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Filtering by Tag: danika

A Reflection on Bikini Beach Photos with Supermodels

Danika Brysha

7270.9481541

I recently got back from a trip to Miami with two friends.  Did I say friends?  I meant supermodels...

I spent so many years of my life trying to lose weight.  I wanted to be a model.  I wanted to be those pictures of my friends above.  I wanted to be recognized as the beautiful one- the one that society takes and puts a big skinny stamp on saying "you're special".  I wanted to be anything but the chubby, class clown with tons of friends and no boyfriends.  And so I spent 15 years dieting, bingeing, throwing up my meals, taking appetite suppressing drugs, and starving- and then beating myself up over the fact that my willpower wasn't strong enough to get me to where I needed to be.  The place where I thought happiness lived. Somewhere in the gap between my thighs.

It took me a long time but I finally got burnt out and decided I was ok with the hand I'd been dealt.  I started focusing on my strengths rather than shortcomings.  I was tall and felt beautiful most days, and years of having to work to get people to like me landed me one kick-ass personality and some impressive bantering skills. And then one day while at Bank of America, I was scouted and signed with a modeling agency.  At a size 14.  I would be what the industry calls a "plus size" model.  I'd been called a lot of names in my life from "whale" to "fat girl" to a "liability"- but this certainly had a more positive ring to it.  I got to live my dream without trying to be someone I wasn't. And three years later I'm living in New York City as a full-time, plus-size model with my face plastered up on Wilhelmina New York's website. A dream come true- and one that came to fruition when I finally stopped trying to be somebody I wasn't.

But with finding extreme love for yourself comes a new desire to really take care of yourself.  I finally realized my value and decided I wanted to be the best possible version of me.  Through nutrition, exercise, meditation, and a lot of self-reflection- I managed to reinvent myself in the last 9 months that I've been a Manhattan resident. I've lost 30lbs and various jobs but I've chosen my health as a priority. My mind is functioning at a level I couldn't even imagine and I feel more joy, energy, and clarity than ever before.  I am beginning to live my passion and purpose and it has come along with a new found sense of confidence.

Which is important when you take a vacation to Miami with supermodels.  Because honestly, three years ago, you could have paid me $10,000 and given me a free trip to the Greek Islands and I still wouldn't have dreamed about putting on a bikini and posing for a picture in the Aegean Sea. But when my friend Holly suggested a primarily free weekend trip to Miami, the new Danika said HELL YES!

And it ended up being the perfect weekend getaway.  We relaxed on the beach, cooked healthy dinners at home, spent time meditating and journaling, and managed to soberly out-twerk everybody at club LIV.  But throughout the entire weekend, I still found myself feeling different.  Identifying myself as the "big friend". Feeling like the third wheel to two bombshells and having to make up for my shortcomings with my exuberant personality and ability to ask strangers questions for an hour straight without being bothered that they haven't even asked how to pronounce my weird Croatian hybrid of a name.  Dan-uh-kuh. Thanks for asking.

And so on the last day, when our tans were the darkest they'd be getting, Holly and Alexis suggested a group bikini photo by the ocean.  I quickly responded "I'm good, I'm just really comfortable" which really meant "I'm not good and I'm really uncomfortable posing next to you freak shows".  But because I am quite possibly the biggest pushover in all of the land, I finally obliged and struck my pose for the 75-year old Italian men that were one Instagram filter away from a heart attack- and for the one picture ever that I hoped for a finger over the lens, they managed to snap with pure precision.

We returned to our chairs and I requested full approval before posting rights.  And then it happened. I really looked at the photo.  Rather than seeing some version of negative thoughts and assumptions of my differences, I had no option but to admit that I looked GOD DAMN AMAZING! And I also looked just like my friends. Did I say friends? I meant supermodels.

The supermodels who had spent the weekend equally concerned with their own bodies. All of us too busy tearing ourselves down inside to notice that we were all in this together.  Feeling "bloated" or "saggy" or "too pale" or "not toned".  The ones who asked if they looked good in their outfits and the ones that borrowed MY makeup and wanted to know how I ate and what I was cooking and what kind of workout I did at the gym.

