Encouragement,  Fitness News,  PFIT TIPS,  PFOCUS

Celebrity Bodies: Perfectly Photographed vs Perfectly Normal

pamela-anderson-without-makeupI’ll never forget the first time I saw Pamela Anderson without makeup. I thought “wow, there’s hope for me!” I would have never recognized her if I saw her walking by. Don’t get me wrong,  I look pretty crappy  without makeup too. So, I think it’s time we get down and dirty. It’s time to get real.

IMG_3469First, it would only be fair if I put a makeup-free photo of myself up too – complete with smudged leftover mascara, glasses and slept on hair. I found this in my iPhoto. I’m pretty sure it was a selfie I took of myself to text Steve “good morning”.  Truth is, I know I have take a lot scarier pictures, but after looking and looking, I realized I probably deleted them as soon as I took it and saw the scariness. 🙂

Before I show you the celebrities, I thought I’d suck it up and use myself as a demonstration first. My goal is not to poke fun of celebrities who appear fit in photos, but appear a little more plump in real life pics captured by the paparazzi. My goal is to remind people that what we see in photos can be deceiving – starting with me. Ok, here goes nothing! ha!

Before & After: The Real Me

Here is an example of a picture of me on the beach (bottom left) shortly before a photo shoot (bottom right).  The one on the left is me with a full belly, obviously holding water (probably that wonderful time of month), relaxed and normal. The one on the right is me after losing a few more pounds  with nothing in my stomach (or bowels for that matter!), dehydrated, prepped and ready for an awesome photographer with great lighting (thank you Justin Price). BIG difference. Same me, different looks – one is me normal and one is me at my best.

IMG_9021 Boxing B copy

Bonnie pfiester absHere’s another example of some before and afters. This picture (left) is a pic I snapped on my iphone of my abs to text Steve the day before my photo shoot with Misty Lundeen. The photo below (bottom left) was one of the shots (finished touched up photos) from the photos she took. Then, there is a photo just a few weeks later (bottom right) of me at the beach with my cousin, personal trainer and bikini competitor Emily Smith Bare. There sure is a big difference between flexing muscles and posing for a camera (much less all the prep that goes into getting ready to look your best like cutting water, carb depleting, carb loading, taking natural diuretics and doing extra cardio to shed excess body fat).

IMG_2944 IMG_3532

Bonnie PfiesterIMG_9948C sm

Then there’s photo shop. Here is a picture of me with a pooch, and without a pooch. An easy fix in photo shop. When I saw this, I was amazed. I had nothing in me to pooch I thought. I felt super skinny, yet BAM, there was the pooch! So, if I still am not happy with the way I look on a good day, you can imagine how I feel on a bad day.

Silly, I know, but this is the kind of craziness we put our mind through. We torture ourselves with unrealistic expectations. We set our standards to what we see on TV or in ads, instead of what is healthy and maintainable.

Learning (trying) to Be OK with Me

I’ve been in the fitness industry since I was 18. I’m not super fit. I don’t have a ton of raging muscles bulging out and I am not all that lean. I’m healthy though – and, finally, at 42, I’m learning to be happy with me – even when I’m not my best.

Mind, Body & Weight

bonnie pfiesterFitness is not just about looks. That’s the icing on the healthy cake. Fitness is about being healthy, balanced, injury free, energized and feeling alive. It’s about feeling good in clothes, not necessarily feeling perfect naked. I can look BETTER than I would if I didn’t workout and eat right, even if I don’t always look my BEST.

I think it’s important for people to see normal, not abnormal. My best photos are not my normal. At 5’9″, I typically weigh 142-146 (18-19% body fat) when I’m relaxed on my diet. I weigh 135-138 (13%-15% bf) for shoots and I’ve been maintaining 138-142 (16-18%bf ) over the last few months as I try to maintain a lower, but healthy, weight. I’ve been up to 155lbs (20+%bf), which doesn’t seem that much more than my normal, but it’s 20lbs heavier than my leanest weight. I’m already pretty miserable at 148-150, so you can imagine what 155 feels like to me. We all have that weight where we feel our best – and mine is 140-144. That is a weight I feel good at, and feel like I can maintain without being miserable.

I eat about 1500-1800 calories a day, with an occasional cheat meal, in maintenance and 1200 strictly healthy calories a day when dieting. I do eat fries occasionally, but not when I’m dieting.  I am not hardcore, unless I’m trying to shed fat. I use exercise and diet to keep my weight where I feel comfortable. My jeans will tell me if I’ve had too many chips and salsa, and I’ll know it’s time to tighten the reins.

I just stopped typing and weighed myself, and after breakfast, a protein shake and too many cups of coffee to admit, I weigh 146.4lbs. I know that is a healthy weight, and I’m working on trying to be OK with that, but I admit it’s hard. When I compare myself to my own pictures, it can be depressing if I let it. Sadly, many of us fitness fanatics compare our physiques to the people we see in Oxygen Magazine, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Shape, Fitness, Competitions or CrossFit games, which is ridiculous! I’m surprised more of us aren’t in serious counseling for what that does to our brain.

