Women have a come a long way in the fight for equality, but their bodies are still objectified, scrutinised and criticised while trying to align with beauty ideals.
Yet one force to be reckoned with is fighting their corner, encouraging women not only to embrace their bodies but also the changes that they experience.
Having been on her own self-worth journey, Vicki Causer now supports others to take back control after the shifts that occur throughout life such as pregnancy, birth, and menopause.
In particular, she hopes to change the conversation around expectations of the female body by redefining what women can do, rather than what they can’t. Vicki also strives to hold space for women to share their reality – which is often perceived as shameful – without judgement.
Speaking exclusively to InspoDaily, Vicki told us about kickstarting her Real.Strong.Women project and why she wants to help others find their voice.
Vicki said: “I launched after the birth of my second child, having experienced pelvic floor concerns, as I felt there must be a better way to help women than the advice I was given.
“One of the biggest challenges that women come up against is their issues being fobbed off as ‘women’s things’ and some of the advice that is given is outdated and restrictive, all amongst a pretty misogynistic healthcare system, that is thankfully slowly changing.”
While Vicki worked tirelessly at staying fit throughout her pregnancy, including throwing heavy weights around, she says she didn’t spare a thought for her pelvic floor or core.
The reason pelvic floor exercises are so crucial while carrying a child are because they help strengthen the muscles which are otherwise under great strain during pregnancy and birth.
If these exercises are not practiced, it is common to leak urine from simply coughing or sneezing as the pelvic floor becomes weak and consequently stress incontinence occurs.
Having not engaged in these exercises, Vicki experienced problems that challenged not only her body but also her self-esteem.
Vicki said: “After my son’s arrival, I knew something ‘down there’ didn’t feel right and felt worse than the first time (after my daughter) when I was told I just had ‘weak vaginal walls’ by my GP and to get on with it. I took myself off for an assessment, bypassing the doctors.
“I was diagnosed with a prolapse, also known as a cystocele, and cried like a baby for weeks thinking: a) it would always feel like my insides were falling out b) I would never be able to lift weights again and c) if things were ‘falling out’, would anything be able to go ‘in’ again?!”
Fast-forward five years and things are looking much brighter.
Vicki hails the diagnosis as an “absolute game-changer” that helped her reclaim her body and understand there is always a way forward.
She now works one-to-one with women, supporting them initially through pelvic health diagnoses, bridging the gap between physiotherapist, life’s challenges, and exercise.
Vicki also coaches her clients to explore movement that brings them joy and redefine their relationship with fitness to be so much more than for the purposes of rehab, ‘fixing themselves’, being smaller, getting ‘bikini-ready’, or as self-punishment.
Chatting about her mission, Vicki said: “Being ‘strong’ isn’t just about being a certain size or lifting X amount of weight in the gym.
“It’s about the daily struggles and successes, the highs and lows, and the journey we go on as women to reclaim our body and mind back, when life might throw a curveball at us.”
When asked what her message is to any woman reading this, Vicki said that even it feels daunting to know where to start, there are lots of people who can support you.
Vicki – who also runs Kettlebell classes – concluded: “There is no need to ‘put up with’ it, I’m happy to talk to anyone who needs some direction or help finding the right person for them.
“My experience has got me to this point, I knew there had to a better option for women who want to take control back, to be as strong a woman as they have the potential to be.”
Regardless of your journey, or what stage you are in life, Vicki knows each individual’s challenges are unique to them, hence why her youngest client is 19 and her eldest is 73.
To get involved, click here: Real.Strong.Women