Ashley: Well, thank you so much for joining us today Salma. Today we have the owner of Workout with Salma. She is an anti-diet culture, personal trainer, helping women feel energized, strong, and happy through movement. She’s located in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Thank you so much for joining us.

Salma: I’m excited to be here.

A: What made you want to join the health and fitness field?

S: I’ve been pretty much working out since I was 19, started at the gym and it’s always been a part of my life, but I think after having kids and probably in the last five years, I realized how much of an impact, fitness had on me in the sense of my mental health and my wellbeing. Before I was basically working out because I believed in diet culture, which I know is a term we’re going to talk about a little bit later, but as I got older, I realized like all these things that when I moved my body, what it does for me, it helps my mental health so much. It helped my energy levels. It, it gets those endorphins going, like, it just feels so good. And I was so excited and I was always sharing that with everyone. And I’m like, you know what? I got to go legit with this. And so I decided to go back to school and get my personal training certification so that I could. Share it on another level, like as my career to take my passion into a career.

A: Which I think is really important. I think that that’s the thing that a lot of us are lacking is that passion for what we’re doing and it makes a huge difference. It makes a huge difference for the people that are working out with you to feel that this is something that really brings you joy and helps spread that joy to others. Another really great point that you made is that so many people think of working out as losing weight or becoming a different size. And there’s so many more additional benefits.

S: Yes.

A: Energy with mental health, especially in the last two years that come with moving your body.


S: Yeah, I totally agree with that. Like, it’s such a diet culture thing for people to associate exercising with say weight loss or burning calories or shrinking your body, and I think that’s the message that we need to get out there is that there’s so much more to moving your body than just those things.

A: Do you find with how social media and the internet has expanded in this really like body positive movement has started to kind of take an upswing. Do you think that there is more of an understanding or an acceptance that size of a person and their health isn’t really, as intertwined as diet culture led us to believe.

S: Yeah, I think slowly, and I think it’s a really slow, but I think it is slowly. People are beginning to learn and understand that health and body size is not related. I think it’s a small percentage of people who believe that. I’m seeing so much more on social media of people sharing that, like I have seen anti-diet culture, dieticians, whose career is, you know, food and health. And yet they are also like, no, those two things are not related. And then, you know, personal trainers like myself who are like, no, I don’t train, you know, to give you transformations or to weight loss, but I will train you to like help you get stronger, help you feel good in your body, that sort of thing. And also, I think a big thing is diversifying your feed when it comes to social media. Because if we see all the same you know, a thin, white, if it’s, that’s all your feed is you need today at first, if I have more color in your feet, have more body shapes, more body sizes. Cause I think that is how you’re going to realize that this is the norm. When you see so much diversity in your feed, because social media is such a big part of our life, right? It’s there. So we not get to reflect more of what we want it to be and how we want to feel.

A: Definitely agree with that and, and follow people that are your size and normalize your body so that you don’t make yourself feel like your, the one of in that situation.

S: Yes. Very good point. Very good point.

A: What is something that you helps switch your mindset when you don’t feel confident or you don’t feel like you’re in that mode?

S: It happens to me, as much as unlearning as I’ve done, there’s days where I’ll maybe pull on a pair of pants that I haven’t worn in a while and they don’t fit. And I start, my mind starts going like, okay, maybe I should just like start tracking my food and you know, maybe I can lose a few pounds, but then I just kind of hold back. You know, sometimes I may go into it. I might even go to the app and maybe for one day I’ll track and then I’ll step back and I’ll think about how does this make me feel. I hate tracking my food, I hate restricting because I know how that makes me feel so what I do is I just remind myself of what I’ve been through. I’ve been through dieting, I’ve been to restrictive and then as I restrict and I binge, and then I’m like, oh, I have no willpower. I’m going to start again on Monday. I’ve done that coaster for so long and what I do is I remind myself is that I don’t want to feel like that. I don’t want to feel that I am not in control of my body and of my feelings. So I remind myself of that and I also remind myself that this is diet culture, and they’re the ones that are telling us that we have to look a certain way. I know that diet culture is not right. I remind myself that everybody and every body is different and that is okay. So I literally actually talk to myself to remind myself because it’s hard, it’s so hard to unlearn what we’ve lived with our entire lives.

