September 24, 2007

Progress Photos

Often people who have blogs about losing weight post Progress Photos. These can be so inspiring, especially when progress is actually being made! Katie over at Sister Skinny recently posted one (she looks great) and it got Crabby thinking a little more about them.

Cranky Fitness has often been categorized as a "weight loss blog," though it isn't quite. We sure talk a lot about weight loss, though, as this is a health blog and obesity is a major health issue. And all of us are surrounded by temptations that if indulged in, would lead to major weight gain, which at least for Crabby, would not be a healthy thing at all.

However, this assumption that Cranky Fitness is primarily a weight loss blog sometimes makes Crabby feel a bit guilty, because she is not in the midst of an ambitious weight loss quest herself. She doesn't have a particularly heroic story to tell, either, and the pictures above are the best readers are going to get of her "before" and "after." She reached what she considers a healthy weight years ago. She has a reasonably cooperative metabolism, though not an unusually fast one. She's always been fairly vigilant about Health and Fitness, so she's never been more than about 25 lbs out of range. Crabby's battles are more about not cupcaking and cheeseburgering her way back into an unhealthy lifestyle (and, not coincidentally, a larger waistline). But still, even that 25 lbs felt like a substantial challenge. She can totally relate to weight loss struggles.

And she loves viewing "before" and "after" photos.

In fact, while she is probably the sole human on earth who doesn't tune into the Biggest Loser on a regular basis, she likes to catch the final episode: tons and tons of "before" and "after" footage. Tears and pride and congratulations all around! It makes her very happy to see people who have worked hard be rewarded with success.

Of course, sometimes "before" and "after" is only part of the story. Often there is "before," and "after, and then back to "before," and perhaps another "after," and so on. This is not as inspiring. However, it is all too human and real and completely understandable. Especially if extraordinary effort and near-starvation went into creating "after."

One great thing about weight loss blogs is that these photos come with a context. You can read what the person went through, how they approach things, and discover how sensibly or not "after" was obtained. You hear the "voice" of the successful person and it tells you so much more than the same sort of photos in a magazine ad would.

Now when you come across "afters" in certain blogs you just get a good feeling about them. No one can ever know for sure--but you just sense this person is going to stay an "after," whatever temporary obstacles might come along.

There of course are many of these out there. Crabby is only going to name two as examples: Mousaroo's blog is one, with its cheerful header photo and funny posts and of course, the marvelous Marie at the helm. And the other is one a popular blog Crabby found only recently (via Mary's Great Guest Post and the BlogHer ads). Pasta Queen at Half of Me not only has an awesome blog, but check out her Progress Photos page. They document Amazing Progress, sure, but you can even make them rotate! Does it say something bizarre about Crabby that she sat there for a good five minutes spinning a bunch of the pictures around? She hopes poor Pasta Queen is not too dizzy.

Crabby knows many of her readers are on heroic weight loss quests of their own. She is filled with admiration for you all. Eating healthy food in reasonable portions and getting enough exercise are all things she believes in, even though she does have those nasty cupcakes taunting you from the top of the page. Perhaps some day she will replace them with something less evil.

Because she truly hopes all of you trying to lose weight end up with the "After" pictures you deserve.

So what do you all think about "Befores" and "Afters?" Or about Weight Loss or Weight Loss blogs generally? Are there any you find particularly inspiring? Or, as usual, feel free to share your thoughts about any ol' thing on your minds.


  1. timely post. I came back from my vacation five pounds heavier. How the heck does someone gain 5 pounds in a week??? It can't have anything to do with the Seafood Hut in Calabash that served deep fried shrimp and scampi as fresh as if you'd had them in an acquarium. Or the Chianti South restaurant that served Italian food like I've never tasted before, even here in Montreal where we have the restaurants of all restaurants. Nor could it have been the Sugar Shack in Ocean Isle where the Jamaican food is out of this world....

    Ok, Now I'm hungry again. Before and after photos? I'm lucky if there's a flipping photo of my anywhere. Since I'm the photographer, it never occurs to anyone here that I may want people to know that I existed too.

