As motivational as transformation photos can be, they can also be misleading. The most traditional before-and-after shots-the ones without long-form IG captions about mental health or embracing weight gain-can sometimes imply that losing weight automatically means you’ll live happily ever after. That hasn’t been the case for Sia Cooper, who runs the blog Diary of a Fit Mommy. The fitness influencer recently took to Instagram to explain why the words “before and after” don’t accurately describe her own weight-loss journey.
Cooper revealed that she lost weight following her explant surgery by working out and changing her diet. (Last year, Cooper chose to have her breast implants removed after experiencing symptoms that she suspected could’ve been linked to breast implant illness.) Her post, showing a 12-pound drop over five months, is a before-and-after photo by definition, but Cooper doesn’t see the two photos as an ultimate beginning or end. “I had an important realization today: before and after photos are not static,” she wrote in her caption. “I never thought I would be in a ‘before’ situation again until last year when my health declined.”
No one loses a dramatic amount of weight and then remains unchanged, she argued. “Also, I feel there’s really no such thing as a true ‘after’ photo because our journeys continue to change as we go through life. It’s hard to stay 100% the same because weight fluctuates, we age, and quite frankly sh*t happens.” (Kayla Itsines has the same outlook.)
Cooper prefers a different name for her side-by-side pictures: progress photos. While “progress photo” and “before-and-after” are often used interchangeably, the former doesn’t imply monumental start and end points. That’s an important distinction to keep in mind, whether you’re scrolling through transformation posts like Cooper’s or tracking your own progress.