Tip: Get Photo-Shocked To Spark Motivation

Most people won't do it. It's painful and often embarrassing, but it sure works. Check it out.

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There's an old story that Arnold likes to tell. Young Schwarzenegger, it seemed, had crappy calves. He was so insecure about them that he once stood in a pond for a photo shoot to hide them. Well, one day he'd had enough. So he cut off the bottoms of all his sweatpants so his calves would be on display for all the world to see, including his competition. This motivated him to bring them up.

Today, something like this often happens to us, though accidentally. We see a photo of ourselves, usually tagged on social media, and we're given a reality check: "Hey, who's that chubby guy wearing my shirt? Oh, wait... shit."

I call it being "photo-shocked." For various reasons, many people have a very skewed image of themselves, especially when it comes to body composition. Even the mirror doesn't seem to give them the correct message. But photos do.

When I developed the Velocity Diet, I included a section encouraging people to take progress photos. The idea was to give them a real-world idea of the changes taking place, something more accurate than just the numbers on a scale. It's hard to see small daily changes in your physique, but they become obvious and motivating when you look back on photos from the previous month.

But the progress photos also had an unexpected effect. Many people said, "I was absolutely stunned when I looked at the first set of photos. I knew I was fatter than I wanted to be, but I had no idea I was THAT fat!" Their motivation to change really ramped up after that reality check.

Not every form of motivation is puppies and positive affirmations. Sometimes motivation comes in the form of a slap in the face. The question is, are you ready to slap yourself?

This might be difficult for many people, but as Arnold said about his calf-exposing trick, it works and that's all that matters.

Strip down. Have someone take three photos of you, or set up your camera's timing mechanism and use a tripod. (Don't do selfies. You'll be tempted, perhaps even unconsciously, to pose in a way that hides what you need to work on.)

Take one photo from the front, one from the back, and one from the side. No sucking in, no trying to find the best lighting, no flexing, no filters. These need to be painfully honest photos.

Now take a look at them. Are you fatter than you think? Skinnier, and not in a good way? Do you see imbalances, posture issues, or underdeveloped muscle groups? The photo taken from the back might be the most revealing since we seldom see ourselves from that angle.

Now, maybe you'll just say, "Yep, I'm just as sexy as I thought I was!" But if not, use this new "data" to make the necessary changes in diet and training. You'll probably find that all your excuses and rationalizations just fall away.

Being photo-shocked may give you the balls to do what you needed to be doing anyway, like dropping the beer, doing hip thrusts in the gym, and maybe even re-thinking your "anything over 3 reps in cardio!" mantra. Try it, if you dare. Arnold would.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram