Friday, 29 September 2017

RIP Hugh Hefner

Hi everyone,

As we all know by now the iconic Hugh Hefner passed away at the age of 91 at his home The Playboy Mansion on Wednesday (April/9th/1926 - Sept/27th/2017).
 

I coincidentally only live under a mile and a half from the PB.Mansion and I was at home when I received the news - my roommate texted me about it and I couldn't believe it! Don't get me wrong I realise that at 91 Hef lived a great life (and if we all lived until that age we'd be very blessed) but it still came as a shock. I had always heard on the grapevine from people at the mansion etc.. (whether factual or not I'm not sure?) that his mother had lived until 105 and that he hoped to see that age also.. and being that he had such great care I didn't see any reason why he wouldn't do just that. 

However, I must say, over the past couple of years I did have my suspicions that perhaps he wasn't doing so well.. 
Although even as close as last month I was still attending events at the playboy mansion it had been a long time since I had been able to simply visit (without an event) or that I had seen Hef in person. If I remember rightly I think the last time I saw him was briefly on New Years Eve 2014 when I had the opportunity to bring my sister up to the mansion for a visit. After that I never saw him attend any of the parties again (I think he was pictured with his son Cooper at Mid Summer's Nights Dream 2016 but I believe it was a very brief appearance as I didn't see, or hear anything about, him attending). He had previously attended all of his parties and they were on a much larger scale than recent years. As well as that the weekend list which I was once a part of was shut down and the Sunday 'Fun in the sun' (where I first met Hef) came to an end. I thought only girls weren't going up to the mansion anymore(Hef was now married etc..) but I ran into a couple of Hef's old time friends that I knew as regulars at the mansion (some going u there 30+ years etc..) and they told me they were no longer visiting either as Hef wasn't doing so well and being the very proud man that he was I don't think he wanted many people to see him that way. 

Here is what I posted on my instagram upon hearing the sad news: 
I am so sad to hear about the passing of the absolute legend @hughhefner 💔 I feel blessed that I had an opportunity to get to know the man behind the brand & hang out at his amazing playboy mansion where I have so many wonderful memories✨ it is because of my experience traveling to LA & meeting Hef that I now live in Los Angeles - it opened this small country girls eyes to another life where dreams come true & if you work hard enough & believe.. anything can happen! 2012 was my first visit to the states, my first time at the mansion & it is where I made my first friends in LA. That year when I returned home I received a letter from Hef letting me know I was being put on a guest list to come/go .. I couldn't believe that such an iconic man took the time to write to little old me.. but that just shows how kind he was! (I have always cherished that letter & always will..perhaps I'll frame it) anyway I packed my bags to spend summer'13 out in LA & of course took up the guest list offer & spent most of my summer visiting the mansion along with my best friend at the time. We had the most amazing summer & I grew a self belief that I could be anything I wanted to be..after all how was I here? we lay by the pool by day, watched movies in the evenings, ate fantastic food, played with the animals, watched the fireworks on 4th of July and attended mid summers nights dream.. to this day some of the nicest people I've ever met was at the playboy mansion-the staff, the girls & Hef with his wonderful hospitality. Finally in 2015, now living in LA & visa in hand, I had the opportunity to test as a playboy playmate .. again little old me from Athenry😵🍀 testing at the playboy studios in Beverly Hills with one of the top playboy photographers.. I couldn't believe it! unfortunately my test was for 2016 when the mag went a more high fashion non-nude route and that's where my playboy dreams came to an end but the encouragement Playboy gave me will stick with me forever!🐰 it's been awhile since I last saw Hef in person but I feel I have a lot to thank him for.. for giving me the confidence in myself to move to LA & pursue my dreams, for the opportunities & the friendships✨ #riphef ✨
A post shared by Shahira (@shahirabarry) on

I feel that I covered most of what I had to say in my instagram post but I just wanted to include a little tribute here on my blog. I was asked to chat about my experience with Playboy and meeting Hef on the Ryan Tubridy show on RTE Radio 1 and I took the call last night for a pre-recorded interview however unfortunately the line was too bad (thank you Sprint!lol). Anyway I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience! and I feel blessed that I had that opportunity in the years just before the end of an era.

It makes me sad to read negative comments online from people who never had an opportunity to meet Hef or indeed have anything to do with Playboy.. to those people I say perception and reality are two completely different things: you shouldn't judge something or conclude upon something you didn't experience or get to see with your own eyes.

The playboy mansion itself is a beautiful property. Yes it may be a little out-dated interior wise but that is what gives it it's quirky edge and that is what reflects the personality of the man that owned it - the legendary Hugh Hefner - to me that is what makes it one of the most untouched special places in LA!

