By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
There’s been quite a bit of discussion in our Dirty community regarding before and after pictures, and in typical Lyndsey style, I want to tackle this subject head on!
I have been on both sides of the road and can see all points of view. Weight and self-image are complicated matters and hopefully, we can try to look at them with a loving, non-judgemental heart.
There are those of us who have struggled mightily all of our lives to lose weight in order to fit into society’s norms. Some of us have caused our bodies, not to mention our mind and spirit, almost irreparable harm to fit into those expectations.
If you succeed at reaching your desired weight and you post photos with the mindset of fat vs. skinny, that could be a harmful way to look at your journey and not helpful to others.
There are those of us who are heavier outwardly, but we are eating all the plants and experiencing tremendous health. We are happy and at home in our beautiful, unique bodies.
That, my friend should be celebrated!
There are those of us who have worked incredibly hard to achieve our weight loss goals and have found amazing physical and mental health. We are enjoying the benefits from that work and we want to share our pictures and say, “I did this and so can you!”
If you have found long-term, lasting success with your weight goals and you post photos with the intention of sharing how inward changes are now shining through to your outward appearance, that is a wonderful view of your journey and very helpful to others.
There are those of us who have learned our self-worth is not tied to our weight or appearance or scale or size. It is intrinsically connected to how we feel on the inside.
That, my friend, should be shouted from the rooftops!
Let’s unpack some of this with an example from my own life.
Recently, the picture on the left came up in my Facebook memories from 5 years ago, and it took my breath away!
That picture feels like a different lifetime ago. So much has changed since I discovered the CFDG Facebook community, the Plant Fueled Meal Plans, and the most transformative program of all, Lighten Up.
I will never forget how sad I was on that hike 5 years ago…
I remember that I had weighed myself that morning and I had hit 265 pounds.
I remember that my face was dotted with red, angry blemishes.
I remember those green hiking pants were so tight that the top 3 buttons were undone.
I remember shedding silent tears on that hike because I was so fatigued that I had to stop every little bit to catch my breath.
I remember the overwhelming feeling of blistering failure.
I remember that was a person who could lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, or do whatever it took to save face.
But what I remember most were the feelings of fear, hopelessness, shame, guilt, anxiety, and how discouraged I was with myself, my body, my life.
I remember the self-hatred, the ugly way I spoke to myself, continually playing small so others wouldn’t notice me.
And then I look at the picture on the right, taken recently, one Sunday morning while I was batching, and I see triumph.
No, not just the weight, because anyone can lose weight if they try hard enough or starve themselves or consume diet pills by the handful. It’s not about weight, or a number on a scale, or size of clothing.
In that picture, I see comfort.
Comfort in my clothes.
Comfort in my surroundings.
Comfort in my own skin.
I see an undercurrent of laughter and good-natured positivity.
I see a light in my eyes that defies any other explanation except for the love I feel for myself and my life.
I see a woman who is light, not only physically, but mentally as well.
I see a woman who brings smiles and laughter to others with her shenanigans and outrageous antics.
I see a woman who now loves to be noticed and enjoys attention and praise just as much as she loves to praise, celebrate, and attend to others.
I see a woman who is no longer burdened with insecurities and who moves with ease throughout her day.
I see gratitude and acceptance.
I see a sense of humor and adventure.
I see kindness and compassion.
I see patience and endurance.
I see strength and forbearance.
I see hope and accomplishment.
I see evidence of an honest life.
I see me.
Here’s another example:
The picture on the left was taken on Thanksgiving day, 1999. I was over 300 pounds and 26 years old. I had just started the Atkins diet and I was eating Slim Jims by the fistful. I was self-conscious, tired, irritable, sad, hated my job, unhappy in love, and so blooming miserable in those tan pants. In fact, one week later was my first hospitalization for depression and attempted suicide.
The picture on the right was taken on a recent Sunday evening. I had batched for a few hours that morning, cleaned the house, did a few loads of laundry, rode bikes with my wife at the park, came home and played with my dog, grabbed a shower and was still full of energy and raring to go!
Yes, the outward appearance has drastically changed.
Yes, I love the way my clothes fit and how comfortable I am in my own skin.
But, here’s what you don’t see! It’s what Lighten Up has done for me and why I love posting photos:
I feel fully alive and grateful for every breath I take.
I feel younger now at 46 than I ever did at 26.
I feel free to express myself.
I feel confident and secure.
I feel ready to greet each new day.
I feel able to do difficult things, survive challenges, and solve problems.
I feel strong, not just physically, but mentally as well.
I feel every emotion, without having to use food to soften the sharp edges.
I feel completely loved and I am able to love completely.
I feel that the trauma of childhood abuse has been released from my soul.
I feel that the horror of college date rape has moved out of my heart.
I feel that I can draw boundaries and remove toxic people from my life.
I feel that I can eat a donut, occasionally, and not be derailed for months.
I feel light, the burden of heaviness, removed like a hard outer shell.
I feel that the cycle of self-sabotage and self-medicating with food has finally, once and for all, ended.
Friends, I just want you to know:
You are not alone.
That is why I love showing my before and after pictures, because I want you to know that I have suffered from decades of disordered eating and have fought the same battles that you may be facing, too.
But, if before and after photos are not for you, don’t include them in your journey. And if you see someone else posting their images and it bothers you, just move on by. Or, better yet, let’s try to celebrate them for the work they have done and the inner joy they have found on their own personal journey.
That’s what CFDG is all about! Kindness, compassion, encouragement, love, non-judgment, and celebrating food!
Let’s inspire each other so much that we are infused with inspiration, too!
Let’s radiate out all the love and positivity that we want to see in our world and celebrate our beautiful, unique, Dirty selves – no matter what stage we’re at on our journey.
And if you choose to share pictures of your process, we will celebrate with you!
Was there a time when you did not shine so bright, and now you radiate joy from the inside out? We would LOVE to hear about it in the comments below!
Frothy Cacao Mint Cooler
Frothy Cacao Mint Cooler
Makes 20 oz (enough for two refreshing servings)
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1/2 cup frozen banana (115 g)
- 1/2 cup kale (15 g)
- 1/2 cup ice (70 g)
- 3 tablespoons cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 teaspoon reishi mushroom powder (optional)
Place everything in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with celebrating YOU!