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The Divine Mz M

Living life as a curvy goddess, without apologies.

Fighting the Good Fight: My Battle With Anxiety

I am celebrating an anniversary today. Six months ago today, I decided to take control of my life.

On March 12, 2016, I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life, 223 lbs. I was suffering from constant pain from sciatica, which created a daily need for some kind of painkiller, be it an over the counter med like Aleve or something stronger that could knock me out.

What I wasn’t sharing – panic attacks that used to plague me for years had returned. Driving around this little island made me feel claustrophobic; like I couldn’t run away. I chalked up most of my feelings to homesickness, but the bulk of the truth was staring at me in the mirror.

I was sick. Overweight. Over-medicated. Physically weak.

At my heaviest.
At my heaviest.

I have always been an advocate of celebrating the body you have and not tearing yourself down. Though I’m not ashamed of the weight I gained, I was worried that the weight I had put on was destroying my body. Things I used to do rather easily (like climbing stairs) would leave me out of breath. I was more tired than usual.

But what I failed to see until that day in March was, my panicky feelings were tied to my body crying for help. Though I was put on an anti anxiety medication, I still struggled with leaving our house, worried that a panic attack might happen. That’s the worst part – the “what if” I have an attack?

I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I decided to get serious.

Before I "got it." Medication only helps so far.
Before I “got it.” Medication only helps so far.

To be clear: I am not advocating that anti anxiety/antidepressants are bad. However, through my experience, using medication alone to deal with anxiety was not enough. I had to make big changes to my diet and get physically strong. I needed to push through discomfort in order to make changes. Not only from a physical standpoint, but I needed to confront issues with myself. Meditation and seeing a therapist helped to quiet my ever-racing mind.

Today, I am positive that my body does not respond well to sugars and processed foods. Whenever I have given myself a treat and eat something with more sugar, my joints hurt the next day. I feel lethargic and also more prone to insomnia. So, I will eat a much smaller amount to avoid the side effects.

As I write this, I am 28 pounds lighter. My medication has been adjusted and I’m sleeping better.

Feeling so much better!
Feeling so much better!

My message is this: Anxiety and depression are very real. It’s not just feeling anxious or blue. I “white knuckled” through a lot of the anxiety for a long time, or I would try to distract myself by throwing myself into a lot of projects so I wouldn’t have to deal with my issues.

I know that I will need to continue to work out, eat well, and monitor my stress to keep the panic attacks and depressive episodes at bay.

The Hubby has been amazing through my journey. I really don’t think I could have got on a good path to wellness without his support. I love him with all my heart!

Love of my life!
Love of my life!

If you are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, don’t be afraid to get help. You’re not weak for doing so! It means you want to live a better life, and you deserve that.

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo, Melanie.

 

 

Pictures Don’t Lie

BoM selfie

Hello Lovelies,

Oh, I am a bad blogger! I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I posted anything, but I HAVE been busy! First off, I went home to Michigan for a couple weeks to surprise my dad for his birthday – and was he surprised! Between myself, stepmom, best friend, and aunt, we pulled off an awesome surprise party! I’m so happy I was able to do that for him and spend time with people I love. It’s hard to be so far away.

One of the things that’s hardest to do when going on vacation or seeing your friends and family is sticking to a healthy routine. When I left for Michigan on June 14, I weighed 207 (17 lbs down from my heaviest in March). I watched portion sizes, how much sugar and fat I ate, and avoided simple carbs. I did some “power walks” in the mornings to get my cardio going. Coming back, I was 205. Now I am 202! That’s 21 lbs. gone.

Though I’ve seen progress on the scale, sometimes it’s difficult to truly see it in the mirror. However, going through some pictures gave me true perspective of what I’ve done. Here I am at the start of my journey in March (at 223 lbs):

When I began to take control of my health!
When I began to take control of my health!

March 2016 223

Here are my latest pics from the first week of July:

Dress, Just Fab. Belt, thrift store find.
Dress, Just Fab.
Belt, thrift store find.
Bag and sandals, Just Fab.
Bag and sandals, Just Fab.

Though I look and feel healthier, I am not going to put down the Melanie in the “before” pictures. That’s something I don’t like seeing people do who’ve lost weight (“Look at how fat I was!, What a slob!, How ugly! etc.). I don’t think it’s healthy for my soul to “name call” myself. Who I was then has brought me to now, so I am thankful for that.

I’ve also put in 500 lifetime miles on my FitBit! I had to celebrate my getting these cute black sandals from JustFab.com (unfortunately are now sold out!).

