ThatIsBeyond… the small life changes that make a big, big difference.

As a perpetual worrier about what people think of me, I have a pretty full-on work ethic. I have been super driven about attaining my achievements and always wanting people to believe in me and my work. The pressure that self-builds and rests on my shoulders can be pretty debilitating and stressful.

Along with this, I have a few decades of lacking body confidence to also contend with. Ingrained and visible to most, it is hard to hide, and when I do manage to hide it, it can sometimes feel like an exercise in mental self-harm. My polished smile and jovial attitude can sometimes just mask the pain that I have pushed to the back of my mind.

For me it has always mattered if I was “liked”. I think that years of bullying set me up for a lack of confidence in my own self. As an adult I was drawn into a friendship to which I was dependent on their social skills to have friends, and they were dependent on something else entirely… their dependency I would often be told was because of the pressure of having to “put up with” me.

I’ll be honest (that’s what I’m here for afterall) and tell you that sometimes I still believe it, to this day. And this sort of thinking, does not pave the way to a healthy relationship with yourself, whether it’s in the workplace, the home or out in the wider world.

The wear and tear, of this sort of thinking can really begin to tire you out. You can begin to fray at the edges and eventually fall apart at the seams – so I decided to try (you can but try) to change my outlook, lose some of the stress and enjoy spending some time with me! (Something I have detested for all of my adult life).

Firstly, I changed my attitude to work. I banned myself from checking my emails more than twice a day! In order to achieve this I put a structure in place that simply involved letting my boss know that if he needed me for anything that couldn’t wait til I got back to work (which never really happens) he could call my personal mobile. This was more for me than him – but this did make the transition a little easier to deal with.

Next I stopped focussing on the letter X. When buying clothes I would choose the item that I liked and pick it up in three sizes. I would then try on all three in no particular order and the one that fitted best, I would buy, without looking at the size again. Online purchases were more difficult – but I would always search by the measurement and not the dreaded sizing (which to be honest means absolutely nothing – but that is a whole other conversation!).

Thirdly, I wanted to try and get a better representation of Male bodies into the ether. I began to seek out brands who valued my body shape and my personality above a six pack. I decided to put my image out there to sit between the Greek Adonis, the bodybuilders and the models, so that other men might bravely put themselves out there too. Maybe this would be one small step to changing the shape of masculinity, blur the edges of what it is to be a Modern

Man.

Lastly, I could not post only the pics where I am all sucked in and and shot from a flattering angle in good light and with a filter. I had to also post images where I don’t like how I look. Where my chubby belly hangs out, where I am grimmacing, and where I don the panda eyes of a parent who will never catch up on their missed sleep!

I think you’ll agree that these were all pretty small changes (mainly just adjustments in the ways that I think) but the results have the potential to really change my relationship with myself – and that is what has been at the heart of my body issues all along.

This is not a formula to achieve self-confidence all of the time, far from it. It’s always going to be a daily challenge, but I have begun to notice a difference. Leaving work stress at work and instead using my time to bounce on a trampoline with my son, or to read a book, or to write my blog, or to sing at the top of my lungs. I was then much better prepared to to deal with my workload and approach the work place with a genuinely more chipper attitude.

When I tried to stop focussing on the size of my clothes I began to enjoy wearing them much more. I actually considered whether or not I liked an item properly, and I bought what I liked and not what I thought I “should” wear. I knew that everything that I bought fit me and I felt confident wearing it – not because of the size label but because I like how it fits my body.

In my Instagram search of a more varied representation of Male beauty, I not only discovered brands who value the same things as me, but I e-met other men who didn’t fit the mould (for a variety of reasons) and whom were battling their own demons. People who have a lot to offer just not the physical attributes that society seems to prize above all else. And so I put my image out there (many times) and I actually began to care less. It wasn’t about the likes that didn’t come or the brands who were not willing to work with me because I’m too fat (they didn’t say this of course – but it was exactly what they were thinking!) It was about me showing myself who I am, and that the world probably didn’t care!

The last section was the hardest. Putting images out there -that you are super critical of yourself – can sometimes feel like you are kicking yourself in the nuts! The trick to it, was finding at least one factor that you did like about it, even if you hate everything else! That thing can be the lighting, your smile, you bulge in your @kenniesuk boxer-briefs or really anything at all – instead of perfection you are simply searching for one redeeming quality! The pressure is off!

