A few weeks ago, I started noticing that nothing really fit right. I would put on clothes and they would sag. Which, honestly, makes sense. I'd lost (at that point) about 40 pounds and had dropped a few sizes but, other than jeans, hadnt really bought new clothes to compensate. (Mainly because I'm pretty darn cheap and didnt want to waste the money). My mother-in-law is an excellent seamstress (Peter's Abuelita, or BisUita as we call her now so the kids will learn about their great-grandmother, was a seamstress and taught my MIL) and she has been lovely. She's taken in a number of my dresses so that they fit and I dont look odd. But there's really not a lot you can do to the types of shirts I had in my closet. As I went to pick up a baby gift for a friend at Kohls, I noticed they had a plethora of clearance racks in the womens and misses sections. So, I talked to Peter and he told me to go for it (within reason of course). And, because my MIL is so groovy, she even gave me her 30% off coupon to use and offered to watch the monkeys!
So, on a Saturday morning, while Peter did our taxes and Uita played with babies, I snuck out to the department store and grabbed a cart, ready to shop.
Oh, and did I mention I had a breakdown?
The store was packed. No, scratch that. PACKED. I ingratiated myself into a rack and started looking. And looking. And thinking "Wow, there really isnt "cute" stuff for people my size." And then a lightbulb went off. I was standing in the middle of the XL and XXL. That explains the zebra print! (Really, designers, why do you think overweight women want to look like giant jungle animals???? Are we not self-conscious enough???) So, I moved over to the Large racks. I found a few items and tossed them in my cart. Then, down to the medium and small racks (just for fun, I joked to myself). A few more items. And, off to the dressing room!
Just to get the event started off right, I decided to try on a small shirt (yeah! me! small!) and a pair of size 8 pants. And, when they fit, I burst into tears. In the dressing room. (The very full area of dressing rooms). And I dont mean like a little teary eyed. I mean full blown crying. Sobbing. Like, I'd be wondering what the hell was up with the woman next to me if she were crying like that. The shirt fit snuggly (as in, I would wear it out as an undershirt but I'm a bit modest to wear it by itself, at least right now, although, Peter liked it!) and the pants are the size I'll be going into (they buttoned and zipped but werent comfortable for me). I bought them both. As a "HEY! YOU DID THAT!" sort of moment and because then I cant complain that nothing fits once I lose a few more pounds.
I spent almost 2 hours shopping which, for an I-hate-shopping person like me is like the whole day. I bought several pair of pants, 3 dresses (from the "misses" collection) and a dozen tops. And then, when I came home, I cleaned out my closet. As in, if it doesnt fit today, it is no longer in there. I had two huge garbage bags full of stuff.
It was harder than I thought. You'd think that, after so long as an "obese" person, I'd be over the moon. But, when I look in the mirror, I still see the same old girl. In new clothes, but still me. The me from high school and college who was slender and athletic. The me from a few years ago before the first miscarriage and the start of the weight. The me from September who was easily 2 bridesmaids put together. The me from this morning, who weighed 185.5 and is only 35.5 pounds away from her big goal. An overweight woman, yes, but no longer an obese woman. A woman who is only 26 pounds away from a "normal" weight to height ratio.
I wrote yesterday about ordering my Easter dress and shoes from Amazon.com; when I think about it today, I feel sick. Why did I do that? They aren't going to fit. The boots wont go over my calves and the dress... Ugh... I'm going to look like I tried to shove 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag. (For those wondering, that is one of my mom's phrases that I like to use from time to time...)
I read in Shape Magazine that women are extremely self-depreciating. You think?? Really? There is no reason for me to worry that the outfit may not fit (I mean, it may not, and really? Does that matter? I know my measurements and weight- sizes are arbitrarily set by designers). I picked the outfit that I liked and took the plunge. Why cant I think "Oh my goodness! It wont fit because it is too big!" Instead, it's "It wont fit because I'm too fat."
It's that Obese Mind coming into play again (and perhaps my natural womanness of self-depreciation). But it makes me more and more aware that being obese or overweight is so much more than what the scale shows. It can show "185.5" but I see "285.5" and, sometimes, write that number when I'm recording in my food journal. It's not just about making healthy choices (or unhealthy choices) for that matter. In some ways, it is so emotional and so mental.