Blk JF sandals

Though I’m entering (what is horribly named) “middle age,” I find that the key to staying and feeling youthful is to surround myself with people who love to have fun and bring out the best in you. I am blessed to have several people in my life who do this, especially my best friend of 40 years, Debby. She may not be my blood sister, but she has been one to me in every sense of the word!

All dressed up to see the hilarious musical, THE BOOK OF MORMON.
All dressed up to see the hilarious musical, THE BOOK OF MORMON.
BFFs Forever!
BFFs Forever!

Question for you all: Is age “just a number?” Are there things you should stop doing at a “certain age?” Please comment:)

Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo Melanie.

 

 

 

SHOP LINKS: Black T shirt dress (up to 3X)

Bag (available in cognac only)

An Eye Opener About Fast Fashion

Hello lovelies,

Like many of you, I love to shop. I love a good bargain for a hot style. Many of my clothes have been bought from Forever 21, H&M, and Charlotte Russe – retailers who specialize in “fast fashion.” 

Fast Fashion Retailers – Many are My Favorite!

Trendy, of the moment, affordable style? Sure, sign me up. Stores like these are super attractive for a fashionista like me.

However, today my view of fast fashion has drastically changed, due to a documentary called The True Cost

This film showed me how my pursuit of a $8 top is at the cost of workers in Bangladesh, China, India, and Cambodia. Many of these workers are in dangerous working conditions to keep the costs of manufacturing low. In 2013, a large building collapsed in the Rana Plaza where much of the garment industry is centered. 1,100 workers died as a result of factory managers neglecting the deteriorating conditions of the building. This event is just one of the tragedies at garment factories in these areas.

Is it worth the cost?

Not only are people being affected by the low wages and dangerous working conditions, but our environment is taking a hit by the use of pesticides on the cottons used in the material. Dyes used for leathers in India are full of chemicals, which end up leaking in water supplies.

Most of these women make just $3 USD a day.

I don’t want to preach to others that they shouldn’t buy from our favorite retailers, but maybe we can slow down how much we buy. Maybe we can recycle more of our clothes. Maybe we can give our business to more fair trade retailers and designers. 

My mission now is to profile fair trade brands and also show looks I created from secondhand stores.

I hope you will join me! Let’s share our fair trade and recycled looks!

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo Melanie.

 

No “Biggest Loser” For Me

Hello lovelies,

Are you a fan of the show “The Biggest Loser?” I was. The Hubby and I watched a few seasons together and would be motivated and inspired by the contestants’ progress. I would always marvel at the Finale episode when contestants would burst through an old picture of their heavier selves. Many of them would lose well over 100 pounds, sometimes more. The winner would stand in a shower of confetti, and be rewarded with $250,000 and lined up to do speaking engagements, book deals, and endorsements.

Danny Cahill is one of those winners. He started the show at 430 lbs, won at 191 lbs., and is now 295 lbs., six years after the win. According to a study conducted on the Season 8 contestants (Cahill was one of them), all but one have gained back significant weight.

Danny Cahill, Season 8 Winner
Danny Cahill, Season 8 Winner
May 2016.
May 2016.

According to the study, the main reason for these contestants regaining weight is because their metabolisms now burn several hundred calories less than when they started the Biggest Loser. Basically, their metabolisms were shot after losing so much weight in the span of six months.

Even before this study came out, I stopped watching the show after Rachel Frederickson won the show, losing over 60 percent of her original body weight. Even trainers Bob and Jillian looked shocked and horrified at her appearance. Thin at all costs? No thank you.

Only 105 lbs. in this pic. Rachel has gained 20 lbs. since the finale and feels "perfect."
Only 105 lbs. in this pic. Rachel has gained 20 lbs. since the finale and feels “perfect.”
Bob and Jillian know something is wrong here.
Bob and Jillian know something is wrong here.

I’m on a journey, not a sprint. It’s perfectly fine for me to lose weight slowly. When I take off the weight, it’s going to be for good, not for a quick fix.

On March 3, 2016 I started my work at 223 lbs., the heaviest I’ve been. Today (May 11, 2016), I am 12.5 lbs. lighter at 210.5 and feeling much better. No, I wouldn’t win a weight loss contest, but I don’t care. I’d rather be healthy for the rest of my life.

I couldn't wear this dress two months ago! Fits great now.
I couldn’t wear this dress two months ago! Fits great now.

BluWhdress2

Slow and steady works for me!

How do you feel about the results of the Biggest Loser study? Let me know!

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes-

xo Melanie.

 

 

Beyond What’s On the Scale

Hello Lovelies!

