Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


How Do I Know What Fits Me?

I shop for clothes by myself and I have no idea what I really look like in what I wear.  It’s not a good combination.  I’ve read that it takes a year for the brain to catch up with every 25 lbs lost, and that certainly resonates.  Oh, I understand that I’ve changed and that I’m different, but the eyes  don’t recognize what properly fitting clothes look like on ME.

After watching Stacy and Clinton for years, I know a lot about what styles and colors work best, but the FIT doesn’t make sense.  My brain knows that tight = too small, and loose = fitted, which doesn’t always translate to looking right.  I’ll try on a top and see nothing clinging to the lumps and bumps, and think it’s a good fit when it’s really baggy.

Since many plus size ladies also shop alone, we give each other feedback and can see “too big” clothes on other people that we don’t recognize on ourselves.  And sometimes, sure, they are wearing “too small” clothes because they are blocked by the sizes/number and not by how things fit.

But yesterday was totally different.  I went looking for some casual pants for fall, mostly just to see what was out there.  Catherine’s is no longer an option for me, since everything in the store is too big, too long, too boxy, or just not my style.  Or maybe all of the above.  So I went next door to Lane Bryant, a store I usually avoid because I don’t like the clothes.  They do have lots of pants, though, so it seemed like a good idea.

Over the course of the next 45 min, three sales women of different ages and 2 customers gave me feedback on how I looked in what I tried on.  I mostly stayed in the dressing room while they brought me pants in different styles, colors, and sizes.  My job was to put them on and come out and model.   Mostly I tried on jeans or pants out of a denim or denim-colored fabric.  I haven’t worn jeans for at least 20 years.

One pair felt as though it was painted on, which caused my watchers’ jaws to drop.  They thought, to a person, that the pants were too loose, which totally shocked me.  It happened over and over.  They made me stand in front of a mirror and said, “Look at yourself. See yourself as you are NOW.  You are not the same size you were before.  These clothes FIT.”  And they were right.  Stacy and Clinton were mentioned frequently 🙂

I ended up coming home with 3 pairs of pants, in 3 different sizes, all on sale with coupons for extra savings.  One is a pair of gray knit pants that will work for the office and for casual wear, size 14/16.  Another is a pair of jeans in size 16, and a third a pair of “jeggings” in size 18.  I’m not completely sure about the jeans, but know that as I lose more weight, I will feel more comfortable wearing them.  Plus I will practice at home before I let anyone see me.

What this reinforced is that I need to go shopping often now – not to buy, but to try on sizes, colors and styles and really see what I look like when I try the same thing on in different sizes.   The sales floor is often quiet mid-week, and taking an afternoon off to shop should let me have extra help and feedback.

I’ll be choosy about what I actually buy; I don’t want/need a lot since I know my size will change, though it’s going slower now than it was earlier (which doesn’t bother me at all).  But as the new season approaches, I know I have next to nothing that fits and I refuse to start the fall in baggy clothes.  The trick is knowing what’s baggy and what’s not.


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m in between trips and scrambling like mad not to fry in our current heat wave.  It was hot in Texas, but somehow it’s worse here which is just not right.  Thank heavens for AC!

The Texas trip was originally supposed to be to attend my nephew’s wedding, but it morphed into a family gathering at my brother’s ranch (140 acres in the middle of nowhere between my parents’ house and my brother’s place in Houston). They have very photogenic cows 🙂

My mom’s sister was there from California, nephew Rob from Massachusetts, and me from Connecticut.  Rob didn’t stay long, heading west to spend the weekend with his brother (the former groom) and friends going to a baseball game and country western concert.  My youngest niece ran a triathlon that weekend (I can’t imagine doing it in that Texas heat!) but my goddaughter (above) came from Lubbock for the weekend.  We celebrated our June/July birthdays together with carrot cake 🙂

Everyone flipped over my new look and I realized while I was there that I’ve almost lost my mother in terms of weight.  She weighs 115 lbs and I’ve lost 110 – which really is a whole person.  Puts things into very clear perspective.

I had a great time but was glad to come home (as was Tessie).  But I’ve been scrambling again because I leave on Friday for my national conference in Denver.  I have several meetings to facilitate so I have agendas and prep to finish, plus catch up on my paid job.

