It is a hot topic at the minute with this being Mental Health Awareness Week. The Mental Health Foundation only yesterday announced that it had done a piece of research on it. According to the report 4,500 UK adults were asked, and about a third of them were anxious about their body image. Another 1 in 8 were experiencing suicidal thoughts about it. (BBC News website)
The very thought of the words body image can make someone jump out of their skin. It will have people running to the mirror and asking why me? Someone may read this blog and think I have tried every diet but why am I still big or why can’t I put muscle on or I wish I could lose that baby weight and so on. Here’s the secret: there is no magic formula. The truth is your body belongs to you. You oversee it. It is unique.
Your body can tell a story
It is very true; your body can tell a story. It is the life of you. So, the story of me is as follows. I have a small scar across the bridge of my nose from where I decided to nosedive into a table at the age of 2. I also have 3 keyhole scars on my abdomen from 18 months ago where a cyst on my ovary bust, caused a right issue and had me in emergency surgery to sort it out. I have facial tics which depending on my stress levels can be very visible. My left hand holds two rings, my engagement ring and my wedding ring. I recently cut my hair really short and got myself an ear piercing. My toes are webbed (no I still can’t swim well), I have fat around my belly which due to a medical condition makes it hard to shift but I keep trying. I wear glasses, I had teeth braces as a kid and for a female I am taller than average. I work hard at the gym doing my own workouts so I stay strong. I also love nothing more than running around in jeans and a t-shirt. There you go, a small version of my story.
The other side of the story
People have mocked me in the past, bullied me, people have said why can’t I lose weight, why were my teeth like a bunny’s and why couldn’t I dress more feminine. Some of those words hurt, I had to listen while people said these things but did I pay attention? The short answer is no. It has taken me a while to realise that I am who I am. Some people will like me, and some will not. However, at the end of the day I cannot please everyone with the way my body looks. The only person who needs to be happy with it is me and I am more than happy with my body image.
I personally think the media has a lot to answer for. As a personal trainer I often get a person coming to me for their consultation, showing me pictures of someone on Instagram or other social media. It comes with those famous words; I want to look like this. Now bringing in a picture gives me a good idea of how you would like to look and what exercises to give you to get you there. However, most people want the easy fix. Now correct me if I am wrong but that message is usually not one that social media portrays. People want that internet body which will happen overnight whilst still being able to eat fast food and binge-watching telly. I have to disappoint these people and say that it could take up to a year to get that way. What I offer is good nutrition, at least 3 days in the gym, scaling down the fast food, limiting the alcohol and a lot of hard work. After the initial shock wears off that it will take a lot longer they sigh and say I will try it. The people who have stayed with me as a trainer have lost weight, toned their muscles, changed their diet to a healthier version and so on. But here is my point: it is a lifestyle change rather than a quick fix. And at the end of the day they are much happier.
So, here is the bottom line in my opinion. If you are happy with your body image don’t let anyone take that away from you. Show off your scars proudly and let them tell their story. If you are not happy with your body image, then take a small step today into making a lifestyle change and keep going. Once you catch the nutrition and exercise bug I can guarantee you will find your happy somewhere along the way.