Billboards. Magazines. Television commercials. No matter where you look you look you see rail thin models advertising everything from clothing to perfume to beverages. Being exposed to the same image hundreds of times a day leads you to wonder... Is that what I'm supposed to look like? I do kinda wish I looked like her. Then all those clothes would look good on me, and I'd look just like every other girl.

Ever have these thoughts? Yea, me too.

I went through months and months of self-loathing and comparing myself to every girl I saw and wishing that I could suck in a little more here and there and have a wider thigh gap. Teenage years are hard for every girl, and these misleading images of what 'girls should look like' are the furthest thing from helpful.

I've been an athlete all my life and when I finally stepped away from soccer I started comparing myself to these size zero girls. Something about losing my daily workout routine made me doubt myself immensely and I wished that I looked so much different than I did.

I finally decided to join my local gym, hoping that this would help me feel better about myself.

It did.

Getting back into working out made me realize that I could never look like a model, and that that's okay. My body isn't built to be a double zero and no matter what I ate or didn't eat, my body structure was never going to change. After all those years of playing soccer my body was used to be pushed to the limit and feeling sore. Once I got into a daily routine of going to the gym I noticed my body toning, my muscles growing and most importantly I felt so good about myself. Once you stop agonizing over someone you wish you could be, you can start pursuing the best that you can be.

Flash forward a few years and I wake up early every morning to go to the gym. I am in the best shape of my life and I am so happy with the way I look and even more happy, with the way I feel. I could never have pictured how strong I would become in just a few short years and how naturally weight lifting would come to me.

To any girl that is struggling with body image, know you're not alone. Know that those posters and magazine ads you see of six foot tall, size zero models are not what you should strive to look like and know too that they are mostly photoshopped. You may not have always been an athlete like I was, and when you think of the gym you may feel intimated and not want to go but please remember that everyone starts somewhere, and the time to start is right now. Step away from the mirror in your room where you stare at yourself critiquing every flaw and step into your sneakers. Walk a mile on the treadmill, try lifting a few weights, grab a mat in the back and try some yoga- anything will help you feel better. I use the gym as my stress reliever, my confidence booster and everything in between. I recommend going to the gym to any girl because it will help you feel better. Remember, strong is beautiful.