#FitnessFriday: “Thinspired” by “before and after” weight loss photos? Think again.

Personal Trainer, Mel V, demonstrates how easy it is to fake it ’til you make it…and deceive others in the process.

Annoying and fitness-obsessed, everyone has that one Facebook or Instagram friend that constantly posts photos of themselves through their “fitness transformation.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I happen to be eating a particularly large piece of cake when these photos pop up on my newsfeed and the feelings of guilt are inevitable. “Why am I sitting on my butt and eating this junk, when my friend looks so amazing and has only been working out for two weeks?!” Well, according to some insightful articles, the proof isn’t always in the pudding.

Australian personal trainer and blogger, MelVFitness, sought to demonstrate how these “before and after” photos can often be misleading–and that we shouldn’t measure our self-worth by achieving fitness goals or comparing ourselves to the progress of others, as things are not always as they appear.

Inspired by the July 2013 Huffington Post article “Seduced by the Illusion: The Truth About Transformation Photos,” Mel took a “before” and “after” photo just 15 minutes apart, demonstrating how easily a fit body can be faked. Her secret? In her post, she explains, “Well  firstly I ditched the phonewallet…cause that thing is lame, swapped my  bather bottoms to black (cause they’re a size bigger & black is slimming),  smothered on some fake tan, clipped in my hair extensions, stood up a bit  taller, sucked in my guts, popped my hip- threw in a skinny arm, stood a bit  wider #boxgap, pulled my shoulders back and added a bit of a  cheeky/Im so proud of my results smile. Zoomed in on the before pic- zoomed out  on the after & added a filter. Cos’ filters make everything awesome. What’s  my point? Don’t be deceived by what you see in magazines & on Instagram…  You never see the dozens of other pics they took that [weren’t] as flattering.  Photoshop can make a pig look hotter than Beyonce.”

Mel goes on to write about her own struggles with weight loss in the post, culminating in a poignant statement: “My advice to you if you want to change your physique, is to make small changes towards your goals. Stop wanting results in a week, or a month, make changes you can sustain- be patient and consistent. Dont stop going out with your friends, don’t carry rice and veggies around in your backpack. Learn about food, come up with an achievable plan for you and most importantly enjoy how you exercise and live your life. Oh and transformation shots are great, but let it be clear- that being thinner doesn’t always mean you’ll be happier, transformations take time, and good lighting can make buddah have a 6 pack.”

A photo from the Huffington Post article that inspired Mel’s experiment. The writer, Andrew Dixon, explained, “I wanted to show a series of progressions that look like a few months of hard work and dieting. I’m about 200 pounds and 19 percent body fat in this photo series. This took under an hour to produce.”

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