Transformation Photos: Toxic or Inspiring?

By Christie Nix, FitNix

When it comes to inspiring anyone to start, own, or continue a fitness journey, the notorious transformation photo is often used on social media.

Recently, however, I’ve read fitness professionals saying that transformation photos are toxic. They say that the pictures leave out the struggle, don’t tell enough of the story, or make others feel worse about themselves and make them feel shameful. 

As someone with a transformation to share, I had to weigh in on the issue.

I remember after my last pregnancy and baby, I found SO MUCH HOPE from the women in the world that were sharing their post baby body and return to fit mom status.

For several years, I lied to myself that having babies meant my days of feeling strong and athletic were over. Had I not been inspired by others and their pictures of what is possible, there would probably be no Busy Mom Gets Fit!
— Val Solomon

So I did the same…. documented it all. Wow, talk about transformation. Just taking that picture and posting it was a transforming day! Self-belief that there would be an after photo to share down the road was a powerful part of my journey to get to where I wanted to be… not just to look a certain way, but to be strong again.

When you own where you are and you’ve decided where you WANT TO GO, it’s powerful in it’s own right.   That’s what successful people do…. Commit to a plan and set goals.  Sharing that "after" pic is a celebration.

Inspiration is there for those seeking to be inspired.

If a transformation photo has offended you or makes you feel less than perfect about your journey, here are some things to remember that go without saying when you SEE a snapshot of time:

  • This person LOVED himself or herself enough to make a change. That alone is worth being celebrated.
  • Some before photos are terrifying to share, but to ENCOURAGE someone that’s feeling hopeless they did it anyway.
  • You can bet there was a lot of grit and grind that went into the time in between photos.
  • The after picture is as much a moment in time as the before.  Look for transformations that also share lifestyles.
  • There was a mental transformation too.  Anyone that decides it’s time to change, has transformed more than just his or her body.

Look Deep Inside... 

If you see a person or coach proud of a transformation picture enough to share it and it stirs up negative emotions in you, I’d encourage you to look deep into yourself as to why.  In a world filled with unhealthy people, why are you feeling negative about a person deciding to get healthier!? Why are you feeling negative about coaches who are TRYING to inspire people to get healthier?!

Strong and confident women content with themselves don’t feel the need to tear down other women.  They cheer others along and understand that IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM.  Those negative emotions may be a sign that you have some things to work on.  Maybe starting your own fitness journey and transforming your MIND and body could help! 

Now women say to me:

"I lost 50 pounds because you inspired me."

"I started lifting heavy because you inspired me."

"I did a powerlifting or physique competition because you inspired me."

...All because of a photo and the things that went without saying, I’ll never regret sharing that my transformation photo.

Personally I’ve decided to be inspired by those that model the life I’d want to promote myself:

Sally Pisano , Enjoying life and healthy!  

Sally Pisano, Enjoying life and healthy!  

  • Fitness as a lifestyle
  • Daily habits that add up to big change over time. 
  • Health as a long-term commitment, not just an extreme diet or deadline event.

If you’re working on your own transformation, it’s important to be inspired by the right things. With social media, you can really get to know the story behind someone’s journey.  And if they’re doing it the right way, it’s nothing you can’t do too.

Lastly, there’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.

Transform mind & body.  Inspire.  Choose to be inspired.