The biggest difference is that I feel that my mood is more stable, I have maintained my productivity at work, I enjoyed clothes shopping again, i engage with family time differently and I am less scared of what people think of me.

I worry that I will never quite feel that my friends are fully mine – there is always a fear that one day they will wake up and realise that they can’t remember why they like me, or that I will do something to damage our friendship beyond repair. I will probably forget to stop judging myself and I will definitely keep hiding behind Instagram filters! But if i can believe in myself and keep challenging the image of What it is to be a man, then I think I am in a much better place – a place where I come first (at least some of the time).

Not posed – looks like natural old me!

So I set you a challenge… post a pic of yourself that you are not 100% happy with, tag @thatisbeyond and caption it with whatever quality it is that you love about it. Or simply comment below with the pic!

Perhaps together we can change the shape of beauty on social media and prove that a little change can sometimes make a big big difference.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… Kennies boxer briefs, mental health and the models that I want to be mates with!

It’s not every day that you can truly say that you have an affinity with a brand. There can be lots of variables that get in the way. One of the key issues being tackled in recent months is male mental health and I think, that when it comes to fashion, I am greatly affected by what I see in adverts and branding, namely because I never see me.

Of course I’m not talking specifically about me modelling the clothes… but it would be nice to see greater representation. My body type is not a gym bunny, or a modelesque fashionista or a bronzed Adonis. It’s hard to put into words what I AM, because all of the words that come to mind are derogatory to my own self – and this is born from a lack of representation. So without the words to describe myself, let’s brave a picture (afterall, as they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words).

Society and in fact my own psyche has chipped away at my person, and has left me wondering – what brand represents me?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I often google tips on what to wear often with wordings similar to the sentences below:

And do you know what the results say?

Very Little.

Because it seems that fashion (in the mainstream) isn’t made for men like me. People aren’t interested. People are disgusted by fat and the people that have it. Fat people are not good looking. Fat people are not fit. It appears that Fat people are not really people, at all.

With this in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Kennies a brand that featured men like me, having a whale of a time in their underwear…

Hold up, I actually re-scrolled to find the advert again, because I thought I was hallucinating!

As well as great pants, these guys had personality, charisma and the fun factor, the type of guys that I want to be mates with! So straight away I had to find out more – I placed an order and got some delivered! And since then I haven’t looked back.

Kennies have developed a great product. These boxer briefs are so goddamn comfortable, that it has been a game changer for me. Normally irritated by the bunching of fabric around my sizeable thighs and arse, I normally opt for briefs (especially for sport). But the micro-modal fabric that these bad boys are made from, means that uncomfortable bunching is a thing of the past.

The fabric is so soft and sculpts itself to your shape without feeling constrictive – in fact it moves with you. It holds everything in place but also gives it some room to move. In short, your are supported, but your willy has some freedom as well! I have now worn my Kennies Boxer briefs for a couple of gym sessions and a 10k run, and I have absolutely no complaints. They are breezy and seem to absorb the inevitable sweat away from the genitals, leaving you feeling dry throughout your work out.

You see the thing about guys like me, is that that we want a lot of the same things as the “sculpted guys”. We want comfort, we want to look good, we want support etc, but we also prize other qualities that a skinny man probably doesn’t experience! Like a waistband that folds over – when you have a curvy stomach to contend with, waistbands don’t sit like they do on the models, in fact it is a constant annoyance to me that it doesn’t stay flat, because I can’t escape knowing that it’s because I am carrying those extra pounds! And trust me a fat guy knows he’s fat, he doesn’t need reminding!

Next, this brand has a great ethos. A product that is sustainable and developed to be long-lasting and the antithesis to disposable fashion. The micromodal fabric looks and feels good and is ethical, with no harmful chemicals released into the environment. Kennies recognise that we can no longer close our eyes to the effects of our actions and so are very transparent about their processes and the product itself. They are also supporting the UK’s marine life:

£1 FROM EVERY PAIR OF BLUE KENNIES PURCHASED WILL SUPPORT VITAL MARINE CONSERVATION WORK IN THE UK

As you can see, Kennies as a brand is not afraid to break the mould. It’s not just about pants – it’s about the whole “bigger” picture.