A: Oh, it definitely is something that it is hard to unlearn. It creates this like guilt and shame cycle. And I know personally, I just don’t feel like positive change comes from guilt or shame. If we’re being really hard on ourselves, it’s like, we’re not going to be open to making positive changes. Diet culture, even still embedded everywhere, like I know I got targeted ads for like so many, like WeightWatchers and you know, all of those other things, as soon as sort of January 1st comes around and it’s like, how did I get on this train

S: No, I know. Even when they market themselves as not a diet it’s all still a diet, they’re just trying to change the marketing or the wording, but just to be where it’s still the same, it’s all a diet.

A: We just really have to be mindful of that for people that are out there looking like there is such a difference between eating healthy and moving your body, versus like you said, having to restrict things unless your actual medical doctors said, you know, maybe we need to make some changes you really shouldn’t be beating yourself up. I think too many women get stuck in that shame cycle or get caught up in the new me, new year bullshit. You know, I really don’t agree with that. I think really new year, same you, unless you decide that you want to make some changes. I feel like too many people take on I’m going to do all of these massive changes and it kind of sets them up for failure.

S: Agreed. I totally agree with that. If you want to make a change, like you said, there’s nothing wrong with that, but also you don’t have to wait for the new year. Like I want to make a change, like start today. You know, when you wait to start for a new year or you wait till Monday or you wait until the next month? What are some of the things that happen? Like I remember I would do things like that. Like, okay, I’m going to start a diet on Monday. And then what do you do? You just binge a bunch of food because you’re like, oh, I’m not going to be able to eat this anymore because I’m restricted. I totally remember doing that. Right. Eating everything like. No, like that’s just one of the problems, right? It’s like, you still can say what you want to do is you want to add, you know, start eating a little bit healthier. Right? Break it down, eating healthy is such a kind of big umbrella. Like what does it mean? You can break it down to little things. So maybe you start with, okay, I’m going to drink a certain amount of water, or I want to increase my water intake. So set that small goal for yourself and be like, okay, I’m going to fill up, you know, four water bottles, one in the kitchen, one in the car, one in my bedroom, you know, and work on drinking water. And once you’ve kind of gotten into the habit of that, and there’s no like specific dates, how it takes 21 days to set in your habit. It’s not, it’s, it’s just doing it regularly and it’s different for another person for each person. And then, once you get that, maybe you’re like, okay, now I’m going to start adding vegetables to every lunch and every dinner, right? Eventually it does end up to being a bigger change, but it’s slower. It’s more sustainable. It’s not overwhelming so that when you’re doing everything, because you’re like, okay, I’m going to drink more water. I’m going to add fruits and veggies to every diet I’m going to like, make sure I have enough protein. I’m going to work out five times a week. You have all of these, you know, for your big new year, new you what are the chances of success, because you’re just overhauling everything you’re going to give up at some point.

A: Oh yeah, it’s too overwhelming. And then it’s also, so time consuming when you’re not used to making it a thing that you add to your daily schedule, that most people, whether you’re a parent or not a parent, working, married, there’s just always things to kind of talk yourself out of it. So I definitely agree with you that the smaller, the changes, the less. Impacts it will be. So the more likely it will be to be sustainable.

S: I think what people think when they do that is because it’s such a huge change. Maybe they’ll like drop a lot of weight, you know, all at once. Maybe they will, but once you stop doing that, which you are going to stop because it’s not sustainable for most people, I have to say there’s a caveat, but for most people it’s not sustainable. So even if you do say you do that for a month and you lose a bunch of weight, at some point when you step back, you’re like, I can’t do this anymore, or you’re going to binge because you’re restricting, it’s all kind of come back, you know? So it’s not a long lasting change. It’s small, tiny little changes is what’s going to sustain in the long run and become part of your life.


A: Do you offer nutrition plans with your workouts, or do you work with a regular nutritionist or dietician?

S: So I don’t, and that’s because this is actually not known by a lot of people, but as a personal trainer, if you only have your personal training certification, it’s actually out of your scope of practice to give meal plans. So it’s actually not allowed.

A: Which is actually really good. Cause a lot of times you do see people trying to do both. And I think a lot of people would just assume that they’re trained or have the certification. To offer both fitness and food advice.

