What started with bad intentions, later became an act of self-love.

"I would work out because I hated my body," Elon sophomore Lissy Shortall said.

But somewhere along the way, things changed.

"I started really liking the way working out made my body feel," Shortall said. "There's very much this snowball effect when you get into the habit of working out. You have so much more energy, you can sleep easier, you just feel better. You feel powerful."

If you've been to Jordan Gym this week, you may have noticed positive messages scribbled on the mirrors. It's Campus Recreation and Wellness' annual Love Your Body Week. 

Shortall, who became a group exercise instructor in 2019, says she struggled with body image throughout high school and her first year at Elon.

"When I looked in the mirror I still saw myself as being larger," she said. "Even though I knew that I was something different I just had these kind of like dysmorphic thoughts."

Approximately 80% of women and 40% of men don't like how they look, according to research by the Melrose Center

Eventually, Shortall says she admitted to herself that she needed to make a change.

"When you are non-stop thinking about food and how the next thing you're going to eat is going to affect your body and thinking you don't deserve it, that's an issue," she said.

She says she tries to break the perception that there's an ideal body to achieve — by focusing on embracing and loving your own body. 

"I will scream at my participants that like 'your body is capable of this, your body is beautiful, you can do more than you know,'" Shortall said. "I think being able to positively encourage people when you're working out instead of making it a more negative thing."

Shortall said during this week and every week, it's important to accept who you are as an individual.

"Embracing feeling good as opposed to a certain look makes us feel so much better," she said.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with body image, you can call the National Eating Disorder Center's Helpline at 800-931-2237.