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Progress time

June 13, 2012

More than a year later after starting this site, I’ve published a Progress page. You know, the one with before & after pictures. I’ll link to it, but I just wanted to discuss my hesitancy and finally my decision to post it.

I think progress pages – pages where people who have gotten back to healthy show you their before & after pictures are part narcissistic, and part philanthropic.

What? (you’re probably saying)

I’m sure the narcissistic part you can get immediately – pictures of oneself looking good and feeling good, surely they don’t need to be published on the internet in order to feel good about myself? They surely don’t.

But the philanthropic part?

Philanthropy of course is:

“…altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement…” [src]

But when I think back to my own story, part of the reason I was successful in making a change was because of healthy living sites like my own – it was a whole new world of people going through similar situations, and I didn’t need to have a coffee with them or see them at work to be a part of their story. Sites where people shared themselves – their struggles, their successes, and their failures. And yes, those before and after photos, which were often the first thing I clicked on once I landed on a site.

As a society, we love these before and after photos, because I think they represent two concepts which are dear to us and provide (and require) continuous energy and willpower: change, and hope.

Many other sites’ progress pages helped me hope once again about my own change. I’m not so narcissistic to think that my pictures and my story will impact any one person’s story so greatly, but if they do, or if they add to the collective of inspiration found online, how much harm have I caused myself by publishing those embarrassing before pictures? Not much.

Here’s to progress!

Are you a progress pic voyeur like me? Do they inspire you? Frustrate you?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2012 7:24 pm

    You’re very brave for posting your before and after pics! I’m not quite there yet but boy do I have a before pic that makes me practically burst into tears. Oh Facebook tagging… anyway, you’re so right about the number not being as important as how your body looks and feels. And weight training definitely makes that number a little less impressive to post (for the folks who like to judge via scales) but regardless you look fantastic! Now, for the important part — where is that great Kate Middleton-like black lace dress from? Love it!

    • June 13, 2012 7:39 pm

      I still cringe looking at that Before picture. There are a few worse ones, but not many. I don’t know if I’ll ever post scale numbers, but I do regret not taking measurements to start because I know that would have been a good place to track.

      I’ve had that dress for a long time…let’s just say longer than a decade 🙂 I got it in Chicago at some no-name store!

      Are we going to meet this year? I’m coming to SF this summer. Let’s do it!

  2. June 13, 2012 7:52 pm

    Looking good Sara! Congrats or reaching your goals and making changes.

  3. Tanja permalink
    June 13, 2012 10:17 pm

    OMG, you look so beautiful. Great job and keep on with your goal – you’re an inspiration.

  4. June 17, 2012 11:55 pm

    Hey Sara, this is so great, congratulations!

    BTW, you look really cute in ALL the photos 🙂

    I think your’e right about the narcissism and the philanthropy both. Yes of course it’s a giant “look at me” trophy You Megalomaniac!! 😛

    But I also think what you call “philanthropy” or I’m going to call “modeling” is kind of really great.

    I’ve been thinking about chauvinism and civil rights a lot lately. Yes we still struggle with racism, misogyny, and homophobia. But we have plenty of other ways to oppress our fellow humans, like ableism, ageism, weight shaming, and more.

    The thing that frustrates me is: yes, being overweight is not healthy, but as far as I know no one ever motivated someone to lose weight thru weight shaming. Mostly it just takes someone who maybe already doesn’t have enormous self-esteem and pushes them down further. I’m convinced that even if weight shaming is well-intentioned, that it’s nonetheless mean spirited and counterproductive.

    Still… being more fit is a nice goal… so how do we as a culture get there? I think “Modeling” or as you say “Philanthropy” might be a great path. So no shame about being a real human being in a culture that promotes obesity, but OK, here are some other ways we might try to live our lives. And since so much of our culture promotes consumption: of products, of food, of everything, it’s so powerful to also build up a content body about other aspirations and ways of living.

    Congratulations on finding a positive culture / identity model, and on your own personal journey.

    Oh, and BTW, I finally posted our contribution to the #wwwp5k ! 🙂

    Keep up the great work Sara,

    — Van

    • June 25, 2012 5:35 pm

      Thanks for your comments Vanessa – really interesting thoughts on weight-shaming!

  5. June 18, 2012 10:42 am

    Hooray! I honestly had no idea about your journey when I made the snarky comment about you be a runner when I saw you at The Beehive. (I loved that dress on you!)

    Philanthropy indeed. I am about to begin on a weight loss journey myself needing to get 30-40lbs off and I wasn’t going to blog it, but maybe I will…

  6. June 18, 2012 3:56 pm

    You look great in all the photos!

  7. Roman permalink
    June 27, 2012 7:35 pm

    I think you looked good even in the before pic, but you look happier in the others. I like the idea, and have my own… but haven’t shared there yet as I have some work left to do. My goal wasn’t to reach any societal ideal, but to get in shape to cross some items off the bucket list. The more I read your stuff the more I like it, you’re an inspiration! I spend lots of time in Italy and hope to live there at least part time down the road… I’m envious.

  8. August 9, 2012 3:51 pm

    Hi Sara! I am an American living in Italy too! I live near Lecce in Puglia. I love it here! I am married to an Italian and have 2 boys. I have been living here for almost 22 years now. I came across your blogs on Pinterest today and thought I’d drop by to say hi and look for inspiration to get rid of my extra kilos all this Italian food has given me!

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