As for Hef himself - he always came across as a very friendly, sweet and caring man to me. A man with the most amazing hospitality! I always described my visits to the mansion as a relaxing spa or trip.. he opened his doors to some lucky people and wanted them to experience this amazing life he had built. The staff were so warm and attentive and would bring you almost any food/drink you requested. As a guest you really were treated very well! In the evenings there was a full buffet followed by movie screenings and I will always remember Hef's cute voice shouting happily with an almost child-like excitement "It's Movieee Timeee!" before each screening. Friday's and Saturday's were older movies but on Sunday's there would be a screening of a new release.. I remember sitting in the theatre room on bean bags as Hef and his wife crystal sat directly behind me and my girlfriends and every now and then I would hear him comment or laugh at the movie.. each time I felt like pinching myself.. how am I here.. this is bizarre.. I grew up watching The Girls Next Door on E! and now I'm sitting here watching this movie.. I felt the same sitting on the lawn, again in front of Hef, on 4th of July watching the fireworks.. it felt like this amazing American dream.. and oh how it was!!

While the Irish media speculated on whether or not I would ever pose for Playboy and I went back and forth myself-when I finally got my visa, what I didn't talk about until now was that, I did get the opportunity to test as a Playmate in approx March/April 2015. Only my family knew of this shoot and I decided to keep it to myself as it had already been talked about in the press since my initial visit in 2012 and I didn't want to put any added pressure on myself. The shoot took place at the Beverly Hills Playboy Studios with a senior playboy photographer. I was very nervous on the day as I had never posed nude and I questioned myself on whether or not my body was good enough - I had real boobs! I was also very lean at the time and had recently come off birth control so they were smaller than normal and this was a big insecurity of mine!
The environment itself was extremely professional - I had my makeup and hair done and was styled with accessories and shoes. The professionalism of the team did make me feel more comfortable and I was happy that I went for it! However I was told that the 2015 spots were full and that this shoot was a test for consideration for 2016. Sadly January 2016 was the last nude playboy magazine and the brand had a re-launch and went a more high fashion route.. I'm 5'6 and curvy so I'm not a "high fashion" model therefore it left my nude test shoot to kind of just fall by the wayside and that was that. I don't know if I would have made it as a playmate or not but I am grateful that they believed in me enough to give me a shot and gave up their day to shoot with me, that must count for something! Thinking back it does make me a little upset because to this day it was one of the biggest opportunities to have come my way and in a way it was a long time coming with all the talk in the Irish press since 2012 to my actual test in 2015. It was a big build up.. but I feel like it was simply the wrong timing and I missed that shot by a hairs breath!
However, I do remember the photographer saying to me that the playmate at the time who was very likely to become Playmate of the Year (and she did) Dani Mathers was 27/28years old and that I was still quite young.. While I do feel it was a missed opportunity I also feel that I was indeed quite young and still very shy. I believe I would be able to handle something like that a lot more now that I am not as new to LA and have my barrings on who I am as a person, I've grown up a lot.. I don't know what route Playboy will take now that Hef has passed and now that Cooper will be officially taking over but I guess never say never because you don't know what the future holds!

I feel like the whole experience came into my life to open my eyes to the possibilities of life and to what you can make it if you dedicate yourself and work hard! Growing up my family and I always struggled with money - I was raised by a very hard working single mum who encouraged me and gave me the best that she could but financially there was never a time when we didn't struggle. While mansion and yacht hopping is taken for granted in LA and almost a part of normality for many it is a million miles away from my home town of Galway and the way in which I grew up. I am so thankful for my upbringing and no I haven't made all my millions yet, lol, but even to get to experience that life and at a young age & see "how the other half live" so to speak, truly encouraged me to aim HIGH with my own life and my own ambitions.. the sky is the limit! Your current situation doesn't have to reflect your future situation! Hef started Playboy magazine on a $8,000 loan and a single idea and he built it into a multi-million-dollar empire! That is inspirational and should be admired! it most certainly is by me!


I don't think Hef's funeral plans have been announced as yet but I have always heard that he owns the plot beside Marilyn Monroe at the Pierce Brothers Memorial Park just a block or two away from me in Westwood.

I have emailed Hef's secretary to send my condolences and I'd like to say it again here - my heart breaks at the end of a era. Hef meant so much to so many! and touched many different lives in many different ways! he even had a big impact on this little Irish girl! I send my deepest condolences to everyone close to Hef: his wife Crystal, his children and family, his friends and his staff both at the mansion and a part of the Playboy team. May his legacy live on forever!

Lots of Love, 
Shahira xo 
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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

I've started waist training and using a sweat belt

Hi everyone! 

