Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Did Something Hard: Weight Loss, Clothing Loss


Yesterday morning when I woke up, I knew I wasn't going to be tackling the to-do list I had ready in my planner. I sat up and bed with a new inspiration out of nowhere... a dream, perhaps, or a message from my subconscious. I had to take care of the clothing issue. I had to get out of the anxiety-producing "clothes too big/clothes too small" cycle that I have been in forever. It was essential. I would not be able to keep the weight off without dealing with this... *truly* dealing with it.

If you've read my whole blog, you probably know how this cycle goes for me. I've written about it countless times; just doing a search for 14's on my blog brings up lots of angst and emotion surrounding growing into and out of sizes and digging through tubs of clothes. Years ago, when I first started to gain weight after a pregnancy loss, I folded up the too-small clothes and stuck them in a box because I knew someday I'd lose the 20ish pounds I'd gained and wear them again. As the years went by and I got up to 170, 180, 200 pounds, I continued to do the same thing: clothes got too tight, I bought new, bigger clothes, and I added the too-small clothes to the box. But I rarely lost enough weight to pull the box out and wear anything smaller. Soon it was two boxes, then four; then I graduated to Rubbermaid totes. Soon I weighed over 250 pounds and my garage, closet, and spare room contained totes in every size from 10's to the 2X and 22W clothes I had outgrown. At my top weight (about 283) I was wearing 26W and 28W jeans and size 3X and 4X tops, but I still had loads of clothes in every other size I had gone through. It was getting kind of nuts.

As I lost and regained several times in the early years of my blog (before Medifast in 2010), occasionally I'd get rid of some of the bigger sizes, and even got rid of all the smaller, older clothes that I had stored forever. And after I started *really* losing on Medifast I got rid of loads of clothes that were too big. I sold them, gave them away, threw them out until I got to around size 16W bottoms and L tops. I also started buying smaller sizes when I saw them on sale... sizes I couldn't even fit into yet, sort of like "goal clothes." Then I started regaining, grew right back up through the totes full of 12's, 14's, and 16's and had to buy bigger sizes all the way back up to my top regain weight of 260 pounds. This time, I again saved everything I outgrew... all boxed up in Rubbermaid tubs stashed all over the place.

The cycle has been one of worry, of anxiety. "What if I regain? I will need these, I will want these." and "What if I lose and am broke and have nothing to wear?" The cycle of being stressed because my clothes are getting too big or too small, not fitting right, and having to dig through tubs to try on dozens of things to see if they fit, not knowing where anything was or what sizes I might have, was *not* good for the sense of peace and calm I have worked so hard for. And recently as I found my pants getting too baggy, and was digging though tubs of clothes, trying things on and almost ALL of them were too big, it stressed me out more than I'd like to admit. I was going to give them away, or sell them, or something, but they were such NICE clothes that the folded stack sat in my room for days. Every time I looked at them I felt internal conflict. "They will fit me perfectly if I gain 10 pounds. I should save them in a tub in case I regain" or "maybe I should try and sell them, but first I better make sure I am not going to get fat again and need them." Every ounce of me wanted to tub those clothes for later, just in case. But when I woke up yesterday morning, I knew the answer. I had to end the Tub Cycle.

I spent hours yesterday morning doing a very thorough job of this so I would never have to do it again. I went through every tote in the garage and brought up two full of clothing. I also pulled out two under-bed totes and found one tub in the office. I searched the closet in the guest room and made sure I found every clothing tote in the house! I bought them all to my bedroom, opened them, and started sorting.

EVERYTHING that is too big on me now got put into large bags. All of those size 16W jeans and capri pants, a few pairs of cargo pants, all of the size XL tee's, shirts, and blouses. I went through all of the clothes hanging in my closet and everything in my dressers. Even the two thick, comforting sweaters that I have saved and worn for years got put in the bags. I threw out all the too-big underwear and tossed a few bras, too. Even the pajamas were gone through. And in the end, I got rid of more than half of my clothing. Before I could change my mind and put them in the garage "in case," I listed them for free on Craigslist and within two hours two women had come and taken all the bags away.

It was HARD. Harder than you might imagine. But it was a promise to myself that I will never let myself get bigger than I am right now. 195, my new line in the sand. I never want to weigh 200 pounds again, so I weigh every day. As soon as I hit 195, I will do whatever it takes to get back below that number. That is what I have promised myself, and by getting rid of everything that is too big on me now, I put that promise into reality. If I gained ten pounds I would not have a single thing to wear. That is how much I believe in my promise. But yes, putting it into action was scary, and I had to be brave to actually do it.

