How to Build a Better Body & Why You Won’t See Pictures of Me in a Bikini


That’s my [failed] attempt at putting a bikini on the Lift Like a Girl logo.

“Nia, why don’t you post photos of you in a swimsuit? You must not know what you’re doing if you never show photos of you in a bikini.”

I’ve received other similar messages calling me a fraud and claiming my “methods must not work” because I don’t display photos of me in a bikini. (And, last time I checked, my “methods” aren’t anything revolutionary or ground breaking. Unless, of course, you consider taking the Sane and Simple approach to eating and working out as the latest and greatest thing in the fitness world. Actually . . . that might make sense). Moving on . . .

Let’s put this “where are your bikini photos” topic to rest, once and for all.

You won’t see photos of me in a bikini on this website or the Lift Like a Girl Facebook Page.

Sure, I rock out a swimsuit whenever I chill out at the pool, lake, or beach, but I won’t post these photos.

Here’s why — it’s just not my thing.

Not the answer you wanted? Fine. I’ll elaborate.

Years ago when I was battling my disordered eating habits, I also drastically changed my approach to working out. I stopped focusing on fat loss. I even took things further and stopped focusing on how I LOOKED.

I challenged myself to focus on absolutely nothing but my performance. The only thing that mattered was adding more weight to the bar, squeezing out extra reps, performing more challenging bodyweight exercises, and running more hill sprints.

During my training sessions I wore less revealing clothes so I wouldn’t be tempted to analyze my physique before, during, or after my workout. I even made it a point to refrain from looking in a mirror when I was at the gym. (Unless I got an eyelash in my eye. Seriously, that’s just annoying and has to be taken care of immediately).

Second, I don’t care how I look when I workout. I dress for comfort and not style.

Seriously. Have you seen some of my workout videos? I’m the furthest thing from pretty and stylish when I workout. During the winter my usual workout attire is a pair of 10+ year old Adidas workout pants and a hoodie. Or, if I’m feeling really crazy, I’ll wear super stylish sweat pants like I did in this video from a couple of years ago.

Oooh. Sweat pants, a big hoodie, and a beanie? Now THAT is sexy stuff. Stop swooning.

Third, I don’t have to show anyone my stomach or any other body parts to “prove” I know what I’m doing.

I’m strong.

I can bust out pull-ups, handstand push-ups, dominate 50 pound dumbbells for bench pressing, and I’ve deadlifted over 300 pounds.

My PERFORMANCE is proof enough.

Not only that, but I LOVE how I look. I’m confident in not only how my body looks, but what it can do.

In the end, it’s only my opinion about my physique that matters. I don’t give a rip what anyone else thinks about my physical appearance (except my spouse).

And, finally, I help my clients achieve the results they want.

My clients work hard to build the body they love, and do so in a Sane and Simple way. They apply simple, no nonsense methods to their workouts and eating habits.

They don’t revolve their life around working out or some strict eating schedule. They maintain their sanity and enjoy the journey.

THEY are the one’s I try to please. THEY are the one’s I’m accountable to. If you’ve used the information from this website or purchased any of the products offered here, I’m accountable to YOU. Not some keyboard warrior trying to pick a fight.

And as long as I keep getting emails like this, I know I’m doing something correctly:

Nia, I wanted to tell you that you probably saved my life! Well, not literally, but really… Since I started your Simple Strength Program (in Beautiful Badass), changed my approach to lifting and eating, and focused more and more on my health and performance, I feel sanity and happiness coming back to my personal life and my life in the gym. Thank you for the great work you are doing! Keep it up.


That is what matters to me. Not the opinion of some keyboard warrior whining about me not posting revealing pictures of myself.

And just so no one points fingers and says, “You said you ONLY wear hoodies and sweat pants!” I do wear shorts and a tank top in the summer. I despise being hot, so I’ll rock out less clothing when it’s 90+ degrees with 100% humidity.