S: Yeah. So, I mean, unless someone’s a personal trainer and then they go out and get a nutrition certificate, then that’s okay. But just, if you just have your personal training certification, you can’t be giving out meal plans. You can give out like ideas like this is a great recipe. You know what? This is a great breakfast idea. But specifically meal plans. You’re not, you’re not technically allowed to do that,

A: Which I guess it makes sense because without having the formal training in that field.

S: Exactly, exactly.


A: What do you think your biggest strength in being a personal trainer is?

S: I think when you introduced me, it was kind of in that bio where it’s like I want women, I just trained women, and personally I specialize in training women. I don’t train any men and I want people to feel really good when they come to work out with me at the end, I want them to feel like, oh my God, this was like, amazing. I want their endorphins to be up. I want them to feel good. I’ve had clients leaving and they’re like, oh my God, like, I feel so good and still texts me at the end of the day. She’s like, I’m still on this high from working out. I’m like, yeah,  I’d love to hear that. So to me, it’s about making it fun, like if you hate exercise, I want to make it fun for you. I want to help you get stronger. I want you to not have to ask for help when you got to open that jar of pasta sauce, because you’re strong enough to do it on your own, you know? So it’s about having fun, getting stronger and feeling good about movement that’s I guess what I would say I specialize in.

A: Which I think is really great. I think that that’s such a fantastic goal and I think that’s why so many people will gravitate towards you and you can see it, even if you’re pulling up like your social media. I think you can see that even on your feed, but that it isn’t this, you know, do this or else mentality that you really do have. And I love watching the Tik Tok videos that you make with your daughter.

S: Thank you. We have lots of fun doing it.

A: My daughter’s at the age where I literally could not pay her to do that.

S: I know, I think I’m going to be getting there soon, but so far, you know, she’s only 10. So she’s getting there though.

A: Yeah, mine’s 14. She’s turning 15 this year. So it’s definitely a different phase of life. Now, when you’re thinking about working out for yourself and thinking about having like fun workouts, what’s your go-to that you love to do?

S: Well, I mean, personally, I feel like I’m different because as a trainer, like for me, my goals are like I actually posted today in my stories that I achieved a goal that I had for myself, which was to bench press a hundred pounds for three reps.

A: This is awesome.

S: So, and I was so excited cause like, those are my kind of goals. Like I love strength training and I love, I love setting goals for myself to be able to lift heavier. Something that I was thinking about today was actually how, when you disassociate exercising and working out from losing weight and burning calories, It’s so freeing because you’re moving your body because you love moving your body, you know, because you want to, or you have other goals. It’s like, whenever you still have it, even if it’s just this like tiny little spot in the back of your mind, where like, okay, if I work out, maybe I’ll lose some weight. It’s gonna, it’s going to hinder you. It’s going to hinder you from doing it regularly, from falling in love with it. Because if you don’t see that weight loss or your body shrink, you’re going to be like, okay, you know, it’s not working, I’m going to give up. So if you can separate those two or even talk to yourself about separating those two, I feel like you could make movement and exercise. A regular part of your life.

A: There’s that meme where it’s like, I went to the gym for three days and I looked the same. And then that mentality that it’s real change takes a long time to physically see. Talking about lifting weights. I think so many women have this mentality that if you lift heavy, that all of a sudden you’re going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and would be like this massive bulky person.

S: It’s so funny because before this, I used to think, like I never used to lift heavier than 10 pounds. Like, I’d go to the gym and I’d do like step class, which I love, I still love step class and it’s still fun. But even if we do as like these Devon’s power classes and I had 10, it was like, oh my God, it’s like so heavy. Right. Or it’s like, oh, I’m going to get so, but it’s not, it’s women’s bodies aren’t made all women’s bodies. You know, maybe there’s a small minority of bodies, you know, there’s always exceptions to every rule. Right.

A: Well, sure.

S: But most women’s bodies aren’t. To be like Arnold Schwarzenegger like you have to work really, really hard and you have to eat a certain way. You have to supplement your body. Like, it would be really hard to look like that. Even if you strength train like six days a week, it’s just, it’s not going to happen.

A: No. So ladies lift that heavy shit,

S: Yes, be Strong.


A: And while I definitely don’t think that there’s any age that’s too old or a certain point of life. That’s too late to start. I do really think that it’s important to sort of have a baseline, whether it’s just a regular walks, whether it is, you know, lifting maybe 10 pounds at a time. Cause I do think if we waited until we were full on in our senior citizen age lifting really heavy as a beginner would be quite challenging.

