A New Body in 3 Minutes: Debunking Fitness Selfies

Sara Bliss
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In pictures taken 3 minutes apart, trainer Sophie Kay changed her pose and lighting to make it look like she lost 10 pounds, exposing the truth about misleading fitness selfies. Photo: Sophie Kay

Social media is filled with before and after photos showcasing radical makeovers and ideal bodies. Often people look to those images as inspiration to motivate themselves to achieve the perfect body. However, London-based personal trainer and fitness blogger Sophie Kay believes that all those images of six-packs and skinny bodies are only causing a lot of insecurity. What’s more Kay feels that a lot of the information about fitness circulated online is untrue. To get real, Kay decided to write a blog post debunking six top fitness myths and her post has gone viral. “Working in the fitness industry, I recognize there is an awful lot of pressure on people to look a certain way,” Kay tells Yahoo Beauty. “I realized that I was never going to look that way and I decided to love my body. I wanted to show other people how to realize that as well.”

On her site, Kay exposes a number of fitness myths, especially the fantasy surrounding weight loss before-and-after selfies. In Kay’s two selfies above, it looks as if she has lost anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds. But she didn’t. The two photos were taken only three minutes apart. So how did she make her body look so different? Kay employed a few simple tricks. First, she turned off the harsh overhead lighting, swapping it for natural light. Next, she took off the nude underwear, for more flattering options like a strapless bra and colorful underwear. She flexed her muscles and changed her pose, turning to an angle and standing with her legs apart. Finally, she used a filter. The message? Don’t always believe what you see. It’s the same body, just enhanced and slimmed down thanks to lighting, filters, and posing. “I think people naturally post the best selfie they can,” Kay says. “But when other people are looking at it they may not understand that the photo is not what that person really looks like, but the most perfect representation.”

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Fitness instructor Sophie Kay debunks our exercise myths. (Photo: Sophie Kay)

Kay also takes on the obsession with six-pack abs, explaining that it may be a goal that is healthier to let go of. “Having a six-pack just means that your body fat percentage is low enough to be able to see your abs. The shape of your abs is totally dependent on your genetics, some people can get a six-pack, some can’t,” Kay writes. “For the majority of people the lifestyle you have to live to achieve and maintain them would stop them living a normal life free from counting every single calorie. Also, ladies, having such a low body fat percentage might stop your periods. Surely that can’t be good for you…”

One of the reasons Kay’s message has resonated is that she is real. She’s not touting a body that people can’t achieve, but spreading the message of acceptance and healthy living. Kay is someone who struggled with weight when she had an office job, but she changed her own life to become a triathlete and fitness professional. Kay lets it be known that she eats pizza and doesn’t run fast, but she always pushes herself to the max and that’s what matters. “I have not always been confident,” Kay tells Yahoo Beauty. “I think becoming fit and learning about my body’s limitations and its strengths has really helped me to love my body and feel confident.”

Kay has been thrilled with the positive response to her post and hopes people will think differently about fitness, looking inward rather than outward for inspiration. “Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, you should be focusing on your own progress and not get distracted.” Words to work out by.

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