Kertrina I was convinced to give it a try.  I was sent some lip colours that blew me away.  I had purposely chosen very dark colours as they are often the most difficult to sustain over an entire day.  To my shock they looked as good at 9pm as they had at 6am when I first applied them.  As someone who is most indelicate when eating or drinking I definitely put them through their paces.  My favourite colour was the Mega Matte espresso.  Very dark with a dark reddy hue.  As it was so dark I thought it would probably start peeling by mid-day.  But, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!!  It was perfect from beginning to end.  They are all gorgeous and I would definitely recommend this lippy lot for your next beauty haul.

Just a little side note Kertrina sent me some the Acti-Labs Whitening Toothpaste and at it worked better than anything I have used before.  So, Acti-Labs is certainly worth little look!!

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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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Rapunzel Me!

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer hair
Here baby, there mama
everywhere daddy daddy

You get the idea!! Hair is probably something those who have it in abundance take for granted.  There was a time many, many years ago I had thick hair.  So, thick in fact my mum would cut it short because it was so unmanageable.  I cannot pinpoint the exact time in my life that my hair started thinning.  But, as someone who was diagnosed with Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome in my twenties I think it’s probably likely that is when it all went south.  One of the unfortunate side effects of PCOS as it is known is hormone imbalance which in part causes a higher level of testosterone which sadly means thinning of hair where you want it and more hair where you don’t.  Enter ladybeard! But, that’s another story altogether. As I got older my hair gradually got thinner with the last straw being massive weight loss.  Having lost so much weight over such a short amount of meant that I unintentionally left myself vulnerable to vitamin deficiencies.  I am the first one to admit I was not as vigilant as I should have been in taking my supplements.

There are lots excellent aesthetic treatments such as PRP and Mesotherapy to treat thinning hair.  The science behind them is impressive and in a later blog I will discuss my own results with Mesotherapy.  However, I have a very short attention span and want instant gratification!

How do you create a head of hair out of nothing?  Well extensions of course.  This was something I had thought about a lot.  I had an increasing number of followers asking me my opinion on hair extensions.  I recall a wonderful article written by Dr Miriam Stoppard about all the reasons women over 40 should consider extensions.  Not the least of which is, that long flowing hair is associated with being carefree and youthful.

So, mission directive established I was off to get hair.  An exercise that was surely completely straightforward and simple, right? Actually, not so much! There is clip in, glue in, weaves, wefts, wigs, falls, Brazilian, Indian, Russian, micro loop, human hair synthetic and a multitude of other options to choose from.  Clearly, I would need to find a true expert.

dendelenIn looking at the different types of extensions one of the first things I learned is that there are few things that will kill your look quicker than a dodgy set of extensions.In order to maintain the integrity of your natural hair you need expert advice!  This is not something I would ever recommend as a diy project.  The pages and pages of hideous pictures of matted half bald scalps following a bad weave were endless.

I researched and researched the best and the brightest and was incredibly lucky that it just so happened that the cream of the crop Den Delen Owner/Director and generally amazing Wonder Woman entrepreneur and expert Hair Extension practitioner was right on my door step in SE London.  Her salon Showoff Hair Extensions had an excellent reputation and so off I went to see the lady herself to get properly Rapunzel’ed.   She did a consultation explaining exactly what type of hair I would need to achieve a natural look.  I was colour matched and advised that a combination of Nano and Micro loop Russian hair extensions would be used.  The tiny nano were placed at the sides in order to wear my hair up and not see any of the tiny bits that were looped into my own hair at the base. The extensions took roughly  two-three hours to put in. Watching her work was amazing as to me all these little bits look so fiddly, but in expert hands there was a rhythm of looping and clamping that was beyond impressive.  It was easy to see why Showoff had such a great reputation.  It is a beautiful tranquil environment that offers a number of aesthetic and beauty treatments as well as hair.

Once the hair was placed I got the big reveal!  I almost cried it was so beautiful! The hair was perfectly matched and looked 100% all mine.  I couldn’t stop touching it.  In the days that followed as I grew accustomed to this amazing mane I loved it more each day.  Den was careful to explain all the necessary information to keep the hair perfect. Rules around the way you wash, brush and generally everything you could possibly need to know to make sure it always looks its best.

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This was my first event with the new hair.  What can I say? Awesome!!

 

I must digress slightly here though.  I normally do not comment about specific customer service issues when reviewing a treatment.  But, whilst I was at Showoff something so amazing and extraordinary happened I think it would be remiss of me if I did not mention it.  There was a young woman in the salon who was crying and so distressed.  It unfolded that she was due to be married on the following Saturday and the company that she had paid to provide pretty much everything for her wedding had gone into administration that afternoon and she had just been informed that her day was basically ruined.  Den and the girls stopped everything that they were doing to help this girl.  The issues she was having had nothing to do with the services they offered. But, they went above and beyond to calm her down and helped her arrange new equipment, etc.  So, I can honestly say that with Showoff Hair Extensions customer service is Queen!

