health

Hands down, this is the best before-and-after photo we've ever seen.

Neghar Fonooni is a personal trainer and a fitness expert. A few days ago, she posted the below picture to Facebook:

Yes, it’s a before-and-after photo. But it’s different to the usual before-and-after fitness photos you always see cluttering Facebook pages and ads for weight-loss products.

Neghar calls it a “reverse progress photo”. In the 2009 photo, she weighs about 54kg and has 12 per cent body fat. Obviously, she is super-ripped. Look at those abs and the evidently powerful arm and leg muscles.

In the 2014 photo, Neghar weighs about 60kg and estimates that she has about 18 per cent body fat, although she’s not really sure. While she still looks ridiculously great, you can tell that she’s lost a bit of the definition she had in 2009.

And you know what? Neghar couldn’t care less. In fact, she’s incredibly pleased with the 5kg that she’s put on.

In the Facebook post that accompanied the image, Neghar explained that while she was incredibly fit when the first image was taken, she was also incredibly miserable:

I was ripped out of my mind, and also ACTUALLY out of my mind. I counted every last calorie and worked out about 2 hours/day. I was in an abusive relationship, lacked confidence and only felt good about myself when I was lean. I weighed myself every single day and allowed that number to dictate how I felt about myself.

In 2014, her life is completely different – in a good way:

I workout 15-30 minutes per day and once a week I do a longer strength-only session, allotting more time for rest. I enjoy red wine on the regs, and while I eat a nourishing diet, I don’t stress out over food. When I travel, I indulge in local cuisine. I am active, strong and fit. I’m not RIPPED and I honestly DO NOT care.

Neghar is married now. She has a son and a French bulldog. She is so much happier. And she’s posted the “reverse progress” photo to Facebook to show that while her body has changed, it’s for the better:

In the picture on the left I was miserable and today I am free as a bird. I’ve chosen not to let my body fat % dictate how I feel about myself, and fully accepted my body and all of its beautiful imperfections. I hope you will too.

I love what Neghar has done. I love that she supports health and fitness but still advocates for everyone to be comfortable with their own body. I love that she, as a personal trainer, has chosen to stop obsessing about things like weight and body fat percentage and every little calorie consumed. Because this health and fitness industry can be all kinds of obsessive.

Most of all, I love the fact that this reverse progress photo makes it incredibly clear that you can not tell anything about a person from the way they look.

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As a society, we desperately need to realise that you cannot assume health and fitness based on the ye olde notions of skinny = good and fat = bad.

Nat Hawk

We have a much better understanding of health and fitness now. We know that you cannot look at a person’s weight, or a person’s body, and be able to tell how well they eat and how much they exercise and whether or not they have high blood pressure or terrible cholesterol.

We know that the slimmest person might also be the unhealthiest and the unhappiest. We know that the curviest, shortest person might also be the most flexible and the fittest. We know that traditionally ‘overweight’ person might also be the strongest, with thighs that can help deadlift a whole lot of weights.

And yet we’re still so quick to look at the bodies of other women and envy them. We curse our short legs and our flabby arms and the spare tyre that sits around our waists. We ache for washboard abs and thigh-gaps and hip-bones that stick out.

We envy the super-fit body of the 2009 Neghar, even though – as she has admitted – she was incredibly unhappy and health-obsessed to the point of it almost being unhealthy.

When really? None of it matters. None of it. Regardless whether you have saggy boobs/rolls around your hips/back fat when you wear a bra/a muffin top/a double chin/some extra kilos that you’ve been trying to shift. None. Of. It. Matters.

All that matters is that you’re happy and healthy. And able to enjoy a glass of wine without beating yourself up about it.

Have a look through the gallery for some more unconventional before-and-after shots:

What do you think about Neghar’s reverse progress photo?