Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ode to My Size 28 Black Stretch Pants

I recently asked the folks on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook (BTW, are you a “fan” yet? Click here to check it out!) what they do with clothes that no longer fit as they lose weight. Most folks said they give them away (Debra suggested the organization Dress For Success), which is what I eventually did, but it took awhile for me to trust myself not to need them again.

Getting rid of old clothes is empowering, but I strongly urge you to keep one item of clothing to remind you where you’ve been and how far you’ve come, especially on those days when you struggle and think, Why am I doing this?
I kept one lone item of clothing from my 300-pound days: my size 28 black stretch pants. I wore them every day. They were my constant companion. They even went with me to the Adirondacks where I allowed my husband to take the only full-body photo of me at my highest weight (see “I *Heart* Burlington, Vermont” for the full story).

My size 28 black stretch pants were literally stretched to their limit. As I grew larger, holes began to form. Stains no longer washed out. I didn’t know it at the time, but those holes and stains reflected how I felt about myself, namely that I wasn’t worth taking care of.

Eventually I invested in Weight Watchers rather than another new wardrobe, but my confidence level was still pretty low. Fifty pounds into my weight loss, I was still wearing my old size 28 wardrobe. I posted on the WW discussion board (the 100+ To Lose board was my salvation) that my clothes bagged significantly, but that I wasn’t sure if I should buy new clothes or wait. I felt guilty about spending the money since I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t gain it all back, and sadly I’d given away all my smaller clothes as I marched up the scale, convinced I’d be morbidly obese the rest of my life. (*See my side story at the end of this blog.)

A WW board member named CrispyRice encouraged me to invest in a few things in a smaller size. She said wearing clothes that fit would help me see the results of my weight loss, which in turn would encourage me to keep going. She also told me to not buy all black – my typical “hiding” color – and to shop at Goodwill and other second-hand shops.

Her advice was spot on. Not only did I feel good about buying a smaller size – a pair of size 24 khaki shorts and a white XL shirt (down from 3X) – I felt smaller in lighter colors and wearing fabric close to my skin as opposed to it hanging limp and devoid of form.

More importantly, I felt confident in my new, smaller clothes. Confident that I’d no longer need my larger sized wardrobe. Confident that I wasn’t gaining my weight back, not if I had anything to say about it. I bagged up the 28s and the 30/32 pant suit and gave them to Goodwill, all except for the size 28 black stretch pants – which, lest you think me tacky, I wouldn’t have actually given away given their condition. But I didn’t throw them away, either, because we have a history. They elicit the same feelings I have about photographs or special gifts.

My size 28 black stretch pants are my friend. I was wearing them the moment I joined WW online. They were on camera with me when I was on Today (both times) and Entertainment Tonight (crazy, I know) when I was promoting the People magazine's “Half Their Size” issue in 2008. And as my friend, my pants help me through those days when I wonder: Why am I doing this? Why do I journal my food? Why do I eat the way I do? Why do I (usually) say no to chocolate cake, mac n’ cheese, and half in half in my coffee? I love those things!

“Ah,” say the size 28 black stretch pants, “but you love yourself even more.”

See why we’re BFF?

(*Side story: The only exception to giving all my smaller clothes away as I was gaining weight the last time, was a size 16 lined suit that I’d only worn once. I called it my “dream suit.” When I was 300 pounds, I dreamed that it would one day fit again, but dreaming was all I did about my weight for several years. When I started to lose weight, that suit became my “goal suit.” I tried it on every other week when I got down to 200 pounds. I used the zipper as a gage for how many inches I was losing. When I was 180, Larry and I moved and I got so busy unpacking that I forgot about my goal suit. By the time I dug it out, I weighed around 155 and it was too big. Sigh. I’d missed my window of opportunity. But I still honor it for the icon it was, even though it’s probably hanging in someone else’s closet.)

*****************************************
Thank you to all of you for your comments and email on my last post regarding sexuality and weight. NOT an easy subject to think about, let alone talk about, but a few brave souls did.

Congrats to Alexandra for winning the “Cardio Striptease” DVD! Alexandra blogs at “Adventures of a Done Girl Named Alex” if you want to give it a look see.

15 comments:

Lyn said...

