I need a clothes stylist

Clothes Shopping - no, this isn’t meI started to say that I needed a dresser, but then it sounded as though I was missing a piece of furniture. That isn’t the problem.

I know what colors look good on me but I really don’t understand how to dress myself properly. There, I said it. A terrible thing for a 52 year old to know about herself. No matter how many hours of What Not to Wear I watch, I haven’t picked up the tricks.

You see, the women on WNTW are usually teeny tiny or else larger and either losing weight or have just lost some. I haven’t seen anyone my size. I don’t mean weight here, I mean size. I am a pear-shaped person; my hips are far larger than my upper body (see how tastefully I said that?). If I find something that fits one, it doesn’t fit the other.

I’m also short. Er, petite. That sounds lovely if you’re shopping in a place like Nordstom’s (not that I go there; we don’t have one) where petite’s usually refer to those teeeny tiny people. What’s available in Womens Petite (aka WP) were designed generally by people who are not in the WP sizes. Most WP pants are things I trip over, or else the zippers are too long and the waistband goes up three inches above my waist. It looks stupid and feels worse.

My shoulders are very narrow, which doesn’t balance out my more cushioned lower half that is a broad as a beam. I have jackets that I love but they look crappy because the shoulders are too wide, the sleeves are too long, and the length is wrong – and these are WP jackets! From places like Talbots!

It’s enough to make me despair.

I’m going into summer – well, maybe, if you don’t count the snow that’s coming on Thursday – and hate my clothes from last year. Even if they fit, I don’t want to wear them. But I don’t want to buy many new things because I don’t want to be wearing them long. In theory I understand going out and buying a few really nice things, spending $$ to have them tailored, and then be happily well dressed for the season.

That’s not what I do. I hunt down bargains or things that “will do” to tide me over, and they either fit weirdly or shrink or turn into something I despise. Been there, done that, have given bags away to charity. Perhaps there is a major lesson here for me. What I’m doing isn’t working. I need to try another way.

I want to be comfortable in my body while I’m in it. And I’m just not which is why I’m not willing to dress it well. I want to pare off the saddlebags on my hips so things fit better (without getting bloody from the paring, of course). Exercise is the key to this and I have been a slug, but since even walking 30 min. makes my knees scream at me, I’ve been loathe to do more. And since I’m moving, I don’t want to invest in a gym with a pool when I won’t have much time to use it.

ThimbleIt shouldn’t be so hard, to find a few things I love, somewhere, and have them tailored so I love wearing them and feel good in them, not like a little girl playing dress up in clothes that swim and hide my lumps. Stacy and Clinton are always telling people to have their clothes altered but all I can think of is the $$, considering the number of things I need to buy. I wish they would come up with advice on stores to shop for large size people – other than Lane Bryant. Blech. If I want better quality clothes that FIT, I need a place where I can find them.

When I went on my medical fasts in 1979, I remember the hideous mumu style dresses that I wore – because they were the only things that fit. There are more choices now but they are not cheap and I have to hunt for things that will look like what I want them to look once they are on my body. Not great on the hanger, great on me.

I get very squirrely when having to deal with my wardrobe. Feelings of inadequacy and cluelessness abound. Where are Stacy and Clinton when I need them? I’d take a fairy godmother, too.


No longer a Weight Watchers poster child

Poster childWhen I started with Weight Watchers in July 2002, I weighed 323 lbs. I had a goal of losing 65 lbs before chairing a national conference in April the following year and was highly motivated to stick to the Winning Points plan and do whatever I needed to do to get there. It didn’t actually seem all that hard – I went to my weekly meetings, journaled faithfully, went to the gym for cardio and strength training, and buckled down to just doing it.

I didn’t feel good in my extra-large body. I was tired of being tired all the time, of having no energy to walk even a few blocks, of having to ask for seatbelt extensions on the plane and go to shop online to find clothes that would fit. I was a round, soft, Pillsbury Doughgirl in flowered dresses and short graying hair. I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself and it was time to change.

I made it manageable by first setting a 10% goal. 32 lbs was still a lot but it was more realistic than constantly looking at the 65 lbs I wanted to reach. I also had someone that I checked in with by email several times a week – and a buddy in NC who started at the same time I did, with as much to lose as I did. We were at the same place in our journeys, learning the plan, finding recipes, figuring out how to move and think differently.

I achieved that original goal of 65 lbs in the time I wanted and lost an additional 50 lbs over the next 12 months. I felt like the Weight Watchers poster child. I was even asked by my leader to be part of a news segment on a slow news day when they were talking about weight loss tips for a holiday weekend. It was nervous-making but fun and I was looking very svelte and feeling happy with myself.

But I got tired of being the poster child, of being the one that everyone else looked to to do the program right. I didn’t feel that I could make a mistake. Every time I had a cookie or a piece of pizza or anything, even if I was counting it, people were watching me and it started to make me very very squirrely. Were they paying attention, or thinking it looked good, or figuring the points and condemning me for eating something that tasted good?

I found myself going back to old habits, the ones of secret stress eating. Though it’s hard to imagine eating secretly when you live by yourself in the first place and no one is there to watch. One of my really bad habits was to stop at CVS on the way to work and buy some food as well soda – and find a big bag of whatever it was gone before lunch. I never went back to the “1 lb bag of M&M’s” which I used to eat without really flinching, although they did sort of made me sick. But I would buy them to “share” by filling a little desktop candy machine in another office – and then find myself running in and helping myself.

It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t make me happy. I gained back 50 lbs. No one thinks of me as a Weight Watchers poster child anymore, so I guess I got what I wanted.

But I’m not happy with myself now, either. Other people are the poster children and I miss the attention of being noticed for my success. People around me in my real life don’t see that I’m doing anything different because they didn’t see me eating in secret; they just saw my face get rounder and my clothes get tighter and then move up to a new size. It’s been too soon in my “new year’s resolve” for there to be any physical transformation that anyone can see. It will take at least 30 lbs before they see anything.

So I need to rely on my own self-motivation and I don’t trust it. It feels fragile and on little wobbly legs, not the strong, focused way I started this originally. I know it’s not a contest with others of You who have the energy and clarity about what you’re doing and why. I read blogs and sometimes feel energized but other times just get, not depressed, but bitchy and whiny that you are in a place where I used to be but am not right now.

The only thing I can do is to just do it. Looking at the long haul, focusing on my failure to maintain the loss I once had, isn’t going to get me there. Small choice by small choice. Trips to the gym when I don’t feel like going – even to do do just a small thing, just to make sure I go – because exercise will make a difference. Online journaling will make a difference. Making sure I leave work on time at least three days a week.

The goal is not just losing weight. It’s reducing physical stress and taking better care of myself. I know how to do this. Now I just need to do it, one step at a time.