The before and after photo collection is everywhere these days: here I am, fit and fabulous; here I was, overweight and unhappy. I have them too. I have a lot of them. For my late 20s and early 30s, I was overweight - anywhere from 40 to 70 pounds overweight, depending on when you knew me. Five years ago, when I switched from a vegetarian to a vegan lifestyle and (temporarily) gave up drinking, I lost a ton of weight. And since I started practicing yoga more consistently, I've gotten stronger every day. I have a ton of pics of me now, and a ton of them back then, and, honestly, I don't really think about it. I don't post them on the internet, and they just aren't on my mind. I don't feel that there is a point in focusing on before and after pictures.
Because what's best are the changes that have happened to me on the inside. I know that sounds cheesy, but I'm serious… The best part of all of this is who I have become. Yoga allowed that transformation in me, more than anything else in my life. It was getting back on my mat after way too long of a break, connecting with my breath, getting still, and then sweating it out. Trying new poses, going upside down, gaining strength and balancing, and pushing myself to do group activities. That's what did it. The person I am today is lighter and stronger, yes. But most importantly, I'm lighter and stronger on the inside. I'm more aware, more thoughtful, more grounded. I live by less ego, less materialism, less brand awareness. I no longer strive for the big corporate America salary, for the perks, for the accomplishments. I take a step back every single day and think about what's most important in my life.
The transformation of yoga, and in whole foods eating, it makes you stronger on the inside. It makes you more aware of every situation you're in. The connection of your breath in yoga helps you listen to your gut instinct. It helps you realize why you were placed in this world, what you were here to do. That is true transformation. The fitness aspect is incredible as well, I'm not going to begin to state that that's not a perk. But the mental aspect is profound. You can look at before and after photos every day, but you can't see a before and after photo of someone on the inside. And that's the real photo that matters.
If you've started a healthy eating or a yoga practice to lose weight, to get back on track, to take control of your health, to live a long life, to be strong for your children, good for you. Keep it up. But know that the real change you will begin to see is the transformation that occurs within.