They are truly an amazing team of very talented women.  So much so they have been nominated for the Perrys Exceptional Customer Service Award.  They truly deserve it and if you would like to take a moment and vote for the amazing girls of Showoff please email exceptionalawards@pmwcom.co.uk writing Showoff Hair Extensions in the subject line!

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.

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.

Serious Jane Plan of Action

IMG_20150601_174108The last couple of months have been a time of perspective. I know there are those much worse off than myself and I of course acknowledge that I have many, many blessings to be grateful for.  However, it has been a really stressful time!  I feel like I have been to hell and back.  Like most times of great stress and pressure my oldest friend, nemesis and major opportunist, food crept in.  I was doing really well at keeping him at bay.  I have found that for me the best way to stay on the wagon is to eliminate all of the crap from my site and surround myself with only the good stuff.  Out of sight out of mind eh?  But, sadly as much as I hate to admit it, I am human.  Once the door was open, that was it! I had a good two months of food debauchery.  Humiliating and deeply depressing, but it happened and I needed to move on. No time to cry into a Big Mac! If I learned anything about being fat it was that I never, ever want to go back there!
Time for drastic measures!  I had met Jane Michell at The Anti-Ageing Show and had chatted about Jane Plan.  Jane spoke to me about her past weight issues and I learned that she once had a weight problem and that experience had spurred her on to train in nutrition and start her company to help others that were struggling with their weight. The plan works as a total meal replacement, including all of your snacks.  The only items you supplement are fresh vegetables and fruit if needed.  It is a fully balanced plan that takes all the guesswork out of dieting.  Jane is your personal chef for the duration of the plan! Tired and stressed out, how could I possibly resist.  This seemed the perfect way to get back on track.
20150622_061740I had chosen the box that had a variety of meals.  However, they cater to your specific dietary needs.  Prior to my meals being sent I had a comprehensive phone consultation that covered any specific preferences or intolerances I may have had.  I received my box of meals the following day.  One of the things that was particularly convenient was the meals do not require refrigeration.  So, it was easy to pop a meal in my bag for lunch.  In fact I ended up keeping my lunches in my desk for extra convenience.

I started Jane Plan on a Monday and although optimistic I did have concerns about pre-packaged food.   My concerns quickly went out the window when I had the most lush toffee cereal for breakfast. I had the majority of cereals with almond milk.  The porridges I prefer to make with plain water.  As someone who normally skips breakfast I had to really push myself into a routine.  But, the breakfasts were so nice it was fairly easy to get used to. Although all of the breakfasts were grain based, the varieties of flavours were such that it never became boring.

IMG_20150610_122147The lunches were a mixture of cold and hot lunches.  There was a variety of soups including Pea and Wiltshire Ham, Potato Leak, Carrot and Coriander, Tomato Basil, and Broccoli Cheese name a few.  The soups were all very thick and perfectly seasoned.  The portions were a good size and very filling, in fact not at all what I was expecting in a “diet” soup.  Food for me is more than just about eating.  It is the whole experience of how it feels and the depths of flavours as they mingle together.  I suppose this is part of my problem, I love it too much.  But, the Jane Plan in taking the guess work away from portion control makes the process of keeping myself in check much easier, as left to my own devices I could easily dive into a pool of the pea and ham soup and eat my way out.

The cold lunch options were equally as nice as the soups.  In addition to being healthy those clever chefs have managed to make them taste freshly made.  The Moroccan Salad with Wild Salmon was absolutely beautiful.  The big chunks of salmon were tender and well-seasoned.   The other options were equally as lush.  The Tuna Pasta and Cous Cous were two of my other favourites.  But, again there was not a single dud in the selection.
So, let’s talk dinner, so many yummy choices!  There were spicy creamy curries, beautiful meaty and veggie lasagne’s, meatballs, casseroles, cassoulet, chilli and ratatouille.  All of the meals were unique and delicious.  There was not a single meal I found boring.  The portions were all a decent size and consisted of a complete meal other than salad or other fresh produce you may want to add as a side.

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The nice thing for me as a genuine food addict is that each meal was portioned perfectly, so there was no possibility of overeating.  You have your three meals done and dusted once gone that is it for the day.  Jane has thought of everything though and there was a lovely selection of snacks to choose from each day.  They ranged from oat cakes which were often my choice if I wanted a snack in the afternoon to sweeter biscuits that I tended to have in the evening.  They were all wrapped separately which like the other meals was a great idea as having a box of loose biscuits is just too tempting.  The care that has been put into the plan is obvious and based on the flavours; it is obvious Jane is someone who enjoys food.

The plan fits perfectly into a busy lifestyle and was not a struggle to stick to.  In particular I could see Jane being my go to girl after a holiday of excess.  It is the perfect way to throw your big booty back on the horse.  There are even nutritionists you can access for the duration of the plan if you are struggling or have any other questions.  So, Jane has all the bases covered.