And with all of that out of the way, we need address an important topic. And a video is the best way to reveal this information.

How to Build the Body You Want & The Truth about Perfection

Please take six minutes and watch this video where I discuss very important topics that will help remove unnecessary frustration from your health and fitness journey.

Now that you’ve watched the video, I leave you with a few important notes.

Video Notes

  • -Achieve the look YOU want
  • -Are you enjoying your journey to building a better body? Are you able to get the results you want without driving yourself insane? Are you able to maintain your nutrition habits long-term so you can always look awesome? Are you improving your OVERALL HEALTH?
  • -Are your workouts fun and motivating and leave you wanting more instead of overly exhausted?
  • -Do you have a new level of self-confidence that you carry with you out of the gym?

THAT is what matters.

And don’t forget — it’s not entirely about how you LOOK — make it about what you can DO.

Did you enjoy this article?

Then sign up for the Beautiful Badass Mini-Course that will show you the Sane and Simple way to build the body you want. You’ll also get insider only information. Sign up below. 



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  • “I freaking LOVE this info! I'm determined to be a Beautiful Badass!” -Tina V
  • soniasimone

    Thank you for some sanity in a sea of craziness.

    • Nia Shanks

      Haha! I love that sentence. :)

  • Helen

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that, thanks to cultural pressure, women seem to think they greatest thing they could achieve is looking good in a bikini. It makes me want to smash things. Great post thanks.

    • Nia Shanks

      Smash away. :)

  • Gabriella Lehoczki

    every post you write i just like you more.
    you are absolutely right. looks sell, yes.
    but so should knowledge, expertise, sound advice.

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks, lady!

      You sure it’s me and not my dogs that have a tendency to video-bomb me? :)

  • Emily


    As always, kick ass post. I love your message….but you knew this already. ;) Please keep it up because more women need to hear this. What does looking good in a bathing suit have ANYTHING to do with how a woman performs or looks? It makes me so mad when people still feel the need to put such emphasis on body image. ;( I addressed something like this in one of my recent posts…the desire for a new butt. Why not desire a stronger one, not just a “new one?” Why does it have to come to body image? Sure, we all want to look good…I am all for that. But you know what I am really interested in? Moving better each and every day. Building a strong body. Eating healthy to support that body. And resting. You looking different is a result of your performance in the gym and your healthy eating habits. The body will respond. Treat your body well and it will thank you. Rock on Nia.

    • Nia Shanks

      EXACTLY, Emily. I completely agree. This is why I’m thankful for my recent struggles because they’ve allowed me to develop a new perspective. Thanks for commenting.

      • Emily

        Just so you know… are not alone in how you dress to train. I mean, seriously, is it a fashion show or is it time to work? Personally, I feel great when I am layered up…and sporting a beanie too. ;)

  • dlh

    Amen! I cannot even believe (well, I guess I can) that someone would write a nasty email like that. Reminds me of the line from Seinfeld where Jerry’s asking Elaine “what do women do?” (when they’re harrassing one another) to which Elaine replies, “We just make fun of someone until they develop an eating disorder”. Not so funny, but so true! I have never been happier than when I moved to a new home that didn’t have a HUGE mirror in the bathroom. Now all I can see is my face and neck and if I really want to get a glimpse of what my butt looks like, I can use my dresser mirror. It’s so freeing to just “be” and be happy in the skin you’re in. Thanks Nia. And BTW, you look so cute in the video w/ your glasses and hair down. : )

    • Nia Shanks

      Oh my. I’ve never seen that episode. Thanks for the support, and I’m glad to know my glasses don’t make me look too dorky. :)

  • Defining Balance

    There are not words to love this post enough!!! I am coming out of my own valley of disordered eating and obsession and am TOTALLY on board with simplifying EVERYTHING.

    What you are doing for women is incredible – keep being you ’cause you’re awesome :)

    • Nia Shanks

      Thank you for the generous words. Simple is the way to go.