S: Yeah. Lifting weights, I feel like is really important. And I feel like as you get older, it’s even more important. You don’t have to lift you know, say if you’re 67, you’ll have to lift, you know, 70 pounds or 50 pounds or 40, but any sort of strength, training, even body weight, strength training. So body weight, strength training is like squats, pushups, you know, things like that. It’s really important because, for your bone health, because like, as you get older, right? You need that for your bone density is that decreases as you get older. So, you know, as a senior, if you’re going to fall down, and you haven’t ever been strength training, you’re your chance of breaking something is higher and the recovery is lower. So if you can start strength training now. You know, or even when you’re 50, you know, as long as you add it into your routine, it’s actually going to be really good for you as you get older.

A: Well, cause I would assume that that generation especially will see the most impacts from diet culture in the sense that like my grandmother’s generation, it was like, just do your cardio so now you do see more bone issues or more situations that if they fall and break something, The recovery isn’t the same or sometimes they just don’t recover, which is really devastating.

S: Yes. Yeah, it really is. That happened to my grandma when she fell in the tub, broke her hip. She was in the hospital. And so, I mean, regardless of like the aesthetics of it, strength training is going to help you.. Like all that we talked about also that as you get older, it’s really going to help you a lot. Like I do that with my mom. I go to my mom’s house once a week and do some strength training, you know, when it’s simple strength training but she seems to really enjoy it. It’s so important. So yeah. Actually it’s her birthday. Today’s turned 71 today. So you’re never too old to start

A: Happy birthday to Salma’s mom.

S: Thank you.


A: We all should just pick a day and get started. We tend to want to over-complicate it for ourselves in that, you know, we need this much strength than we need, you know, this many yoga classes and all of these, when it really can be. Do what you love and move your body.

S: Yeah, totally. Even like strength training once a week, if you’re like, oh, if I can’t do it three times a week, there’s no point actually, even once a week of strength training shows to have the benefits and it helps your body. So there you go like that’s all you have to do to get. You know, one day a week and that’s not hard, right? You can find 15 minutes even just need 15 minutes, turn on YouTube and look up strength, training, or body weight, strength, training, or strength training for seniors. Like you can find everything on there and just do it once a week, make the commitment for once a week.

A: We are really lucky. in 2022, where we do have so many options in so many different mediums that we can turn this kind of thing on and that it isn’t like we have to go to the specific in-person workout class. Cause I know for a lot of people just getting started too, that that can seem like a very intimidating process,

S: Especially they’ve been completely like not doing anything at all.

A: For sure. And I think I had just seen on another like influencers page, where they were talking about really, if you were above a certain size that so many people are mean to you or make fun of you. I remember I gained 76 pounds during my pregnancy with my daughter and people were like, are you sure that you can do this class? And it’s like, I was cleared by my doctor, like this is why I’m here to do this class. And that there’s a lot of that. And a lot of like risk of embarrassment or people saying things, and maybe they don’t necessarily intend them the way that it comes out, but that it comes out being the sort of like awful. Horrible thing. And then it kind of a lot of people off of wanting to, you know, jump into it.

S: It’s the weight stigma, that’s what it’s called. It’s weight stigma and people get it. You know, its not the gym that you could get it, you know, the doctor’s office, a lot of people in bigger bodies often don’t want to go there because no matter what their problem, whatever their health issue is, A lot of doctors are just, you know, geared to the, okay, well, you should lose weight and that’ll solve your problem. And so they don’t want to go because that’s what they’re being told. So, you know, we talked about new year’s resolutions and if there is one that you want to set, I would say it would be to stop commenting on people’s bodies. Don’t comment on someone’s body. If you think they’ve gained weight, don’t comment on someone’s body. If you think they’ve lost weight, don’t comment on people’s bodies.

