You’ve been eating clean, hitting the gym every other day, and getting 8 hours of sleep per night for weeks now. Now comes the moment you've been waiting for–you are about to check your progress by stepping on your scale.
You're immediately met with disappointment. When the number appears, you think, “I have barely made any progress at all. What's the point?”
The number on the scale doesn’t lie, but it also doesn’t tell the entire truth. Losing fat, gaining muscle, and retaining water all play a role in the number that appears on the scale.
There is a better way to track your progress.
Monitor your improvement by taking before and after progress photos. When you compare photos of yourself from when you first started your new fitness regime–if consistent–you will see steady change.
In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about tracking your diet and fitness progress with photos.
For starters, it is important to look at what you will need to set up a shot that is simple and repeatable every time you take a new progress photo. Remember, don’t stress it! Take a minimalist approach when setting up your shot. You need the bare essentials: a wall, natural light, consistency, and minimal clothing.
Do your best to find a light-colored, plain background as your default location for taking photos. Then, remove whatever you can from the frame. Again, remember you want to take a minimalist approach to your photography setup. It might feel strange at first, but you want yourself to stand out.
A plain background will help you to “pop” and be the focal point of every before and after picture you take.
If you don’t have this plain background already, just pick a wall and move everything to one side. Keep it simple!
Indoor lighting can throw out unwanted shadows and give your photos an unnatural and grainy look. Try to find a room that not only has a nice, plain wall, but that also allows plenty of natural light.
It’s conventional wisdom to weigh ourselves first thing in the morning—that’s because it’s a lot easier to track weight loss if you don’t have to factor in undigested food or drink. It makes sense to stick to the same schedule for progress photos too—not only will it allow you to compare apples to apples, but it means you’re more likely to stick with it if it’s part of your wider tracking routine.
You might have heard it’s usually best to weigh ourselves first thing in the morning. It’s a lot easier–and accurate–to track weight loss if you don’t have to factor in undigested food or drink.
It makes sense to stick to the same schedule for progress photos too—not only will it allow you to compare apples to apples, but it means you’re more likely to stick with it as part of fitness routine.
We recommend wearing a swimsuit or form-fitting workout clothes. For best results, show as much of your body as you’re comfortable with. Loose, baggy clothing simply will not allow you to see as many changes to your physique as you progress.
Many people are tempted to take your transformation photos their underwear. This is understandable. After all, they cover the same amount of skin as a swimsuit, right?
This is true, but after several months of hard work, dedication and consistency you will see awesome results. Don’t you want to share these progress photos with friends, family or perhaps even to the world via social media? You’ll be happy you kept your dress code “socially acceptable” from the beginning.
Pro Tip: Wear the same clothes for every photo.
For best results, always wear the same style and color clothes for each before and after picture. Think of your fitness regime and before and after photos as your own personal science experiment–you want all variables to remain the same every time you check your progress with a camera.
It’s tempting to just zero in on the areas we most want to see a change in. However, for losing weight and gaining muscle, change rarely takes place in just one concentrated area such as your stomach or butt. You want to take mostly all full-length body photos and use them the most to notice your progress.
With these types of pictures, you get a more holistic view of the changes happening to your body–you will notice important transformations happen in your arms, legs, and back, too!
Remain Consistent with Your Position
Every week/month you are taking new progress photos you want to always repeat the same position as the week/month prior. Where you stand in relation to the camera matters.
Standing close to the camera in one picture and then far away in another will make for a poor before and after picture when you are trying to track your progress.
However, there is a simple trick to make sure your that your before and after photos are consistent! In your chosen room where you have the perfect, plain wall and natural light, put down two pieces of tape or visual markers down on the floor–one where you put your camera and one where you stand.
To understand the full range of how your body is changing, it’s important to capture your front, side, and back.
For consistency, always choose the same angles each time.
Here are your options:
Front View: Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Your arms are at your side, but not touching your hips—you want to be able to see the shape and width of your hips.
Front View w/ Pose: Same as above but raise your arms and flex your biceps in a classic bodybuilder’s pose.
Side View: Stand up straight, arms hanging down at your side. Make sure your hands are in the middle of your thigh. You don’t want your hand blocking the outline of your thighs or butt.
Back View: The same as front view, but with your back to the camera.
Back View w/ Pose: Same as the front view with flexing pose. You want to see your upper back definition here.
Pro Tip! Use the Same Poses and Lighting Every Time
Just like you want to wear the same outfit every time, you want to keep all other variables the same each time you test your progress! If you are flexing in one of your progress photos a certain way one week/month, try to replicate that every time.
Also, try for similar lighting every time you do a photoshoot, tracking your progress.
It’s important to take your photos once every 4 weeks and schedule it on the same day each month. You will drive yourself crazy doing it more than that. Not only this, but you will also waste time on taking photos when you could prep a healthy meal, hitting the gym, or getting a well-deserved rest. Whether it’s losing weight or putting on muscle, progress takes time and consistency. Be patient!
Since you’re only doing this once per month, it’s worth it to take the time getting your photos right—remember, quality over quantity. Clear, well-captured progress photos will help you see just how far you’ve come and will motivate you to reach (and even surpass) your current fitness goals.
After just a few months of before and after pictures you can line them up to see how far you’ve come along. There is nothing more motivating than having visual proof in hand of the changes you’ve made to your body!
Pro Tip! Make Your Progress Easily Visible
After several months when you’re ready to compare your before and after photos put your oldest photo to the left and your newest photos to the right. Scanning over your progress photos as if you were reading a book will give you a clear view of the progress you have worked so hard to have achieved.
If you don’t see results after one month, don’t give up! As we mentioned, progress takes time and consistency. If it was easy, everybody would have their desired body-type.
Continue making healthy choices with your diet, stick to a proven, effective routine, rest and continue taking regular photos. You WILL see a difference–it’s only a matter of time!