As you are aware, I am on a quest to reclaim my fitness. The truth is, there is no “magic trick” to losing weight. It’s hard work and watching what you eat, plain and simple. However, there’s a lot more to the story than numbers on a scale. I thought I’d share with you all what I’ve gained (and lost!) during these past 30 days:

  1. Eating REAL food makes a big difference! I didn’t realize just how much processed food I was eating until I began paying attention to my diet. I’ve dumped a lot of canned and frozen veggies from my diet and added in a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit. Watching the kind of starchy carbs (and how much I eat) has made a difference in my calorie intake. I feel a lot less sluggish and have more energy.
  2. Fitness Apps keep me on track. What did we do before smartphones? A lot of math and calorie burning guesswork! There’s a number of fitness apps out there, but the ones I use every day is My Fitness Pal and FitBit. What I really love about My Fitness Pal is that I put in my goal weight and it automatically figures out how many calories I need a day based on my activity level. It also can get all the nutrition info on any food with a barcode! I’ve also found it has the food info on LOTS of dishes served in restaurant chains. FitBit keeps me motivated and tracks my steps/exercise, and that info is linked to My Fitness Pal, which figures out how many calories I’ve burned! Yay!
  3. No Excuses. I decided that exercise MUST come first with me before doing anything else. To reach my goals, I do at least 30 minutes of heart pumping exercise 4-5 times a week, switching between cardio and strength training. I’ve rediscovered my inner athlete, regained flexibility and strength, and my endurance is so much better!
    A good sweat is good for the soul!
    A good sweat is good for the soul!
    I am a BEAST!
    I am a BEAST!

     

  4. Planning ahead is EVERYTHING! One of the bad habits I had was letting myself get too hungry, then I’d reach for the quickest food possible (and it was usually something processed or fast food). Now I make sure to eat 4-5 small meals a day to keep my blood sugar up and the food is low calorie and nutritious.
  5. Giving Myself a Break. I love food. I love celebrating good times with friends. To keep my sanity and stay on course, I allow myself one “cheat” meal a week. For example, last Saturday I enjoyed an 8 oz steak and mashed potatoes with friends. That is my indulgence until next Saturday. I also let my body rest the day after a harder workout.
  6. Rewards are Necessary. When I lost my first five lbs., I treated myself to a pair of pretty sandals. Then, when I realized I’d lost 8″ off my body last week, I got some “new to me” things from the local Airman’s Attic. When I meet a goal, I am sure to give myself a reward to stay motivated!
"New" wrap top, purse and earrings!
“New” wrap top, purse and earrings!

Purple earring

Can't believe this was FREE!
Can’t believe this was FREE!

Most of all…I am happier. Feeling lighter and having more energy has made all the difference with my depression issues. I hope to be 30 lbs. lighter by September, but I’m looking at this experience as a marathon, not a sprint, and to live my life this way for good.

Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo, Melanie.

 

Time for a Makeover: Body, Mind, and Hair!

Hello Lovelies!

I’ve been quiet on the blog lately, mostly because I’ve been busy making myself and my life over! 

You know when you get the feeling that something needs to change? I’d been feeling a bit stressed lately, and as a result my rosacea flared up. Ugh! Nothing I tried was helping to keep the redness and the little breakouts down…until my friend Lisa turned me on to Rodan & Fields. 

The curse of the Irish, rosacea!
The curse of the Irish, rosacea!

Lisa suggested the Soothe regimen, which included a mild cleanser, treatment lotion, moisturizer, and a gentle SPF. After about two weeks, the rosacea has calmed WAY down. Plus, my skin is super glowy and soft! Rodan & Fields also has skin regimens for acne and anti aging. THESE PRODUCTS ARE WORTH EVERY PENNY!

No makeup, and NO PHOTO TOUCH UP. My skin looks so much better!
No makeup, and NO PHOTO TOUCH UP. My skin looks so much better!

I also decided to get a better makeup to keep my complexion looking fantastic, so I bought the Bare Minerals starter kit. I’ve got primer, the mineral foundation, a warming bronzer, and the finishing Mineral Veil. Here I am with just the foundation & bronzer, then a full makeup look:

With the Bare Minerals products on.
With the Bare Minerals products on.
My "done" look. Love the glow!
My “done” look. Love the glow!

ANNNND….I decided it was time to tackle my weight. I’m in my 40s dealing with back issues, and it’s not going to get any better if I don’t take better care of myself. So, I started changing my diet and made exercise a priority. After about three weeks, I am 6.5 lbs down with 3.5 inches off my bod! 

