We've all been there - you've got a Krispy Kreme inches away from your mouth, and then you spy a before and after photo of some fitness do-gooder whose got from fat to fab. However, after fitness trainer Andrew Dixon posted a very honest blog on HuffPost US, we have to insert the word 'supposedly'.
Andrew has lifted the lid on what really goes into transformation photos, and that actually, a lot of us with average bodies can look like pumped up, toned creatures with a few tricks of the trade.
His criticism is aimed at companies who market or promote miracle weight loss programs or products, by showing these supposed before and after pictures of 'real' people. His main issue he says are "the transformations that are manipulated with Photoshop, professional lighting, postures to degrade or enhance their look, pro tans, sucking in or pushing out a bloated belly or flexing muscles vs. not flexing to obtain an optimal look."
He adds: "In my opinion, these photos are selling false or exaggerated promises of what 90 days, etc., of their program can achieve. Long-lasting results take years of consistency, hard work and dedication. Results that happen quickly are often temporary, and this is another factor that needs to be taken into account when looking at these transformations.
"Did the individual cut calories to starvation levels or cut out entire food groups to reach a very low body fat percentage for the photo shoot, only to rebound a few days or weeks later? This must be considered when setting your goals and expectations based on someone's program."
In short, don't feel bad when looking at these photos because a) most of them are manipulated and b) we don't know the real story behind the weight loss.
Andrew took it upon himself to do a stage by stage transformation, to show us how the effects are achieved.
To explain the above shot, he said: "About six months ago I was around 185 pounds and about 16 percent body fat. I was feeling particularly bloated on the day, so I asked my girlfriend to take a before shot. I then shaved my head, face and chest and prepared for the after shot, which was about an hour after I took the before shot. I did a few push ups and chin ups, tweaked my bedroom lighting, sucked in, tightened my abs and BOOM! We got our after shot."
He then took another series of shots - this took an hour to produce (yes, we were shocked too):
He goes on to say that the photos we see in magazines and in these so-called transformation shots are all 'smoke and mirrors'. Andrew finishes by saying: "Forget about the quick transformations and focus on a life of healthy eating, well-managed stress levels, quality sleep and plenty of movement. Don't beat yourself up if you eat a cookie, just enjoy that cookie and everything else life has to offer."
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