Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Defense of the "Before" Picture

I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that most of us are none too happy about having our pictures taken. Honestly, no one who wants to lose a noticeable amount of weight wants their "fat face" documented.

But I'm here to tell you that you should. In fact, I want you to go RIGHT NOW and take just about the least flattering self portrait you can imagine.

It's time for your "before" shot.

The first reason you need to do this is because you need a reality check. If you're like me, and have avoided being in front of the camera as much as possible, and have no full-length mirrors in the house... you need to know. You need to see where you are right now. For some people, it might be a little disappointing. For some of us, it might be an intensely harsh slap in the face. Welcome to rock bottom. It sucks there. But now you know. You need to know.

august 17

Here's what I know: on August 17, 2009, I weighed 226 pounds. I'm 5'5" on a good day. Two. hundred. twenty. six. pounds. This is how I walked around for the two years following the birth of my children. I hate this picture (and what it represents) with the heat of 1,000 suns. But I took it. I needed to see that. I needed to understand where I was.

OK, so now you've got your motivation. You can make it the desktop on your computer, post it on your blog or your refrigerator, or just let it sit on your computer. You know it's there.

The other reason you need to take that shot, though, is so that you can see your own progress. Weight loss can be achingly slow, the changes subtle. And if, like me, you've got an awfully long way to go, it can feel like you'll never make it. That's why, once you're down 5 or 10 pounds (or some other portion of your longer-term goal), you have to take another one. Preferably in the same clothes. And then you need to take those two pictures and hold them next to each other. Lo and behold, progress!

I think I see a difference!

Here's me, six weeks in and 10 pounds down. You see, I still felt plenty "fat" after six weeks. And 10 felt like such a tiny fraction of my overall goal. And yet, it was heartening to look at these two shots side-by-side and see changes.

A few guidelines for your "before" picture:
- Do not wear a big t-shirt and baggy sweatpants. If you want to see the pudge go down, you have to see where it is in the first place. Wear something form-fitting, probably something that's a little too snug to wear out of the house at the moment. That includes whatever you're wearing on your legs. If you're feeling really bold, take a picture in your sports bra.
- Get as close to a full-body shot as you can. Find a full-length mirror (maybe it's in the back of your closet somewhere?) and stand back so you get the full effect. A side-view is a good idea, too.
- The photo self portrait can be tricky. Make sure you look at the camera's reflection, not your own. Or get a trusted friend/spouse to take it for you.

And here I am, today. Five months in. 26 pounds down. Ready to kick ass and take all of your money!

january 13

Thanks Liz for the awesome guest post! You can always find Liz over at her site Goddess in Progress.


Lisa said...

You have convinced me. I am going to get a full length mirror today and take my before picture. I will thank you later, right?

Goddess in Progress said...

Lisa - Yeah, you won't thank me today, for sure. In fact, you might curse my name for most of this week. But in a few weeks, you'll be glad you have it.

Good luck! :-)

jackieblue said...

I took one, and even attempted to twist around to get a "rear view." *sob*

CaraBee said...

I'm going to take my before picture. Now. Hold me.

Devra said...

*sigh* I will too.

MamaMaven said...

It must be done, wish I'd done it two weeks ago. This weekend its update to the measurements too!

Kristie said...

Look at you! I can see your progress!
I took photos a few days ago also. I have BACK FAT and I didn't even know it. I intend on letting that back fat go, once and for all.
Keep up the excellent work.

Laurie said...

My moment of reckoning was the BlogHer community keynote, and video and photos of me reading in same.

Unpretty. I don't want to look at it every day though, no thanks. Burned in my brain.

I agree with you but I also keep some old "after" photos of myself around so I can remember that I can get that fit and have those kinds of arms. :) Thanks for the reminder to put one of those on my fridge.

Sheila Scarborough said...

I haven't taken a "before" yet (busy week) but do plan to do so, and thanks for the extra motivation. You'll see it if I actually drop the tonnage. :)

Claire said...

Great post! I am been hiding from the camera for so long. You have convinced me - I'm going to take a before picture tomorrow. However, I don't know that I'm going to be as brave and post it!

Goddess in Progress said...

Sheila & Claire, you'll notice I didn't post my "before" picture until I had an "after" one... Heh. :-)

Becky said...

I took a picture. Doesn't mean I'm gonna post it.

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