You Are Not a Before Picture

You’ve seen them. The before and after photos that fitness and diet programmes often use to showcase clients’ transformations and inspire potential customers. However, this approach can have negative effects. These images can promote unrealistic body standards and contribute to body dissatisfaction, as they often fail to depict the full context, such as differences in lighting, posture, or even editing.

Additionally, they can create pressure to achieve rapid results, potentially encouraging unhealthy behaviors like extreme dieting or over-exercising. This emphasis on physical appearance over overall well-being can undermine a balanced and sustainable approach to fitness and health.

It’s not our fault that we see our bodies as projects in need of constant work: this is just one of the beliefs that has been ingrained in us by diet and exercise culture.

We have been taught to view ourselves as a collection of ‘problem’ areas for which the billion-dollar diet industry holds the solutions.

Your worth is not tied to an idealised future self, or a past version of your body.

To reframe beliefs you may hold about your body, you can start by:

  1. Practicing self-compassion and acknowledging the harm of comparing yourself to others or to an unrealistic standard.
  2. Focusing on the present by celebrating what your body can do now, whether it’s through movement, strength, or simple daily functions.
  3. Engage in positive self-talk, replacing negative thoughts with affirmations that emphasise your value beyond appearance.
  4. Surround yourself with supportive, body-positive influences.
  5. Set realistic, health-focused goals rather than aesthetic ones, prioritising how you feel over how you look. 

This approach can help shift your mindset from viewing your body as a “before” picture to appreciating and valuing it as it is right now.

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