Monday, April 26, 2010

Disconcerting

In 2008, I had lost 64 pounds in less than a year. I went from 278 pounds to 214 pounds. It was great. And then something happened.

As wonderful as it felt, as much as I enjoyed being lighter and smaller, there was also something very uncomfortable about those big changes. It was rather disconcerting. At first, it was just looking in the mirror and having to do a double take because I didn't recognise *that* body. There was a vague discomfort about looking down and seeing a different body than I had been used to seeing. But the overwhelming anxiety came when I didn't fit into my own clothes anymore.

Everyone thinks of weight loss as this great thing, this happy thing, where your pants are too big and your shirts hang on you and it is so exciting and thrilling and you get to go buy new clothes. And it IS like that, sometimes. Sort of. But not always. When I suddenly couldn't wear my favorite outfit because it hung on me like potato sacks, I felt strangely sad. When my jeans were dropping off me and I had to retire them to the Fat Clothes Box, I had mixed feelings. Seeing all the clothes I was used to wearing go into a box was a little upsetting. And I wondered: what would I wear when it got hot? I had no shorts I felt comfortable in. I had no shirts that I thought looked good. If I needed to dress up, I had nothing. My skirts and sweaters were 3X. My pants were 26W. And as I got smaller and smaller, more and more *familiar* things had to go. I moved on down to 2X, 1X, 16, 14 tops and 24W, 22W, 20W and 18 pants. But every time I got something and got comfy with it, it was soon too big. I was running out of clothes. I had to buy more.

I remember very distinctly when the major anxiety about this hit me. I had gone to Lane Bryant and Catherine's, where I could always find decent plus sized stuff, and everything was too big. I had gone to the Plus section of WalMart and ShopKo where I liked to get my clothes, and I was too small for those sections anymore. Finally I decided I would go to Penney's. They had nice clothes, decent prices, and I was used to their plus section so it would be easy to get some things in the regular section.

I went alone. First I went upstairs to the plus section. It was small and homey and familiar, but sure enough, everything was too big. I went back downstairs, excited and eager for a new wardrobe. Instead, I remember walking through what seemed like acres of choices. I walked around and around, looking at the thousands of clothing choices, and I started feeling absolutely overwhelmed. I stood there, looking around, not sure where to start or what to try or what would look good. There were TOO MANY choices. And none of it was cut for a Fat Chick. I walked around feeling like I was lost in a jungle of fabric until I started to get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and I left without buying a thing. Without even trying anything on. It was just too much.

I went home. I got the Fat Clothes box back out. I pushed my hand deep into the clothing until I felt something wonderfully soft. I pulled out the warm black and olive green sweater and held it to my face and sobbed. It was my favorite sweater. It was so soft. It had been my mother's. After she had died in my arms, I was left with nothing of hers. She had willed her entire estate to her church, including all my childhood things, family heirlooms, and my long-gone father's belongings. When I left her home for the last time, I'd taken her sweater with me. When I wore it I felt close to her. It was all I had left.

I gained back a good chunk of weight... 12 pounds at first, then 20, then 30. It took me a long time to lose that weight again, and now I am back in the same baggy 18's I was in when I fell apart before. In fact, three days ago, I cleaned out my closet again. The new size 14 shirts hang there waiting to be worn. Boxes of size 14 and 16 jeans await me. But as I folded up the Fat Clothes, I felt a twinge of sadness. And a teeny bit of worry. I have no dress pants that fit me now. I haven't a single skirt or dress I could wear if I needed to for an occasion. I need to go shopping. But it was different this time. I didn't feel that overwhelming sadness, and I wasn't having anxiety. I was ready... and able... to let go of the clothes this time. I was excited about the change. And today, I am going shopping to try on some new summer clothes... just a few things to get me through to the next size.

It's not so disconcerting anymore. I don't feel overwhelmed. I am actually *accepting* my new body this time. It's a different feeling. Maybe I wasn't mentally ready to let go of all the baggage before, but I sure am now.

Scale says: 212 pounds.

34 comments:

Autumnforest said...

