The Problem With Before And After Photos

Recently I received a notification on Facebook that I'd been tagged in a photo. I clicked the notification and found a picture of myself that I never knew existed. I tried very, very, VERY hard to delete and erase EVERY photo of myself at my heaviest weight because I was ashamed of the way I looked. I was convinced that people would judge me for my weight and I did everything I could to delete that part of my life.

Looking back, I wholeheartedly regret my decision to attempt to erase that time in my life. I regret spending so much time and energy caring about what others thought about my weight and I primarily regret feeling ashamed of the way I looked.

The Problem With Before And After Photos

When I look at this picture, I feel a lot of things but surprisingly, embarrassed isn't one of them. This is me at a time in my life when I was doing everything I could to simply get out of bed. I was trying to survive the unimaginable, sudden and tragic loss of my younger brother and figuring out how life goes on without him. I don't regret gaining weight and surviving that first year.

Okay, here’s my issue with these ‘inspiring’ before & after photos – we’re acting like something is wrong with us in the before photos and it’s saying that it’s unacceptable to look anything but the “after” photos.

Newsflash: Even after I lost the weight, my life didn't magically change. I was still incredibly unhappy because I hadn't found the thing that made me feel happiest in my skin. Eventually I found it – running. It makes me feel as I'm always working towards something. I feel strong, empowered, and confident in my US size 8-10 frame. I can run a marathon fast AF and I no longer spend my time trying to look a certain way so that I can be desirable for someone else.

If you want to make a change -- go for it! I'll be the first to stand beside and cheer you on. But if you love the way you look and feel, then keep doing what you're doing because you're already living your best life.

 

The Problem With Before And After Photos

This isn't a "before" and "after" picture. It's simply me in two different stages in my life. Neither is more "beautiful" or "better" than the other, they are both simply me.

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.