    (for the record, I'm not big on before and after photos, don't know why)

  2. Crabby, I must compliment you on your before and after photos as they are clearly of you.
    Newspaper and mag ads for weight loss commonly run before and after photos with the before fuzzy and at a distance. The after photo is closer up and in focus. Hairstyles and hair colors are often different, sometimes even the nose shape is different. I usually don't believe they are of the same person.
    Yours are a breath of fresh sea air.

  3. I, too, love before and after photos. And not only of people who have lost weight - make-up and hair makeovers, home renovations...what can I say, I just like to see what can change. Mind you, I think a lot of the before and after photos in magazines are bull...who keeps the identical hairstyle after losing 300 lbs?
    The Pasta Queen's progress is amazing - good for her. I'm thinking there will never be any before and after photos of me 'cause I'm doomed to live in this fat, out of shape body for the rest of my life! And, like Marijke, I'm generally the photographer - for some reason, hardly anyone ever thinks to take a photo of me. (Of course, hiding behind potted plants whenever a camera comes out may play a part in that)

  4. I love 'em, too. I honestly love any sort of quantitative measurement, and I think that's where it gets at. Cholesterol numbers, pounds, inches, blood pressure, whatever. It feels like it "proves" something to me. It's arguable whether or not one needs proof and all, but I kind of do, for motivational reasons. I know I feel good after exercising, but I also feel good after chocolate cake. The numbers don't lie. They can mislead, can be twisted, sure. But if I'm getting the numbers from a good source, and they're coming straight from the source, they're "proof." I guess that's why I like this type of stuff.

  5. I find weight loss stories and pics (when they're real, not faked) inspirational because they represent someone who successfully reached a goal.

    I've never had a weight problem, other than the occasional creep of "vanity pounds" which are hard enough to get rid of! But I'm very aware that my situation is as much luck as hard work.

    I admire anyone who has persevered over time, working hard to change their life in a positive way, whether it's weight loss, education, Ironman, creative or career objectives, or whatever. It speaks of a certain tenacity of spirit that I like! :-)

  6. As soon as I loaded this page I busted up laughing. I knew exactly what this post was about before I saw the title. Very creative crab. And I can definitely see a difference!
    a) Thanks for the link!
    b) I think of you more as a health/socially conscious blog with a dash of weight loss. You're so not the typical weightloss blog (but I love those too!)
    c) I think that 25 pounds is a very worthy challenge. I've been thinking a lot about how it really does get hard to lose the weight the closer one gets to their "goal." That last 5 or 10 is killer!
    d) While I'm still a Biggest Loser fan, I've been getting more and more annoyed with all of the duh-rama pumped into each episode. It's really ridiculous.
    e)I'm a huge fan of Marie's. She's one of the first people I check each day.
    f) When I'm bored or need a little motivational boost, I go spin the pasta queen. It just never gets old! lol!
    g) Here is one more of my favorite set of before and after's. (You have to click on the "pictures" part.
    h) Sometimes when you're starting out losing weight, you want to see results NOW. Seeing other people's "after's" has often giving me the patience to plug along and stick with it.

    h! I got to friggin h!!! lol. Ok, I'll stop now.

  7. I think it's always great to know there are others out there struggling just like you are! That's why I love blogging about my runs..I know my friends don't really get it, but there are folks who do and it makes me feel inspired.

    I am a total biggest loser addict, I think it's exactly because of the before and after...but you are right, even in my own small weight loss journey it was as much about what i learned along the way than the final result.

  8. even though i post before/after shots when i've reached a certain goal, i don't have them on my blog 24/7... maybe if i had my own site and not thru blogger, i would... having the balls to show yourself, at a weight that you're probably embarrassed/disappointed/frustrated with, takes a GREAT deal of courage - esp. online... and showing your progression is an incredible motivator to those that may be the exact same starting weight - it gives them hope... :o)

  9. I don't know... looks to me like that crab is wearing extra makeup in that "after" photo... ;)

    I think fitness is a fitting topic for you to blog about. Much more interesting than focusing just on weight loss. I'd rather be fit than thin ("please, sir, can I have both?").

