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.

 

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Fatty

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

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

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

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

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.

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!

The Power Within

dm cap

This week has been quite a whirlwind.  The week started with an amazing two days attending Professional Beauty in London.  Met some amazing people and was gifted a gorgeous assortment of products which I will be bringing you very soon.   Actually, my blog this week was meant to be an open letter to Bradley Cooper listing all the reasons I feel he should give me his Oscars Goody Bag.  However, sometimes life gives you its own special kind of goody bag.

After a very glamourous two days at Pro Beauty, there was the inevitable return to reality.  But, just as I was preparing for “normal” something crazy happened.  I was informed by the Daily Mail that they would be featuring my plastic surgery story in the Femail section.  In the past I was asked to do a story for them.  But, due to my concerns over being ripped apart by the comment section I always hesitated.  But, now it had happened!  No shelter, no preparing myself, it was raw and although I feel confident about my body, my self-esteem is still very fragile.  Within 10 minutes of the article going live, I was inundated with media requests and offers.  I was not remotely prepared for the interest the story would generate.  I have been involved in media previously having had my surgery broadcast.  But, this had a life of its own.  Again my concern wasn’t in the sharing, but in the scrutiny that I knew would follow.

I worried that I would be channelled right back to my 10 year old self who was bullied so severely over my weight, I was home schooled in the end.  I made the decision that I would not look at any comments.  I have an amazing and invaluable resource in my Advisor, friend and all around Social Media Fairy Godmamma Antonia Mariconda who said, should I be confronted with any negativity to sail through it like a swan.  She was right as usual!  The feedback that I have received has been 99% positive.  With her guidance and fairy dust I am sailing and keeping my power.  I must say at this point I could not have made through the last few days with my sanity intact without the “The Cosmedic Coach” and her superhero powers.

But, in the grand scheme of things what does this all mean? Well, in the end I did succumb to the temptation of seeing what people were saying about me.  It turned into an extremely cathartic experience.  Not only have I been able to share my journey,   deeper than that I learned that I am no longer the vulnerable fat girl. That little girl who wet herself on purpose to get sent home from school as it was my only escape from the bullies is a woman now!  A strong empowered woman who isn’t going to allow anyone to take her power away again!

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Butterflies and Beginnings…

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Me…

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

meand pip

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

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

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No Free Ride…

Weight is difficult thing. We exercise, we starve, detox, stuff ourselves with cabbage and ketones, and the big one one! We surgically alter our anatomy to restrict the food we can eat. The one thing we don’t do is fix our brains. I am now two and a half years post op a Gastric Plication. A relatively new procedure that is done through keyhole surgery. The surgeon folds the stomach into itself and sutures it to give you an anatomically smaller stomach.

It is an amazing procedure that allowed me to lose 12 stone in around 18 months. But, two years on I still struggle with my brain. My brain that wants to binge, my brain that can’t cope with stress and wants to eat, in the same way a junky needs a fix. I struggle, it’s painful and dark and so lonely. Eating disorders are a funny thing. As a thin person everyone is anxious to offer help. If you are big, the offer of help involves more criticism of the lifestyle you are perceived to be living rather than actual psychological help.

The NHS recently released some stats about the amount of people eligible for weight loss surgery. It is nothing short of astounding. The costs on the surface, astromical.  However, In the long run the investment would save money in the treatment of obesity related conditions over a life time. However, re-routing ones anatomy is not going to change their brain. You can’t roll out a program to band every overweight person in the country without working on their head first. It just won’t work. No magic wands, no fairy dust. Just hard work and exercise to maximize the tool. That’s right TOOL. Nobody can do this for you, no matter how much surgery you have.

But, I digress what this really is about is the mind scramble that happens with weight loss. It creeps up on you sometimes. I thought I had it all together and under control. But, actually was fooling myself. Support post weight loss is so important. Old habits are hard to break and as smug as living within “thin privilege” is, it is a harsh mistress and easily lost. I think to a certain degree, having a back ground in psychology I have managed to identify my failings and as painful as they are am working on trying to keep myself on the wagon. But, it is a dark pain and many many tears later and a couple of big macs later I don’t feel any more normal than I did at 350 pounds. I suppose the concept of normal is one of those things that I am doomed to have come and go. I love the feeling of looking and being treated as a “normal”. Inside there is nothing normal about my relationship with food. In fact for the most part I sit on the cusp of an eating disorder on a daily basis. I, for all intents and purpose am a junkie.

  • Food
  • Laxatives
  • Starvation
  • Self Hatred

 

I struggle with all of these issues at one time or another. The lure of transfer addiction is strong. A bit like the old cartoon pie aromas drawing the obligitory cartoon character toward the pie cooling on the windowsill. This is why the brain work is so very important. Slip ups are not the end of the world. But, when they happen, they make me feel like a failure. Why is that? Why should I feel the need to devalue all my success because of a bad meal. But, I suppose this is the power of food. Don’t think that I am ungrateful for the body I now have. I certainly am not. I just wish the lure of this demon wasn’t so strong.

What is beauty anyway?

I have always been an avid people watcher.  But, lately I noticed myself observing people who resemble the way I used to look, in other words, the larger of those among us.  I am fascinated watching from the outside for a change.  I remember that familiar tug on the hem of my top trying desperately to cover every bit of myself.   I all too often remember looking out the window of the bus so as not to meet the gaze of the person opposite me, looking at me in disgust.  “How did she let herself get like that? “ I would imagine them thinking.  I all too well recall the deep breath to bring my clavicles together, followed by forcing my arms together to try to physically make myself smaller in order to take up less space.

I think what people who have never been obese would struggle to understand is how absolutely trapped in your own body you feel.  I spent my whole life trying to make myself smaller, whether through diet or through metaphor.   When it finally happened it was in many ways like being released from prison, albeit a prison of my own making.  I embraced the whole concept of “curves”.  But, seriously I think the concept has been twisted a bit to make women in particular feel better about themselves.  I totally get it although oddly my body image has become so distorted I don’t think I know what is beautiful anymore.  It is definitely something more internal.   It is so hard, food has so much power.  I had hoped once I lost weight I would be able to conquer it.  But, like all addictions, a bit of surgery does not solve the problem.  It is a struggle, one day at a time.

Weight is such a funny thing.  I still struggle with food, a lot.  I am so careful because I feel like this thin privilege is such a big gift.  With all the plastic surgery I have had I feel a bit like my body is not completely mine.  I suppose because it was all filmed as well, I feel like a steward and it is my obligation to look after the gift I have been given. I struggle, but will persevere, I hope…

The Big Reveal

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

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

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

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