I can stand proud in my new underwear and know that this brand has my back. I don’t need to be ashamed of how I look. I just need to be me – and with my new Kennies boxer briefs, I look good too. (Even if I do say so myself).

The boxer briefs (as modelled by me) and trunks are available from www.kennies.co.uk for £16 – and in my opinion, that is an absolute bargain. (I would like to know if briefs will be in the pipeline, as well?)

So whilst my own self-deprecation is unlikely to disappear, and nor is my discomfort with my own body, at least I have found a brand that I feel is for the everyman (and hence ME as well) and that representation is good for the mental health of all of us – No holds barred!

TIB

ThatIsbeyond… I never win anything! (Ham Yard Hotel prize breaks my losing streak)

I am a serial loser.

Raffles, the Grand National, The lottery – I lose them all.

BUT my losing streak was brought to a 33 year halt when mirculously I finally won something. The “something” in question was a 1950’s fancy dress party and the prize was so good that I kept it for over a year to make sure that I used it at the right time… the night after the London Marathon 2019!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Ham Yard Hotel.

My prize was a three course meal in the Ham yard hotel restaurant, a night in their fabulous hotel, and breakfast the next morning. As you can imagine, after completing the 26.2 miles around our capital city, I was ready for some rest an relaxation, and I was not disappointed – not one iota.

My day job focuses firmly on creating a level of service that is of the highest calibre, and to that end I have quite discerning standards when it comes to the service industries, I expect the very best, especially if there is a sizeable price tag attached to it. So, needless, to say, I was extremely excited to spend some quality family time in this high-end setting and to really put the facilities to the test.

Upon entry to the hotel, we were greeted with a smile, doors opened for us and a personal greeting was made to our 3 year old. (this makes a huge difference to us, as parents). Check in was a breeze, and we were given the opportunity to ask questions – but more than that – we had a fantastic converstion about the London Marathon and I was congratulated on completing it!

In such a high end setting, I can sometimes feel like an imposter in someone elses world. This isn’t the sort of hotel experience that we can usually afford, and couple that with the fact that I have arrived wearing my sweaty marathon gear (and a slight hobble) and I could have easily started to feel self-conscious, but I didn’t. The fantastic team had made the whole family feel at ease and had also offered us a tour and morning paper! Thank you very much.

Our room was on the second floor, and due to the hobble and our son in a buggy, we took the lift to get there. Every inch of this fantastic venue is vibrant modern and comfortable. The lift itself was lined in yellow fabric with some blue highlights and featured some incredible pieces of Art! It really was quite the experience for such a short journey!

Arrival to our room was bliss. A sumptuous bed, stunning bathroom and space a plenty! We also had a view of the old Windmill Theatre, and a cheeky little sign which added a fantastic retro feel from the floor to ceiling windows. This is LUXURY. And not “stuffy luxury”, but a modern and welcoming sort of luxury that isnt all gilded picture frames and ancient paintings – the modern surroundings speak to fun and drama, and really make a feature of the staff and their elevated level of Customer Service. Nothing said this more that the fact the we arrived to our room less than 2 minutes after checking in, and we arrived to two hand written notes, one addressed to my wife and I, wishing us a fantastic stay with a selection of chocolates, and a second addresses to me personally congratulating me for completing the marathon and a gift of massage oil sat just beside it! I was genuinely quite taken aback.

My son and I both took advantage of the excellent tub and shower facilities – for him it was a mini swimming pool, and for me it was a welcome and relaxing relief for my aching muscles and a chance to watch some TV in the tub! The RikRak Products were fantastic and I really enjoyed the Gardenia Sandalwood shampoo which worked up an excellent lather and was 100% appropriate for men and Women (so good choice). Then there was the robe… the robe was soft and fluffy and just so comfortable, if I could have done, I would have worn it to dinner!

