Last week a client of mine inspired me to write about a topic that’s intrigued me for years: body image issues and women. I received a text message from her saying ” Soon enough a strong mini will appear because skinny mini is so passe!” I responded back with “You are absolutely right,strong is the new sexy!”

Since university i’ve studied body image issues, I have tried to understand it from all angles including sexuality and body image, masculinity and body image issues ect. I was a research assistant working under a prof doing a study about exercise frequency and social physique anxiety. It was interesting to find that even athletes face body images issues, maybe even more so than the average person.

As a trainer and leader in the fitness industry i have experienced not only major body image issues in relation to my sexuality but also but the pressures of being a female trainer in general. Overall, this is a very male dominated industry, I felt a lot of pressure living into the ” sexy barbie girl trainer” when i first started out. I had male trainers come up to me and touch me inappropriately or make comments about my body.

I used to get offended by this but then I toughened up and began to accept that I didn’t want to fit in or look like a yoga girl trainer. I actually enjoy having more muscle on my arms and feeling stronger but still feel very feminine.
This is not to say there is anything wrong with the softer look, my point is that your body is your body and you shouldn’t feel obligated to look a certain way to fit an “ideal image”.

I feel that I have some helpful tips and advice for those who are struggling. I also want you to know that you are not alone.

We’ve all had those mornings when you look in the mirror and think ” my god my legs are really fat today” or ” look how pudgy my stomach is” However, if this is a constant and ongoing thing, the effects can be really harmful and detrimental to your self-esteem.

Learn to love your body with these tips:

1) Find one positive feature when you look in the mirror that you like and give yourself a compliment.
Repetition is key and it will eventually become a habit. Example – ” I like the way my legs look in these jeans” or ” my shoulders are looking really good in and defined in this shirt”.

2) Set performance related goals instead of physique goals – Very often we focus on how many calories we’re burning and losing 5 or 10 lbs. From personal experience, when i was training for a 10km race or half- marathon it helped take the focus away from the way my body looked. I was so focused on performance and the goal that i didn’t even think about the way my body looked. Choose to focus on what your body can do and be the strongest version of yourself.

3) Build a support system – Spend your time with people who have a positive influence on you and energize you rather than reinforcing bad habits. Find a workout buddy to train with a few times a week, swap healthy recipes, and keep each other accountable.

4) Focus on what you have the power to change – You can’t change your height or your bone structure. If you have wider hips, you can’t change that but you can perform exercises to tone your hip and thigh area. If you have wider shoulders, unfortunately, you can’t really change your bone structure but you can focus on making them look more defined. There is ways around it and at the end of the day, if you are doing something positive for your health and body you will feel better.