My conference wardrobe was all thought out, including a few dresses that looked good and were cool and comfy.  Except I’ve realized that all of them – ALL of them – are too big. Great problem but a bad time to figure it out, since the stores are starting to stock fall clothing (just after July 4th, go figure) and only have very picked over summer things.  I did get a few tops today that I can wear with black pants that will work.  I’ll find out soon enough.

I found it pretty easy to eat while in Texas.  My mom generously stocked up on some Greek yogurt, berries, chicken, and guacamole, and there were plenty of good options for me at the ranch.  Mostly people were interested in my choices and asked a lot of questions about the band and how it worked.  It was good practice for going out with more people; I’ve been reading menus for Denver and practicing restaurant eating, at least in my mind.  We’ll see how it goes!

I’ll try to check in from Denver but am not at all sure when I’ll have free time to write.  My time is pretty scripted.  But I’ll check in and at least keep up with y’all even if I can’t write until I’m back.  Stay out of trouble!


The Green Dress

In the back of my closet I have some clothes leftover from a smaller life, things that meet the Vickie test of “would I buy it again?”  At this point the only things left are out of season clothes, having already tried on and am wearing or gave away winter things.

One of those favorite clothes is an emerald green 2-part dress, a simple tank dress with a cute little short-sleeved jacket with some embroidery in matching fabric.  I loved that dress and wore it often because 1) it was cute, 2) it was comfortable and breathable, and 3) I look fabulous in that color.  I bought it 6 years ago when I was at my lowest weight, some 30 lbs lower than where I am now, and even wore it when my WW leader and I were on local TV filming a July 4th segment on tips for watching your food while at holiday picnics and parties.

It fits.

I have no idea how this happened.  I mean, I’m still 30 lbs over that 2004 weight – but my body shape has been shifting a lot in the months since my surgery.  I haven’t really lost any weight in the last month but it’s fallen off anyway – I’ve lost 2″ in my hips in the last MONTH.  Believe me, I’m not complaining, but my brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around the fact that my body doesn’t look the way my brain thinks it does after years at the high end of the plus sizes.

People who are very large need to lose a LOT of weight before anyone notices, and that’s hard.  We wear those X sizes (1X-5X or more) and each covers 2 dress sizes if they actually made dresses for people who wear a straight 30 (they don’t).  So you can easily wear the same thing through a 35-45lb loss, assuming it was a bit on the snug side in the first place.  Most of my big clothes were relatively shapeless anyway, since I didn’t want to flaunt my original shape.

I don’t really want to wear shapeless now even though I know I’m still very fluffy and have a long ways to go.  Others may, and do, see me as obese (which I am), but they don’t have the perspective of knowing the amount of weight already lost, the distance already come.

But I’m having trouble knowing how to dress and where to shop.  I need to be careful with my money and not go crazy buying clothes that won’t last me as long as those X sizes.  I’m tired of shopping in fat lady stores and really really want to find some nice petite plus pants, which is almost impossible.  I may go out today and try a few places for one or two pieces since my other pants look like clown pants and are now too long as well as too big.

It’s a good problem to have, don’t get me wrong.  But there is a lot of adjusting to do.  I’m doing the “inside work” as well as the food/body work – but it also requires work to get the eyes to understand what they actually see.  In the meantime, I have a lovely green dress that I won’t be able to wear to the family wedding in June.  Guess I will need to go shopping 🙂


New Year’s Thinking

Saturday is my official weekly weigh-in day, although I usually weigh myself every morning.  This was the first one of the new year which was cause to look back and take stock of the year just passed.  A lot has changed:

  • January 1, 2009:  weight 305 lbs
  • April 3, 2009 (day I started WW again):  weight 310 lbs  (up 5 lbs)
  • October 29, 2009 (surgery day):   weight 261 lbs (lost 49 lbs)
  • January 2, 2010:  weight 236.2 lbs (lost 73.8 total with 24.8 lbs down post-op)

I didn’t start the year with one of those crazy goals of losing 65 lbs in a year.  I try never to create goals that are so specific and big because that makes them look impossible before I even start.   I just knew that I was unhappy at that weight and both disgusted and scared that I’d gained back 95% of the weight it had taken me 2 years to lose  from 2002-2004.   I was also tired of being unhappy, disgusted and scared.

But my wake up call was hearing from the orthopedic surgeon that I needed a knee replacement but doing it at that weight, there was no guarantee that it would last more than 3 years.  No way in hell I would do that major surgery without reassurance that it would last at least 15-18 years.   It’s a chicken and egg thing for many of us:   in order to lose weight, we need to exercise which is hard when the joints are bone-on-bone.  But repairing the joint requires us to have lost considerable weight first – which is hard to do with the bad knee.

