For Men's Health Week 2017 we asked comunity members to share their thoughts on the term 'Healthy' and how they look after their health.
In Loz's on words, they talk about how yoga has furthered their appreciation for their body.
As a queer trans man, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my body. I don’t personally believe that I ever had the ‘wrong’ body but I cannot truthfully say that my body has always felt right to me, in the same way I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has always felt that their body is just right or perfect the way it is.
I always felt okay with my transness, and any decisions I wanted to make about hormones and surgeries seemed relatively straightforward and simple. In that way, I could see a clear path to a healthy body and healthy mind for myself.
It was the more routine and mundane aspects of having a body that seemed more complicated. Specifically, how do you exercise whilst trans? There’s a lot caught up in our ideas of ‘exercise’ and ‘health’ and I often found that the more I approached exercise, the more I found myself, and my body, wanting. I got frustrated that my body could never reach the ‘ideal’ queer man’s body, and that fuelled unhealthy thoughts and approaches to eating and exercising.
This was compounded by some of the negative experiences I had when trying different options; I found myself being interrogated about my body and my gender in order to do incredibly basic things, like use a changing room. I tried some LGBT-specific clubs and some of them were worse: people weren’t clueless about trans people but they had opinions about us and where we should be allowed to be. The alternative was to go back in the closet, not tell anyone I was trans and not use public changing spaces or showers. But I’m not ashamed of being a queer trans man and being out has always been far more emotionally healthy for me.
In the midst of this, a friend of mine told me they had started doing yoga at home with some really good online videos. I liked the idea of exercising at home in a way that didn’t involve me pushing myself to do endless reps and obsessing over progress and an ideal body. So I thought I’d give it a go. Yoga’s a meditation practice, an exercise for the mind as well as the body. I found that the more I practiced, the easier I found it to be kinder to myself and my body.
As my confidence built, I started attending classes. At first I stood at the back feeling nervous, but I was soon down the front, shirtless in my tiny shorts, scars and all. Moving mindfully, aware of my body’s abilities and limitations, helped me to feel connected to my body in a way I never had before.
One day I came out of class, whipped off my clothes and went and used the open showers. I had a momentary flicker of ‘I wonder if anyone else is going to be uncomfortable with my naked trans body’ and then instantly realised that wasn’t my problem! I am as welcome to have a body in a space as anyone else.
I’m still going to classes, still regularly shirtless, and still using the open showers. No-one’s ever said one judgemental word to me about my body or my scars and I’ve made friends men from all walks of life, all with different bodies, backgrounds and experiences. That feels pretty healthy to me.
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