We dressed for dinner (for the sake of others thankfully not in the robes!) and made our way down to the restaurant. First and foremost the food was excellent (so good that I have limited pictures, as I couldnt wait to eat it!) I had the soup au pistou to start, which was a very tasty vegetarian soup not dissimilar to a minestrone only vegetarian and with beans. My wife had the Dorset crab mayonnaise, cucumber and dill, rye crackers which was so good that my fussy 3 year old was also a fan (which really is high praise). For mains, I had the Ribeye Steak and Frites whilst my wife devoured the Roast duck breast, duck hash, celeriac and rosemary. Yummm.

Throughout the meal our son was treated like a king, which made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the evening because we were so much more at ease. The wait staff were friendly and efficient and interacted with him throughout. they gave him a colouring book and crayons, the quality of which was terrific. (Unfortunately, we realised that we had left the colouring book under our table, which was gutting, as we would have loved to have kept it as a momento.)

For dessert we shared the Chocolate liégeois, which was a “Super-Sundae” filled with chocolate in many forms and lashings of cream! And the Vanilla panna cotta, poached rhubarb, lychee, raspberry and rose sorbet … need I say more?

After a little Veuve Cliquot Yellow label and a bloody good Clemens Busch 2017, Riesling it was time for bed. I am pretty much an insomniac. Sleep does not come easily. Add to that the fact that my whole body has been through a physical hell and you don’t get the most favourable sleeping conditions. But I have to say that taking all of that into account that I slept pretty well. The bed was comfortable and roomy, the blackout curtains and blinds created a great space to chill out and catch those zzz’s.

The next morning we had a hearty breakfast, read the paper and caught up on some TV, before heading back to reality. From the minute we arrived, we were looked after with care and attention and this didnt stop even from our last second leaving the next morning.

The Ham Yard Hotel is part of the Firmdale Group, and is a fantastic Central London location to really feel the luxury that the capital has to offer. If I had the money I would stay here all the time, but thanks to my losing streak finally being broken (by me not making a very pretty woman at all!) I have at least had the opportunity to experience this amazing hotel, even if this is the only occasion.

ThatIsBeyond… ion8 mad at it!

One of the frustrations with summer commuting is the need to carry a water bottle, which invariably leaks all over your gym kit, important work documents, laptop (insert wet item here!)

So when I discovered the Ion8 from http://www.leakproof.com I decided to put the technology to the test!

My commute from Kent involves a 30

Minute walk to drop my son off at his nursery, a one hour train journey and then a 15 minute tube, so I think that this is probably a pretty decent challenge and will really put the Ion8’s technology to the test!

There are a couple of quite clever design features, which mean that you can make them most of this flask all year round. The wide mouth of the bottle means that ice cubes fit nicely into the bottle to keep your beverage colder for longer. The thermoshield vaccuumed design ensures that your drink retains its freshness and full flavour throughout the day and keeps your drink hot/cold for longer.

And for when you’ve got a morning tea in there, the rubber grip will ensure that you don’t burn your hand…

This is a stainless steel flask, sleek and available in a few different colours. But more than that these flasks are built to last, they are not flimsy and cheap, you are getting a quality product that will last many a long commute with you.

Why it’s good?

The average family easily disposes of over 2,000 single-use plastic bottles a year – so a quality and long- lasting flask such as this one, can make a real difference to the environment. We all need to take stock of our plastic footprint and explore alternatives, so this is a great place to start.

The one touch thermal insulated bottles are made from food safe, pro grade stainless steel which means that it’s hard wearing and It’s easy to clean (hand wash only).

The seal and lock system comes with a claim that it is 100% leakproof, and having used this for almost two months, it has absolutely supported this claim (especially as I have the luck of a git and have drenched my stuff on numerous previous occasions!)

The easy drink system allows you to open with a single finger, no annoying screw tops or tough nozzles to battle with. Whilst driving it is sometimes necessary to have a little sip of water and this bottle makes it super easy to do safely (even though I would recommend always having two hands on the wheel at all times.) I

All in all, I love this product. It has already become a staple item in my work bag and means that I am not wasting money or harming the environment with daily plastic water bottles.

The Ion8 100% leak proof BPA Free vacuum insulated stainless steel travel mug & flask comes in two sizes, either 360ml or 480ml in colours Red, Rose, Navy or Black. Available from £19.99-24.99 at www.Leakproof.co.uk

TIB

Please note that products were gifted for the purpose of review, but all opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced by outside sources.