Perfectly Photographed vs Perfectly Normal

I found some recent photos of celebrities caught at the beach by the paparazzi, and compared them to the photos we see in the media. Be encouraged people! They are normal too!

Jillian Michaels

jillian-michaels-is-fit Jillian+Michaels+Jillian+Michaels+partner+LSenY8ZlxTTl

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria eva-longoria-rio-de-janeiro-1

Pamela Anderson

pamela-anderson-before-and-after-1911672074 yeeeah-pamela-anderson-fake-feature-988640112

Hayden Panettiere (from Nashville)

www.sweetangelonly.com  hayden-panettiere-miami

Alicia Keys

alicia keys alicia-keys-bahamas

Sports Illustrated Kate Upton

KATE_UPTON_IMG_Models_Page_29 kate-upton-bahamas

Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


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  • Carolyn

    I have a question. You mention that you take in between 1500-1800 calories daily. This seems like such a low, low number for your activity level (using a calorie calculator puts you at around 3400 calories daily to maintain, if moderately active).
    May I ask how you came to that number and why you keep it so low?
    I’ve been trying to find my happy calorie zone, am 40, exercise 6 – 7 times a week (strength and some cardio), so just curious. Thanks!

  • Yolanda Ott Breidenbaugh

    I am nearly 65 now, and I can tell you, I LOVE being this age. It is a time when I accept myself, enjoy being me, and am grateful, so grateful for my life experiences and the perspective they have given me. Needless to say, there are wrinkles and sags, but I also have 6 wonderful children and 10 precious grandchildren. I have my health, remain moderately active and eat a healthy diet. I was blessed with a mother who was very weight and health conscious, and so she talked about it, and it became part of me. One day, many years ago, our children and I were sitting around the table. We had some “snow ice cream” that we had just made and were enjoying it. One of our daughters spoke up and asked, “Mommy, is this bad for us?” I replied, “Yes! But so is never having any fun!”

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      Love your comment! thanks for sharing!!! You have just gotten wise! We all need to wise up and realize there is more to life than looks and living for perfection. We need to strive for perfection, but love who we are in the process (and live a little along the way!!) 😉 Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  • cottercrunch

    great post bonnie! i honestly think you look great without the photo shop, but we live in a world where media can affect our self image. thank YOU for showing us that our real self is never flawless but always beautiful.

  • Candie Atherton

    We need more women like you being completely honest about their bodies. I think this is absolutely great and I’m sharing it with my friends. Love your fb page and blog!

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      Awe, thank you. I agree. More people need to be honest. We live in a world of fakes, frauds and deception. I think people are STARVING for honesty and I am determined to help any way I can (even if I have to embarrass myself a little in the process. haha)

  • jodie

    Thanks for this. Exactly what I needed this morning, been feeling crappy about myself. I know better too but we need reminders every now and then. You look awesome. I also did your bootcamp workout, and yes I was sore, loved it.

    I really enjoy your posts.

  • tiffany

    Everyone on here still looks good except for pam without make-up. haha but the bodies look the same to me(esp Jillian Michaels), just them being in different positions or tanner that makes it look different. Your waist look better before the editing. I think the after pic makes your waist look abnormally weird to be honest.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      Thanks tiffany! 🙂 Yes, no one in those “after” pictures looks bad- they are all still pretty, just caught not looking their best. Sadly, we compare ourselves to other people’s best – which is so unrealistic.

  • amandapanda0515

    I love reading your blog posts! You make me realize that I’m not the only one feeling this way. It’s amazing to see that even you, in all of your beauty, fitness, and glory, have these days too. 🙂 Thank you for sharing and being an inspiration!

  • Lou

    Wow! You still look amazing. Good article. Celebs are normal I just wish more people could see it that way. Thank you for sharing.

  • stephanie

    Great article and I AGREE! Could you imagine the impact and confidence our girls/young ladies would have if they didn’t think that every celebrity was size 00 waist and sizes DD breast with perfect tan? Wish Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour, etc…. would FINALLY put thier money where their mouth is. They tout female liberation (which should encompass confidence and honesty) but they continue to instill false beauty.

  • Melissa Genestra

    Thank you for posting this article. This is great. I sent you and email I hope you will have time to read it. Thank you again.

  • cupcakekelly

    Thank you! I wish people could see these natural photos as beautiful and healthy, because they are! I appreciate your real and honest opinion and you showing raw photos of yourself.

  • Asian

    Wow!! Thanks for this!! Reminds me that what I see versus candid shots may just be photo shop! Those ones shd not be a yardstick I guess.