But I'm working through it. And I try to be open about it, although I admit that I'm embarrassed when people call me out. At church this last weekend, where we are relatively well known due to our activities, people came up to me to comment on how "great" I looked. And I was embarrassed. So embarrassed. With the exception of one woman, who I know better than some of the other folks who approached me, I was ashamed to talk about it. To confess how much I've lost. To discuss how I'm maintaining and working through my issues. She's a nurse and has struggled with her weight, so she understands the eating disorder that this is (and, again, I realize that all overweight/obese people do not consider their weight the response to an eating disorder... No problem... Mine is a result of emotional eating and, in my opinion and, hopefully soon, the APA will acknowledge that in the next edition of the DSM).
But that's another post (and one, I think, I touched on already)
I shouldnt be embarrassed. Like being the 1 in 4 who has lost at child, it is a part of me and something that, by accepting and talking about, can help others understand. I'm reminded of this whenever Peter and I chat and he says "I dont understand why people eat because..." and I have to say "And you never will full understand because you arent an emotional eater." He may not full understand, but he gets it. He gets that there IS a problem and that A LOT of people (a lot of women) go through this and struggle to battle it. And, every time we see someone on an unhealthy diet (and good grief, there are a lot of them) or who dismiss the idea of changing their lives and making a healthy lifestyle their only lifestyle (versus dieting to lose weight and then wondering why it comes back when you stop dieting, or, worse, living in a perpetual dieting cycle), he brings this up to me. And is so good about reinforcing that these positive choices arent just about us, but our children too, and that, hopefully, one day, this will not be something they struggle with...
God willing, he's right.
You're doing amazing, amazing, amazing!
you are such an insperation! I am amazed at your courage, but so glad you went out and treated yourself to a few new items. I'm not sure we'll ever be able to see ourselves as the 'real' way we are, becuause we have such twisted views of what we look like. My husband struggles with frustration becuase he sees the 'real' me, not what I've made up in my head!
Way to go!
That is awesome!
Awesome!!! Great job!
OK - better idea - this spring, you, me, sarah, shopping all day (we can find a fed/state holiday. MIL watches the kids (weekend shopping is for the birds), food/wine breaks as needed - relax, enjoy and HAVE JOY. Sarah...you in???
Michelle, you are such an inspiration!! I gotta get myself going if I can ever get myself on a normal routine.
Keep up the good work! I know that you'll get there!
The old image of thyself is hard to let go of completely. I am still very judgmental of myself at the size I am, and am constantly critical of my arms and "gunt." There is a lot of self-talk involved, as you are learning. The proof is in those sizes, though!
Have you had a photo of yourself, in clothes that fit, taken recently (even by Peter)? That might be a good mental exercise for you - compare it side-by-side to yourself as your largest. You may not still like the newer, more svelte, you, but the change in itself will be undeniable.
Also, perhaps focus or shift your thinking to the fact of how much healthier you are at this size . . . could the heavier version of you have run 5 miles, for example? (And while pushing a stroller with 50-60 pounds of babies & gear?! I THINK NOT!)
Keep focusing on the example you are giving your children, too. I take a lot of selfish pride in knowing that in the years to come, my girls will be (hopefully) be proud to point me out as their mom - someone who is fit, in shape, and with good hair. I like looking like a "yummy mummy," if you will spare the expression ;o)
I have had several guy colleagues (the kind I can joke with in my line of work) say I am a "MILF." I like that, and am not ashamed of it ;o)
Just so you know, I always read even when I don't comment, and I'm really proud of you for the progress you've made. I feel very lucky that so far in my life (knock on wood) I have not struggled too much with my weight, and I am in awe of those who do and manage to conquer it. You are an inspiration!
Sorry, Michele, I'm behind on your blog! I can't wait to see a pic of you in your Easter dress with hoochie boots! You're going to look terrific!
Ann - you are on!!! We can all wear our hoochie boots. :)
Ms. J - I love your attitude.
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