      SANE & Simple. :)

  • Deborah Burroughs

    Nuf said :) I love sanity! Keep it up & thanks for the strong encouragement.

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks, lady!

  • Sadee Whip

    As a 6′ blonde and former model I have a strong distaste for being objectified. I LOVE that you are so clear and that you won’t do the bikini thing because you are being true to you. Honestly, that you don’t objectify yourself while still being womanly is simply awesome. Great post!

    • Nia Shanks

      Thank you!

  • kymvan

    Love this! I’ve had people ask me if I was lifting weights to enter a figure competition. It really bugs me that the only conceivable goal for my workouts is to wear clear heels in public. Strength, health, posture, sport, and confidence all seem to come second in society to wearing a teeny bikini on stage. I love that you have provided a resource with a different end goal. It’s a rare find. I’m doing (s)hero right now and loving it!

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks for sharing! The (S)hero Program fits your personality quite well I’d say. :)

  • Rhiarti

    Oh good grief, folk really say that to you?! Anything else you’re doing wrong? Maybe not wearing enough lip gloss? Could you add a little sexy pout while you deadlift? Yeesh…

    For what it’s worth, for my money, the fact you don’t do the bikini thing is very much to your credit. Anyone can see you’re in excellent shape and a perfect advertisement for the benefits of sane eating and heavy lifting.

    • Nia Shanks

      HAHA! Lick my lips and arch my back a bit more, too? :)

      Thanks for the support,, lady.

  • ChristenaR

    Thank you. I am so over pictures of 2 different women being posted with the question “who is hotter?”, I fall into the trap of comparing my self (read:picking my self apart) too easily, and being able to focus on performance and form helps bring focus and goals that dont include beating myself up. Thank you.

    • Nia Shanks

      Yep, exactly! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Kala Varner

    Love this . . Love YOU There is a lot to be said for standing up for who YOU are! Never, ever change that!!

    • Nia Shanks

      You’ve got it, Kala. :)

  • sarahkayhoffman

    This is just simply amazing, Nia! People tried to talk me into a figure or bikini competition. I decided a few months back that being on stage in a bikini wasn’t really in line with my beliefs and what I felt was best from a marriage perspective. We all have our own reasons. I love yours!

    • Nia Shanks

      Yes, ma’am. To each his/her own. Like you, I’ve never had a desire to do a figure competition. Powerlifting was more my speed. :)

  • Sara Ann Mason

    Well said, Nia. I find it pretty disgusting that people would try to bully you into posting revealing pictures of yourself. You’re strong, you give sensible workout and nutrition advice, and I like your programming— why should anyone care what you look like? Furthermore, I doubt anyone would be putting that kind of pressure on a male trainer of similar status. I think this is some sexist BS and I applaud you for sticking to your principles and not doing something your uncomfortable with.

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks, Sara! I’m comfortable rocking my ugly workout attire and will keep doing so. Ha!

  • Judith Winner

    As someone who had developed “body image issues” I really appreciate your voice of reason. Thanks to what I’ve been learning from you, I’m actually making strides in changing my focus from how I look to how much I can do. I know that I’m already stronger and that it is translating well into my skating ability. I’m more stable on my skates and am getting more fearless in attempting new skills. Weight loss and fat loss are a side effect of getting myself stronger. :)

    Thank you!

    • Nia Shanks

      Awesomeness, lady! Exactly! Lookin’ dang good just because a nice side effect.

  • Debbie

    AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!! Thank you sooo much for being you!!! I love your nuts and bolts, no-bs kind of approach to everything. I even see some changes in my own inner mean-girl voice. I used to be so ugly to myself! I’ve been working out a looonnngg time (almost 22 years) and I am loving the focus on strength and ability instead of the eternally elusive, perfect, cellulite and fat-free (airbrushed!) body. I will be 44 in a week and I am strong, faster and fitter than most people half my age. I could certainly go back half my life and kick my own arse! Thank you Darlin, rock on!!! :-)

    • Nia Shanks

      :) Awesome, Debbie! Thanks for the kind words. Keep Owning It!

