You are More than a Before and After

We’ve all done it: look at old photos of ourselves and wish to “have back” our younger body. It comes with a sense of regret or lack, and a feeling that you should have the same body you did last year, last decade, or even last month.

We may look at before and after photos all over social media of people sharing their stories, and feel that we need to look a certain way on the outside in order to qualify as the “before” or the “after”.

Comparing yourself to yourself in this way can do you a disservice because transformation and growth isn’t always visible.

Struggle isn’t always visible either. And your challenges are real and valid no matter how you look in photos.

When you undergo a positive transformation related to your body and mind – like when we overcome body image issues, eating disorders, or an unhealthy relationship with food, a before and after photo will not only not capture the breadth and depth of your transformation or recovery, but it also does your journey an injustice.

I am challenging the overly common, cliché, and cheesy “before and after” photos used to depict someone’s journey of recovery, success, or transformation.

For me, losing 20 pounds marked the end of a 15-year invisible struggle with dieting, food restriction, and body image issues. I don’t have photos that even scratch the surface on capturing this journey to completely turn around my health, mind, body, and spirit.

I now finally understand why it never felt right for me to post on social media or show to anyone my before/after photos of my weight loss. My weight was a proxy or symptom — simply a number — of something much bigger and unseen.

Before and after photos can trigger some people to think that they should look a certain way in their “before” or “after”. Some may think they don’t look sick, small, or big enough to qualify for having a legitimate struggle, and others may feel they haven’t achieved success until their “after” looks drastically different enough.

You can look healthy on the outside while struggling on the inside.

You can be healthy on the inside, and look however makes you happy on the outside.

Healthy comes in all forms. When you become healthier, where the real transformation happens is in your mind. And mindset cannot be captured in before and after images.

What comes with this mindset change are empowerment, confidence, happiness, and love — all of which eminates from within.

I hope my message resonates with you on your health journey, wherever you may be on it. You may be exactly where you should be, if that makes sense. Come up with your own meaningful ways for idenfiying and celebrating where you are and what you’ve achieved.