Before and after photos can be a great tool on your healthy journey, but they can also bring up unexpected feelings of anger, failure or other negative emotions. These types of photos are meant to be motivating and empowering, so we’ve compiled a list of strategies to help you gauge your progress and feel amazing about yourself through the process.

Embrace your “before” photo

Resist the urge to make some progress before the “before” photo is taken. You may be at your heaviest or maybe you just don’t love the way you look, but start with the truth. You won’t know how far you have truly come if you try to mask where you began.

Your picture is just a snapshot in time

As soon as you take your first picture, it becomes your “then” picture. You don’t have to be that person anymore! The only thing that matters is today and how you approach it. Each meal is a choice and every time you chose healthy foods and carve out time in your day to exercise is a step in right direction.

Set realistic expectations

Just because your journey may be taking longer than you had hoped does not mean you have failed. You have to be realistic in your goal setting. Every body is different and we all have our own commitments and responsibilities we have to adhere to. Just commit to do the best you can and make positive choices for your health as often as possible.

What you look like on the outside does not define you

Do you look at that first photo and think that person was unworthy of love/happiness/respect? Well think again! You are enough no matter what your size is. The desire to be healthy should be for your health, not to try to fill a void. Own your amazing uniqueness and think of all the incredible things your body has done for you.

Don’t wait for your “after” photo

We see ourselves in the mirror every day and it’s hard to gauge our own progress. Take photos that show the progression towards your goal at different intervals. Seeing yourself this way will allow you to see how far you’ve come and give you the motivation to keep going.

“After” doesn’t have to have an end date

Just because you are doing something like a 30-day challenge or a fitness program with a specified time frame, doesn’t mean the end date of the program has to be your end date. If you haven’t met your goal once the program wraps up, don’t give up! Use that experience and the tools you have been given to continue your journey.