Before and After Photos: Why We Don’t Do Them

“We all spend too much time sucking in our guts, trying to look the way we think society thinks we should. Don’t waste any more energy trying to compete with everyone else.”  ~Andrew Dixon

Personal Trainer meme

When I first started out as a personal trainer at a commercial gym, I thought I was on a crusade to help many overweight people to sizzle their unwanted fat away like Korean barbecue. The success of my job and my clients were based on how likely they will look like their vision of their “After” picture — or so I thought.

Since 2009, I realized that not everyone who runs and swings kettlebells want to lose weight or look like Captain America without his shirt off. I even realized that not everyone became overweight or obese got that way because of the simple “calories in, calories out” mentality. Sure, too much eating and not enough movement can greatly increase the risk of becoming obese, but what’s the underlying cause? Social-economical? Psychological? Medical issues? Even a dormant, unknown “fat gene” that mutated and multiplied like a cancer cell after watching an episode of “The Biggest Loser”?

8889469-woman-frontal-silhouettes-of-before-and-after-fat-to-fit-diet-weight-loss-successThis is what before-and-after pictures don’t tell you: The struggles that happens between the before and the after. When you look at such pictures, do you contemplate what these people had gone through to get to the “After” or why they were even at “Before” in the first place?

It’s also very likely that such pictures can even be manipulated by photography, false perception, and Photoshop, as demonstrated here by a trainer named Andrew Dixon. Take a “Before” picture of yourself by making yourself appear fatter, pump some iron for 30 minutes, and then take an “After” picture by positioning yourself in a way that makes you look leaner. Don’t forget to change your clothes, add some shadows, flex your six-pack, and dink a bit on Photoshop before you put both pictures side by side.

People shouldn’t be judged or characterized by the way the appear in any manner. Judging their success based on their transformation is like judging a university’s quality of education by how big and well-funded their football team is. It’s shallow, filtered, and doesn’t tell the whole story.

Of course, getting your body composition to a healthy level has many benefits, and so are the quality of your movements and performance, your ability to make a positive difference to someone’s life, your love of humor, knowledge, and wisdom, and millions of other things that define YOU. There is much more to exercise, fitness, and movement than just weight loss. That’s what mainstream media wants you to think when you work out.

When our clients work with us, they enjoy exploring different ways to move and combining different modalities to create their own workout. We don’t focus on the superficial appearance. We focus on the person that we work with — the whole, the being.

Save before and after photos for cosmetic surgery and tattoos with Chinese characters.

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