Mental Health Awareness Week – Body Image

What’s body image got to do with gardening, allotments and growing your own? Quite a lot in my view!

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 takes place this week, Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

We all as men and woman, have our little hang ups and niggles we growl or sigh at… some of us only have a couple whereas others have many. It can change how you stand, how you talk and how you think… but nobody can see it.

Whilst I haven’t ever struggled with my weight or yo-yo dieted; body image, opinions and media pressures of tiny waists, perfect skin and big, toned, juicy bums have definitely always impacted me. At times I have been called anorexic or too ‘skinny’ – I dislike that word so much! I have fortunately never been either. At times I have lost too much weight, not through choice, but through situations. I have always just been me and my natural size.

What’s this got to do with gardening though?

Well one of the other reasons I got into growing my own produce, was for my health and fitness. I ran and competed as a child, then as an adult I used to train 5 – 7 times a week in the gym, weightlifting, spinning and dancing. An outlet before the allotment, to escape, feel good and of course, hopefully look good too. I did this for myself, but also to compete again, hence in 2015 I took part in a competition called Miss Galaxy Universe! Think tanned like a mahogany table, weightlifting, pulling cars and doing fancy T-walks on stage under bright lights. It was a show to provide a challenge, push myself, make friends and empower woman of all ages and sizes. Plus I now get to say I can pull a car… a small one!

This love for health, good food and fitness meant a huge monthly bill when it came to buying tons of fresh fruit and veg! Which is when I thought…. what if I can grow it? It would be even healthier and could it save me money? Could it get me outside more and reduce my social anxieties? Could it make me comfortable talking to strangers? Could it make me believe in myself more?

Hence whilst training for the competition, I moved house, put myself on the allotment waiting list and started growing veg in containers. I was hooked instantly and in that moment my life changed as you know.

Whilst I don’t train to compete anymore, I still go to boxing, throw tyres around occasionally and get out on the mountain bike when I get a chance. I don’t need to train like that now either, my allotment and garden provide the squats, deadlifts, lunges and bicep curls without me even realising… at least until two days later when the ache kicks in. A full body work out, a place to unwind and grow beautiful veg, the benefits of gardening are endless.

Keeping my body confidence at a decent level and most importantly my overall mental health high.

Hopefully, you remember my #MyRealView campaign I launched in 2017. My small bid to remove pressures and encourage us all to be real. We all face so much on social media, in magazines and from nasty people, that at times we think we need to look, be and act a certain way. Portraying a positive, shiny and pretend showcase of our lives on social media, so us and our gardens look perfect. The campaign which you can read about here, was to encourage you and others to post weeds and all, not just the pretty flowers and spotless soil. The last place we need pressures is our own garden or allotment, that for many of us is our only tranquil space or safe haven. Still get involved, tag me, @LifeatNo27 in your pics and use the hashtag!

Lastly…you are beautiful! BE YOU!

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