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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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.

 

Body Positive Bling

20160216_213311.pngI often think about how difficult it must be for young girls in particular. There is so much pressure to be like Kylie or whoever else is this weeks must have “bod”. So, when someone approaches me with something so beautiful and generous as Fiona De Buitlear of Trinkets Jewellery in Ireland I can’t help but be on board.

Fiona Is using her bling business as a platform to promote a body positive “real model” message. The plan is simple, she will give away a gorgeous bit of sparkle in return for a “selfie” and message that reflects a positive body image.

 

Fiona sent me what I can only describe as magpie heaven! My payment was a selfie and an agreement to be one of her “real models”.
IMG_20160204_162923.jpgWhat strikes me about this campaign is this isn’t rhetoric and is not a bunch of well-meaning words for self-promotion. She is literally putting her money where her mouth is. I am absolutely in awe of what she is doing. It takes great courage to put convictions over money. I always find it intriguing that some of the most provocative business decisions come from those with the most to lose. As a small business owner she is taking a huge risk. For this I feel it is our obligation to not only support her, but pressure other businesses to do the get on board.

The bottom line is every woman deserves to feel beautiful and femininity does not have a size!

IMG_20160204_163139So, I would ask everyone to support the amazing work that Fiona is doing. She is an inspiration and if all of us were willing to wear are ovaries on the outside once in a while the world would be a much more accepting place.

Off to put in my order for one or ten bling bangles!

 

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.

Shame we can’t all get along!

How-to-get-a-beach-body-Take-your-bodyIt seems body image and being proud of what we have is the theme for the week.  #PlusSizeWars? #WeAreThey? #ProteinWorld? It is an interesting concept and has me thinking about where I am and where I have been.  Am I a sell out for wanting to change my body?  If I had the confidence as a young woman that I do following the massive amount of plastic surgery I have had would my life have been different?  So many questions that I don’t know the answers to…

But, you have to give Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello a super shout out on behalf of women everywhere for standing up to the established beauty myth that is perpetrated on us every summer around what makes us as women “beach ready”.  The Protein World ad is not unlike every other campaign that gives us that extra shot of insecurity that we didn’t ask for, nor need to further push us into buying into a product or service that will make us “perfect”.

This is where I have to declare a conflict of interest. Because as much as I would like to say “down with the beauty myth!” “We are all beautiful” and the like I have spent much of the last few years exploring every last flaw that exists on my body and researching ways to “fix” it.   Where does that leave me in this argument?  I firmly believe that nobody should be ashamed of their body.  In the summer we should all feel like we can throw on a fabulous swim suit and hit the beach at any size or shape.  But, have I ever worn a swim suit in public?  That would be a big fat NO! Pardon the pun.  It may have been a lack of body positive role models or just my being locked in my own prison of body shame.  But, I still struggle with the concept of being happy with my body.

I find myself in a difficult position with this issue.  I think there is a line that needs to be drawn here.  This ad is clearly selling products for weight loss and there is nothing wrong with that.  Obesity is an extremely complex issue and this particular campaign is not going to change that.  My feeling around the issue as someone who was on the super obese spectrum is that the messages I received around body image told me that I was doomed and would never be able to achieve anything unless I fit literally and figuratively into a particular body shape. As an adult woman with decades of life experience behind me I am just about strong enough to deal with this.  However, there are millions of young girls and women who are growing up believing they can’t achieve their full potential because they don’t fit the “cookie cutter” image that as women we have been socialised to believe makes us successful.  The profoundly sad thing is, they are probably correct.
I write this not as an anonymous pundit seeking to cast judgement on a misogynist society.  But, as a highly educated woman who continues to experience first hand the advantages and disadvantage being a member of each of these camps bring.  I wish I could say that being proud of my body was enough.  That loving yourself will make the world love you back.  But, I can’t because the very sad truth is, this world will not reward you for your brain, your ability to write a beautiful story or even having the skills to save a life.  The thing that has made me successful in my current endeavour and made people want to hear me is all of the superficiality that we find so distasteful in this argument.  Do I think this is right? Of course not.  But, have I benefited from moving closer to what society expects women to look like?  Yes.
Obesity in itself is a very serious problem and in the same way nobody should be shamed into self hatred about not having that “perfect” body, neither should we shame those amongst us that have, through very hard work managed to create a female form that fits the #Protein World mould.  I find it increasingly sad that the original message of female empowerment is being lost.  If we are ever to make progress in this area we need to stop the in fighting about it being us versus them.  I have reached a point of saturation today where I have began to feel that rather than witnessing a testament to sisterhood it is turning into a pissing contest between Barbie and Midge.  However, my message remains the same.  Body shaming in any form is not acceptable, no matter which side of the coin you landed on.

**Image Courtesy of Fiona Longmuir and Tara Castello

Un-ageing Gracefully

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

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

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