Those are actually perfectly normal feelings. My sister got a gastric bypass and went from 280 to 150 in less than a year and she had to shop for a trip and buy clothes and she showed me the pictures of what she was considering and I said, "you do know you're a little woman now, right? You can even wear jeans" (something she had never done). It frightened her a lot and she wanted to go back to the big-gal's shops again and cover up her body. It would be similar to dyeing your hair black or something and not recognizing yourself, not knowing what makeup to wear or what clothing colors, simply feeling like you were dropped into someone else's identity. When the changes happen fast, it's even harder to adjust. I'd suggest getting lots of pictures of yourself and studying them regularly. You will begin to assimilate that's you. It just takes some objective viewing like that. Conversely, as we gain weight, photos are the first way we usually recognize it and it sinks in.

LAF said...

Sometimes it does help to look back before moving forward.
So glad to hear that you are on the hunt for new summer stuff.
You can do it!

TheDiaryofaFatWhiteChic said...

that is awesome that you arent feeling so uncomfortable now. throw your "fat clothes" away or donate them. this way you aren't tempted to get back into those clothes, and if you have a piece you just can't live without, get it taken in as you lose weight so that you CAN still wear it!

i haven't lost enough to really feel it in my clothes yet. I do look forward to that day though!

Jill said...

Let us know how it goes! Smaller (non-department) stores may be less overwhelming, because you don't have to decide between brands, etc. Some suggestions would be New York and Company (who always has huge sales), Target (I think their clothes are a little bit nicer than Walmart), or Old Navy. These stores (at least NY & Co and Old Navy) have regular and plus-sized clothes in the same styles, often on the same rack, so you can try on a 12, 14, 16, and 18 in the same clothing item and just find the size that fits right.

TJ Maxx and Marshalls are a bit overwhelming themselves, but the clothes are sorted by size, so that can help.

Alternately, the people who work in department stores will always be happy to help! Even if you think they don't want to spend time with you - you're wrong. They work on commission or have sales goals. If they help you to find clothes you like, they make money.

Jaime said...

This is so true Lyn. After losing 115lbs so far I feel stuck in this body that I don't "know" Sure I feel great and am enjoying alot of new things but clothes are a very hard thing to deal with. I still go and grab something in a size way too big everytime I go shopping. My brain just can't see the new me. The small cute regualr size clothes really aren't cut for me either. They don't seem to allow enough room for my squishiness . Plus sizes are too big and regular sizes don't sit right. Whats a girl supposed to do when she is in between. People have asked me how I can be anxious or scared about my weight loss and it is really because it is so unknown to me . At least 115 lbs ago I knew me , now I not only am getting a new body but a new personality is being set free as well. It can be pretty overwhelming at times. I hope you have a great time shopping !

Salted with Shadows said...

The clothes thing is really disconcerting, isn't it? I also have the issue of being much lighter but having a hard time finding clothes cut for someone lumpy/squishy/curvy/fluffy. (I'm in about an 18/20 eight months after gastric bypass, down 91 pounds from my highest weight, but even at my "ideal weight" in high school I wore a 20 top and 14 pants and all the above adjectives applied!)

I was so touched by what you wrote about the sweater of your mother's--you should save that, if it makes you feel closer to her--but I agree with the poster who said to donate the majority of the stuff that doesn't fit. I have had eight or nine people give me clothes throughout this journey, I've done a lot of thrifting and Ebaying, and I love Old Navy and Target. I've also donated tons of stuff, usually to friends or friends of friends. It helps that I don't have the room to save it!

One store no one mentioned is Torrid--I LOVE their stuff. Not all of it, but a lot of it! Another personal favorite is the Ulla Popken catalog and website--I think they go down to 14/16.

F. McButter Pants said...

I have found it kind of sad to give up my clothes as well. Untill I decided to give them to people I knew that would love them like I did. It worked! I can't wait to see the look on the person face when I arrive to them with a bag or box full of cute clothes!

Then I go shopping! Congrats again on your success this time around.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an incredible topic. I'm glad you write about uncomfortable subjects. So much we hear about weight loss is all about the celebrations, but little is understood or discussed about the accompanying grief. There are many things to grieve...the constant high-fives over our "losses" should be a clue.

I don't know why our culture fears grief. Grief and being human go together naturally. It doesn't matter if everyone else things we *should feel* happy. We are not machines. We are not robots. We are living organisms.

So much about weight loss and dieting can begin to resemble equipment maintenance at its most efficient. When that practice becomes the norm, that is indeed sad.

Steelers6 said...

Always interesting to read what your commenters post. I thought what Autumnforest & Jaime wrote was good. Well, advice and comments from everyone was good!

