The internet is flooded with “before and after” images inspiring us, making us feel bad and leading us to various diets.
During my time at health coaching school many of my classmates were showing off their business cards with their before and after images. Looking at blogs, health pages and coaching websites, I felt pressured to have a “before and after” picture.
But I didn’t have one.
I’ve never been 300 pounds, not even 150, not even 115. I’ve never lost an impressive 50 or 200 pounds.
I have been alarmingly underweight twice in my life—once from an eating disorder, and once from an illness. I was able to gain 15-20 pounds quickly, putting me back into a healthy range. The thing is that’s not enough for an impressive “before and after” shot—my lowest wasn’t shocking enough, my current is not curvy enough, and the difference is not significant enough.
Though I didn’t exercise at all until I was 19, and I turned into a college runner practically overnight, my weight, body shape and muscle tone didn’t change all that much to where it would show a visible difference on pictures.
I have had invisible illnesses and chronic pain—headaches, hip pain, depression—but although I’ve healed from those, I have no way to “prove it” in a photo, as they don’t involve disappearing scars, acne or eczema.
I questioned if I could ever become a coach without that “before and after” shot.
Then I realized that the before body was a myth, the after body was a myth and the entire “before and after” thing is a huge scam.
Sure, people transform their bodies and their lives. Sure, many cases show a visible change—significant weight loss, muscle tone, clear skin and the obligatory smile on the after shot of course. No question that they should be proud of their results and, if it is visible, show it to the world to see.
But while “before and after” shots can inspire people, they can also make us feel terrible.
Why is we can’t get the same results? What if we get off track? What if we gain a few pounds? What if we eat a cookie? What if we no matter how hard we try still can’t measure up to those “before and after” pictures on Facebook? What if the owner of the photo, inevitably goes through changes, gains some weight, loses too much, eats a bag of chips, forgets to go to the gym for weeks or gets sick? They are not their after photo anymore, so they may hide and feel ashamed.
“Before and after” images force us to compare each other and to judge ourselves based on our bodies. They make us feel bad about our bodies. But most importantly, they stop us from living in the now.
There is not such thing as a “before and after” body.
There is only a Now Body.
The human body is continuously changing. We age every second. Some of our cells die, while others are being born. We lose and gain weight overtime. We get injured, bruised and break bones. Our nails breaks. Something changes every single millisecond.
The body I have now is not the body I had a minute ago, or the body I will have a minute from now. The body you have now is different from the body you’ve had a minute ago and the one you will have a minute from now.
Which before and after body are we talking about anyway? How many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years ago or from now?
All I have is now—my now body. All you have is now—your now body.
So let’s stop comparing ourselves and our bodies already, please.
I am not saying we should not care about our bodies. Please do eat well, exercise, be gentle and be loving to yourself. Care about it for real—for its health and your own happiness.
But let’s stop obsessing, comparing and over-analyzing. Let’s stop judging based on images. Let’s stop being overly focused on a set goal based on a very specific image.
Shift your focus onto health, happiness and self-love instead.
The “before” body is long gone.
The “after” body is a myth.
The Now Body is real.
Now is real.
Author: Kat Gál
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Andrea Parrish – Geyer / Flickr