Before and after photos. They are plastered all over websites, magazines, the television and social media. They’re the be all and end all for most health and fitness programs.
Why? The invoke emotions in us – desire and excitement about the possibilities, frustration and despair about our current situation. They also give us ‘social proof’ that the program will make a difference.
What people often ask about before and after photos though is, should I take them?
Before and After Photos: The Benefits
Probably the major benefit that I can see from taking photos is that you can visually see changes that are occurring as you progress through your journey. It’s easy to place too much emphasis on things like the scales and we miss what’s happening right in front of us. Despite what the scales may say sometimes, real changes are happening and are missed if you’re only looking at the numbers.
Sometimes when you’ve been working really hard to improve your health and your fitness, you just want to be able to see where you came from. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not for everybody but for some people it’s important to have a visual reminder from the past.
It can take a little while for our brains to adjust to our changing bodies, especially when changes to our size and shape happen relatively quickly. Seeing what you look like right now in space can also assist you in making psychological adjustments to your new body.
Before and After Photos: The Downside
- Photos can be deceptive. I’m sure you’ve all seen some of the posts that go round the Internet of the same person just a few minutes apart. Depending on their posture, the camera angle, makeup, the fit of their clothes etc, they really can look quite different.
- You can spend too much time looking at the photos, pulling them apart and picking out all your perceived flaws. This is far from an ideal position to put yourself in. It just creates a bunch of negative emotions and negative self talk that is not only unhelpful but destructive.
- They don’t show all the positive changes occurring inside your body. That stuff is really important!
Before and After Photos: Hints and Tips
- Stand in the same spot and have the person taking the photo in the same spot as well for consistency
- Try to have the lighting as similar as possible
- Stand up straight
- Wear the same clothes if practical or alternatively a similar style of clothes
- Don’t take photos every week, allow sufficient time for visible changes to occur
The Bottom Line
Should you or shouldn’t you? If you think you might want to look at a photo from the very beginning when you start working on your health and fitness, perhaps take a photo and pop it somewhere safe. Then you have that covered if you decide you’d like to compare down the track.
Before and after photos are a bit like all other measurements of progress. They should only ever be used as a small piece of the puzzle. If you feel you will get some positive benefits out of a visual representation of your progress, give it a go but if you feel like you’ll only sit there picking the photos to bits, it’s just not worth it. Use other measurements of progress that are meaningful and positive reinforcements for you.