I can relate to the post. I have been excited to be in new territory, thought I would have so many options..but then when faced with it, felt kind of lost. I think it takes a while to figure it all out. Esp when one's size keeps on changing, and sometimes I am kind of 'between' sizes. I don't buy a lot normally, I usually just buy enough to look good while headed to the next size. Not the amount of items in the wardrobe I left behind, ya know? I remind myself often about the finished product/end result wardrobe and spending!

I'm in same boat; I have no suits & hardly anything that is very dressy. I have thought if I needed something for a funeral or something I can just 'make do'.

I have taken some things to consignment shops. It is kind of a lot of bother for the $$, but I figured I can use it toward new stuff.

I've had some faves & expensive things that were hard to part with, and I don't do the best with it, but I am improving. I get what the one girl said about giving things to someone. I did try to do that with as much as I could. And I have given a lot to Goodwill too.

I was sorry to read for the first time about your Mom giving EVERYTHING to the church. Wow, that hurts. I'm sure you have dealt with that over the years, but I'm hurting with you now!

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I am so thrilled for you and proud of you for your wonderful insight & recent victories. 212!! Chrissy

lindalou said...

I'm going thru this exact thing now...my size 18's are getting loose....but I love some of them...it is sometimes bitter sweet to be getting smaller!

Tammy said...

How odd that you posted about this. It made me cry because I had a similar thing happen last week. I was in the plus size section of Belk's department store looking for a few new things. Everything looked so hideous and like I needed to be 60+ years old to wear it and I looked across the aisle at the "normal" size section, staring longingly and wishing I could cross the aisle and wear those clothes instead. Well...I was so disgusted with the fat side, that I crossed the aisle anyway to see what I could get into "one day". I picked up a few things that were XL to see how far I had to go before they fit. To my surprise...every single top I picked up fit. Every one. I cried in the dressing room....but it wasn't a good, happy cry. It was like I wasn't ready for it and I was scared, and the tops were a little short even though they fit everywhere else, so my too-big stomach became more prominent, which made me wish I was back in 2x & 3x so my shirts would be longer and nobody could see my stomach. Disconcerting isn't the word for what I was feeling that day, lol. I still haven't figured out what that word is....but it wasn't a good feeling. I did buy 3 or 4 tops off the clearance rack...but I'm feeling even MORE self-conscious about my body now than I did when I wore a 26/28. Why the hell is that? What the eff is wrong with me Lyn? lol

Shelley said...

I, too, had a hard time shopping when I couldn't fit into the clothes at Lane Bryant anymore. That store was just the right size (in more ways than one, lol) and they made it easy to put together outfits. It's taken a lot of trial and error to shop for clothes now...some trips are better than others. I'm comfortable at Kohl's, TJ Maxx (for tops), Target and Talbots (now that I'm pretty much staying the same size - otherwise, too spendy). Good luck - you'll find something...but know that even always thin people go shopping and don't come home with the perfect outfit every time.

christina said...

You couldnt have put my thoughts to words any better if you tried! I have been struggling with this for the past week or two. I have lost 25 lbs and have gone from a tight 16 to an easy fitting 12. I was just about to hit the 160s when I FREAKED out ... this week I gained 3 lbs. I am terrified that this will continue until I gain the 25 and then some back.

Peta said...

Can you make something out of your mothers jumper rather than wearing it such as a cushion cover or a teddy bear? Just so you can still keep her close but it doesnt represnt clothing and therefore a size. You have done an amazing amount of emotional work... well done!

Mad Woman said...

I stood in the middle of the store and cried last week because of this. I desperately want to be thin, but between the cost of having to buy new stuff and the anxiety I feel about this new me, it's becoming too much. I had to put everything back on the racks and leave.

I've gone down 4 dress sizes in 5 months...and yeah, it's disconcerting.

Hopefully I'll be ready soon.

certain kind of crazy said...

I never thought of lost feelings of weight loss before. A very enlightening post. I have an idea for your favourite sweater. Use it to make a comfy pillow. also you could take the fabric from favourite clothes to use in a quilt. I know maybe a bit quirky for some...but thought i'd share the idea anyways :) Thanks for sharing your story.

M Pax said...

We learn. We grow. We try again. Maybe now you know what you need to know to keep with it. Yaay!

Ruby Leigh said...

aww... please show us photos of your new clothes.

Katie J said...