A: Well, and Jonah Hill made a really good point. He had said something about like, even if you tell me, I look great, it’s like I get too in my head about it and then it becomes this like other thing where I think, especially in this day and age that we have the tools and resources and the things to compliment people on multiple things other than their appearance. I think you’re so funny, or I really like your warmth or your personality. There’s so many things to individually think we’re so conditioned to comment. Oh, I love your hair. I love your shoes. I love all of these things where it’s like such a surface comment where even if they’re sincere, it’s still kind of like a distant, bullshit thing to say,

S: Well, I live by the thing that my body is the least interesting thing about me. There are way more interesting things about me. And so, yeah, just don’t comment on people’s body. You don’t know what they’re going through. You also don’t know what you’re doing like say if someone did lose a lot of weight and you’re like, you think you’re doing something nice by telling them, but what you’re actually reinforcing is that you didn’t look good before and you look good now. And if someone’s been on a diet, there’s a high chance that they’re going to gain weight again, because like I said, diets are not sustainable. And then when they go back to that, how are they gonna feel? You know, so really just don’t comment on people’s bodies at all. Just it’s hard. It’s so hard. I know because it’s just ingrained. Especially when you’re with your family. Cause family is thinking we can just comment on everything, but you know, it’s just set boundaries down and don’t comment on people’s bodies. And that’s what I teach my children too. You know, we don’t, all bodies are good bodies. And we just, we don’t comment on bodies, but there’s lots of other great things to compliment people on.

A: And I really do hope that that push is sort of coming through for our kids in that generation. And I think that it is, I feel like they have a different awareness and can see more of these things and have made more of these shifts to be more accepting of others. Because it is really hard when we repeat the same cycles and especially being, you know, girl moms, girls are very hard on each other. And like, I know somebody had commented on my daughter’s thighs in gym class, and then it was like, I noticed breakfasts were changing and things like that. So it’s one comment really can cause you to spiral.

S: Oh, yeah. So that’s why as parents, maybe for us in our lifetime, we won’t un-learn everything, but we can start and what we can start by doing is, living in a way that’s anti diet-culture so that at least our children, beause they learn from what we do and what we say, so we’re putting our bodies down in front of our children. Oh my stomach, my muffin top thighs, my double chin. What are they seeing? What are they hearing? Right. That my mom is putting her body down and it’s not good enough. And then they’re learning that and they’re internalizing that, especially if they don’t see that. If they see you being kind to yourself, if they see you not talking about diets and not talking about calories and not talking about other people’s bodies. When they’re around other people, it’s different, but at least in their home, we have the most impact right now, especially as they’re younger. So we have to start at some point and maybe that is just stop making negative comments about your body.


A: For sure. Body acceptance and self-love, and all of that is something that we have to mirror and women get into the pictures. Like, that’s the thing too. Whether you feel it or not, you kind of have to find a place to fake it until you feel it. Now, what would you tell women? Or what would you kind of explain to them is like the steps of finding that sort of self love within themselves?

S: So what I would even say first of all off is you may never find self-love. You may never find that you love your body because of what you’ve grown up in. So where I would start is to start at something called body neutrality. What that means is whether you like, or don’t like, or hate your body, try and be neutral towards your body. Don’t say negative things about your body. I’d say that’s a place to start. After that, once you can kind of just stop being so negative to your body, you don’t have to love it. That’s fine. Just stop being mean to it. Then start thinking about like the amazing things that your body has done and continues to do for you every single day, it’s birthed children. Like that’s a pretty miraculous thing that your body’s done. And so what if your stomach is a little bit bigger? Like it housed babies in there, you know, it’s not going to look like it did before. So maybe, you know, start saying some kind things about your body or like, oh wow. You know, my body let me walk like 10,000 steps today. That’s pretty amazing. Or my body, let me carry a sleeping baby in, on one shoulder and then my toddler in a car seat. And I was like, holy, you know, like, that’s amazing. So I would say, start with body neutrality to stop saying negative things about your body, and then hopefully can move on to body respect, right? Respecting the things that you can do. That your body can do for you or has been doing for you? In addition to that one thing, that I would say is, you know, maybe every morning when you’re alone in your bathroom or your room and you’re getting dressed, or you’re brushing your teeth, look into the mirror, look into your eyes and say one thing that you do like about your body, about you as a person, just say one positive thing. You know, and I think that’s the journey. That’s how you can start the journey. So it doesn’t have to start at self love because that can be really hard. Let’s be honest, right? It can be, but let’s start with tiny steps, bloody neutrality. Don’t hate your body. Just try and be neutral about it and then move on to body respect and saying something kind to yourself in your body each day..