ThatIsBeyond…Supporting your tackle with HOM

With all of the trials and tribulations of Marathon training I had to take some time to explore the right underwear to protect my tackle on the big day!

Style, fabric, anti-chafe and airiness are all factors that needed to be considered, when committing to the pants that I will be wearing for the 26.2 miles… and a little bit of sports technology didn’t go amiss either!

I had lowered the options down to briefs, a jock or compression shorts, and was really looking for an option that would resist chafing for the longest, when I saw these delightful trunks and thought I’d give them a go in training…


This underwear line is dedicated to the sportsmen (professional or ameteur) who are embarking on their next sporting challenge. (Or for those who like to wear a super well-fitting bright and bold pair of underwear on a daily basis!)

The first thing that attracted me to them was the bright colour and then I dug a bit deeper and discovered that they were made in a stretch, micro-aerated fabric which (to you and I) means that they a super comfortable and airy down there (which trust me is a great thing)!

The Cross collection from European underwear experts HOM is inspired by professional basketball and features a traditional sports style with fluorescent details on the seams and inside the waistband.

They are essentially a mesh, but nothing too translucent and your modesty is absolutely kept in tact! But this mesh allows decent airflow, a good amount of stretch and I have found that they stay pretty firmly in place without riding uncomfortably up whilst you are trying for a PB.

The ones that I have are a Neon Orange, but they are also available in navy, green, blue and black.

These trunks in polyamide elastane were designed for athletes and will accompany you in your best performances. And make sure that you stay comfortable throughout. The support is really good, and the fabric means you get it without the unnecessary heat that a compression short causes.

So far I have “tackled” two half marathons in these nifty trunks, and they have treated me right! I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this active underwear range for anyone needing to tackle keeping their tackle safe and sound!

I think they are GREAT! So if you want to get your hands on a pair, simply visit www.hom.com

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… BeautyPie Skincare so good, that you can share it with your wife!

My wife has been raving about her new skincare regime. So much so, that I thought I had better try it for myself. With the shift work that I do, it had to be easy to stick to, and I NEED to see results quickly or I often get bored!

Three quarters of the products that I have introduced are from BEAUTY PIE a membership scheme which gives you access to quality high-end formulations for a fraction of what the retail price would be.

You simply sign up for a monthly sum (£5, £10 or £20) and this gives you access to a set amount of the retail value. (Think Costco, where you pay your annual membership to get your hands on cheaply priced goods)

Each item is marked with a “retail value” which is what your allowance is in reference to, and the heavily discounted price that you as a member needs to pay, to get your hands on it!

What you are getting is quality ingredients and formulations for a massive discount, which makes these high end products totally affordable. And any allowance that you don’t use will carry over to the next month!

Now, let me tell you about the skincare…

I’ve got a tough face to please. Combination skin which has peaks of extreme dryness and oiliness! Prone to blemishes and tired, tired eyes with large dark circles!! So we have introduced a 4 step programme for dads looking for decidedly better skin!

Stage one is the Japanfusion pure transforming Cleanser. First off, it comes in a pink tube (shock/horror/gasp!?!) but when you get over the packaging this is a really nifty product that really helps clean out the pores and rid your skin of the muck and grime that causes those irritating impurities. It squeezes from the bottle as a solid cream but as you apply it, it breaks down into a more oily consistency and works deep into the top layers. Once full coverage of face and neck is achieved then you add warm water to the mix and it takes on a milk like consistency and pulls all of the impurities with it. The scent is not overly feminine and just smells clean and fresh – but the formulation is what makes this product something pretty special and easy to use.

A Beatypie product:

Value: £25

Paid: £5.84

Stage Two is The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics Serum

The Ordinary is a company that has only just been brought into my consciousness, again to it’s no frills approach to skincare and the value for money that their products offer.

I was dubious as to why I needed a serum – it seemed like an unnecessary step ahead of a moisturiser, but this serum serves an important process and takes literally seconds to apply!

A serum penetrates the skin deeper than a moisturiser and prepares it to get the most out of the skincare stages that follow.

This little glass bottle is less than £6 and comes with a pippette to apply. Half a measure covers my massive face with a good coating of this serum – just apply directly onto the face and work into the skin with your finger… it couldn’t be simpler.

