Wellness

Weight Loss Is Never About the Before-and-After Picture

09/17/2015 02:47pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017

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"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a phrase often used. Pictures tell a visual story, but are pictures always the factual truth to a story? Think of taking your baby for a photo shoot. The baby may spend most of the session crying, but the crafty photographer manages to shoot a few smiling pictures and subsequently others will comment, "What a happy baby!"

A picture is a moment in time... exactly what happens the next moment is unknown. Before and after pictures are used for dramatic weight-loss stories to sell false promises to the American buying audience. Too often we buy into these tactics and think, "I can look like the after picture," but time and time again we are deceived by these marketers. This can lead to feelings of failure or thoughts that you are not living up to a standard. Nothing can be farther from the truth!

The before-and-after weight loss pictures do not tell the entire story. Each picture is just a moment in time. Who really knows what happens to the individual after the shots, but they are published and sold as truths.

When I was a speaker for Weight Watchers, we were asked to have a before picture of ourselves blown up to poster size. By using the larger photo, the image was big and blurry. We were asked to use the most unflattering picture we could find, and display this poster-size photo as we spoke in front of the audience. At the same time, we were instructed to be dressed to impress, and in full make-up. They wanted a poor before picture for their purposes.

The Biggest Loser is a popular television show that tracks the extreme weight loss of certain individuals. One of my clients attended a casting call and was told that his was not flabby, floppy, and sloppy enough to participate. He was not an acceptable "before" picture for their purposes.

Your weight loss photos should capture the essence of what you appreciate about yourself and how that appreciation expands into other areas of your life. Try taking your picture every month for a lifetime. Leave out the selfies and ask someone to take your picture. Take each one fully dressed and looking your best. Include others in your pictures. Keep a visual history of the entire weight-loss cycle.

The monthly pictures will tell the story of:

  • How you have changed physically
  • How you have grown emotionally
  • How relationships have altered
  • How you've left toxic relationships behind and fostered new bonds
  • How your daily life patterns have improved
  • How your self-esteem has increased
  • How your decision-making skills have improved
  • How your styles have changed
  • How you've found new interests
  • How you've taken chances you never thought of before

This list can continue forever and I would suggest that you keep adding to it. When you acknowledge and embrace your changes they are yours forever. If they are never acknowledged, they are fleeting and you return to old habits and ways. Recognize the change within with a visual history. Use the camera to tell your story to you, the only audience that matters.

Once you have achieved your ideal body weight, continue with monthly pictures. What you'll have is the after-the-after pictures because weight-loss is never about the before and after picture; it's about after the after.

Your ideal body weight is your choice. It may not be a number on the scale, it may be a size. You'll want to choose a size that is comfortable, healthy, and easily manageable. You will no longer be a slave to the misguided before and after pictures of the weight-loss industry.

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