Thursday, March 5, 2009

'Before' pictures that say a thousand words

Repeatedly health experts have suggested taking ‘before’ photos at the start of a new exercise and diet regime. These photo’s serve as a testimony to progress, when after weeks or months the newly slimmed down exerciser can compare the body they previously had to the one they have today. When presented in a before and after format, someone elses success can be motivation in itself to begin our own transformation. Alternatively before photo’s can strengthen a commitment to a program by showing the magnitude of the problem from all angles. They no doubt be a powerful tool as part of a weight loss program, but they can also be part of the reason for failure.

Take a close look at some of the before photo’s. Look carefully and consider what you see. Do the people carry themselves well? What’s is the expression on their faces? Do their eyes sparkle? Take a look at your own before photos if you have ever taken them. How do you feel looking at yourself? Do those images represent people who are happy with their bodies regardless of the way they look?

The road to failure of a health regime is paved amongst other things with a lack of self-esteem. It’s without an appreciation for the marvel that the human body is that we can harm them so much by not exercising, eating junk food or berating them and then justify our behaviour. It’s not surprising because we are taught to believe that an ideal body can be achieved through willpower rather than through gentle care and nurturing tenderness. Eventually everyone falls off the wagon of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s much easier to get back on if the underlying reason is a respect for your body. But why would you want to nurture an ugly body? It’s like learning to love spiders, some people do, but most think they are best dead.

It is difficult to appreciate your body the way it is today regardless of shape or size. But learning to love your body makes sticking to a healthy lifestyle and losing weight easier because the motivation isn’t based on appearance alone. By appreciating the body you have, the effort you put in to caring for it is worth it regardless if it’s reflected in the way you look. And generally by eating well and exercising your body will reflect the level of care you give it.

So forget about the before photo or hide it somewhere well out of sight and photograph instead the parts of your body you do like. Stick these on the mirror so each time you walk past you are reminded of what you like about yourself. Eventually, your might finding that your love sneaks away from just the bits you like to all of you.

Have you learnt to love your body despite its imperfections? What helped you along the way? Or do you still struggle to accept yourself as you are?


  1. This is really great. It's when we feel good about ourselves, and confident, and appreciate who we are and what we can do that it reflects in how we look and behave.

    - Sagan

  2. I came here through Zen Habits and found your posts direct and real. To answer your question: I am still struggling to accept who I am.

  3. Sagan: That's very true. Problem is how often you think that you will feel good about yourself only after you change something.
    Banana: Thanks very much. Self acceptance is tough, long road.



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