  • Denitza

    Thanks for posting this! Keep rocking the hoodies and sweat pants, or whatever else makes you happy! Great message as usual!

    • Nia Shanks

      Will do!

  • Jenny

    I think you look great, have the coolest accent, functional clothes and the best attitude!

    I read EVERYTHING you write because it is high quality, not for the reason of what you wear or the layout on e page. The content – in words and movies are better than most blogs, but still personal. I really like your stile, it make you different from the Barbie looking workout girls, think of it as a part of your brand.

    Reading your page made me focus on positive goals/challanges (instead of worrying about the scale). You rock! Whatever some critical reader say.

    • Nia Shanks

      Awww. Thank you for the numerous complements. Much appreciate! Especially glad you like my southern drawl, ’cause it ain’t goin’ anywhere. :)

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Rae Marsland

    Thanks for the article Nia! You are so right there is no need to post revealing pics. Your performance should speak for itself. Having positive goals of performance and strength increase, is so much better than just working toward fat loss

    • Nia Shanks

      Agreed! Especially since I was trapped in the whole “train for fat loss” for years.

  • Maria

    Hi Nia. I don’t need to see you in a bikini. I know you are a BAD-ASS!!!! Obviously whoever emailed you does not follow your site or advice. I have learned so much from you. THANK YOU!!!

    • Nia Shanks

      :) Thanks!

  • Heidi

    I think you are beautiful Nia! I love Beautiful Badass and I am a supporter and a fan 100%! :)

    • Nia Shanks

      Thank you! So glad you love BB!

  • Sharon Moss

    This! A million times- this! The reason I have been able to stick to my fitness routine/healthy eating habits for the last 3 years is because I focus on what I want to *do*. I wanted to compete in lifting, so I made it happen. I wanted to run a 5k, so I did it. When my goal stopped being “weigh x” or “look like y”, I could actually focus on how I felt.

    Thank you for doing what you do!

    • Nia Shanks

      Awesomeness! I absolutely love it.

      Focus on what you can DO and looking awesome becomes an added bonus.

  • April Kelling

    Absolutely nailed it with this article. Every women need to hear this and any women that has heard it and lives by the KISS principles can always benefit from constant reminders. Nia you rock!

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks, April!

  • Ines Subashka

    I love that post! That’s what I’ve been thinking lately! A lot of people ask me the same questions…”when are you gonna show your abs?” and stuff like that! But the thing is, I don’t want people to follow me because of my abs…I want them to follow me because of my philosophy! I’ve also had disordered eating habits and I am as well trying to stay away from associating my personality with my appearance! And come on! After all we are not porno stars or models, but strength coaches! We are trying to make people healthier and fitter, not obsessed over looks! :) And once again great post! :)

    • Nia Shanks

      Thanks, Ines! Stay strong, lady. :)

  • mca

    I have disordered eating habits also ( I really like how you worded that, it makes me feel like I am NOT the disorder, I just have habits). Putting the emphasis on what I can DO versus how I look has been the most life changing sentence. Thank you for your strength! Pun intended!!!

  • Erin ‘Mullins’ Klassen

    I am blown away someone (and even more then one person) would have the audacity to say something like that. The fact that you don’t pose with half your tush AND chest hanging out of miniscule clothing, while draped over a bench in a ridiculous manner, all while attempting ‘sexy face’ at the camera, is just one of the many reason’s I love you.

  • SassySandi

    “Thank You for being down to earth, not normal and a total bad ass!”

  • Lily

    “I’m confident in not only how my body looks, but what it can do.”AMEN!

    This post reminded me about a guy who invited me for coffee, and then sent text messages asking me to be in a dress …