And something really struck me.  Even the girls that the media prints in the pages of your magazines- in store windows and taped to teenager's (and murderer's) walls have the same insecurities that we all do.  They wake up having days when they feel amazing but they also wake up feeling less than their best quite often.  They're looking for the latest beauty tips, the best workouts, and the healthiest dinners. They're feeling insecure in their skin because not even THEY feel like the photoshopped version of themselves that's glued to your fridge in an effort to empower you to stop eating.  Empowerment comes from love by the way, not hate or fear.

And so here I am, sharing my Supermodel Bikini Beach photo with the world.  Because someone out there is looking up to me and wanting what I have. And to be honest I don't blame them.  Cause I look good.

And so do the supermodels.  I mean, my friends.

VIDEO: Meditation, Tuning In, and My Weave

Danika Brysha

I've gone and done it friends.  I've started meditating.  And I can't really stop. It's a massive game changer and I had no idea what those crazy meditating people were talking about until my girl Oprah offered me a free 21-day meditation challenge. And if there are two things in this world that I can't say no to, it is Oprah and anything that's free.

Just by sitting still and quieting my conscious thoughts for 20 minutes a day, I have uncovered so many things that I had previously buried with ideas of how things should be, expectations and anxiety, and stories of how I wasn't quite good enough. It has been less than two weeks and I've already discovered a few key points AND seen them playing out immediately in my daily life. Let's just say I've been using the phrases "Wow!" and "Holy Sh!t" in my journal a lot lately.

Here is what I now know for sure through my mediation practice:

1. Everything we need, every single thing, is within us

2. When we find it in ourselves to stop worrying and to trust that we'll be taken care of and everything will be ok, the universe will have the space to get to work.  And that damn "universe" (or God or Energy or whatever you prefer to call it) knows what's best for us. Like always.

3. Letting go of our conscious thoughts allows us access to our core, deeper ones- the ones that know us best and that aren't affected by the stories and lies we tell ourselves- the subconscious self has all the answers but we have to be in a position to listen.

And so maybe this makes me a hippy but I'm certainly ok with that identification if it means I can keep this up on the reg. Do you meditate?  I'd love to hear about your experience if so... mainly to prove that I'm not crazy.  And because I love you. I realized that while meditating. You're welcome.

Check out my experience via video blog, a cameo from Kingsley, and find out why I put my weave in for your viewing pleasure...

Vulnerability and the ProFreshNess of being REAL

Danika Brysha

Working in the fashion and beauty industry gives me a firsthand view of just how much fake-ness goes into most of the media we are exposed to.  My Facebook status just yesterday asked where I could find a great spray tan place for an upcoming swimwear shoot.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about my friend's comment that they threw in a few bonus airbrushed abs.  And as I pack my hair extensions, get my acrylic toenails glued on, and sit for hours being made up for camera, I am often reminded of how refreshing it is to sit around in a completely unsexy sweatsuit and take in the moments where I get to be 100% myself.  Like right now for example.

I've recently started to recognize just how important it is to find the courage to be vulnerable. It allows us to connect to others on a much deeper level, and to know that we are not alone in whatever it is that we struggle with.  So when my girl Christina recently moved to L.A. from the big apple, I knew I had to pick her brain (on video duh) and find out how she does such a great job of promoting realness, vulnerability, and overall epicness on her world famous blog proFRESHstyle.

Check out my interview with Christina above as she talks about why she feels it is important to share so much of herself, how opening up about her sexual assault brought her even closer to her readers, and how she finds balance between comedy and sensitivity.

And then check out our collaboration over on Christina's page where she teaches me how to properly use Bay Area slang.  Cashin' out all over the place...

Health Challenge: Cutting Out Processed Foods… without obsessing

Danika Brysha

I had the privilege of interviewing health and wellness expert, Chelsea Hise-Strate, of Life Balance by Chelsea.  She is like my own personal Dr. Oz.  Except not really anything like that.  I recently decided that I want to do whatever it takes to live my best life ever and that it was time to start questioning almost every behavior that I have.  I told Chelsea this and she decided to give me a personal challenge.  The challenge was to not eat any processed foods for one week and to keep a food journal documenting what I ate, when I ate it, and how I was feeling.  Chelsea sent me over a cheat sheet and some info for my first day of the challenge which you can see here.  Check out the video to see how the challenge went.  Spoiler alert:  I’m addicted to clean eating!

