When Before and Afters Hurt

I’ve been having a difficult time with before and after pictures lately. I’m not sure if I feel comfortable with them. I’m not sure if they inspire or hurt. There have been many flooding my social media newsfeed lately and for lack of a better term, I’ve felt triggered.

Many of the women in the “before” pictures look beautiful. They have my “ideal” shape and size, so to see that they want to change that raises so many questions (some subconscious) in my mind. Why did they want to make a change? Was it just for the physical result? Did they have health issues to address? Are they happier in their bodies in the after picture? Would I be happier if I looked like them? So. Many. Questions.

I’ve posted many before and after pictures. That was how I started my health and wellness business, and that was what inspired so many of my friends to join me. What I never before considered is that in focusing on a picture only, I water down the true message of health and wellness. And there isn’t a one size approach to health. If there was, I wouldn’t be writing this.

I’m processing a lot right now, regarding body image, weight, and health at every size. I’m doing a lot of soul searching that, as a nutrition coach, is necessary for me in order to properly help others and reach people where they are.

So let’s talk about my holistic health journey for a second…

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See the girl on the left? She was pretty amazing. She just had her second baby, had just finished running a 5K, and was really loving life and her job as a teacher. There is nothing wrong with that!

But you know, she wasn’t very self aware… she was suppressing emotions, managing stress as best she could but still deeply concerned with the opinions of others. She wasn’t sleeping well. She had various health issues. The weight she needed to lose wasn’t a physical weight. She carried the weight of “the way things have always been.”

Shortly after this pic, she made a change. She started digging deep. She started to address healing on a holistic level, beyond the status quo. She dared to look into alternative forms of healing, even at the risk of criticism from some. She shared her story. She became healthier than she had ever been – but that isn’t something that shows up on the outside.

The girl on the right is finishing with nutrition school in a few months. She is on a mission to help other people get to the root of their issues – body, mind, and spirit. A weight has been lifted…but the weight was on the inside.

Hear my heart. There is no one size fits all to health. Pictures are deceiving. Just because an after picture might demonstrate weight loss, doesn’t mean the person found true health. They may have found disordered eating, rigidity and restriction…but that doesn’t mean they found freedom or safety in their body.

What I want you to see here is that it’s also okay if a person DOES lose weight in the process of restoring health and balance. I look different in the after picture – but I didn’t diet. I didn’t go on a restrictive plan. I found food that fueled me. I found supplements that restored my health. I found freedom from my body image issues. I found the benefits of breathing deep and being present through discomfort. I found something that works for ME.

Weight loss doesn’t equal health. Sometimes restoring balance leads to weight loss. Sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s okay!!! Remember – there is no one size fits all!

This isn’t a post about discipline. Or a diet. Or even an ad for me to sell you something or tell you to work out and eat differently or hire me as your health coach.What I want you to take away from this rant is that – yes, you may need to lose weight. But maybe that weight isn’t physical.

The most weight I’ve lost has been the weight of other people’s rules, expectations, judgments, and standards. THOSE are the things that truly weighed me down.

Your physical weight isn’t a problem. You may have a problem with your gut health, hormones, environmental toxins, blood sugar, stress levels, etc. Or MAYBE you have a problem with unrealistic expectations and striving to meet someone else’s standards for health and beauty.

If we ONLY see weight as the issue, we end up looking for band-aid solutions – diets that don’t work, extreme starvation and binge cycles, self-shaming, negative self talk and defeating beliefs. When we work on restoring balance and looking at the trifecta to health – mind, body, and soul – we can find lasting change that doesn’t require a cycle of dieting, body-shaming, or a damaged metabolism.

Will that equal weight loss? For some, yes… for some, no. But I GUARANTEE – you will love your life so much more. And maybe, like me, you will look back at before pictures and see your former self with respect for who that person was…because that is the beautiful soul who dug deep and restored balance to her life – by going below the surface to find true balance – mind, body, and soul.

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