There has been a colossal shift in thinking about female body image. Gone are the days when women hankered after waif-like limbs, thigh gaps and concave stomachs. These days my clients are far more likely to ask how I can help them achieve a bodybuilder butt and ripped six-pack.

Positive role models such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Beyonce and Kate Hudson have given rise to the belief that strong is the new skinny. Fitspiration has become a buzzword on social media, replacing the unhealthy thinspiration. Once we were bombarded with images of super-thin women and ways to reach a size zero. Now fitspiration champions a healthy lifestyle. Fitness enthusiasts are using apps, blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to showcase the results of their hard work, share healthy recipes and inspirational quotes. It’s a refreshing shift after decades of the skinny ideal.

As someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past, I know how destructive dieting and unrealistic body images can be. I’ve met many intelligent, gifted and successful women who have admitted that obsessing about food consumes their every waking moment. What a waste of time and energy! Weight training and following a healthy lifestyle has not only transformed my appearance, it has changed my life. It has helped me adopt a determined and positive attitude which has permeated everything I do.

Training used to be a punishment. It was simply a means to burn off that biscuit or piece of toast. Now the gym is a place where I feel empowered. I have watched my boyish straight physique transform into a feminine hourglass figure, building shoulders and legs an athlete would be proud of.

I have also achieved feats I never thought possible. Three years ago I was working towards my first pull up, now I can do 15. When I started working on my deadlift technique with an empty barbell, I never imagined I’d be able to lift over twice my bodyweight and compete in powerlifting competitions. These achievements are proof that hard work pays and focus and consistency brings rewards. In a stressful fast-paced world where I sometimes feel I am pulling against the tide, it’s easy to lose sight of that.

Weight training has completely changed how I feel about myself. I used to waste so much energy hating my body, comparing myself to other women and feeling inadequate. I had a mini internal battle every time I put something in my mouth. Now I no longer look at other women’s bodies with envy. When I see an athletic woman, I am inspired by her commitment. When I prepare a meal, I am eating to nourish, repair and fuel my body. The guilt has lifted.

Health, positivity and happiness are goals we all strive for. Too often we look for reasons we can’t achieve what we want. ‘It’s too difficult,’ ‘I don’t have time,’ ‘it’ll be uncomfortable.’ I urge you to look past the barriers and commit to making changes that will bring real rewards for yourself, friends and family. Dreams don’t work unless you do.