You probably don’t like taking pictures of yourself. I can appreciate that. For me, taking pictures or seeing pictures of myself can bring up painful emotions.
Many pictures have made me say “God, I look so fat.” or “Ugh. I can’t believe I look like that.” or “I thought I looked good in that outfit. Guess not.” or even “When am I going to get my shit together?/I need to get my shit together.”
One often promoted weight-loss tactic is to strip down to a sports bra and shorts (some even go down to bikini bottoms) and take selfies at various points in time. If you follow any weight loss stuff on Facebook, Pinterest or really any corner of the internet, you probably see these all the time. The idea is that you’ll be able to track your progress and see how far you’ve come, creating a source of encouragement and motivation.
While I’m not opposed to encouragement, I’m not a true fan of taking half-naked pictures of myself. Call me overly self-conscious, but my heart never seems to get fully on-board when I’m doing it. Even though I never post them publicly.
What’s worse is asking my husband to take the pictures for me. We’ve been married for a long time, so it’s not like he’s seeing anything new. I just can’t say I’ve ever felt a strong desire to have my husband help me document my overweight body, though I have done it at various points of desperation.
If this approach doesn’t float your boat either, don’t let it be one more source of negativity.
Instead, leverage the opportunity to take fully clothed pictures in the course of your everyday life. I bet, if you’re like me, you scroll through your camera roll and find you’ve gone months without being photographed at all. This makes me sad when I think I about how many opportunities I’m missing to be in pictures with my kids.
I try to take one picture per month that includes my whole body. But even when my whole body isn’t in the picture, I can tell how much I weigh by how my arms and face look. You don’t have to be by yourself. Jump into a picture with your kids, friends or family. It takes less than five minutes.
When you look back at the pictures, you’ll know what clothes you were wearing and what size they were. And, when you start dropping sizes, it will show in your pictures.
When I got married in 2004, I was at one of my heaviest weights. This picture is from my honeymoon.
This picture is from September 2016. I was doing a personal shopping excursion at a conference. That top is a medium and my pants are 10s — both are department store brands!
I have not consistently taken monthly pictures of the majority of the last 10-15 years, but I can piece together a history with the photos I do have. It helps me see and appreciate how far I’ve come. I can refer back to these pictures when I need a reminder I’m making progress.
It’s true that I can't compare and examine each area of my body that has gotten smaller in the way a bra and shorts photo would enable. But I'm not going for the precision and obsessiveness that’s common in weight loss culture. In my experience, it triggers the type of eating that doesn’t support my goals.
Worst case, in a year I’ve got 12 great pictures with friends and family that you will one day be grateful for — no matter how I look. I know this because when I look back at pictures of me with my kids as babies, I’m really grateful for them — even though I am at my heaviest weights.
(Originally written Dec. 31, 2016)