The problem with “before and after” labels

When you start to lose weight, and it’s clear to everyone that you’re making progress, the side-by-side pictures comparing your heavier self to your more slender physique seem like a rite of passage.

The captions often read “that’s the old me” or “I’ll never go back to that person”.

It’s almost as if you’re saying the “before” image of yourself is better than the “after” version.

It’s not.

Don’t give less value to the person who began the journey.  It’s the same you in both pictures.  It’s just that one of them is working toward making better decisions, and the other shows the benefits of doing so.

I talked about why I view it this way on our News 3 morning show a while back.

That’s why I debated putting my side-by-side up for a while.  It was the decision to fall in love with Jessica at a size 24 that helped me make better choices when I began this journey.  However, after much thought and prayer (and talks with Mama Larche) I chose to post my picture and redefine the comparison.

It’s not a before and after picture. Instead of “before” it’s simply where I started my journey.  Instead of “after” I choose to say it’s just where my journey has taken me so far.  You see, there’s no specific destination when you’re on a journey, so eliminating the word “after” was really important.

Just remember that the “you” who starts the journey carries just as much value as the “you” that stares back at you in the mirror today.

(Originally published February 20, 2014)