I am left with a bunch of empty Rubbermaid tubs, one large tote labelled "Winter clothes size M and L, long jeans size 10 and 12W" that's getting put away for colder weather, and two small underbed totes: one with summer clothes that are just slightly too tight for my comfort (mostly size M tops) and the other full of things that won't fit for awhile (also mostly size M, but smaller cut, plus a lot of new underwear and bras I bought when I weighed 175 but never got a chance to wear). That's it. There are no more Tubs of Unknown Clothing lurking around my home. My closet has lots of space now and I even have a couple of empty dresser drawers! There's frankly not a whole lot left that fit me "just right" at the moment, but I am okay with that. I think the stuff that's a bit tight will fit very nicely as I tone up through exercise over the summer.

I feel so happy and content that I have done this. There is no more cycle. There are no tubs of clothes in case I gain, and not a whole lot for when I shrink. Just a winter tote that will become a summer tote when seasons change, and the few things under the bed to wear this summer.

It's not just about the food. It's not just about the weight, or the loose skin, or the exercise. It's about breaking the cycles that have kept me in obesity for most of my adult life. It's about finding calm and freedom, and maintaining it in every aspect of life.


16 comments:

Betsey C. said...

This is amazing! I recently did a much smaller-scale purge, just 2 rubbermaid totes. I bet you feel lighter than air. Scope out all the Goodwills, Salvation Army stores and other thrift stores around you (hopefully there are some) when you need something to wear. I have recently lost 28 lbs, and I'm sitting here in $2 jeans from Goodwill. :)

FrenchyMcFrenchcake said...

Agree with above! Goodwill is the best for size changes!

Cris said...

This was a huge leap of faith... in yourself! I love it. It’s like you are showing yourself that you believe you can do it.

I feel like this is closing the door on regain.

A brave step forward. Well done!

PamL said...

That's awesome, Lyn!

I was thinking about the whole loose skin issue earlier and I ran across a picture on Instagram. There's a lady who I follow- "Fatgirlfedup". You should look her up. She lost a huge amount of weight through sheer will, and she posts a lot about her journey. Anyway, I saw a picture of her today, and her arms looked very similar to yours--but she had on a 2/3 length shirt that hid most of her upper arm, but showed some. It was nice looking, not gross at all. I just thought you might like to look at her pictures and/or contact her about how she is dealing with the loose skin issue. Great job on keeping working on your progress- mental and physical!

Lyn said...

Betsey~

Thank you! I do feel so much lighter and it's also freeing up mental space I used to give to that clothing stress! I know exactly what I have. I don't have to wonder or plan to try things on over and over to see if they fit. It is really great! I absolutely will pick up a few things at thrift shop as needed. I have shopped at Goodwill before and had no luck finding much, but I'll branch out to other thrift stores and maybe Craigslist since people often give things or sell very cheap there too.

Cris~

Yes! this is exactly how it felt. I had that in my head when I woke up. It said to me, "If you keep those clothes, you're telling yourself you will wear them someday. To wear them someday you'd have to gain weight. If you let them go, that is telling yourself you are done being that size so will never have any use for them."

Lyn said...

PamL~

Wow, she has done an amazing job! I will definitely be checking out her story. In the winter I wear long sleeves and usually a sweater, too. Right now I have a few half-length and 3/4 length tops that are working but I know when it gets hot I will want something cooler. Funny how when I was a lot bigger, like last year, the arms didn't bother me. They were just big like the rest of me! I think it's the mismatch that bugs me the most: like when they say "wow, you look great!" and I am thinking "omg I cannot let them see my arms!"

Joy said...

That's so brave and such a worthwhile thing to do. No longer will they be holding you back, calling out to you. Fab that they were snapped up so quickly as well. You can make a new wardrobe for yourself now, based on what you like and likes you rather than what you can get into.
Really well done!
J x

Anonymous said...

Why do you have to wait until summer to "tone up?" There's no time like the present!

Lyn said...

Joy~

yes, thanks! I am looking forward to that. :)

last Anon~

I didn't mean I haven't started... guess I should have been more clear. I just meant this is a process and over time I am sure my body will get leaner with more muscle/less fat as I exercise.

Natalie said...