And if you missed the original interview, you can see it here

There you have it.  I’ve been sucked in to the healthy living lifestyle and I don’t see myself leaving it any time soon.  I love that feeling when something just clicks and you know you are on to something.  I knew I could do the challenge but I had no idea just how much it would change my body and ultimately my life.  If I feel this great after a week of eating like this then I can’t imagine how I’ll be feeling in a few months or even years.  I’ve always had some acne and it has been clearing up like crazy.  My energy and positivity is through the roof and I have had multiple friends comment on the physical change they see in me, specifically in the brightness of my eyes!  I sound like a total hippy granola lover right now (raw, organic granola that is).  And I’m ok with that.

If you’re interested in seeing what I ate over the course of the week and how I was feeling, click here.

Food has always been an issue for me.  As some of you know, I had a pretty severe eating disorder for about a decade of my life.  I spent all my energy being consumed with weight loss and food.  I have to admit that when I was given this challenge, I was a bit fearful.  Afraid that consuming my mind with food would plunge me back into the disordered mindset I had finally fought off.  Scared that putting so much energy into recording my every bite would flash me back to the years I spent counting every single calorie.  But after honest consideration, I decided that I am at a healthy enough place in my life that I could take on this challenge.  And I am more than grateful that I did.

women-food-and-god

So much of my eating issues have been based around control.  I’m not sure if eating disorders ever fully go away but I can promise that they lose almost all of their power with each and every day that you commit to overcoming them.  Not only was I altering my diet and recording my every bite, I was continuing the ongoing process of learning to eat out of physical hunger rather than emotionally. I have to fight every day to not reach for comfort food any time I feel stressed, tired, overwhelmed, sad or bored.   Geneen Roth is an author who has changed my life and I highly recommend her books to anybody suffering from emotional eating or who feels like they are constantly in a battle with food and their body.

But with this challenge I found that I felt more in control than ever before.  I didn’t obsess over what I was eating- I chose to eat things because I started listening to my body and paying attention to what made it feel good.  I was able to recognize that I didn’t need to be perfect with this.  All that mattered was that I did my best.  I was more in tune with my body than every before.  Where I used to look for food as an escape from how I was feeling, I was finally able to get fully in touch with myself.  I felt like I could finally shift my thought process from seeing food as an evil, to recognizing how wonderful fresh nutrient-rich food could make me feel.

It is early to say this, but I’m fairly certain that this is the start of a lifetime of health, wellness, and self-appreciation.  I have no plans to be perfect but I have every intention of giving it my best shot.  This challenge has woken me up to how connected everything truly is.  Because I am feeling so great physically, my mind is clearer and I am happier.  I am infinitely more productive, driven, and present, and I have been spending my new excess of energy on trying to bring joy to all those that I come into contact with.

Have any of you experienced similar results from a change in your diet and lifestyle? I would love to hear your story of transformation and share it with other readers so we can continue to inspire people to live their best lives possible.

I will keep you guys posted on how this all progresses but as of now it has been two weeks since I started and I have no intention whatsoever to stop.  Thanks for supporting me in this journey and if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, I would absolutely love to hear it!

Check out Chelsea's website here: Life Balance by Chelsea

Style: FALLing Off

Danika Brysha

Now we all know I love a good bodycon dress, but as the weather gets cooler, I can't help but dress more for comfort than courting my future husband.  Enter my simple and casual fall wardrobe.  Boots, jeans, light "Los Angeles appropriate" sweaters.  Nothing like having a little room to grow!

These brown boots have been worn-in severely and I would have them no other way.  They are so comfortable and I have yet to find another pair that I like equally or more, so I'm pushing them to their limit.  I wear a lot more brown than I do black... well with the exception of leather, so they've come in quite handy.

My fabulous (and newly married) friend Lisa, designs some of the coolest jewelry and this necklace is one of her pieces.  You can buy her stuff here (it's very affordable, not to mention unique).  She has skulls, crosses, vintage jewels, gems, and more.  I am most definitely addicted... You should probably be her friend too...

I went to the Torrid event at the Century City mall during LA's Fashion week and ended up leaving with some amazing steals!  I got both these jeans and the navy blue off-the-shoulder top for barely anything!  I feel like these jeans were made for my body as well!  They are super long which I appreciate with my height, and they have a higher rise which is a little more flattering for my shape.  I love wearing pants because I can drop down and get my eagle on at any given time of day without disappointing my father.