£5.90 for 30ml

Stage Three is the QI Energy ginseng root and ginger brightening eye fix.

Of all of these products, this is my favourite. (Evidently the subscribers to BeautyPie are in agreement as this product is currently Out Of Stock!) This cream and a good night’s sleep literally changed overnight how prominent my dark circles were. They are lightened and brightened and I honestly feel like a new man. The circles have become an unwanted feature on my face and to get some sleep and also look better was a #dadstylemiracle

The formulation has a mild tingle to it which you can feel working into the under eye area. You only need a very small amount (so don’t be surprised by the tiny tub) and you gently apply and part into the affected softer skin around the eyes. Bish Bash Bosh. Job done.

BeautyPie item number two:

Value: £40

Paid: £8.27

Stage Four (the last hurrah) is the Jeju overnight moisture superinfusion. An intensely nourishing moisturiser that gets to work bringing life back into the skin, plumping it up and creating a natural glow.

To apply, simply use your fingers to work into the face and neck. And leave to sink in overnight.

The final BeautyPie product:

Value: £70

Paid: £9.01

This routine takes less than 5 minutes to complete and whilst my skin is by no means perfect, it is much improved. And at the end of the day, if I feel better about myself, then this dad thinks this may be a huge success.

So what have I learned?

That there’s no shame in sharing your wife’s skincare! In fact, I may just join BeautyPie myself, so she can share MY Skincare 😂

ThatIsBeyond… Self-conscious

A self-conscious man is not what I wish to be, but a self-conscious man I undoubtably am!

In the past week a cataclysm of telling events occurred, and this was surely fate at work… but it wasn’t until today that I got some sort of clarity on what this all meant. So I had to put pen to paper and try my best to articulate what it is like for a dad in his thirties to cope with a preoccupied sense of self-consciousness!

I am constantly concerned with what people think of me. Dealing with how I dress, what haircut I get, what my first impression is, whether or not people like me, getting changed in the locker room, what class of person I am… the list is endless. It’s sometimes hard to navigate my own feelings and actually be myself. I have always subconsciously surrounded myself with amazing people, who have that Je Ne Sai Quoi about them. They ooze cool and confidence and I think that I was desperate for some of that in my own life.

I am lucky to share my life with a truly inspiring family and a group of friends that bring joy to my life, but there is no escaping that sometimes I feel like I don’t belong amongst them. I feel like a fraud – not good enough to have them in my life.

What some people misinterpret is that self-consciousness is just about how you look, but in reality you can be self-conscious about your very being.

I caught myself out, the other day. We were preparing for a trip to the hospital with my two and a half year old, and I noticed some porridge had landed on his sleeve. Instantly a fence sprang up and I started to get agitated about “what people would think”. The stress and worry associated with the hospital visit had manifested itself in how we would be perceived as parents. In my head I felt that people would judge us for having a son in the hospital and that we probably deserved it because he had porridge on his sleeve. I knew what my brain was doing, my stress was now contained in one word “Judgement”. It didn’t matter how ludicrous this was, I needed to make it right. So I changed my son’s top.

What I didn’t need was more stress. I needed to focus on my boy and make sure that he was safe. I’m not afraid to say that I was ashamed of myself. But with shame comes more of the mental self-harm.

Next I came face to face with someone who told me, to my face, that I wasn’t good enough. They had taken me by surprise and I met them

when I wasn’t expecting to, in a place that I wasn’t anticipating that I would, either. Life can be a cruel mistress and because of the work situation that I was in I had to be polite, when I wanted to tell them that they had busted me down when I had only just managed to get my head above water. When duty called I said hello, and that they would probably remember me. They knowingly said that they were sorry but they didn’t remember who I was…

After a re-introduction I made polite conversation holding my stomach in and my head high, but when they asked me what I did, that familiar feeling came over me and I was immediately ashamed of myself for something that I am ordinarily so proud of myself for. To this person, I was the shit on the bottom

of their shoe (and I knew it) but I still cared what they thought of me. And the self-guilt began again.

“Looking Silly” is something that I have never been comfortable with. I have always tried to “fit in”. But there are times that I can’t hide how I feel and it doesn’t become apparent very often… but I LOVE to DANCE!

