My name is Sarah Knarzer. I am 5 feet 2 inches and 130 pounds, on a good day. If I had to choose, I’d say my body shape is a cross between an hourglass and a tiny pear. I have pale skin, tons of freckles, thick dark hair and hazel eyes. I am the most comfortable with my hair pulled away from my face, dressed in leggings, sweatshirt, and of course, my glasses. I feel my most beautiful in a dress that shows off my waist, some nice boots, and a bold lip color.

My name is Sarah and I love my body. But I also really want to change it.

I’m tired of people telling me, "It isn’t what is on the outside that counts," or simply that I shouldn’t care what other people think. I know that image means nothing, however, I will always care, to a degree, about what people think of me. I can’t help it. It’s who I am. I don’t think I have some unhealthy obsession with it, but it is a constant struggle.

Actually, "constant struggle" is an understatement. When it comes to self image, no matter what you look like, your sex, how confident you are or what your age is, the first two paragraphs of this article can still be true for you, just replace my name and features with yours.

In fact, I encourage you to do that.

It’s honestly a double edged sword of criticism. People will always have something to say about your appearance, always. I don’t know much, but I know that. If you take steps to change your body, such as a spray tan, new haircut or a change in diet or exercise, people will argue that your body is what makes you, you. That it is beautiful as it is, and that if you change it, then you must not really love it as much as you should. It’s an endless cycle, really, and it’s incredibly frustrating, but as a society we can’t let it get the best of us.

So this is my (not so professional) advice, which has totally worked (for me).

First, you need to want to change your body for the right reasons.

Sometimes another person's opinions can affect your own self perception to a degree, but why do you want to change it? For them? Or for yourself? Do you really think people care exactly how many pounds you weigh? Do you think body weight is a measurement of who you are as a person? It absolutely is not.

If your frame of mind, when you think about your body, is that if only you could fix “X” then you would be happy, then you will never love your body. There will always be another “X.” (Just want to clarify, it is okay to want to fix “X,” but it is not okay to think that “X” will fix all your problems.)

If negativity is what is driving you to start that exercise class or try that new facial treatment, then you cannot expect positivity to come from it.

Second, know that your body is freaking incredible.

Do you realize how many things it does for you? Without you even realizing it? You can breathe, think and move. Those "flabby arms" allow you to hug someone and bring food to your mouth. That "weird" nose allows you to smell, whether it’s delicious food or smoke from a dangerous fire. So take these amazing feats of human ability and don’t settle!

Make sure your body is healthy and happy as humanly possible. Take care of yourself, all parts of yourself, but especially the parts you don’t appreciate as much as you could.

Honestly what it all boils down to is just "showing up," for yourself.

Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love, and I promise you will love yourself AND support your desire to change. Connect with your body, and you’ll discover things about it that you never knew before.

If your idea of changing your body is to exercise, then exercise, but do it to FEEL good, not to meet some kind of calorie quota.

It’ll be difficult at first, but what was hard one day will be easy in two weeks, and then you’ll be able to do more without feeling like crap every day. And this isn’t to say that month-long programs or 28-day challenges are bad for you, not even a little bit. With the right people, I have no doubt that those types of things can be absolutely amazing. But one month will not guarantee a lifetime of being confident in one’s skin–it takes constant work and support and a desire to keep your body as healthy as possible.

If your idea of changing yourself is to accept a new diet, then diet, but do not become a slave to what you eat.

Learn to love foods that are good for you. (You probably love a lot of them already and just don’t know it.)

Prepare and eat meals that you actually like and develop positive eating habits based-off of that. Don’t expect that certain foods will make you "perfect" in one day, or assume if a diet works for one person it will automatically work for you. It is unrealistic.

Give yourself time.

The healthiest diet and exercise programs are not a two-week fix. They take place over a period of time, hard work, effort and devotion. Your body changes without warning. You will gain and lose weight and muscle every day. You will have to adjust accordingly.

And those days where things go your way? Have a victory dance. You’ve taken care of yourself in a way that only you can, and that’s absolutely incredible. You deserve it.

Surround yourself with people and words that make you feel good.

A support system is crucial to any part of your life, but especially this, for these are the people who will help you stay on track with your internal motivations, goals, and ultimately, your health.

They will say when you have gone too far, and will push you when you can workout harder. Try to strive for FITspiration, not THINspiration.

If you can start to sense how important it is to your support system that you love yourself and strive to be your best self, then I guarantee you will slowly start to believe it too.

Lastly, a huge part of having a support system is being a support system for others.

Don’t you dare lash out at others or shame anyone else for how they look, for any reason.

In fact, don’t really talk about it at all, if you can help it. It doesn’t define you. It doesn’t define them. So what is the point? Let your body and your attitude do the talking for you.

Seriously, you owe yourself and your body that much. And when the topic does unavoidably come up, use positive words and shape your language to best help others around you.

Some will want tough love, some will need reassurance, some will ask for help–but that is their decision and their choice of how they want to help themselves, so respect it.

I suppose there is also always the option to just say f**k it all, and if you have that option, great. More power to you. I, for example, don’t have that option.

So I had to learn to do something different. I had to learn that I could love myself and want to change myself, at the same time.

I’m thankful for what I’ve been given, all 5 feet 2 inches and 130 pounds of it, (on a good day).

I accept my appearance, and sometimes, I like to mix it up a little. Even on my bad days, however, I’m healthy and I’m happy, and that’s all I could really ask for.

I wish you the best of luck. There is a world of resources out there that you can take advantage of, so take advantage. It won't just change your physical appearance, it will change your life.