A: Which I think is very good advice because the way that we internally talk about ourselves, sometimes we would never say it to somebody else. So again, if we would never say it to somebody else, why do we feel so comfortable saying it to ourselves?

S: And we were so much nicer to other people, right. But so much more forgiving and much more accepting. But then when it comes to us, we’re just so hard on ourselves.

A: Forgiveness is really hard. I think a lot of the times we feel guilty, whether it’s ingrained diet-culture. We feel guilty that we got to a certain size, or we can’t maintain a certain size. And that internalized guilt then just wrecks havoc on everything else, we were never meant to stay the same size forever.

S: And yeah. I wonder where that came from. Why, why did that happen? Why, why are we told that, that we have to be how we were when we were 20, when we’re 40 or 50,

A: And that we’re also our face isn’t to change our hair, to change that we’re to exactly stay the same.

S: Yeah, no, I got my gray hairs, you know, I finally was like, okay. With it took me a long time and then I was just like, it’s okay. You know, it’s okay. We gotta change things. Make little steps.

A: Mine started pretty much at 23 with the really lucky with the blonde. It kind of still all matches, but yeah, I’m not quite there yet to be fine with it.

S: That’s the thing too like it’s showing, like you said, you started at twenties, but those are just that’s you’re just proving right there. And then that gray hair and white hair doesn’t mean you’re old. No, it’s just a change in your hair. Like, like you said, you’ve gotten it since you were twenty..

A: Yeah, I blame parenting.

S: Yeah. Yeah. That can do it. I agree..

A: And partly breast implants, but yeah, just genetics in general. We do have to let ourselves off the hook that we’re going to age and there’s this, you know, nonsense that, you know, men age better, do they, or do we just not pick apart every single thing that they do?

S: Yeah. Right. The silver foxes boxes, but yeah. No, I agree. I agree with that.

A: Yeah we can be silver foxes too.

S: Hello. Of course we can.


A: Now you touched on this a little bit with working out, being intergrained and sort of mental health, but aside from working out and thinking about self-care, what are some other things that you like to do just for yourself?

S: I like going for pedicures

A: Same

S: We’re going to go today because it’s my Mom’s birthday. We’re going to go take my Mom, my sister and my brother and we’re going to go, which is nice.

A: It’s like a group activity.

S: Yeah. Right. It’ll be a nice birthday memory and you’ll get pampered a little bit. I like going outside. And just going for a walk, usually with the dog. We got a puppy in April and she gives me a reason to go outside rain, shine, snow, and I

A: What kind of puppy did you guys get?

S: We got a multi-poo, but apparently she’s like a very large multi-poo. She gets me outside and I really like it. I realized getting outside, getting in the fresh air it feels good. I just feel better when I get outside. I like doing that. I noticed when I don’t go for a walk on a day, like say she’s gone to daycare or something that I actually miss it. That’s something I do for myself, even though it’s under the guise of doing it for her. I also like to read, I started, last year, like it’s something I kind of gave up after having kids because it was just like, there was no time. And then in 2019, I kind of started a little and then 2021, I made a goal for myself to read one book a month and I ended up reading like 30 something books in total. I love getting lost in a good book , I like making Tik Toks with my daughter. It’s fun. So it’s like the little things. It could be like a big thing, like a pedicure small thing, like a walk, reading a book. I like those things.

A: Self-care, doesn’t have to be a massive overhaul. It really can just be taking time to do the little things. And I know we’re very lucky in British Columbia that we do have so many fantastic hiking spots.

S: Yes, very lucky.

A: And we kind of have, you know, it’s not that far of a drive to go to like a desert area. It’s not that far of a drive to go to the ocean. Definitely are lucky in that sense for getting outdoors. And it does, it makes a huge difference being grounded in nature, whether it’s just in your neighborhood and getting that fresh air or whether it’s, you know, in a forest somewhere.

S: Yeah. I agree. Totally nature is amazing.

A: Where can everybody find you if they want to work with you?

S: Yeah, I have a website: I have like blog posts on there, workout information on there contact information on there. And I’m on Instagram a lot, which is at @SalmaDinani. And I also have a Facebook. I have a page, but more, I’m more active. I have a Facebook group where I’ll share, you know, different things. So you can pretty much find me. You know, all over the internet.