I both love and hate those before and after photos that are featured in magazines every January. It is inspiring to see that people can make such an amazing change, and those photos are great to get people hot on the "resolution band-wagon" to actually start working out. But, I hate them because they make it look so easy. Each “after” look is all smiling faces and the fruition of achieved goals. But becoming that slim, smiling man or woman is not as easy as a simple snapshot.
The problem with these amazing transformational photos is that I don’t think they really speak to the everyday person. They don’t speak to the mom who has to find a babysitter, the new mom with a crying child keeping her up all night or the working mom who wants to just spend time with her kids – not necessarily working out at the gym. They don't do justice to remind everyone who works out for the whole month of January (true to their resolutions) that it may take time to see change. These “after” looks are the results of LIFESTYLE changes that go well beyond one month of working out or a few salads – and it is easy to forget that.
What is great is that these kinds of transformations really are possible (I've personally seen it). I’ve even seen kids who undergo great transformations. But, we have to make consistently healthy choices and be realistic.
Changing your lifestyle means that you make movement a part of every day. That you eat right and make healthy choices (even small ones!). It means strapping on those tennis shoes even when you don't really feel like it. It is creating a habit. It is employing those around you to help and encourage you to continue. It is making a conscious decision to get – and hopefully stay – healthy.
Most of the makeover features talk about a trigger point where someone saw themselves in a photo, was told something mean/brutally honest, or experienced something specific that was the “switch” for them to get serious about becoming healthy. So the question for me is how I can be the "trigger" even before one is really needed? I hope we can all live as the “after” person. As a mom, it is important to me that none of my kids need to have a transformation like that. I want them to be healthy from the start – and that means I need to teach them by modeling movement and good food choices as a way of life. We can each be the trigger for our own and our family’s health. Let’s begin by taking a good hard look at ourselves and seeing what we might change in our own life and in what we show our families in the spirit of helping our kids be a little healthier this year.