Before & After Photos Are Bullsh*t

For years the before and after photo has been used to sell some sort of product or service, usually a weight loss related one.  It also is a way for people to keep track of, and show, their weight loss progress. ‘Before’ usually features a heavier person who looks unhappy, whereas the after is a thinner, smiling, sometimes more done up, perhaps wearing less clothes version of the first.  

What does this image say?

 

That by changing our outside appearance we will become happier, confident and perhaps more desirable? Lately ‘healthy’ and ‘thin’ have become one in the same.

 

Photos though are a very small snapshot of life that nowadays can be manipulated to exemplify whatever feeling the editor chooses. It’s no longer as simple as taking a photo, developing it and ta-da!, there is a moment captured. Now we have filters, photoshop, and digital cameras that allow us to take hundreds of photos until we get it juuuuusssttt right. 

 

We see what people want us to see. That does not always mean it is showing the whole truth.

 

Because thin and healthy have become synonymous things have gone beyond the simple before and after photo alone.  Now personalized captions are added that discuss how much ‘healthier’ a person feels, their confidence, energy, self esteem and transformation.

 

Let’s play a little game:

Here are some photos of moi. They aren’t the perfect ‘before and after’ photos, but they will work. Can you pick out which ones I’m ‘healthiest’ in?  Which ones do I look happiest?  Most confident? Most energetic? 1

Here's the truth behind each of these photos:

 

  1. 2010: I was happy, but I was FAR from healthy. I was living off processed carbs. Example diet during this part of my life: PB&J's (the cheapest of all those ingredients we could find), Top Ramen, oatmeal, maybe an apple and a couple eggs, topped off with Tim Tams and wine. I started to have chronic yeast infection and guess what? I thought I was so freaking FAT. I hated my body. My sleep schedule was whack, but I was having a grand old time.
  2. 2014: I was healthy by all usual measures. Food, exercise, yoga, sleep...I checked all the boxes.  But I may have checked them a little too enthusiastically. I feared carbs and rest days. I had a lot of hormonal imbalances that I was having difficulty healing including secondary amenorrhea and no libido. This is a few months post bikini competition and my energy had dropped WAY down. I was starting to feel apathetic toward all my former interest and my body was changing rapidly. I was losing my 'perfect' body, gaining weight and losing muscle that was totally freaking me out. I was starting to gain belly fat...(what belly? right?!) About a month later I was in a deep depression and my health went down the drain.
  3. 2015: I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life and I now lead a healthier life than ever. I have dealt with my perfectionism and fear around food and macronutrients, and still eat a wholesome healthy diet of whole foods. I let my body rest, I get adequate sleep, I practice self care. I move my body for fun and not because I despise it. I've gotten my menstrual cycle, libido and my laugh back...albeit things aren't always hunky dory as I deal with residual self worth stuff and I still have some health challenges.

 

I could have captioned those in a million different way. You would never have known what was really going on, and there are many things I still have left out.

 

I definitely support creating healthy habits and lifestyle, as well as nourishing ourselves through food and movement.  I also understand that sometimes we gain weight because of a health issue like hormonal imbalances or depression. Let’s be honest though that has never been what the before and after photo is about.

 

When we caption photos like this with ‘how far we’ve come’ what does that say?  Perhaps it is meant in terms of forming new eating habits and adding in some movement, BUT when these words are displayed next to two photos of a woman in her bikini it makes the message a bit confusing.  

 

Perhaps the transformation DID actually do all these great things for a person outside the obvious weight loss part. The fact is though it’s being displayed as truth based on the fact that the person in the photo is thinner.

 

The very basic message this sends is:

Before = heavier, depressed, low self esteem, no confidence, lazy, slob

After = thin, strong, muscular, healthy, happy, confident, successful, disciplined

 

I did this when I got super fit. I had a ‘transformation’ before and after photo. I will not pretend I haven’t fallen into the trap.  I did start to take nutrition seriously for health related reasons, but exercise...that was pure vanity.  If you asked me why I started exercising a few years ago my honest answer would have been, “because I was sick and tired of being disgusted by myself when I looked in the mirror.”  I would go to the gym every day because I wanted a new body. I was doing it because I hated what I saw, I put my value in my body and I didn’t like who I had become. Eventually I did grow to love exercise but only once I was strong and seeing my body change.

