Snapping full-body images—yes, even at the gym—can help you make progress on your fitness #goals, says new research

By Macaela Mackenzie
Updated: March 31, 2016

If you're tired of your friends giving you sh*t for littering their Instagram feeds with gym selfies and constant before and after comparisons, you can officially tell them it's a scientifically proven part of your fitness routine. (But make sure you know Why "Fitspiration" Instagram Posts Aren't Always Inspiring.)

To track dieters and see what motivators ultimately helped them achieve their health goals, researchers at the University of Alicante in Colombia studied a group 271 participants enrolled in a weight loss program at a nutrition clinic. The researchers used a variety of weekly measurements to track the dieters' progress and motivation throughout the 16-week program, including measuring body mass index and waist-to-hip circumference ratio and tracking goals through a food and weight loss diary. Additionally, the researchers took full-body photos of the participants each week.

They found that the full-body photos and waist-to-hip ratio-a key visual cue-were the biggest motivators for sticking with the program. Their conclusion? Participants who stuck with the program did so because they could actually see and track the changes in their bodies. The idea makes sense. Who doesn't get amped when they see their hard work paying off? (It helps when other people, like Lena Dunham, post body positive 'grams too.)

It is important to note that since most of the participants were enrolled in the weight loss program for image-related reasons (as opposed to a serious underlying health issue like high cholesterol), they were probably a group of visually motivated people to begin with. But the findings still apply, whether you're trying to reach a healthy weight or just shred some six-pack abs. Long live the #sweatyselfie. (Or learn the art of the yoga selfie!)


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