A great workout day!
A great workout day!

THEN… I had to change the hair, of course! So I went to my favorite color, purple. I just love the hue and makes me feel happy:)

Out for Girl's Night!
Out for Girl’s Night!

Are YOU making changes to your life? I’d love to know. I’m planning on sharing food and exercise tips I’ve learned on The Divine Mz M as well. Let’s get out of our cocoons and become the butterflies we are meant to be!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo Melanie.

 

Taking My Life Back From Depression

Hello Lovelies,

This post is a departure from my usual fashion/beauty chatter, but I want to share my journey with you. If I can offer hope to someone in the same situation, then this entry is worth it!

The panic attacks began sometime in early 2001. I was in a supermarket, just doing my normal shopping, when suddenly everything around me felt unreal. My heart started beating quickly, I broke out in a cold sweat, and I just felt….terrified. Am I having a heart attack?!! I was only 30; this couldn’t be happening.

And as soon as I grabbed on to my cart and took a deep breath, the weirdness disappeared and I felt okay again, though shaken.

However, over the next year these episodes would continue. The worst one happened while watching a play. “The Fear,” as I could only explain it as, took over me quickly and I sat in anguish, wanting desperately to leave the theater. I couldn’t understand it. What was happening to me?

panic Fry

I had a lot on my plate during that time. My final year of graduate school, an impending divorce, and uncertainty about the future. Perhaps all the stress was building to a climax with the panic attacks.

Over the next several years, I battled the attacks. The good news? These weren’t happening in random places as much. The bad news? They happened mostly when I drove. Talk about a BAD time to have a panic attack!

Oprah Panic

Finally I had enough. Though I wasn’t thrilled about taking medication, everything I had tried was not keeping the attacks at bay. I tried meditation, reducing caffeine, positive self talk…these were just temporary fixes. I got started on Lexapro and after a short time, the panic attacks stopped. I could drive without worry!

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Something shifted this year. After about six months living in Guam, I started feeling restless, edgy. My sleeping habits got out of whack. I had a brief feeling of “The Fear” aura, which luckily, I made stop before it snowballed into a full panic attack, but I knew I had to check this out.

I saw my doc and she upped my dosage. However, now I felt….heavy. Felt like I was walking in slow motion, thoughts would come and go quickly, and had the worst time trying to wake up in the morning.

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I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so down. I’m in FREAKING GUAM, one of the most beautiful islands on the planet! The sun, the beach, the laid back lifestyle – these are things I love. I have a good job I enjoy; a wonderful husband, two adorable kitties. What is weighing me down?

Mel sunset

My doc switched me to Wellbutrin. Now….I FEEL EVERYTHING. Maybe a bit too much (I almost bawled my eyes out in a restaurant!), but hopefully things will even out as I adjust.

However, along with the meds, I realized I needed a professional to walk me through this mental maze. I have to know what exactly what kind of depression I’m dealing with, the issues surrounding it, and how to manage the tougher moments. I have a therapist now. It’s a little scary and weird to open up to a stranger, but in a sense that’s what I would do as an actor. Though, telling the truth as a character versus unloading my thoughts to a stranger is completely different!

Depressed-Cat-Meme-08

Along with meds and therapy, I am serious now about nutrition and fitness. I’ve eliminated (or severely reduced) processed foods and watching my calorie intake. I do a lot more walking and yoga. The movement is challenging sometimes because I still have back issues, but I’m finding my way.

Clinical Depression is not just “the blues.” People who suffer from it can’t simply “get over it.” We know we have blessings in our lives. We know other people have worse situations than our own. These feelings we get don’t come from a logical place. It’s a chemical imbalance, and it’s very frustrating at times to figure out how to treat depression, since there is not a “one size fits all” diagnosis.

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Thankfully, the depression I deal with is not severe. I am hopeful that the intervention I gave myself will keep this illness from getting worse.

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I will win!

If you are suffering, or know someone who is, don’t be ashamed to seek help. 

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo, Melanie.

 

 

 

 

March-ing Forward into Spring Style!

Hafa Adai, Lovelies!

“Hafa Adai” in Guam is Chamorro for “Hello.” Although living here is pretty much an endless summer, I do enjoy changing up my style to reflect the season. After watching several Fashion Week videos, here’s what I’m loving so far:

  1. Silkscreen/Painted Prints.
Victoria Beckham, S/S 2016.
Victoria Beckham, S/S 2016.

Victoria Beckham and Gucci lead the charge using these types of photo prints. Gucci also brought more embroidered silks to the runway. Gorgeous!!