Often inebriated (but not always) I can let go on the dance floor and truly have a marvellous time. I can let go, and the discerning stares of work colleagues and acquaintances don’t matter any more. I can flick my flip-flops off and pirouette, split leap through the sky and roll around on the disco- lit floor.

I had forgotten what this abandonment of consciousness felt like. It has been years, maybe a decade since I had let loose like this. To have a few hours without a thought of what someone thought of me – or how I looked – or what any of this meant, was liberating. The only way I could describe that night was “the most fun”.

I know that this is a small thing. But for me this was the the feeling that reminded me of my best self – the one that not only looked like me, but was me. The “My lips but better” lipstick, the guy that wasn’t consumed by thoughts of himself but instead was in the moment. This brought Joy into my life when these other moments had brought me… UNjoy.

This was just a week in my life. But it was also a much-needed lesson that even if I can’t control what people think of me, as long as I know who I am and that I am not hurting others, I can dance where I like to the beat of my own drum, and who cares what people think?!

Of course this isn’t every day. I wish it was. But more than anything I don’t want my son to be afflicted with the self-loathing that I can sometimes feel. I want him to throw off his shoes and socks and dance like there’s nobody watching ( and even if someone is, to keep doing what he’s doing.)

If parenthood has taught me nothing else, if this little creature can love me for my crooked teeth, big belly and black bagged eyes, then nothing else really matters.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond…The @boxmenswear internet trolls

This post is a kneejerk reaction. No doubt it will generate its own comment feed of hate, but I have OFFICIALLY had enough.

Internet trolling is now so prevalent that I think it’s a cultural issue that needs to be nipped in the bud. Often the younger generations get the blame, but not being comfortable in your own skin affects all generations and judgements are made by one and all. In short, people with their own issues will always try to pull others down whether they are 16 or 60.

I should preface what I am about to write by saying that choosing to put anything online, means you are opening the door to those ugly trolls (and if you are going to put yourself out there, then know that this is almost certainly going to happen). But come on, self-expression shouldn’t be hindered by others – it’s simple, unless you have something nice to say,

DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.

This morning I was checking one of my Instagram feeds and I saw a post from a brand that I have reviewed in the past, called BOX MENSWEAR. (For the record, really good quality underwear that is long lasting and very supportive).

What struck me about the picture was that the model who had submitted the picture was a “normal” good-looking chap (I hate using the word normal. He is simply a guy without a rippling six pack who had purchased some excellent new undergarments and felt amazing in them) and has been trolled for not having the Greek Adonis physique. But worse than this – it is by multiple people who feel that his image should not have graced their feeds.

Click here for link to image

What A World We Live In.

Luckily we have brands like BOX Menswear who stand up to this bullying, but could more be done?

Almost certainly it could be. I for one would like to see some variety of body shape in their campaigns. I would also like to see their online competitions to find models, to feature a wider spectrum of people and a better representation of the diverse society that we in fact live in.

Box Menswear at least did something about these unpleasant comments.

Unfortunately it won’t be enough to stop future incidents – maybe the only way to stop these waste of space comments is for everyone to not engage with them.

In support of positive body image of any shape size or colour, I have added my own @boxmenswear pic to the fray and if I get trolled, then so be it.

I’m starting the hashtag:

#thatisbeyondmyownbody

Let’s show these trolls what a real people look like! (And please note that you can support this and still have the body of a god… we are all different after all).

I always love your comments, likes and shares. But with a post like this, the more we spread the word, the more change we can affect… so please press that share button to cascade this message far and wide.

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… What’s new on the Men-ü?

Well it’s a new year, and that means a whole host of new products to get trying! And top of the this January is this Citrus and mint shower gel from the Men’s skincare experts at Men-U.

This Ultra-concentrated liquid is really quite clever, it’s a viscous formulation that actually feels sticky to the touch and therefore seems to cling much more effectively to the skin – which in turn means less wastage through your fingers and down the plug hole 🕳 !

There are several moisturising elements within the formulation, which make sure that the skin isn’t left feeling dried out and has really helped with conditioning which can be tough in the winter months with out sometimes abrasive weather conditions.