So over the past couple of years I've heard the buzz words 'waist trainer' a lottt with regards to getting in good shape (literally) and adding it to your fitness regime. Waist trainers can be seen all over instagram and social media and it's largely due to celebrities who are fans of waist training such as the Kardashian/Jenner girls, Amber Rose and Snookie (to name a few) who are all known for having incredible bodies with curves! an hour-glass figure is definitely sort-after by many!

I had a number of girls message me asking if I have ever waist trained. Honestly I had zero knowledge or experience with the concept so I decided to research it and ultimately decided to give it a go! 


Here's what I know so far
Waist trainers are said to...
  • Reduce Back Pain 
  • Improve Posture 
  • Reduce Bloating 
  • and Aid Weight Loss 
I see waist training not as a replacement to a healthy diet or exercise but as an aid to your healthy lifestyle and fitness routine!


My experience so far

I feel like I can definitely vouch for the reducing back pain and improving posture claims as I often work very long hours on set.
A while ago I was on set of a film for two long back to back days (12hrs) at the same location, with the same set-ups and approx same length of down time/standing/sitting etc... on day 1 I didn't have my waist trainer on and I experienced lower back pain after a couple of hours - This is often a problem for me! The following day I decided to wear my w.trainer to set! I didn't have any high hopes as such with regards to back pain and I had truly decided to wear it simply for fitness and shaping reasons... However to my absolute pleasant surprise I didn't suffer with any back pain that day and I also noticed that my posture was greatly improved and that I was sitting and standing up a lot straighter! It was a 12 hour set day so it could be assumed (I assumed, lol) that I would have some discomfort by wearing a waist trainer but in fact I feel it made me a lot more comfortable, took a way my pain and totally intrigued me to keep using it! It's worth saying that my w.trainer is a flexi trainer so it is stretchy and not as grooling as some of the other models I've seen online. 

If you work at a job where you are standing or sitting all day a waist trainer may actually help you, like it has me, with back pain and posture.





 I also love the shape that a waist trainer gives my body! I choose a beige/skin coloured trainer so I could wear it under a dress/clothes if I want to :)


When I was a teen my belly/back/sides area never gained weight - if I was to hold weight it was on my legs but since I've gotten a little older I've noticed that the sides of my stomach have started to hold weight more than they ever used to! and it's a common problem for girls to wake up looking great but feel bloated and chubby by the end of the day. Wearing a waist trainer persistently for a couple of weeks is said to create a more toned and tighter looking stomach region - who doesn't want that? I wore my trainer for 6 weeks straight for a few hours every day and I have seen great results! A couple of my girlfriends have even been encouraged to pick one up for themselves!  


 The different types of trainers available 
  1. Day To Day: The Day to Day trainer is more elasticated, very safe and stretches to mould with your body for daily wear although still tight enough to constrain the waist region to achieve your desired results. (this is what I have) 
  2. Latex: The Latex Trainer is stronger, thicker and sturdier, better for cardio or daily if you do not need to bend over or move around too much during the day as it restricts your movement more than the Day to Day. Latex is recommended for fuller ladies as it offers more support. 



I got mine from waisttrainerfitness.com

A waist trainer is not the only thing I've been trying out! I've also teamed my waist trainer regime with a sweat belt! 



I like to check out the fitness section of Ross from time to time because it's half price for some great equipment! I got my kettle bell, skipping rope and yoga mat all from Ross! (no shame) and it was there where I was browsing and found a sweat belt! (only $6 may I add).
Some people like to wear their waist trainer when they workout but I don't like the idea of this because it would quickly become sweaty and smelly and they're not cheap. Therefore the idea of a sweat belt intrigued me!
A sweat belt works, similar to a sauna suit, by making you sweat in that area and therefore aiding inch loss. There are many for and against arguments when it comes to sweat belts and indeed waist trainers - some say they work some say they do not.
I find that sweat belts are great for immediate results ie. loosing water weight. This can be great for your confidence if you have an extra tight dress or special occasion that day. However it is said that this weight will go back on and also that a sweat belt can actually stop your abs mobility and therefore prevent that tone. So what I do is I only use it for an extra sweat during my cardio - then when it's time to strength train or target my abs I take it off!

I personally feel that adding both the sweat belt and waist trainer to my fitness regime has helped me a lot - and my abs are starting to re-appear after a period of hibernation!

I am not a fitness/health expert I can only tell you about my experience so as with anything do your own re-search and proceed with caution :)


Follow me on Instagram @ShahiraBarry to keep up with my  pics and progress :) 

Lots of Love, 
Shahira Xo 

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