I had size 28 black stretch pants, too. I still wore them when they had holes 4" wide in the inner thighs. I figured no one could see those gaping holes as long as I kept my very large thighs together, which was easy to do. Heck, it makes me want to cry thinking about it, because you're right. Wearing those reflected what I thought of myself.

Lori said...

I have a pair of 24 jeans and a 3X shirt that I keep to remind myself of where I could be if I am not careful.

I realize how poorly I dressed myself as an overweight person. I thought I looked okay, but I really didn't!

That picture of you is cute with your mock fear face :D

Shelley said...

So funny - you are wearing the same gray t-shirt in that pants picture, as well as in the "before" of your side-by-side at the top of your blog. The few pictures I have of me "before" are like that - the same clothes, over and over.

Every time I would get down about my weight loss, it was invariably when my clothes had gotten too loose - and that's when I knew it was time to buy smaller sizes. I didn't have a ton of clothes on my way (weigh?) down, but I did make sure they fit because of that.

Like Lori, I saved a pair of my 24 jeans and 3X shirt - I actually tried it on not too long ago and it was a tent on me...so sad that at one point, it was getting too tight.

Glad you kept those black stretch pants. We DO need our reminders - of how far we've come, and of where we don't want to return!

val said...

I admit, I love that picture of you. You're just so darned cute.

I love that you're slender now. You deserve to be happy, and I'm totally behind you.

Whatever you weigh,

I just like you.

And I think... the last blog entry with the cardio hotness workout.

Umm. Well. As a fellow Lutheran... well... I'd like to lose 20 lbs... and yet, at any weight... still a Lutheran. Quite un-hot. These hips don't lie. They don't tell any stories whatsoever, thank you very much...

I love you, honey, Val

cmoursler said...

I started in a 24.
I burned every last stinking pair.
Then I burned every 22.
Every 20.
When I passed 18's I gave them away.
Now my 16's are baggy, my 14's fit and my 12's are tight.
I haven't bought a lick of clothing since I started. Every last pair starting from 18's has been given to me by two friends who manage to stay a step ahead of me weight loss wise.
I wanted to burn my pants to say I am no longer going to accept being less than I am capable of, I am not going back.
I have that image burned into my men.
It is part of what keeps me going.

cmoursler said...

um, that should be memory....I haven't taken to torturing men...lol

Cindy Bidar said...

This "those holes and stains reflected how I felt about myself, namely that I wasn’t worth taking care of" really speaks to me. I could say the same about most of my (limited) wardrobe. Thanks for helping me see it that way. I need to work on that.

debby said...

Yep, I have one pair of size 26-28 sweat pants that I lived in. I had kind of forgotten, but I stopped taking as good care of myself for a while too--didn't seem worth the effort.

Even now, I like giving myself permission to get rid of clothes that don't look right to me or don't make me feel good about myself. Gotta love the thrifts!

Jer said...

I recently did a post of my own- I threw away all of my clothes the second I was out of them. I was wearing size 32W Jean and stretch pants @ 350. I never wanted to look at them again.

My mother saved a lone pair of size 30 jeans from the trash and gave them back to me the other day. At a size 16 now, I can stand in one leg of them and share the other leg with my two children. I'm glad she saved them but at the time if she had told me I would have definitely told her to throw them away anyway.

I only wish that I had saved scrubs too- I was wearing a 5XL top and bottom and now I wear a L/XL top and M/L pants.

Amy: Childhood Obesity Statistics said...

I was touched by your story of your black stretch pants. I can understand why you've kept them. You've come so far. Keep up the inspiring stories.

Jer said...

I left you an award at my blog- http://www.justplainjer.blogspot.com. I love your stories and I look forward to reading more. :)

Charlie Hills said...

Get rid of clothes? I didn't even know that was an option. [Runs upstairs to chuck that leisure suit from 1984.]

Hilary said...

That is SO inspiring. I'm just starting a weight loss journey and while I only have 50 pounds to go I've been in these clothes too long, I've thrown EVERYTHING smaller away.
I'm so proud of you. you totally give me hope!

Lanine said...

I have a pair of jeans like that. Whenever I get discouraged I pull out my size 14 jeans and then get my butt back to the gym.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I know everyone says to ditch the old clothes. I did clean out my closet, and it's all in bags in the basement. I will pull one article out in remembrance though , like you suggested. THANKS for the wonderful blog. CAROL