Fitness doesn't look a certain way!
Research has continually shown that the fitness industry's focus on physical appearance as motivation to get people fit and moving, keeps failing. Why? Because appearance is so subjective. If I need to improve myself according to appearance, the work will never be done. There will always be somewhere where I fall short. So this guilt-based, pseudo-motivation actually hinders people from making a long-term commitment to fitness and in fact, are often the cause of damaging body image even further.
Thankfully there are a growing number of fitness professionals who are taking a stand against the notion that fitness should be grounded in achieving a better appearance. So, if you are considering hiring a fitness instructor to help you reach your goals, I encourage you to look for professionals who focus on self-care and developing inner strength as opposed to kilos lost and body fat percentage dropped. Furthermore they should be just as interested in how you feel as in how many reps you can do.
Fitness is a commitment to caring for body and mind. Make sure the trainer you hire understands your commitment and philosophy and doesn't force you to adhere to their standards of what fitness should look like. You have the right to your own boundaries.
Do I not care about appearance at all then, you ask? Look, I like taking showers, putting on make-up and looking beautiful too! Like most women, I like looking my best. And yes, I like being in shape! But it is MY shape, not some unattainable image that has been fed to me all my life. I am a fit person who dedicate my life to helping others reach their goals too. Being fit helps me engage fully in life and have the stamina and energy for things that makes me happy. But an outsider looking at my body is not going to see that these arms have just performed a 90kg bench press and it won't be clear from looking at me that this amazing woman walked more than 10km today. My body tells a story but it is not necessarily one that is visible to the eye.
I intentionally choose different ways to measure health and fitness because I don't ever want my appearance to dictate my success or undercut my achievements. This is the wish I have for you too.