 

Is our weight how we define our happiness, our confidence and our health? Is fitting into certain clothes and into what society views as beautiful our motivation?

 

Is there a way to show our wonderful progress in health and wellness without only showing it through how thin we look in a picture? Instead why don’t we show a photo of us DOING something that makes us feel strong or energetic.  Show me through your life and your actions, not your bikini or a body selfie.

 

It’s great that the ‘fix’s’ and programs out there are helping people learn to love movement, cooking, eating whole foods and self care….but they are still promoting the idea that our bodies define those things.  If we look like the 'before,' we need to look like the 'after' because that is where confidence, energy, strength and health lie.  

 

If it’s not just about the weight we lose but the person we become, then why is the proof a before and after body shot?

 

The ideas that we have to deprive ourselves, that we can only feel comfortable in our skin once we meet ______ weight loss goal, the desperation to lose that 10lbs to be happy are not what health is about.

 

We can love our body and still exercise and eat healthy. We can be happy with our body weight even if it is outside society's standard of beauty, we can be healthy and not look super fit. We can eat healthy, move our body and rest because we LOVE ourselves not because we are trying to lose weight.

 

No matter what the caption, before and after photos featuring weight loss are still sending the message that thinner = happier, healthier, confident, worthy.

 

Get over the before and after, think outside the photo.

How to Choose The Best Tasting Coconut Water

coconut-water Now that I’ve thoroughly frustrated you with the truths behind coconut water production, let’s get into why it’s so popular in the first place.

 

BENEFITS

 

It is a nutritional powerhouse.  In comparison to sports drinks it has high mineral content (electrolytes), low sugar, and doesn’t have disgusting additives.  Sports drinks unfortunately have a lot of added sugar, artificial coloring and flavoring, and preservatives.

 

Coconut water is extremely high in potassium, and also has calcium and magnesium.  The one mineral it is slighting lacking in is sodium.  This is important because sodium is one of the main minerals we lose to sweat.  If you are using it as a sports recovery drink, or recovering from severe dehydration you will need to give your coconut water extra hydrating power by sprinkling a pinch of sea salt in it.

 

All in all coconut water provides more nutrients, less harmful additives, less sugar and does the job of a sports drink.  Also anything that comes from nature is going to be more easily assimilated by our body and therefore more beneficial.

 

HOW TO CHOOSE

 

To get the best tasting coconut water you will want to try to get real young coconut water and not the stuff that has been fouled up by manufacturers.  (read my previous post on that here)

Once again, we must read the label.  With our modern day processing, and big food companies it has unfortunately become important to be able to read food labels.  (I made a video about that! check it out here)

 

What to look for:

  • Where it was bottled.  Was it in the US or in a place where coconuts actually grow?
  • Where the coconuts are from?  Did it come from a mix of different locations?  If so you can bet that it has been concentrated.

**fyi: Thailand and the Philippines are known to be some of the best tasting coconut water!

  • Check the ingredient list.  Look for added sugar, water, preservatives, natural flavors?
  • The statement “from concentrate.”
  • Expiration date.  If it expires in a year or two it has been pasteurized.  Coconut water is delicate and perishable.

 

As long as you choose a 100% pure coconut water it is going to be superior to any sports drink or soda, even if it has been pasteurized or concentrated.  So it’s not the end of the world, but the flavor will be different and may not be very good.

 

Remember to add a bit of sea salt if you are using it specifically as a sports recovery drink!

 

There you have it!  Coconut water is an amazing source of essential electrolytes, it’s low in sugar and it’s a million times better than Powerade, Gatorade, or other fruit juices.

 

Although if you want the best tasting stuff with the highest nutritional profile you do have to be a label detective, if you don’t mind the taste of the more processed stuff then don’t fret about it.

 

If you haven’t ever enjoyed coconut water straight out of a coconut, then I highly suggest you put it on your list of To Do’s.  Plus you get to experience another country and the joy of travel so you have an all around win!

With [icon icon=icon-heart size=14px color=#000 ]

Tera

 

PS. What’s your favorite coconut water?  Do you use it for a sports drink?  Tell me about it and let’s give each other some advice!