  10. looking mighty fine, crabby!

    but wow! i'm honoured!! (note the *u* :P) I think progress pics are TRULY inspirational and I wish I had taken more (i was too busy cropping myself out). they're just a good way to gauge your progress because you don't realize what you're going through. You just see yourself in the mirror every day and don't notice the changes that seem subtle to you but drastic to others. seeing yourself frozen in time is a different story and can knock the wind right out of you!

    I myself enjoy reading weight loss, health, fitness and running blogs because they're relevant to me. it's the people who keep pressing on to lose that 10 to 100lbs or run that 5k that keep me on my plan and not backslide.

    And with a title like cranky fitness, how are people misunderstanding you? me thinks you do have a heroic tale to tell somewhere in there. stop being so modest :P

  11. Please don't take away our cupcakes.

  12. I aspire to be an "after" picture someday. *sigh*

  13. Ah, we'll be two people in this world who don't watch the Biggest Loser. Alright, living in France and not having a TV anyway probably play a role in that for me, but even were those details to disappear, I still don't like watching TV very much, so...

    (And your blog doesn't strike me as a weight-loss blog specifically--more like a health/fitness-conscious blog, I'd say.)

    As for before/after shots, as long as they're not scam, I sure find them inspiring. In fact, now I really regret not having any good 'before' pic of myself (that'll teach me taking pictures with a digital camera only, then not backing them up before the HDD dies...). There are days when I could do with a little objective reminder of what I've lost, because sometimes, I still have trouble seeing myself as sorta normal, and not as the fat girl I've been since the age of 9 or so until quite recently. :/ Oh, well...

  14. I love progress photos.I wish I'd taken a start photo before I started to get in shape...all i have are a few old photos of me, but nothign really reveals how different I look now. It's hard to judge subtle changes when yo usee yourself every day. Other people's photos inspire me when I feel as though I can slack off and kept me going when I wanted results too quickly.

  15. Pasta Queen still amazes me days after I stumbled upon her blog. It truly gives me hope, seeing her partying in her fat pants; maybe, just maybe, I can discipline myself enough to reach an 'after' like hers and stay there.

  16. Marijke, welcome back! And you sure know how to make a crab hungry! Mmm, Jamaican food...

    Leah, yep took me all day (twice!)to model those photos! Amazing how I got the exact same pose the second time, don't you think?

    Bag lady, don't hide behind the potted plant! I'm willing to bet you have a gorgeous smile.

    I'm with you, I love numbers, they're so concrete! Unless, of course, they say what I don't want to hear. Sigh.

    Bunnygirl, I feel the same way about anyone reaching their goals. And I have such total admiration for you triathletes!

    Katieo, I love it that you got to h! Feel free to get all the way to Z and start with the aa's and bb's anytime you want. I'll have to go click your link!

    Back in a bit...

  17. Katieo, gosh you're right, those are AMAZING! Thanks for the link!

    Amanda, well if it's any consolation I think most friends and family members of bloggers--no matter what they blog about--think they're nuts. Mine certainly do.

    Jodi, I'm with you--I have so much respect for people who are comfortable enough with themselves to show "all" of who they are and were!

    Mary, thanks for noticing all the primping that went into the photo shoot! And I have trouble enough staying on topic with the enormous scope of "health and fitness"--can't imagine how I'd stick to just weight loss.

    Oops, my oven timers beeping... the asparagus needs me! Back again...

  18. Marie! Always love to see those mouse ears. Well, they'd have to redefine "heroic" rather completely to fit me in there, but thanks for the thought! One thing I love about your header is that both versions of you look so happy and likable, even if the second version is quite a bit smaller. There's something so cheerful about it!

    Norabarnacle, well, not anytime soon! I'm kind of attached to the cupcakes. But they do make me crave evil treats!

    Missicat--well, your "before" shots may well be someone else's after! As long as you're doing some healthy stuff that's good for you, that's the most important thing.

    Kery, that's really interesting about wishing you had more "befores." I think a lot of us don't keep photos that aren't flattering (though the loss of yours sounds like a storage glitch). But someday we'll be curious about what we looked like and wish we'd kept 'em.