So instead of beating myself up and saying, “Oh, I’m lazy and terrible and need to lose 160 lbs by the end of the year,” I just did one thing at a time.  It’s a lot more impressive looking back and seeing what was accomplished but I can’t say I mapped it all out.  I’m a big planner but this time my brain is in a completely different place and the results just follow from taking one next step after another.

I haven’t added as much exercise to my lifestyle as I need to, and am taking a next step to change that, too.  I got a Wii console and Wii Fit Plus for Christmas and now that Christmas is packed away, will be setting that up so I have an at-home exercise option.  On dark winter days I just want to come home after work and hunker in with the cat.  But there’s no reason I can’t do exercise videos, Comcast fitness on demand on the cable, and/or Wii Fit to get the blood moving.  Is it the same as a gym workout?  No, of course not.  But for a couch potato, it’s a change in the right direction.

Not a goal but an expectation for 2010 is that I will drop my weight into ONEderland for the first time in 30 years.   With that will be a complete wardrobe change, since everything currently in the closet, dresser, and storage bins will be too big.  I’ve already packed up and given away clothes that I’d been saving for some day if I ever lost weight and there’s not much left to pull out.  While I won’t invest in a full wardrobe, I’m going to need clothes!  Especially with a family wedding and a national conference to attend within the next 6 months. I can finally start shopping in stores with prettier clothes with better fitting options – and I’m going to take them.

I am not the same person I was last year.

  • I’m smaller and taking steps to continue my positive directions with body image and size.
  • I am eating healthier and in realistic portions.
  • I am happy with and proud of what I have accomplished.
  • I have more self-confidence and pride in my appearance.
  • I walk faster and with less pain.
  • I am treating myself with respect, both mentally and physically.

I’m going in the right direction and know I will accomplish what I’ve set out to do, no matter how long it takes.

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NSV: The State of my Clothes

I was grumbling yesterday to my friend Phyllis about how my pants were all too long and I had to shorten them to keep them from dragging through wet puddles of snow or rain.  Hemming is not my favorite thing to do and I was not amused at the idea of shortening them all.  But then I remembered that I had pairs of pants the next size down, pants that I didn’t expect to wear until maybe February.  Just to see how far away it might be before I can really wear them, I tried them on.

And they fit.

Well, that explains a lot and means I have a whole bunch of pants that I will soon be able to pack up and drop off at Goodwill.  But it also means I have no pants left in the closet to get back down into as things progress.  Which means I’ll have to go shopping for pants, something I despise because it’s so hard.

I stopped off at Dress Barn Woman this afternoon to take a look at their clothes and left knowing that I now have another place to shop.  The clothes are more upscale and appropriate for me, rather than some of the poorly constructed stuff I’ve seen at Avenue.  Maybe not poorly constructed, but definitely box shape.  My body isn’t a box and I want clothes that let me dress in a way that works.

I bought a couple of sweaters on eBay this weekend, getting some great buys on things down a size.  Things I think I can wear are turning out to be more shapeless than I realized, definitely indicating they are way too big even though I want them to fit.  I would be better served to weed them out of the drawers and rotate a few different things that actually work than thinking I had clothes that fit that really don’t anymore.  I hope that makes sense.

I also ordered a new winter parka down 2 sizes from the one I wore last year, on sale for 50% off.  65 lbs later, it looks ridiculous – and when I wore it this week, all the cold air swept up from underneath and I almost froze.   I’m not silly enough to buy a new coat for every size but I need to be realistic about what will keep me warm up here where winter is serious business for the next 4 months.

The smaller I get, the more options will be available for picking up low-cost transitional things.  I just wish my feet would consider getting narrower.  Those 4E shoes are really hard to find!


Shopping in my Closet and Dresser

The clothes I’ve been wearing lately have gotten loose (or in some cases, started to really fit properly for the first time in ages).  The pants are silly coz they stretch out a bit when they’ve been worn and look even bigger.  But my biggest concern really was the bras.  The ones I’ve been wearing have been stabbing me with the underwires which is not the way I prefer to go through my day.  My plan was to drag out the sewing machine and try another little repair job (this is not the first time the evil wires have been a problem).