 

References and for more detailed information:

http://www.nutrition.org/asn-blog/2010/09/coconut-water/

http://www.tiana-coconut.com/products/the-truth-about-coconut-water/

http://foodbabe.com/2014/07/15/how-to-buy-the-healthiest-coconut-water-and-avoid-the-worst/

3 Steps To Create An Effective Exercise Routine

3 Steps For Exercise Success In order for any exercise you do to truly work, to give you the results you want, it has to be consistent and lasting.

 

You can buy as many magic programs, try all the latest lose fat fast fads (say that 4 times fast!) in exercise you want….if you can’t stick with it, it won’t work. Period.

 

So the absolute most important part to starting your new fitness routine is to make sure you keep going.

 

When we are just starting out and trying to create a new habit, to build a new exercise routine that sticks, these 3 things are essential.

 

 1. Keep It Simple! Don’t Over Think It.

 

This rule is important for multiple reasons. For one if you hurt yourself you definitely won’t be able to create a consistent routine.

 

Simple exercises can be just as effective as the more complicated ones.  It's all about how you perform them, and how hard you push yourself.  As you build strength you can add more complexity. Don’t underestimate the power of push-ups, lunges and squats.

 

By keeping it simple you can build a solid foundation and focus on form. Doing an exercise correctly will keep you safer, be more effective, and you’ll see results more quickly.

 

Second when you are just getting going, like I said before, you just need to make it stick. It needs to become part of your life, part of your routine.

 

It’s easy to get caught up in what is the BEST way to work out, what’s going to get me there fastest. "This expert suggests this, but this person recommends that…which is better? My friend got results doing this other thing."

 

There are so many strategies of exercise it can get overwhelming. Again, the goal is to just start moving on a regular basis so don’t bother yourself with the details yet. Once you build that foundation in your form and technique, routine and habit THEN you can start tweaking things if you want.  It's then you can figure out what is most effective for your body, what exactly you are wanting to work and build.

 

First things first. Move. Whatever that means for you.

 2. Make Small Goals and Work Up.

 

One of the most common mistakes in making this shift is creating goals that are way to big. For instance, “I’m going to work out every day for an hour!,” or “I’m going to lose 20lbs in the next month.”

 

You may very well be able to do those things, but if you don’t chances are you will give up on it all together.  Creating habits is hard, especially in the wake of everything else going on in life.

 

By making smaller attainable goals it keeps you going, moving forward. We would all rather do something that we succeed at. Setting huge goals and then not being able to achieve them will only cause that feeling of failure and then we just throw the whole idea out the window until we get inspired again (who knows when that will be!).

 

All of that yo-yoing isn’t going to ensure you get a lasting result to your goal. So just avoid it. Make the goal smaller and something you KNOW you can do like, “I will work out 2 times a week for at least 20 minutes.”

 

If you do more than 20 minutes, great!  But if you only get those 20 minutes in, celebrate it because you did it! Success.

 

Once you do that for a while and it starts to feel super easy you know you can set an incrementally higher goal. Remember not to get too lofty! The goal here is success and longevity.

 

As humans we like feeling successful, so set yourself up for it.

 

(guess what?! I have a video on goal setting success!  Check it out here)

 

3. Keep Your Mindset Positive.

 

Easier said than done.  Yes, I know.

 

It’s easy to get caught up in the negative self-talk. Instead focus on what you have done, or can do.

 

Avoid getting down on yourself because maybe you lifted less than you want, or you ONLY worked out for 20 minutes.

 

Allow yourself be joyful for you accomplishments.

 

When we get caught up in negative thoughts and talk around an activity we will begin to see it negatively. It will become something we dread.

 

If your thoughts around working out and exercise are constantly negative you won’t want to do it. It will bring up a yucky feeling and so you will make every excuse not to go.

 

Positivity will keep you progressing. Negativity will only hinder your results and progress.

 

Buddha said, “What we think we become.” If you think you suck, if you think you are weak, if you think you aren’t making any improvement. Guess what? YOU PROBABLY WON’T.

 

Change your mind, change your life.

 

There’s so much more to developing an effective workout routine than WHICH one you pick.

 

Developing new habits is a mind game. So get your head in the game and start moving.

 

With [icon icon=icon-heart size=14px color=#800080 ]

--Tera--

 

P.S. Which one of these 3 things do you struggle with most?  Do you have any other good advice for everyone else? Share it in the comments below!