    Geosomin--wow, you too. Seems like we need a public service announcement: Don't hide from the camera and remember hang on to those old photos! Some day they may be a source of inspiration.

    If you do some "befores" and "afters," can we spin you around like Pasta Queen? (Probably not after a German Chocoalate Martini, though. That would be unfortunate).

  19. Crabby! You've lost weight!

    I love before and after photos so much I don't really want to know the truth about the next round of before(s) and after(s). Just let me stay in fantasy land where it's a one time deal. It really motivates me to see someone accomplish their goal.

  20. So Crabby, before I even got here (had to work today, darn) one of my sneaky cronies from my low carb message board had already lurked here and absconded with the link to Pasta Queen's Half of Me website. amazing pictures.

    As to your pictures, you are gorgeous darling, simply gorgeous! If you want to see something almost as gorgeous, please stop by women of mystery to see the cover for the about-to-be-released anthology Murder New York Style. Shameless plug on my part and I'm not even as talented as Pasta Queen, so I can't show you the "revolving book cover." Still, MNYS introduces a short story of mine, so I love it. (NO bias here.)


  21. Hey there, Crabby,

    (You cook asparagus in the oven??)

    So anyway, I don't think of this as a weight loss site, really. I think of it as an overall health site. But still, if you get the exercise you need and eat well, some weight loss is bound to creep in.

    Weight loss is creeping in with me right now, but it's because of the Wellbutrin. STILL, I think the weight packed on because of the Lexapro, so now I feel justified in being delighted at my new loss of appetite. I always eat pretty well, except for the occasional bag of Cheetos. :-/

    Now if I can just get my exercise act together. Having lovely walks in the park, but that's not enough. What I have decided I really need is a workout tape. I have never had one--despite being a professional classical musician, I never listen to music hardly!!! I know I'd be more eager to walk on the treadmill if I had one. Now if I can just get my Treo mp3 player figured out.

    I went back and looked up your Workout Tape post, thinking you had suggestions, but you selfishly didn't give any. *sigh* And I don't really know much rock music, except for the couple of Eric Clapton things I found on Crooks and Liars.

    Sorry for the long post!!!

    PS I think before-after pictures are a good thing, and maybe I'll do some.

  22. Woohoo, Crabby... lookin' slim. You're a mere shell of the crab you once were!

    I'm back from a few days away.. where there was GOOD food and GOOD drink.. and MORE good food.. and I'm back to the "before" look, but starting tomorrow...


  23. Hi Soap Box Girl! Yeah, I kind of don't want to know after "After", unless of course after "After" is a "Before" followed by another "After" after! Made perfect sense to me!

    Terrie, you must be so excited! (And I love the idea of Sneaky Lurking Low Carb People hanging out here! Hooray for Lurkers as well as commenters--I was a Lurker for years.)

    Yep, oven roasted asparagus (coated with a bit of olive oil) is one of the vegetables I actually like! And sorry about the workout music--I just think the only way to find it is to sample a lot of little snippets, like on iTunes or Amazon or something. Because everyone's taste is so incredibly different! But it helps to start by searching for "workout" or "cardio" or "aerobic" or something.

    Hilary, well you can't just ignore Good Food, you gotta sample and make up for it later! And welcome back. It's just no pun here when you're gone.

  24. Crabby--the crab photos are simply brilliant.

  25. Crabby, did you see the article in today's New York Times on cupcakes? They're simultaneously fashionable and subversive! It's impressive. (My partner made cupcakes this weekend that were to die for, umm...)

    But, on topic: while I love success stories (and also loved spinning Pasta Queen), when I check out the before/after photos, I always see if they look skinnier or look more fit. I don't feel proud of this (nor am I proud of the fact that a series of photos merely tempts me to wonder why some parts are shrinking faster than others). But, what the heck.

    You, on the other hand, are losing weight remarkably evenly, and it's amazing how something as simple as an exoskeleton contributes to that "hard body" look.

  26. Crabby, I like your blog because you don't harp on and on. You have a skewed way of looking at things, which works SO well with my brain!

