Baring it All: My REAL Before Photo

We have a lot of fun on my blog. We laugh, we cook, and sure we get serious sometimes when it comes to health and often the emotional baggage that comes with it. But if I’m being honest here– I like to dance my way through life, put on a smile while chanting “WHOOO! Look at me get skinny” and “I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT TOO!”

And let’s get one thing straight: I DO KNOW YOU CAN DO IT TOO.

But the truth is, I’m not as brave as I look sometimes. While I’m proud of my progress, sometimes I feel like that same insecure teenager in high school. This year has been a lot of growth for me– both in the physical sense of growing muscle and losing 30 lbs of fat so far, but also emotionally in that I’m becoming a more confident, stronger person.

And that’s why it’s time I show you something I’ve been personally ashamed of. Up until now, I’ve been using this as my “Before” photo:

Picture 197

The truth is, I weighed more than this at the beginning of this year when I started losing weight (again). And the bigger truth is…I took a picture of myself to be a “Before” that was so revealing, I was too embarrassed to share it with anyone.

In January, I stripped down to a sports bra and shorts and took a before photo that I wanted no one to ever see. Just looking at it makes me want to cry. I still remember the day Addison snapped it for me while telling me I was beautiful and all I could thing was….”How did I let this happen?”

I figured I wouldn’t show anyone the photo until I had met my “goal” weight or achieved some triumphant victory where people could “oohh and ahhh” over it.

But getting healthy is a journey, and part of that journey is self acceptance. It’s being accepting of the past and even accepting yourself as you are while you’re hitting milestones in progress.

Still…it’s very difficult for me. Even to take a comparison photo of what I look like today in the same kind of outfit— the truth is, it’s a photo I don’t want anyone to see.

But it needs to be seen– probably most importantly by me. You see, even after losing 30 lbs, it can be easy for me to stupidly think that I look the same as I did before. I need to always remember where I came from so I can definitely appreciate the now. And now, looking side by side the photo you’re about to see, I KNOW there’s a difference. I KNOW I’ve worked hard. And I KNOW I can accomplish the rest of where I need to go.

But for me to truly accept myself, it’s time to share it as well. I want people to see the REAL me for multiple reasons:

  • In the past, People have relatively agreed that I wasn’t “that” bad. Look at my before photo. That is not okay. I look at that and see potential diseases. I see eventually getting diabetes. I see someone who hid herself very well and in doing so, she was hiding the truth of how unhealthy she was.
  • Now, people keep saying how good I look, that I don’t look “obese,” that I “carry it well” and even that I don’t need to lose that much more weight. And yes, while I LOVE hearing those words all the time and really appreciate the confidence boost and also agree that I’m looking pretty darn fine as my clothes are fitting me better (and falling off)— I want you to look at me now and see that I’m NOT there yet. I don’t want to “carry it well.” My BMI chart says I am STILL obese by 1% point. And the only thing that helps me go forward every day is reminding myself that I am doing this to be HEALTHY because I’m not as healthy as I should be now. It’s not an obsessive thing. It’s just the truth that I want to live my life making healthy choices.
  • You NEED to face who you are right now at any stage of where you are in your health journey– whether you’re at the beginning or somewhere along in the process– you need to take a good long look at yourself and ACCEPT you for who you are right there in that moment. It’s hard. But it needs to be done. And remember, accepting yourself is not saying it’s okay to be unhealthy. It’s just loving yourself enough to move forward and make good decisions. You’re not doing yourself any favors by putting yourself down or trying to shame yourself into being healthy. That doesn’t work.  But acceptance? That’s the first step in moving forward. I know how hard this is and if by me pubically doing this can help anyone else out there look themselves in the mirror, admit that they need to change in a healthy way, and love themselves enough to make that change– then so be it. We can take embarrassing selfies together and be proud of our bravery.

So now that you know the reasons, I’ll take a deep breath and post the pictures. And trust me when I say I am fighting back all sense of embarassment here because I know deep down in my bones, I should be and am honestly proud of myself for how far I have come. I have NO reason to be embarassed, even if the inner 12-year-old is saying, “Good Lord, Nikki. Put a shirt on…maybe some spanx and take a happier after shot.”

I’m pushing back the thought that my current photo isn’t “good enough” and enjoying the fact that I’ve made progress and am getting closer each day to my goal– and that goal is to live a happy, healthy life. And I hope you can push back those naysaying voices as well. Because let me tell you– no matter what weight you’re at now, or where you are in life, you ARE GOOD ENOUGH and you ARE CAPABLE OF CHANGE.

So here’s me…in all my glory:



I try to leave numbers out of things because I think it’s the healthy lifestyle and the good feelings that are most important—but since I’m being all expose-y and such, let me just break it down for you.

This picture illustrates the

difference between 215 lbs and 185 lbs.

This means I’ve lost nearly

14% of my original body weight

since the beginning of the year.

I’ve gone from an

obese BMI of 35.8 to a BMI of 30.8–

1% away

from being in the “overweight” category.

I’ve dropped a cup size and gone down a couple dress sizes, though it’s hard to pinpoint since each outfit is different.

BUT ABOVE ALL ELSE: I feel so much better and I know how strong I am.

Guys, seriously. This is why it’s so important NOT to delete your “fat” photos. We owe it to ourselves to accept and respect who we are at any and EVERY stage. If you really are that unhappy with a photo– DO NOT DELETE IT. But use it as a springboard for change. Deleting photos doesn’t solve anything. Making positive changes in your life? That can change everything.

Now don’t take that the opposite direction and get all obsessive either. By no means are you allowed to plaster your before picture EVERYWHERE or on the fridge and shame yourself into change. Simply take a picture, accept it as truth, and put it away for now. After a couple of months, come back to it and remind yourself how far you’ve come and appreciate where you are now and where you’ve been.

If I– the over-ambitious workaholic, who rarely gets 8 hours a sleep, LOVES chocolate, has been an emotional eater for most of her life, and used to hate exercise– can do it, then I have FULL confidence that you can too.

Instead of dreading our reflection in the mirror, it’s time to love ourselves. It’s time to make good choices. Living a happy, healthy life should be motivation enough, but if you really need it– swallow your pride and take a picture like this. Nothing can motivate you more than truth. I haven’t seen this picture in months and while at first I was ashamed, I can tell you now– especially after finishing up writing this blog– I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

You deserve to be proud too. There’s no shame here.


6 thoughts on “Baring it All: My REAL Before Photo

  1. Beautiful. Wonderful. Courageous. Thank you.

    I can only think that great breakthroughs are very near for you with revealing yourself more vulnerably and completely and honestly than ever before. Many kudos. I am a big fan of you.


    Biggest Girl In the Ballroom, Stef

  2. I saw the photos earlier, but had not read the entire post and I just have to say WOW! You are so amazing & doing such a great job! Hearing the phrase “you carry it well” is something that really hits home. You truly are an inspiration & I can’t wait to see all the progress you make with your weight loss goals among many other things!

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