Before and Afters. They have a constant presence in the world of fitness. Almost every program out there begins with ‘take your before pictures’. From the front, from the side, from behind. You’ll need them to reference how much you’ve brought your body in line with society’s ridiculous expectations!

Okay, that was a bit much. Especially since I’ve taken before and afters of myself and others so I don’t have much of a leg to stand on here. But I don’t use them anymore and here’s why:

Life is built on more important before and afters than the ones you take at either end of a fitness program.

One of the most important before and afters I have experienced in my life is ‘before and after having my son’ who empowered me to become my true self. Or ‘before and after getting married’ that helped me lose my naivete and gave me many adventures across this continent. Or ‘before and after my EDS diagnosis’ when all of my physical and mental ailments finally started making sense.

I know that you have been through many important before and afters to, but do the ones that come to mind involve being half-naked for evaluation by strangers on how skinny you got?

The truth is, I don’t think there should be a ‘before and after’ fitness. I don’t think you should be killing yourself for 12 weeks in order to take a picture and go back to reality. I think you should find a trainer or philosophy or programming that takes you way beyond that. It should be a constant, something that you return to after breaks and are able to follow easily when you are able to exercise.

And honestly, our bodies naturally vary their size and shape over the course of our lives, regardless of what program we are following. I am a few sizes bigger than before I gave birth, but a few sizes smaller than what I was in the year or two directly after that experience. I am more muscular than I was as a teen, when I hardly experienced puberty’s effects on my shape until I was almost 20. I remember the thinness of my youth and the large belly that grew my large baby. My body will continue to change as I’m only 32. I’ll keep getting grey hairs and wrinkles and my body might get more or less muscular or thinner or bigger or fatter, and that’s just what happens. What I’m more concerned with is that I can keep being functional in my everyday life and there will never be an ‘after’ for that.

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