    Now, don't get too carried away with the weight loss, you should have some meat under that shell!

  27. I love others before and afters - they are so inspirational. I find that my loss/gain of the same 3 pounds repeatedly really doesn't show well on the photos and provides little inspiration to me or others.

    Love the crab pictures - awesome touch!

  28. I am trying to get out of the before/after/before/after/before cycle. I am obsessed with before and after photos and blogs of successful losers. I'm trying to find out how to get to the "after" permanently.

    Pasta Queen is one of my heros. What an amazing success story. I actually started reading her blog when she had more weight to lose than I do and was determined to lose with her. She has long since left me in the dust (or crumbs).

    I'm also a photographer so I'm always behind the camera and cringe when I actually see a photo of myself. Somehow I don't think I look as bad in the mirror as I do in photos.

    Love your blog!

    P.S. I'm a crab too.

  29. I LOVE the before and after crabby photos. The best before and after I've seen :)

    I think the people who share these kind of photos are really brave. I'm fairly laid back about almost everything but I think a little vain. I don't like to be seen in a bad light physically.

    EVEN though I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm not as bad as I was when I was a teen, and people should never be about looks, and brains are more important and blah...blah.. We all know that but deep down I do sort of feel like I want to be the cutest girl in the room sometimes.

    Above that I'm pure feminist but the vain in me would never allow me to post pictures of me say, right after giving birth -- I was not one of those cute glowing mamas. I looked sinfully tired and bad. So, if I gained and then lost a bunch of weight I'm sure I'd never be brave enough to share.

    I think it really helps that there are people NOT like me though who do share. Do I feel bad about the vain thing... sometimes but not too bad. That might be the biggest fault I have but that's what makes us human.

    Also, I never have thought of this as a weight loss blog. It's always seemed like a look and disassemble of health info to me. Which is way more fun.

  30. Nice post, Crabby. You really work hard on your blog and I admire (envy?) you for it.

    Up until about a year and a half ago, I'd always been skinny, so I never really thought about weight loss. I weighed 168 pounds when I stopped smoking, and before long I was 235 pounds! That's never happened before! Worse, I started smoking again after only 7 months and I still can't lose the weight (although I am down to about 210 now). I really must be getting old...(or even lazier than I used to be).

    "...the pictures above are the best readers are going to get of her 'before' and 'after.'"

    HAHAHAHAHA! I'm sorry, Crabby, but I just couldn't help laughing when I read this...

  31. Sunny, thank you!

    Quito, I must find that article--Magnolia bakery in NYC is where I truly learned to appreciate cupcakes as they were meant to be experienced. (And as I get older that exoskeleton is gettin' a bit crumbly, but it keeps me crawlin' around well enough I guess.)

    Well, sometimes I do indeed go on and on, but I'm trying to learn to reign it in a little. Thanks so much!

    Amy--well, if you're sticking with the same 3 lbs you're ahead of the game because most people are consistently gaining as they get older! Must be a bit discouraging though.

    MB, welcome to a fellow crab! And I'd be willing to bet that you look better in photos to others than you do to yourself! (Though I'm not crazy about most photos of myself either--only the the least dorky are allowed to survive).

    Jennifer--I'm with you, I think those posted photos are very brave. And I think most humans are at least a little vain, being social animals programmed that way. Given how how much our culture encourages women to obsess about our looks, too, I think it's impossible to be totally oblivious to how we appear.

    Hi Michael! Sorry to hear about the weight gain & smoking thing, but I know you can get back on track. I suspect tackling the smoking thing is smart to do even if it temporarily makes the weight harder to deal with. Good luck!

  32. Nice pics, Crabby!

    I've lost 25-50 pounds 2 or 3 different times before, separated by years of not caring how much I gained back.

    This time I'm making a very concerted effort to keep all the weight off. So far so good...

    As for the before/after pictures, I posted mine because I figured for all those years everyone I knew was subjected to the sight of my excess blubberage, why not let the entire internet suffer as well?

  33. that was a cool blog. i subscribed. and you had me fooled, i thought i was going to see a real before and after pic.


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