Instead, though, I went shopping in my dresser.  Stuffed in the back of the top drawer were some old bras from the “before days.”  I did not expect them to fit but since the newer ones were hopeless, I pulled one out just to see how far I needed to go to get into it – and it FIT.  Honestly, it feels so much better and is staying in place the way the newer ones have been doing lately.  Because, um, they were too big.

Interesting.  It’s kind of novel to think about clothes being too big.  My idea of fitting is actually being loose instead of hugging lumpy curves.  But I’ve lost almost 36 lbs and it’s obvious that it’s time to look at those clothes in the closet and tucked away in the chest just in case.

So I tried on a few more, some pants that I thought were wayyyy too small – and they are small, but I can see myself wearing them again by November.  I haven’t worn them in over two years.  I tried on some sweaters and things that were impossibly snug almost fit and will be available to me when the weather changes enough to need to actually wear sweaters.

I know, of course, that with the WLS this fall, that my shape will be changing and I need to really pull out what’s stored away and separate it by size, using Vickie‘s criteria of “would I buy this again?” rather than just “does it fit?”  Most of us have a ton of stuff in different sizes that we bought because it fit but once we had it home and wore it a few times, we realized that Stacy and Clinton would not approve.  I’d rather have a small wardrobe of things that look good on me than more clothes that make me look not my best.  That goes for coats, too.  I already have another bag of clothes to drop off at the Salvation Army today.  Makes room for me, gives good clothes to someone who needs them. That’s a win-win situation in my book.


What to Do About Those Clothes

Sorting clothes - no, this isn't meYou remember the story of Goldilocks:  she visited the bears’ house and tried their porridge (is that like oatmeal?), sat in their chairs, slept in their beds.  Things were too big/hot/hard, too small, or just right.  My clothes are like that, too, but they are mostly too small.   From reading a number of other blogs, I can tell that I’m not alone.  And the reality is that even if the clothes do fit, we may not like them anymore.

So what to do?  Step one is to pull everything out and look at it.  Did you wear everything in your “winter clothes” pile this season?  If not, why not?  Where they too small, too big, just not really “you” or need repair?  Deal with this stuff before you look at the rest of it.

If you have clothes that you really love but need some kind of alteration or repair, either make a commitment to getting that done (it’s worth paying someone to do it if you don’t have the skills or the time) or put the clothes into the discard pile.  They’re not doing you any good sitting unworn and damaged in the closet, where they give you a false sense of available things to wear.  Things that you don’t like should be laundered and either donated or sold (I donate almost everything because it’s easier and faster).

Clothes that are too big should be also donated, but be realistic and don’t get rid of every single thing because there may be “fat days” when you’re feeling a bit bloated and could use something more comfy.  But keeping too many of them around makes it easy to not pay attention to the slow creep of weight gain that moves you into a bigger size almost without noticing.  Play this one carefully.

The clothes that don’t fit present a particular problem.  Do you keep them in hopes of wearing them again when you lose weight, or do you get rid of them?  Think carefully about this and be realistic.  Keeping sweaters or pants one size down can be motivating — getting back into them is achievable.

But clothes that are several sizes too small can be, for some of us, depressing to have around because getting back into them seems so remote.   There they sit, in the back of the closet or in a plastic bin or big garbage bag, taking up space in your house and in your head.  “You spent good money on these things and you’re too fat to wear them,” is what most of us hear.  Not all, to be sure, but I know that’s what I get.

Donating things that are too way small frees the mind and the closet of that crap, and someone else will be happy to get them, especially in this economic climate.  As the pounds start to come off again and you need to fit a smaller body, you can go shopping for new stuff – even if that shopping is at the thrift store.  People like us donate good stuff, which means it’s available to people like us, too.

Once you’ve gone through the winter clothes, do the same exercise for the things that are coming out of storage for the next season.  They usually look different when they are unboxed and spread out on the bed than they did when we put them away months before.  Something you thought was great might look too tired or not fit as well.  Take the time to sort them all out even if  you did it when they were packed away.

I have one of these exercises to do in the next few weeks; some things I know without trying on I can just put in the “donate” pile.  I hate trying on everything and think of the money I spent on things that didn’t turn out as I’d hoped or don’t fit well or at all.  But once I’ve done it, and put things in piles and given them away, I know what my clothes options actually are so it makes getting dressed faster and the closet feels airy and spacious.  That’s a Good Thing.