Thanks for posting this. I am going through this now and questioned my thinking but it was validating to read I am not alone. Thanks Lyn!

Leaving Fatville said...

Oh wow. I'm so glad I saw your post today.

I'm right where you are. I'm right at the cusp of not being in the big girl clothes anymore and instead of being happy, I'm scared to shop. I have no idea how to find things that are going to fit me without looking like a fat chick in skinny clothes, or a fat chick in too big clothes. I hope I can have the resolve to do what you are and go forward without being scared to look back.

Julie Lost and Found said...

As always, your posts hit the nail on the head for me. Thank you so much.

Dillypoo said...

Last November, after 11 months of successful weight loss, I finally set my goal weight with my WW leader. And then I freaked out about how small I'd be when I reached it and slid into a four month plateau. That's how long it took for me to get comfortable with the size I am now and to visualize the smaller size I can become.

I give away everything once it becomes too big, but I recently found one outfit that I wore to a special event two years ago when I was at my biggest. I plan to put it on when I reach goal and take my picture in it!

I only recently discovered your blog and it's wonderful. Thank you for sharing your journey (and recipes)!

Tabby said...

You just touched on a subject that came up for me today. Every time I start to lose a little weight, I get anxious, cry, and decide to quit. My clothes start hanging on me a little and I don't know what to do. I walked by a window at the store tonight and saw my reflection. I felt very scared because I could see the changes.

Thank you so much for talking about this!

screwdestiny said...

Yeah, everyone thinks getting new clothes is great, but you're bound to have at least a few items that you really like that you won't be able to wear anymore, and that does suck. By the way, I totally get your overwhelmed feeling. I can fit fine in all of the normal clothes, but whenever I go to big department stores, if I don't have a very specific plan for what I'm looking for, I feel VERY overwhelmed. I prefer to shop on the internet a lot of the time for this reason.

mommygonemilf said...

This is true. Your brain and body are in two different places when when you are losing weight. Getting to know the new "you" is tough. Self image complexities, gotta love em'!

Mishe@EatingJourney said...

I totally know what you mean. When I got down to 168lbs and bought those 'skinny jeans' they only stayed on for about 3 months..cause I didn't feel like it was 'me' at the time. Honestly, I just didn't think that it could possibly happen to a girl like me.

For me it's about deserving to be this thin, to those the weight, to feel good about my body. The fat, weight, was emotional protection from the fact that I didn't feel like I deserved it.

Kel said...

Powerful!

Deniz said...

Know exactly what you mean about freaking over too many overwhelming clothes choices - it does get easier though ;-)

I dealt with the 'too much choice' business by shopping for clothes at charity shops (is that goodwill in the US?). Cuts the choice down a lot and you get to feel like you are making a contribution too. In fact, I still do as I get pretty edgy if I have to spend much on me and 'new' clothes shock me (I was out of buying anything non-essential for such a long time that I'm still out of touch with prices).

BTW, I see where you are with your mother's sweater. I've wimped out on getting rid of one or two bits of my fat clothes - one is a sweater of my Dad's that my Mum knitted for him and I sort of 'inherited' when I got so big that it fit me. He died some 25 years ago and it still makes him feel close - even though I couldn't wear it in public as it looks like an Aran tent now! Keep it, cuddle it and love your mother through it if it helps. Who on earth says you need to wear it!

Lori said...

I remember wondering what was wrong with my clothes! It was hard for me to comprehend that my body was changing and not my clothes. It was hard for me to let go of some sentimental clothes, but I feared having them available if I started gaining weight. It was tough, and every now & then I still think I should have kept at least one thing to show just how far I've come. I don't have a pair of pants that one day I'll put one with both of my legs in one side...alas...
Lori

Jessica VZ said...

I'm so proud of you and that you've come this far. keep it up, you're doing great!

bbubblyb said...

Great post Lyn and boy can I identify. I had NEVER shopped in the regular section of a store. It's still wierd to me and darn it those clothes just aren't made for all my "stuff" lol. But I do the best I can and try not to let it get to me. Glad you're feeling great this time around.

The Chubby Girl Diaries said...

Lyn this post gave me chills! You go girl!

I think they are normal feelings. Sometimes change is hard even though it is good.

(((HUGS))

~Kellie

Anonymous said...

I am just speechless.

Mother Of Many

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I know how you feel 150%. Hang tight, you got this!