  • Brenda

    WOW! My jaw dropped when I saw some of these celebrities! All of your pics were good Bonnie. I especially like the one Justin Price did. I’d love for him to take my picture LOL 🙂

  • Sammy @ Peace Love and Ice Cream

    You look amazing in all of your pics! And what a GREAT post! I love celeb with/without makeup pics – or before/after retouching! – because it makes you realize they really look just like us (and in some cases, even worse! ;)) Just found your blog and I’m so glad that I did!! 🙂
    -Sammy @ peaceandloveandicecream.blogspot.com

  • Kyah Vaughn

    Thank you for this! I’ve been struggling back and forth with the same 10 pounds…I’m only 5’1″ so those 10 pounds are very apparent. I just recently got off of antidepressants ( the one I was on was one of the toughest to get off!) and the withdrawals made me lethargic, depressed and just didn’t care about working out or eating well. I’m 38 and the mother to 4 children and back in January I was in the best shape of my life…then I dropped the ball. I was angry with myself when I looked back on the old pictures. But I decided, after a couple of months of slacking, to just get back to it! I try really hard not to compare myself to others…but it’s a struggle!

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      We are our own worst enemy! Just remember, even when you don’t feel like it, you just have to do it anyway. It’s like work – you show up whether you feel like it or not. 🙂 Keep it up!!!

      • Kyah Vaughn

        Thanks Bonnie! I’ve been really low for the past year. We lost everything (EVERYTHING) and had to move to a town I don’t like at all (no health food stores, nothing but one pricey grocery store and a Wal-Mart) in a situation that is just too overwhelming to even explain. The depression can be terrifying at times and I struggle every day to just get out of bed. I KNOW that working out and eating well is the ONLY thing I can control right now and I’m angry that I let myself slide. We have no money for anything extra and are living in a one bedroom mobile home now. So my struggles to stay healthy are compounded by my want to just give up. Have you ever dealt with anything like this? It’s women like you who I can really look up to for their perseverance!

  • Alisha Afrank

    This was so encouraging Bonnie! It is great to know that not everyone looks “perfect” or even feels “perfect” 100% of the time! I am so glad you keep it real and show both sides of how the lifestyle of a celebrity looks! Sure makes me feel like I don’t have to try to look like the magazines – just try to be my personal best! Thanks Bonnie!

  • Sydney Schroeder

    You made my day. Thank you so much for explaining with personal pictures of you and your weight variations. Beautifully written.

  • Kelly

    Bonnie, this is one of my favorite articles you’ve written. What a refreshing read! I’ll admit, I struggle so often with the very things you describe and it’s just nice to know i’m not the only one. You look incredible. Thanks for being transparent – it helps more than you know.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      Honestly, every day I wake up (that i’m not doing a photo shoot or something) I look at my body in frustration. It can’t compete with my own pictures. That’s the reality – it’s ridiculous, but it’s the honest truth. I’m slowly but surely getting a grip on it. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog!

      • Joy Villa

        You are SUCH an inspiration, and I just found your blog. I’m a professional singer and actress and model, and whooboy do I share the same gripes as you! Haha, it’s so very true that we can’t hold up to our leanest, meanest, most perfect photos! We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it, but we do. I love your honesty, and I just shared your blog on my FB page to my fans. I’m writing a book on diet and fitness, and I want to inspire like YOU do!! (I’m 5’10 and weigh between 140-155, also depending on what’s happening!)

  • Jennifer Sims

    I can’t thank you enough for this post! We all feel like we have to live up to this Photoshopped perfection but we don’t and seeing women with real bodies vs. what has been altered makes me love my body that much more. I appreciate that you shared your photo with us!

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      I’m glad you liked it. I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a long time. I feel like I can’t even live up to my own pictures. I had one guy say “is that you” (referring to an ad) and I said “yes”. then he said, “your abs don’t look like that now do they?”. I thought, “well, no. Of matter of fact they don’t!” haha! Oh boy!

  • bonnie

    Lots of truth in this post, Bonnie! My hardest thing is comparing myself to myself from times when I was leaner too. But I’m learning to accept myself now (not to be content and stop trying – there’s an important difference there, I think) and not to strive for what’s unrealistic. Interesting thoughts and something we ALL (women especially, I think) struggle with. Thanks for keeping it real! And I know you weren’t fishing, but you do look amazing – healthy, fit and strong in ALL those photos. 🙂

  • Megan Wolf

    Thank you for sending this. I don’t know if you get replies here but keep this one archived and send on occasion we all need to hear it!

  • cassie70

    I could always tell our body types were similar by looking at your pictures, but I never realized just how much we had in common. We are the same age, and I am happiest between 138-142 (I’m 140 now). When I get up to 146-148 I feel terrible. I was stuck in that range for months last year. Trying not to let it happen again. It’s true, we compare ourselves to these photos and it gives us a hopeless feeling of never being able to achieve something that just isn’t normal. I think once we get into our 40’s, we learn to accept ourselves. I’m much happier being me than I was in my 20’s or even 30’s. Great post!

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