20150718_175104For me I felt the plan really got my focus back.  I lost a stone over the month, which is amazing!  But, more importantly than the weight loss is the structure she helped me get back.  There is nothing worse than the feeling that I have lost control.  I know there are those who don’t understand the psychology behind all this. But, I am very much an addict!  I don’t say this to take away the responsibility.  I am 100% responsible for my past obesity.  However, I do falter at times and I do not ever want to back to where I was.  I am incredibly lucky to have people like Jane around me to kick my big ass back in line.

For more information and to benefit from a great discount off of Your first box click here http://www.janeplan.com/ and add the voucher code AB618AE when prompted.

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

My Name is Melissa…

hamburger-1349595-mMy name is Melissa and I am a food addict.  I know I have written about this time and time again.  But, I have come to the realisation that I have lost control.  I had my weight loss surgery in 2012.  Following a serious war on fat I raised the flag of victory 18 months later.  I had conquered the demon, never would I allow food to rule my life again.  For the first time in my life I felt like I was in control.  It was a great feeling!  But, in the last couple of months something has changed.  I had a really horrible start to the year.  At one point I thought I was going to lose my house, it seemed as if everything I was falling apart including my mental health. In the chaos of all that was happening around me an old friend showed up to try and cheer me up. In all his glorious calorific loveliness. He let me cry on his shoulder and held my hand when I felt alone.  I should have known better.  But, I thought I was better now, stronger and could handle him being in my life again.  I was so wrong!  What I didn’t realise was that even after all this time I wouldn’t know when to stop and say no.  The aftermath of my lapse in judgement was shocking. I had gained 15 pounds in three weeks.

pizza-2-1364933-mIn my previous body a stone or even two or three was meaningless and honestly hardly noticeable, now in this smaller frame all I see is bulging fat.  That damned F word!  I avoided its use for decades as for some reason being overweight or the extremely overused “curvy” seemed to feel gentler on my delicate psyche. But, it was a lie.  There was no curve, just lumpy, bumpy horrible, jiggly fat.  Curves, more cushion for the pushin and various other colloquialisms only serve to push us deeper into denial. Personally, having hid behind the big and proud agenda for years I don’t believe there is anything empowering about giving up on yourself and accepting a bloated time bomb of a body in an attempt to normalise obesity. This doesn’t mean that as a woman I have to conform to societies so called ideal body shape. But, is more about putting the onus on me to set a good example to my daughter.   The last thing I would want for her is to spend 20 plus years trapped under 350 pounds of flab.  In the years that my addiction to food had its strongest hold I could rationalise my obesity. When I discovered I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome it was as if I had found the Holy Grail.  This was my license to hang all responsibility on a mysteries “syndrome”.  Therefore, from that day forward it wasn’t my fault any more.  It wasn’t the three big macs I loved so much killing me, I had a disease, a ticket to allow my addiction to take complete control of me.  Something happened one day, it wasn’t good enough any more.  All of a sudden it hit me that rather then empowerment, I had rendered myself completely dis-empowered.  The fact is love it or hate it the world is not a nice place to be in when you are fat.  I had to work twice as hard to gain the respect of colleagues.  I had to prove myself everyday to those that looked at me and automatically thought I was the laziest person on the planet.  As much as I ate, I was certainly not lazy.  In fact from a health point of view I was one of those lucky fatties that never had the stereotypical obesity related ailments.  This made hiding behind the bbw flag much easier as I could declare myself fat and hit!  But, underneath I was eating myself to death.  I suppose it’s a bit like the functional junky.  They can rationalise how much smack they do because they still get up every morning and go to work.  It is only a matter of time before the addiction catches you off guard.  But, I digress, this is about me now.  I suppose there is a certain amount of victory in realising I am slipping before going completely off the rails and having a full regain. I really can’t imagine what that would do to the psyche.  I know many people that it’s happened to.  Is there anything worse than being fat?  it is something that you have a certain degree of control over.  So, no there isn’t anything worse than being fat for me.  It isn’t like getting cancer or hit by a bus.  Those are things outside of your control.  Having experienced what it’s like to be thin the idea of being fat again is the stuff of nightmares.

hot-dog-1149854-mI was and am completely responsible for my lack of self control.  I am human unfortunately and as such I have my own set of demons to deal with.  It is so hard!  I find myself upset and ravenously tearing apart the kitchen looking for anything that will sooth my troubled mind.  The high is instant, exhilarating with each orgasmic bite, but then there is the come down. The self hatred and guilt that lasts so much longer than the climax.  Food is a tough one you can’t completely eliminate it from your life.  But, what I need to learn to control is how I handle myself around it.

I need to constantly remind myself that food is not my friend and as much as I desperately want a pizza to cry into some times I just don’t have it in me to “just be friends”.  Maybe one day we can get together and reminisce about all my 3 am binges.  But, for now I need a game plan.  It is all about going back to basics.  Complete portion and calorie control.  I have been incredibly lucky that my blog allows me access to some amazing people and products.  With that I will be putting everything I have into getting my head back in the game.  Food may have one a tiny battle in the last few weeks, but has definitely not won the war.