Gucci S/S 2016
Gucci S/S 2016

2. Easy Pieces.

DKNY S/S 2016
DKNY S/S 2016

Though DKNY and Calvin Klein stuck to mostly a black and white palette, I do love the mix and match of separates offered. Michael Kors also showed lots of jersey dresses and wrap skirts. Too many times, a designer will create a look that only works with EVERYTHING shown. We need mixing options! Glad to see these designers understand that!

Michael Kors S/S 2016
Michael Kors S/S 2016

3. Fashion REAL women can wear.

Carolina Herrera S/S 2016
Carolina Herrera S/S 2016

Fashion should be fun and have an element of fantasy. However, we still need to be able to wear clothes for work, weekends, etc., AND should be “wearable” for women of all sizes.

Carolina Herrera’s show offered several looks which work for real life and for women over a size 4. She showed many skirt/top combinations and dresses which emphasize the waist and hide possible problem areas for women.

Carolina Herrera S/S 2016
Carolina Herrera S/S 2016

Of course…we don’t all have the budgets to afford looks off the runway, but we can get inspired and find style that won’t break the bank!

I did a wardrobe purge and freshened it up with new pieces from Forever 21 Plus. 

I am in head to toe F21, working the black and white trend for Spring. These platform mules are crazy comfortable, and these cargo pants are lightweight and soft. Throw on a fun tee and sparkly accessories, and I’m ready for date night:)

Love the sunset in the background!
Love the sunset in the background!

IMG_0400

Love, Music, and Fashion.
Love, Music, and Fashion.

Are there looks you’re loving for Spring? Please share!

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo Melanie.

 

More Boob, More Problems

Hello lovelies,

As many of you have probably noticed, I am a large breasted woman. I’ve been this way for most of my adult life. For the longest time, I wore a 36 C, then all of a sudden in my late 30s, they expanded to a 42 D. I blame the Hubby. I think he has a Jedi Mind Trick to do this.

My hubby loves me for me. I am very blessed.

Though breast enhancements continue to thrive, as any bountiful babe will tell you, more boob means more problems. I’ve come to the point where I’m seriously considering a breast reduction, much to the Hubby’s chagrin. Here’s just a sample of what I deal with all the time:

big-girl-problems

Back Pain. I have a double whammy in this department, as I have nerve damage in my lower back from a car accident. Standing in long lines are not fun. Neither is wearing huge balloons on my chest, adding to the strain. This is the number one reason I want these reduced!

i_busty_girl_problems_007_4f8856d3e99b8

I’m a Walking Hazard. Unlike my smaller sisters, my boobs have been known to be deadly weapons. When in a grocery store, I wince when I have to reach up to grab something because I’m probably going to knock over a few items in front of me. I also have to sit away from a dinner table to make sure my gozangas don’t knock over glasses!

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Working Out is a Joke. Jogging is absolutely out of the question. Doing Zumba or any kind of jumping around aerobics involves two heavy duty sports bras and a prayer than I don’t pull a breast muscle (which has happened, by the way). I might suffocate if I try doing Downward Facing Dog. If I hope to get into better shape, these big girls need to go!

Buying an Affordable Bra is Impossible. Problem one: Most stores don’t carry sizes above a 40. Problem two: I will count on having to spend at least $50 to get a decent, well fitting bra. The $20 Playtex ones are useless, plus ugly as hell.

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Fashion Can be Tricky.  Button down blouses? Forget about it. I haven’t worn one in six years. Any top without stretch is not going to happen. Plus anything lacy, includes ruffles or bows, or satin is not happening with large breasts. Strapless? Yeah, right!

Ariel Winter...Good for you girl, but I can't do that to myself.
Ariel Winter…Good for you girl, but I can’t do that to myself.

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Trying Not to Look Like a Porn Star. Every day, I constantly walk the line of “am I showing too much cleavage?” Don’t get me wrong – I own who I am. However, for anyone to take me seriously, I have to watch the cleavage factor. Funny how we celebrate big boobs, but when we have them, we’re encouraged to cover them up. I. Can’t. Win.

comfybreasts-pillow-1.img_assist_custom

Sleeping Comfortably. On my back? Nope. I will suffocate myself. On my side? My boobs smash together. On my stomach? I need to place a pillow just the right way so I don’t feel like I’m being squeezed.

So ladies and gentlemen, wish for large boobs. I get it. They look fabulous! However, I can do with a little less va-va voom and more comfort! Here’s to my Big Boob Girls, “hang in there!”

boob-jail_thumb

Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo Melanie.

 

 

 

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