Navy Blue Off-the-Shoulder Top- Torrid; White Undershirt- H&M; Grey Skinny Jeans- Torrid; Brown Boots- Steve Madden; Gold Necklace- St. Eve Jewelry; Gold Watch- Michael Kors; Brown Leather Bracelet- Marc Jacobs;  Hair by Lindsey Carter

Style: Sun Seeker

Danika Brysha

My favorite color is yellow.  Not necessarily to wear, eat, or smell, but I think the color overall has such a happy, vibrant connotation to it.  When I saw this leotard for sale on ASOS (I'm a huge fan of leotards in general), I knew I had to have it!  I wear a ton of things that sit at my waist as I think they flatter my shape better and they are generally much more comfortable.  As a result, leotards have become a staple when it comes to that pairing.

Now unlike the average real housewife, I can't just open a Vogue magazine and pick out something from an ad and well... buy it.  But when I saw this purse by Mulberry in a magazine, took a screenshot of the ad, and found myself still thinking about it on the reg months later, I made my very first high society exception.  I was in London for a bit of work and a bit more fun with friends.  Considering I'd done plenty of research on the bag, I knew there were a few Mulberry stores in the city.  I justified it by telling myself that because I wouldn't be paying tax for it, it was actually quite practical to get it during my time there.  And I mean... when in London (or New York, or Kentucky, or when the internet is available...)

Yellow Zig Zag Leotard- ASOS.com; High Waisted Denim- J Brand; Tan Platform Wedges- Dolce Vita;  Gold Square Patterned Earrings- Target;  Brown Leather Purse- Mulberry

Sunday Worship: Amazon Prime

Danika Brysha

I have to let you in on a little secret.  Now, this is a bold statement, but it is true... you are not living until you have Amazon Prime!  It has a lot of perks but what it mainly means is that you can basically order almost anything from Amazon.com with free 2-day shipping.  It brings my level of laziness to a whole new category and I couldn't be prouder.  Bodywash... Prime.  Tootsie Pops... Prime.  Mary-Kate and Ashley's "Billboard Dad" collectors addition?... you got it... Prime.

Let me tell you how I really feel...

 

Tricks of the Trade: Glue-on Drugstore Nails

Danika Brysha

I would have to say that the one thing that is toughest for me to maintain regarding showing up to shoots "camera ready" is keeping my fingernails perfectly groomed.  Models are expected to show up to work with clean, filed, medium length nails, that are either natural or painted with a very neutral shade like beige or a very soft pink.  And though there's no guarantee Bruce Jenner isn't my father, I unfortunately do not have my own nailpolish line...

Now, I blame growing up with brothers and being a tomboy, for my complete inability to wear nail polish that is chip-free for any length of time over an hour.  When I first started modeling I would do my very best not to bite, bruise, or break my natural fingernails.  I would get a manicure and it would chip the next day, often leaving me helpless without the matching shade for touchups.  I later started painting my own nails and bringing the shades with me as I traveled.  Without failure they always exploded in my toiletry case, making everything smell strongly of chemicals, and having to throw away tons of my favorite colors along the way.  No matter how hard I tried to keep them in tact, I always found myself in hotel rooms late at night touching up chips before the next days shoot.

And then... one day, while browsing the aisles of CVS for more junk I don't need, it occurred to me that I may have just found my solution!  I picked up the pair of natural-colored, short-length, glue-on nails and figured I'd try them out.  I went home and diligently glued the appropriate sizes on.  I also managed to glue a couple of my fingers together.  I was instantly hooked and stocked up on three more boxes to have in case of emergencies.  The packs usually come with more than enough so I just bring my bag of backups and glue anytime I travel or shoot.  When one falls off, I easily glue on a new one in seconds.

And the best news of all?!  They now have fake TOENAILS!!!  So weird, so good.  I'll save that blog post for a special occasion.

And here I present to you the ONLY photo I could find that somewhat showcased my fingernail masterpiece.  Looks pretty real right?  Please forgive me as this photo was taken in an airport around 1:00AM waiting for my redeye to New York.  I guess I rest my case...