That is really brave, well done. I chickened out on this process. I didn’t have all the tubs just one box of too small I kept in hope, but I recently went down a size and couldn’t bear to throw away all the “too big”. It’s so hard to find nice things that look good when you’re chubby, I was too scared just in case I need them again. They’ve got one designated spot in the wardrobe and I threw out a few things but kept quite a lot. Maybe one day I’ll have the confidence to get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

cron anon saying hi, not much to add but it's impressive you feel confident enough to get rid of the larger-size clothes. Also, I just looked at your instagram and see you're as much of a fan of asparagus and lamb as I am (lamb cooked in just plain lemon juice, salt, and pepper is my go-to; asparagus I either steam or roast and eat with balsamic and olive oil dressing). Seasonal eating, right? I know you've been trying to eat more vegetables and obviously you are. You didn't mention it so I will, good going.

Lyn said...

Natalie~

I'm no expert on this but I think setting a "line in the sand" number which you resolve to never cross again... a weight that you will NOT go past... helps with knowing what to keep or toss. I mean, we all gain and lose a bit over the years as we get older, and I don't think we HAVE to get rid of everything we shrink out of. For example, if I get to 185 at some point, the things I am wearing now will be too loose, but I will keep some of them (trade them out for smaller things in the underbed tote... no new tubs!!). I just won't have anything that fits past my line in the sand, top weight, of 195. If I lower that at some point then I will get rid of more. I hope thta makes sense. Anyway, that's my long way of saying that whether or not to keep the bigger clothes might depend on how high of a weight you are willing to gain before saying "no more." And if it helps you feel secure and calm, rather than anxious, that's a good way to measure whether it is helpful or not. Thank you for commenting :)

cron anon~

Yes! Seasonal eating. Lamb is usually a bit pricey around here but there is one store that will mark it to half off on its "sell by" date, and I buy it and freeze it or eat it the same day. So delicious!! And thanks for noticing the veggies. I really am trying to gradually add more as they come into season. I thought that was a good way to do it. My son works with a guy who has an asparagus field so he brought me some and it has been so amazing and fresh.

Monique Noel said...

This is for Natalie! When I lost weight, I took the dresses I couldn't stand to get ride of to a seamstress and she took in the sides, shortened straps, etc. so that they fit me at my new weight. If you really love the clothes, that might be a worthwhile investment for you. Congrats on the weight loss :)

Diana said...

Hi Lyn! It's so interesting to me that we have such similar thoughts so often. I just cleaned out my two closets this past week, a little bit each day. I had already taken all my really big clothes to Goodwill, but I finally parted with all my size 12 and 14 clothes. Just like you, I had a hard time with it. I remember the thrill of getting into a size 14, and then a size 12. I was head over heels happy with those sizes. As well as all the XL sized shirts. Those were happy days.

I really try to live a minimalist life ever since I read Marie Koko's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I read it over a year ago, and got rid of so many things in my home. However, after losing some weight, I went crazy buying clothes. Clothes came in, but clothes weren't going out.

So this morning I set upon a task I'd been dreading for the last few months, going through my closets again. If I don't love a piece of clothing and feel really good when I wear it, then it needs a new owner. So with each item, I'd looked at it, asked myself the question, does this item bring me joy? It turns out, I hate fussy clothes (doesn't everyone?). I had things with ruffles, big prints and lace, things that were cute, but I had a matching tank that I had to wear underneath it (with straps that I'd fight with constantly). Things that fit me perfectly but were fussy. My favorite pieces are simple, rather plain, solid colors for the most part and comfortable. Also things that aren't baggy, but also not too form fitting. I also hate anything that's is high necked. They're unflattering, and I can't stand something touching my throat (how do men wear neckties? That would just kill me!).

Also, I'm so glad you're taking a maintenance break. That's a really healthy approach to weight loss. Take care Lyn, and I can't wait to read more happy posts from you. :)

PS - thank you for the sweet comment on my blog (that literally only you and maybe three other people read). It made me smile.

MaryFran said...

Good for you!!!! I have Rubbermaid totes sitting in my storage unit....just ignoring them at this point...I am no where near being in the clothes..but I will be ditching clothes as I shrink out of them!!!

Michelle Himes said...

That's awesome! I did that a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, I could use some of my fat clothes back, since I have gained 25 pounds since. I just bought a pair of navy dress pants in 16, the exact color, style, brand and size as the ones I got rid of. Sigh!!! You sound like you are going to make it this time though.