How can you know where you’re going if you forget where you come from?
I’m a big believer in the Before picture when it comes to lifestyle change. Whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, or just a healthy overhaul, it’s vital to know exactly where you started from as you move along your own health journey. A client of mine recently told me how her clothes started fitting more loosely around her midsection, though she couldn’t see a difference. I told her to go and look at her Day 1 pictures to compare, but she never took them!
Without visual proof of where you started in your health journey, it’s impossible to see the real big picture of your results as you go. Here’s the three most important reasons that you need to take those Before pictures now to mark your story’s beginning.
1) You need the reminder.
When I started my weight loss journey on February 1, 2011, I had my friend take my picture of me at my most vulnerable, my most compromised. 5 minutes later, I’m staring into the bathroom mirror, tears brimming at my eyelids. “This is the last day anyone will ever see you like this,” I told myself. Here it is.
By the end of that morning, I made that vulnerable image as my Facebook profile for a solid month. I made a promise to myself, and I wanted everyone I knew to know if I failed myself. I even took a version of that picture and made it the wallpaper on my iPhone; it hasn’t been changed in 5 ½ years and likely will stay that way forever. Along with my “i LOST it” tattoo, that Before picture reminds me every day of the fear, the shame, and the loathing that I felt towards myself at that time. By documenting where I started my journey and seeing it every day, I remind myself that I will never go back to the person I was when I started my health journey.
2) Other people won’t believe you later on.
Believe it or not, the day will come when you reach your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). You’ll lose the weight, run the race, complete the photo shoot—whatever that end goal driving you now, you can reach it with time, effort, and adjustment. The weird thing, though, is what people say when you finally get there:
“You always looked this way.”
“I couldn’t do what you did. You had advantages that I couldn’t match.”
“That’s not you in those old pictures!”
You see, people will want to discount your hard work when you tell your story. It’s easier to say they couldn’t do something that you did. It’s safer to discredit your ambitions, your hard work, than it is to face their own weakness. When people look at me, it’s easier for them to think I always looked like this:
…when it wasn’t that long ago that I looked like this:
People will try to undercut your victories by saying that you never had the struggle to begin with. By having those honest, open Before pictures of yourself, you can show your hard-won victories without ever saying a word.
3) You can’t complete a story without the first chapter.
Here’s a test: go to Google Maps in your smartphone or browser. Try navigating to an end destination without giving Google a starting point. Here is what that looks like (Thanks to Jen for this example).
How do you get to where you want to go without a place to start? You can’t. Those Before pictures that start your lifestyle journey give you the starting point that you’ll need to reach your end destination. By giving your journey a proper starting point and end goal, it becomes easier to start your next journey at the end of this one.
Take those Before pictures. Ask someone you trust to see you at your most vulnerable and take these pictures. Wear tight clothes that show every imperfection. Take pictures from the front and side. Post them on social media, if you’re feeling bold. If not, then show these images to your inner circle. Stand in your mirror, with every imperfection on display. Give yourself the same message that I gave myself on Day 1 all those years ago:
“This is the last day that anyone will ever see you like this.”
I believe in you.