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Want to say farewell to your love handles? Then it’s time to take a ‘before’ photo. Follow this guide.

Scrolling past a before andafter workout pictureagain? In the Insta-world,transformation photos arebig news. Fitness guruslove them. Kayla Itsines regularly postsprogress photos of those following her. Bikini Body Guide programme onkaylaitsines.com.

The Body Coach, JoeWicks, reveals results from those on his90 Day Shift, Shape and Sustain plan onthebodycoach.com. And Julia Buckley,one of the UK’s top online trainers atjuliabuckleyfitness.com, unveils shape-upimages of those on her #JuliaBeFit plan.But if you’re sceptical about how ‘real’some transformation pictures are, you’renot alone. Orlando-based fitness blogger,PlankingforPizza recently caused a stirwhen she took two very different photos30 seconds apart to demonstrate how easyit is to fake a transformation picture.

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What’s clear is that things aren’t alwayswhat they seem with before and afterpictures. Turns out, it’s easy to forget theone thing that’s important when usingphotography as a motivation tool –honesty. Personal trainer and influencerEmily Skye, for one, is careful to remindeveryone that she shows honest pictures,posting a photo of herself with a bloatedstomach on Instagram recently.Despite the backlash, ‘before’ pictureshave helped many achieve their weight-loss goals and are a fat-loss tool that’scommonly used by clued-up personaltrainers.

‘They are an incredibly effectiveaid to fat loss,’ says Buckley. ‘Theseimages dissolve the fuzz of denial thatdescends when people tell themselvestheir poor diet and lack of exercisedoesn’t matter.’Of course, ‘before’ photos aren’t meantto be pretty – they exist to remind youwhy you’re working towards your goal.

And, later on, the ‘after’ shot will provehow far you’ve come and give you theconfidence to keep going. ‘In manycases, photos help people to know thatthey’re making progress when othermeasures might not,’ adds Buckley. ‘It’svery common for people to shed fat at thesame time as gaining lean muscle. Whenthis happens, their weight might notchange because muscle tissue is denserthan fat, but they’ll be slimmer and firmer.People often can’t see the changes intheir own bodies until they see beforeand after photos side-by-side.’Want to get it right? Follow Buckley’sstep-by-step guide to taking the perfectshot. Say ‘cheese’!

1.GRIN AND BEAR IT

Camera ready? The truth is that fewpeople enjoy seeing their ‘before’ shot. Itisn’t meant to be flattering; it’s supposedto be real. ‘Think of it as part of theprocess of saying “goodbye” to yourold habits,’ suggests Buckley. “If you’reshocked or unhappy about what you see,smile because now you have leveragethat’s going to help you make changes.’Buckley recommends wearing somethingthat shows a lot of flesh, such as a bikini,and taking the photo against a plain,uncluttered backdrop. It’s also worthtaking a second shot in a tight-fittingoutfit that you can try on again whenyou’ve lost a few pounds. Stand in anatural pose – don’t suck your belly in orpush your chest out. Remember: you’resupposed to see your not-so-best bits.

2. GET EVERY ANGLE

Top tip – take more than one photo. Youwant to aim to see yourself from everyangle, so take a ‘before’ photo from thefront, back, both sides and even withhands up, hands on hips or hands atyour sides. ‘Save all the photos that youtake – not just the flattering ones,’ addsBuckley. ‘You’ll be glad you have themlater when you can compare themagainst those pictures with results.’

3. KEEP IT HANDY

During your shape-up schedule, there willcome a time when your motivation dips.Perhaps, you’ve had a tough time at workand don’t have the energy to hit the gym.Maybe it’s raining and the prospect of heading out for a run doesn’t appeal. At these times, it really helps to have your‘before’ picture easily accessible, so thatyou can view it and recall why you’re onthis journey. ‘Some of my clients storetheir ‘before’ photos on their phones andlook at them whenever the thought ofstraying off-course enters their heads,’says Buckley. ‘Those brave enough to dothis have always done really well becauseseeing the photo provides a potentreminder of their goals and keeps themvery focused.’

4. DON’T BE SHY

Transformation photos may be gettinga bit of a bad rep online, but posting onsocial media can be a great motivator.Buckley is quick to agree: ‘Posting thephotos online ramps up motivation levelseven further. A lot of my members posttheir start-point pictures alongside a fewlines that states their goals. This makesthem feel very accountable for stickingto training because they’ve pledged theirintention to do something in front ofothers, including family and friends.’Don’t hold back from uploading thatshot today. Ideally, you want to do itbefore you’ve obtained any results.

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5. TAKE LOTS

Fact – keeping fit is a life-long goal. Theminute you put your feet up, results willstart to whittle away. And this means that there isn’t a final ‘after’ photo, but simplya series of photographic results. Ideally,take photos every four weeks. ‘Thesepictures are your main method o fmeasuring progress, so take frequentshots,’ adds Buckley. ‘Make sure thecamera angle is the same and that you’restanding the same distance from thecamera – standing closer can make youlook bigger!’ Consistency is key.

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