Progress Pictures - A Practical Guide by CFS Nutrition

Progress pictures can be an excellent way of tracking subtle changes in body composition. They also provide an alternative method of tracking progress so that you are not solely obsessing over the number on the scales (as weight loss / gain can be influenced by a number of different factors including hormones, water retention, muscle mass etc). We have therefore produced this short guide to help you find the best method of taking effective images to help track your great progress!

How to take them:

  1. Have a partner or relative take them.

  2. Take them yourself using a mirror and phone.

  3. Take them yourself using the timer on your phone.

We think the easiest and most consistent is to have someone else take them but we understand this is not possible for all. We advise that you play around with the methods, find the easiest one for you with regards to lighting, mirrors and practicalities and stick to this method for all your pictures.

 

Fundamentals

Before we get into the nitty gritty regardless of how you take your progress pics follow these simple steps:

  • Take your pictures in the morning. Body composition will vary throughout each day depending upon a number of different factors including what we eat, how much salt we consume and how much fluid we drink. Take your pictures in the morning before you eat or drink anything and it will help to minimise the effect these different factors have on your progress pictures.

  • Wear the same items of clothing each week. Ensure it is tight fitting and shows off all your gains! We advise girls to wear a sports bra and shorts or underwear, and boys just shorts or boxers.

  • Make sure you take three pictures: one from the front, one from the side and one back shot. This way we can see the changes in your body composition from all angles!

 

1. Ask a partner or relative to take your pictures (Figure 1.)

Figure 1: Partner-Assisted Progress Pics

Figure 1: Partner-Assisted Progress Pics

  • Ensure a fuss free background and try to have the same background each time. We want you to be the focus of the picture not what’s hanging on your radiator!
  • Try to ensure that both you and your partner / relative are standing in the same position, approximately the same distance apart every time you take your pictures.

  • Stand up tall! This goes for all 3 views; bad posture will influence how your pictures look.

  • Don’t tense your abs!

 

2. Take your pictures using a mirror (Figures 2a. and 2b.)

Figure 2a – Progress Pics using a Full Length Mirror

Figure 2a – Progress Pics using a Full Length Mirror

Figure 2b – Progress Pics using a Smaller Bathroom Mirror

Figure 2b – Progress Pics using a Smaller Bathroom Mirror

Use the same mirror and the same lighting each week. When looking for changes in body composition the more consistent your pictures are week to week, the easier the changes are to see.

  • Front View: Open camera app on phone and face mirror. Stand tall and take picture of front view.

  • Side View: Turn to side and using side buttons on phone (volume buttons on iPhone) take picture. Choose whether to have arm behind or in front and stick to this throughout.

  • Back View: Put phone on selfie mode and bring to shoulder. Ensure body isn’t rotating to the side. Face the opposite direction to the mirror and use the side buttons to take “selfie” of back. Choose whether opposite arm is in front of body or to the side and stick to this throughout.

 

3. Take your pictures using a timer on the phone (Figure 3.)

phoneArtboard 1 copy 4.jpg
Figure 3: Progress Pics using Phone Timer

Figure 3: Progress Pics using Phone Timer

  • Again, use the same background throughout. Ensure it is fuss free and the same lighting can be assured.

  • This is easiest on selfie mode for all 3.

  • A window ledge is a nice height for these pictures, however consistent lighting may be a challenge with the lovely Scottish weather!

  • Set the timer to countdown (10 sec is an adequate amount of time) press the photo circle and the countdown will start. Ensure you are in frame.

  • Stand tall and don’t tense your abs!

  • Repeat for side and back view.

  • Try to stand the same distance from the camera every time you take your pictures.

 

Common Faults

Figure 4a: Image obstructed by shower steam and blocked by hair / head

Figure 4a: Image obstructed by shower steam and blocked by hair / head

  • Don’t take your pictures in the bathroom after a shower as the view tends to be obstructed by steam on the mirror or on the camera lens (Figure 4a).
  • Messy background.

  • Blocked view by hair or head when taking selfie back view in mirror. Have a look at your picture before you take it. Girls tie your hair up! (Figure 4a)

  • Standing different distances from the camera or mirror, or holding the phone at different angles e.g. up high then down low. This will distort your images when you come to compare them (Figure 4b).

Figure 4b: Images distorted and difficult to compare

Figure 4b: Images distorted and difficult to compare

That concludes our top tips on effective progress pictures for tracking weight loss or muscle gain body transformations. All that is left to say now is good luck with your goals and happy snapping!

Kirsty Price & Heather Moffat - CFS Nutrition Mentors

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