Shot of Sleep, Straight Up

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Before

I’ve heard people talk about something called sleep. I believe it’s something I used to do before children and the weight of the world got the better of me.  I try my best with make-up and what can only be described as industrial grade concealer to hide the stress and lack of sleep that has taken residence under my eyes.  With bags big enough to hold all my luggage and dark circles that would be the envy of most raccoons there is only so much a mere cosmetic can be expected to do.  I have tried all the light reflecting magic, miracle potions out there and don’t get me wrong they can make a difference up to a point.  But, the 24/7 hustle of being a working mum who’s building a brand, writing as well as 9 to 5’ing takes a toll.

I am obviously very open minded when it comes to aesthetics and plastics. So, when I learned about the use of fillers to treat Tear Troughs, the area around the eyes, I was more than intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong the idea of having a filler, in this case Teosyal injected into the eye socket sounds a bit frightening. However, I was incredibly lucky to have had a Teoxane Trainer carrying out my treatment.

Dr Linea Strachan is trained dentist, but has been doing aesthetics for nearly 10 years.  She is the clinical director of A&L Clinics, which is one of the best and busiest cosmetic clinics in Suffolk. Luckily for me she has recently started running a clinic from Harley Street.  She is the teacher for intermediate and advanced filler techniques for Teoxane UK.  Dr Strachan is an award winning practitioner having won in two categories in facial aesthetics in the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2016.

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Before

I met Dr Strachan in Harley Street on the day of the treatment. As a rule of thumb people will often tell you that the best way to judge someone’s aesthetic skill is by looking at them.  Well Dr Strachan is certainly an amazing advert for her work.  She is as brilliant as she is stunning.  Following in intensive consultation and taking a set of before photos she explained that she would be using a new bit of technology for the treatment called a Teosyalpen.  It is basically an electronic dispenser that distributes the filler into the area being treated.  Dr Strachan first put in a small cannula which was then attached to the Teosyalpen.  I have had filler on many occasions and even with a numbing cream there is often a sting.  Not overly painful but usually enough to cause the eyes water a bit.  But, with the pen there was literally nothing.  I did not have any numbing cream and the only thing I felt was the tinniest scratch when the cannula was put in and just a bit of vibration as the teosyal went into the tear trough.  This was hands down the least painful treatment I have ever had.  It took no more than 15 minutes per side and the results were instant.  Because of the technique Dr Strachan uses there was no bruising and I couldn’t even see the entry point from the needle.

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After

Following the procedure you look like you have just come out of a week long nap! I was in awe of the difference.  There was minimal swelling which was pretty much gone within the week.  No down time whatsoever and a result that lasts up to a year.  Seriously, what’s not to love?

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After

Time for a safety lecture and some words of caution about this and all aesthetic treatments. A tear trough should not under any circumstances be administered by a non-medically trained practitioner!  Now I realise there are a number of people who are happy to be injected with any number of things by beauticians, I am not one of them.  Every single one of these procedures have the ability to cause serious and life altering side effects in the wrong hands.  Prior to any procedure an extensive consultation should be carried out to ensure you are suitable and safe to have the treatment. In addition the person injecting you should have the training to deal with complications should they arise.  I know a “bit of filler” seems like no bid deal.  But, if you were to have an allergic reaction to it does that beautician injecting you in the backroom of a salon have the medical training to deal with an anaphylactic shock? Will basic life support even be something he or she is trained in much less the injection of adrenaline in an emergency.   I say this as a nurse not just a blogger. These are things you need to consider when undertaking a “bit of a tweak”.   Beauticians are amazing at their jobs and in no way am I putting down their skills for “beauty treatments”. Injecting chemicals into the skin though done for non-medical reasons are still medical procedures and should be respected as that.   I believe that aesthetic treatments should be regulated in such a way as to make it illegal for anyone other than medically trained professionals to inject them.  With the treatment of your Tear Troughs in particular the experience and education of your practitioner is absolutely your number one priority.

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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.

 

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.

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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.