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It's time to stop judging our health against people who work out for a living

I am a health and fitness professional, writer and author. 

But before that, I spent most of my life battling with my weight. Once I had decided that enough was enough, I enrolled in Fitness Institute International Inc, school for persona...

Being fit doesn't mean you have to look like a fitness model

Throughout my years in the health and fitness industry, it has become abundantly clear to me that too many of us confuse healthy living with looking like a fitness model. Now before I go on, let me clarify something: I am not bashing fitness models — at all. We can look at what others have accomplished and use this as motivation.

More: 8 tips that will make even the laziest runners ace a half marathon

There is also nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. People want to feel good about themselves. It's fine to want to shape your body into something that provides enthusiasm about shopping for clothes and enjoying the way you look in them. The problem, however, is that the "image" of health and fitness has many of us confused with simply being healthy and fit.

So what's the difference?

When you take care of yourself by eating the right foods, staying properly hydrated and engaging in a safe and structured exercise program, your inner conversations have to do with self-love, self-respect and care. Your activities are focused on overall well-being. You are conscious of your life and want to take care of your body.

When you diminish your self-worth because you feel as though you don't measure up to the models you see in magazines, on billboards and on television, your actions become a response to inner turmoil. You might even say things to yourself like, "My life would be so much better if I looked like her/him." You've created a vertical structure of humans being better or worse than one another. It creates an internal war because we're measuring ourselves to someone we know nothing about.

More: How my faith helps me stay optimistic when things go wrong

The truth about fitness models

People who become models to compete or to make a living have a completely different lifestyle than you do. Their goals are unique to them, and the amount of work they put into their routine is specifically designed to help them showcase their bodies to either be judged for competition or to sell a product — even if it's their own services.

You, on the other hand, likely have a different set of goals in mind. You may simply want to feel good about yourself. You know you'd like to have more energy, stamina and, most of all, an overall feeling of well-being.

You can do this by eating the right foods, engaging in regular physical activity and living a life that is a true reflection of who you really are.

While we assume that if we look a certain way, people will like us more and perhaps even want to date us, people — the kind you actually want in your life — will be more attracted to your heart, your smile and the light that shines through your eyes because you are at peace with yourself.

What does this mean for you?

Just take good care of yourself. Find joy in your exercise program, and I always advocate on my blog that you work out safely and be consistent. Work hard enough to sweat and have your muscles feel like jelly — even if it's for 10-20 minutes. Go ahead and work on the body parts you'd like to see improvements on. Just don't compare yourself with those who do this for a living, or who have the time, dedication and motivation to work at a level that isn't compatible with your life — for whatever reason.

Healthy living isn't an all-or-nothing ordeal. Balance is always the key. Be good to yourself and guard your inner conversations. Watch how your body will transform into the best version of itself it can be, which will be unique to you — as it should be.

More: 5 reasons you have to try a dark exercise class

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