With less packaging, MEN-U are putting the environment in mind. Alongside the experience of using this product, anyone familiar with this brand will know that they are known for miniature tubes with huge results – their tiny clay mask for example is a triumph. This is not “mini “ in the sense that their previous products are but this is also not a full size like other brands. A perfect bottle to compliment your gym bag grooming regimen.

For me the best asset of this product is the fragrance. It’s Long-lasting and smells like a proper Mojito! I was actually concerned that this might end up smelling a little feminine, but the mint brings a depth of fragrance that lingers throughout the day, whilst the citrus fades into softer note – which I think makes this the perfect masculine scent.

In summary, this is a brand that is doing all of the right things – tailoring to the modern man and also tackling wastage, which is something that we should all be aware of. It smells good, it’s effective, and it’s improving the shower experience. At £8.95 it’s not the cheapest product on the market, but remember that the 100ml bottle will last for 4-6 weeks (because of its ultra-concentrated formula) and their 500ml version (£26.85) is 6 months worth of your daily showers!

Click Here for the Men-U website

TIB

ThatIsBeyond… Keep CALM and carry on to Murdock London

The manly thing is to NOT talk about your feelings, Right?

WRONG.

It’s tough to circumnavigate life, feeling alone and not being able to express how you feel. It’s also incredible that you can spend your life surrounded by people who love and care for you, but you can’t reveal your feelings to them because you don’t want to “burden” them with your “problems”.

For a lot of men, how they are perceived is fundamental to how they live their lives – and over the years showing the world how you feel has definitely been viewed as a sign of weakness.

We lose good men every day.

In 2017 alone we lost 4382 good men to suicide in the U.K. alone.

And I, for one, wonder whether any of those lives could have been saved with a safe space to talk. A place that fits into your everyday life, a place that isn’t daunting to cross the threshold of, and a place with other men who are open, without an ounce of masculinity missing.

Murdock London @murdocklondon are leading the way in providing this service with their barbers receiving Mental Health first aid training. This is one step closer for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) @calmzone and their battle to destroy male suicide.

On this blog I have poured my heart out – about the birth of my son and my own body perception, but I have never shared this:

My depression was thankfully short-lived. Onset by an accident that I was hundreds of miles from, I just couldn’t shake a feeling of helplessness. Not being able to do anything was the hardest part. My brother had almost died when I was younger and I froze and couldn’t do anything to help him – and this time he almost lost his life and I couldn’t get to him – I was too far away. The guilt of not being able to support my family and wishing it had been me instead was a constant struggle.

My face was growing paler by the day as I couldn’t leave my bed, harming myself so that I would feel something, anything other than the sensation of sinking into a chasm.

When I eventually made it out of bed I would watch the working day slip by, in third person.

I had many friends, colleagues and family who I could turn to, but I didn’t. What would they think? Why would they care?

Eventually, I asked for help. Someone I didn’t know that well. But someone.

And I got the help I needed. Because a lot of the time it’s a lot easier to talk to a complete stranger, than it is the people who are closest to you

I suffer from low moods, but I would say that I haven’t been depressed, since. I am a much more open person than I was back then.

So when I learned about this new initiative from Murdock of London, I had to get involved. I can’t stand to lose another person in my life because they don’t feel able to be open.

The CALM initiative, now means that when you next sit in a Murdock barber’s chair, there is someone Coiffing your hair, who you know that you can talk to. Someone who won’t judge you. And someone who won’t pass any judgement. We need to stick together – and this is a great start.

I learned some life lessons at the barber shop. Good Banter, safe sex and dealing with facial hair to name but a few! But in a world where time is at a premium, this has sort of been lost in translation. So let’s all take some pride in our selves and put ourselves out there… why not chat it out, whilst your barber gets you looking good!

It’s time to get sharing (your feelings and this post) and please share these hashtags too. #calmzone #murdocklondon #morethanabarber Perhaps your ‘share’ could help save a man from himself – let’s show the world that sharing is looking after yourself – and everyone knows that a decent haircut or a shave will make you feel a whole lot better about yourself too!

Murdock says:

“Looking after men is fundamental and part of our DNA”

And perhaps we all need to think a bit more like this ourselves.

I firmly support this initiative. So why not restyle your hair and your mental health???

Keep Calm and carry on to Murdock’s of London

TIB