I wasn’t going to write anything on mental health week but there’s something inside me that felt I had to write a blog. This year mental health week is based on body image.
Now more than ever due to social media anxiety over our bodies is higher than ever. People saying body goals..!! Really..??
And I say really but me like god knows how many others have fallen into that trap. During school my nickname was skinny Al which looking back did bother me because I was desperate to put on weight but as far as nicknames go it didn’t seem a bad one and I knew that I’d put weight on the older I would get. Age 17 I was involved in a RTA. Within a matter of weeks I’d gone from 11 stone ish down to 7 stone. I now really was skinny Al and living up to my school nickname. As I’m now aware of my mental health and how I can see different episodes of my life I look at this period without any fondness of my body. I wouldn’t wear t shirts as I didn’t want people to see my arms I also didn’t want people to see my right hand which I have limited use of so I use to pull my sleeve down to cover my hand. I always remember my dad saying that looks daft. I think it was his way of saying don’t be ashamed of your hand. I use to go spend serious money on designer clothing that hung of me nothing fitted luckily at the time baggy clothes was kind of in fashion so I got away with it some what. But I never liked wearing anything with my limbs out. And when you look back at pictures you can see in my face I just look like a lost sole.
Fast forward 20 years and still like others I have my own body issues. I’ve tried a number of times to get in the gym lifting weights and trying desperately to get a chest, shoulders and arms. I struggle to stick to the gym for some reason so I never stick it out especially when I’m on my own in there. Can I motivate myself to climb a mountain hell yes but can I motivate to go for a workout on my own nope can I hell. Now a days I’m covered in tattoos and I love them but are they just a cover up to mask the fact I don’t like my arms out because in my eyes I don’t look as skinny. Whether I do that or not I like having tattoos and in my opinion they look good. My back is always arched and it doesn’t help the way I stand I know that I’m lucky to even be standing but it makes my belly stand out even more so now I’m not skinny Al I’m fat all even with jokes of did you iron that top over a wok Al( I find this very funny by the way) so clothes now don’t fit my chest properly but are very tight over my belly I just can’t win.
I’ve started to look after myself now and I realise just how much I need to self care physically and mentally. I go for a massage every other week and we’ve started taking pictures of the progress I’m making and to show places I need to improve. I’d never really noticed before but my right leg is far skinnier than my left. I knew it was a bit not to the extent that is. Last weekend I was away on a stag do in the sun so the week before anxiety started to kick in I’m going to have to get my body out and started trying on shorts they just don’t fit they are baggy on my right and tight on my left and feel so uncomfortable and I think they look terrible. Then I started thinking what do I need to be anxious for the amount of times I’ve been in embarrassing situations due to my injury and they say you can’t be embarrassed really if you’ve had a spinal cord injury as you’ve been through everything and I also realised I wasn’t going on holiday with a bunch of fake Instagram models I was going away with a group of just normal lads.
I’ve said all this year I want to get a better body for my wedding for 5 months now I’ve been saying this and it’s only 3 months to my wedding and have I been in the gym nope because who am I getting a better body for..?? Will it change the way I feel probably not. So there is no body goals at all there’s no looking on Instagram to say he looks decent shape I’d like to get like that because if I really wanted to work at that I would do what I do in every other area of my life which again In my opinion I succeeded in with the approach I use. Am I who I am and do you know what, I might have off days where I don’t like my body but I’m proud of this body as it’s been through hell and I’m still standing.
It’s totally natural to look at pictures on Instagram and compare yourself, usually unfairly. I do this. Of course I do. But when I find my thoughts drift toward self criticism, or beating myself up mentally for not looking a certain way, I pause and ask myself some coaching questions to address the negativity. It’s also ok to look at yourself objectively. If you’re NOT happy with how you look or how you behave then it’s fine and healthy to want to change things. But that’s often hard to do alone. You end up going round in circles. That’s when it’s helpful to talk to someone and look for some help to get you along the way.
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