Before and After
If you go to my website there is one thing you will never find: Before and After photos.
I have been told time and again that I should include them. “They will increase business.” “They will make your clients feel better.” “They will support your brand.”
But I don’t believe in before and after photos. Because I don’t think they show what most people think they do.
Many people think they show a person who has achieved success, a person who has overcome their obstacles and conquered their fears, a person who has done it all with the help of their revolutionary diet, new exercise equipment, and amazing personal trainer.
But that’s not what I see when I look at these pictures.
What I see are two small slivers of a life. And I know that these two small slivers couldn’t hope to capture the complexity or richness of that life.
I also see two images that try to display an idea of ugliness and beauty. Two images that attempt to contrast these idea but instead obscure both.
Behold True Beauty
Working in the world of fitness, I regularly see before photos of overweight and seemingly sad clients. And after photos of women who look like lean models and men who look like body builders.
In fact, you might even think that I look like an after photo. Well as you can now see that’s not how I look. Sure I’m not overweight and sure I look relatively fit, but I would never make the cover of men’s fitness. And to be honest 90% of me couldn’t care less.
But there is 10% of me that wishes I had the kind of body that would encourage me to find excuses for taking my clothes off. The kind of fitness magazine body that people expect personal trainers to have.
But whenever that 10% gets noisy, I realize that even if I had that body I’d never put those photos on my site. Because I don’t think those photos would be as beautiful as this one. (Not that I think there is a lot of swooning going on right now.)
Is This Picture Beautiful?
The reason I think this picture of myself is beautiful, is that it’s real.
This isn’t the best my body has ever looked and it’s not the worst. This is very much how I look when I wake up in the morning, before I grab a robe to go make coffee. (Yes! I always attack my robe like a ninja)
If my house were to catch fire and I had to leap from my bed. This is what you would see huddled on the street, watching the flames lick away my worldly possessions. And that’s the reason I shared it with you. Because it’s real.
Why I Became a Trainer
I didn’t start working as a personal trainer so I could move people from the before photo to the after photo. I became a personal trainer so I could see the person between those two photos.
I did it so I could talk to, connect with, learn from, and care for someone who’s in the midst of change. The person who has started but not yet arrived inside their own lives. Because to me that is true beauty.
True beauty is not a frozen expression on the face of a model. It’s the movement of facial muscles forming a smile.
True beauty isn’t the taut physique of a body builder. It’s the slow amble of someone reaching the top of a hill; they never thought they’d conquer.
Beauty cannot be captured in a photo, a stat, or any other simple metric. It is something that is bigger then all of us. And it’s something we all possess.
Take a few mins right now and pull out a sheet of paper or open a text doc and answer these questions:
- Who am I really? And what do I really care about?
- Who am I on my best day?
- Who am I on my worst day?
- What if I forgave myself for my worst days?
- What if I was my best self on those days?
- What is the one small thing I can do today that would help me embody my best self?
When you are done take that piece of paper or print out the doc and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Look at it everyday and keep asking these questions and responding with how you live your life.
Commit to doing one small thing everyday this week that your best self would do.
Finally remember every time you look in the mirror, that what you are seeing is a person of true beauty.
If you have any interest in working with me to discover your life between the photos. I’m currently offering a deal on the first month of coaching on my site.