How to take the best progress pictures in 3 steps
It’s easy to get discouraged when we’re starting a program thinking we aren’t seeing enough “weight” come off (stay off the scale!) or that the trouble areas on our body aren’t responding “fast enough.”
That’s why I always recommend taking progress pictures and measurements. I want you to be sure to read The Truth About Your Weight to understand body composition so you can enjoy the journey and not be hard on yourself for no reason!
1: Take your pictures and measurements at the same time every week.
You can also do every other week if you like too, just pick an interval and be consistent. Add a reminder to your calendar every 7 days or at your chosen interval so you can stay on top of it.
2. Take more full length body shots than just pictures of your abs or one specific body part
It’s tempting to just zero in on the areas we most want to see change in, but if I personally just focus on my stomach or butt, I miss important changes happening in my arms, legs and back!
I see this all the time with the women I work with – they write me discouraged that their stomach isn’t changing fast enough – and they are totally missing the awesome muscle tone they’re creating in their legs, back, arms and other places…which if they keep going will affect their abs shortly!
We have to be able to look for the actual progress we are making – all of it! Not just the physical changes that show in a picture, but also our energy. Our mood. Our self-confidence and strength.
Yes, it’s ok to want to look your best, but beating yourself up mentally along the way is NOT the way to feel good about yourself. So look at the big picture (literally take a picture of your entire body) and remember to pay attention to the other changes that you can’t see in the photo.
A couple notes on progress and fat loss –
Fat does not come off the body in the order that we want it to, it’s a fact of life. We can’t spot reduce areas on our body either. So doing a lot of crunches or ab exercises is not going to make your stomach flat.
Burning off your fat systemically (meaning all over) AND adding lean muscle to your body is the fastest way to change your shape (more on exactly how to burn off your fat and see results the fastest below in the flat stomach guide section).
Fat comes off in the order it went on – an order primarily governed by genetics. So if you gain first on your stomach, guess what – it will come off the stomach LAST.
Which is EXACTLY why you want to look at your entire body to see the changes that you’re making. If you’re making some changes, you’re heading in the right direction. The LAST thing you should do is stop, get discouraged or quit now!
3. Take your pictures in the same shorts and sports bra or bikini, same lighting and same poses.
(I do front, sides and back – shown above) and date your pictures using an app like Live Collage, Diptic, Pic Stitch or similar. I like to take mine in the morning before I’ve eaten, but that’s totally up to you.
Using the same app, I line my pictures up by pose every time I retake them to see my progress because I do NOT always see the changes myself in the mirror every day but I absolutely see them in the photos.
The changes may not be dramatic, but I can always spot them, and it’s so encouraging to see that. It helps me stay on track with my eating because I get excited to see how much my hard work is paying off!
When you’re making your progress side by side collage, put your oldest photo to the left and your newest photo to the right in the same poses to really clearly see your progress. Examples below.
Here is a bonus guide to how to burn off your body fat faster and get lean and shredded – with a focus on the abs – since that is the question I hear the most 🙂 Hope this is helpful!
4 Step Flat Stomach Guide
I know it's enticing to do ab workouts every day, thinking that you'll see your abs faster, but unfortunately doing workouts that target areas where you're carrying extra body fat will not magically melt the fat off.
We cannot "spot reduce" fat - and I would caution you from taking any supplements that promise to do so, or use "cleanses" or other quick fixes like body wraps, as they are short-term strategies some of which can harm your hormones and will not give you real, long-lasting results.
You can get the fat off - and keep it off though. Fat comes off our body systemically (which means all over our bodies), and in an order governed by our DNA.It will come off in the order it came on.
1.Do high-intensity interval training style workouts to maximize overall fat loss during your workouts.
A couple great ways to incorporate HIIT are to:
a) straight up do HIIT workouts, like these ones here on my blog.
b) incorporate intense cardio or plyo moves into your weight training circuits - like super-setting your deadlifts with jump squats or box jumps or burpees.
2. Add intensity to your workouts by adding weight, or additional resistance to your workouts.
The second way I target body fat is by adding in resistance or strength training.
Remember that the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories you can burn at rest. So be sure to balance your HIIT with some strength training to see amazing results - you are not going to get bulky just by adding heavier weights to your workouts.
As you add lean muscle, your body burns more calories at rest - so you’ll be burning more fat and adding muscle. I personally take a combined approach, doing the best workout for the situation I'm in, i.e. traveling I'll use my HIIT circuits and at home I'll cycle between home workouts and weight-training.
3. Focus on training your ENTIRE core to see real ab definition.
That means workouts like this awesome yoga core sequence, where we targeted the abdominal wall from the inside out, and all the way around. We were working on the front, side, AND back muscles that stabilize our core and aid us in all the movements we do, as well as targeting the deep core stabilizing muscles that help us with balance, as well as spinal and pelvic alignment.
The body is super smart and if you only focus on building muscle on one side of your body (like only doing a lot of crunches or leg lifts or sit ups) you will actually only go so far in the amount of muscle you're able to develop.
This is your body's natural way of protecting you, as too much muscle on one side will put undue stress on your underlying bones and pull you out of alignment. So use the many targeted ab workouts from this blog or from my functional fitness programs to train your ENTIRE core.
One of the MOST important parts to uncovering your abdominal muscle (and really any area of your body you want to lean out) is eating a balance of nutrients.
I know we talk a lot about the macronutrients and the carbs, protein and healthy fats you need, but you also need the MICROnutrients from greens and plants for essential body, brain and hormone functions.
So many people are walking around with nutrient deficiencies that could be resolved by eating real foods and rotating their greens (read my 5-step food prep and recipes guide if you haven't yet for a 3 day plan and recipes to try out).
Taking a multivitamin isn't a magic bullet to giving your body everything it needs. Supplements aren't always absorbed as easily as the nutrients in whole foods, and unless you've had blood testing done and a specific vitamin or mineral prescribed to you, you may be dosing yourself with too much of one, and too little of another.
For so many reasons, it is essential that you take your eating just as seriously as you take your workouts.
I know we have this tendency to make ourselves stick to our exercise plan more religiously than we stick to our eating - but there is no exercise plan in the world that can out-train poor nutrition.
Do yourself a huge favor and get the education and knowledge you deserve to have about what nutrients your body needs and how to get them in your system in a variety of ways - and MAKE TIME to get that good, nourishing food in your body.
So there you have it! How to take good progress pictures so you can really see the results you’re getting, and not just be relying on the scale.
I’d love to have you include any of your measurements or progress pictures of yourself from using any of my programs when you check in with me online on my Facebook page or on Instagram #thebettyrocker!