My closet is a ghost town: a myriad of tops and faded jeans all neatly lined up and abandoned. There are very few clothes in my closet that I can actually wear right now, thanks to my stubborn insistence that I not buy another piece of clothing until I drop a size. I live in a world of elastic waistbands and frumpy, wide-width shoes. Fashion is not my friend. Fashion is a word I can’t even relate to anymore.
I didn’t realize it until this week, but I have been avoiding my closet. I’ve made a lot of big changes in my life in a relatively short amount of time: I gave up sugar, diet soda, stopped thinking of healthy eating as a drag, and put an indefinite HOLD status on my plans to have lap band surgery. It’s only been 6 weeks. These changes are still in their infancy – and, with over 20 years of yo-yo dieting under my belt, I guess it’s only natural for me to shy away from anything that might derail the motivation train. My resolve is precious to me. Who hasn’t given up on a “diet” within the first days and weeks of starting it? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve thrown my hands up and reached for the chips. My resolve is something that must be protected and gently nurtured. This is why I’ve been avoiding my closet and all those clothes I can’t wear.
My closet makes me feel like a failure – and yet I choose to stubbornly cling to a hundred hangers worth of memories. I decided to stop avoiding it this week. Time to grab the bull by the horns. Just two steps in and I was surrounded by a half dozen different sizes. All of them were judging me.
As I organized and sorted, my hands flipped past t-shirts and non-tunics galore. I remembered the times I wore these clothes – times when the number on the scale was not nearly as shameful as it is now. I weighed a lot less then, but I was never able to let myself be happy with where I was. I may have been a lot smaller, but I remember I always felt just as huge as the day I hit my highest weight.
Then I saw it: the first leather jacket I ever bought myself. It’s a size 22 – which is still plus sized, but 10 sizes smaller than where I am today. I can’t part with it. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of the first time I saw it in the store. I had lost 75 pounds, but I was on the small end of a size 24 and wasn’t sure it would fit me. I’ll never forget the triumphant feel of slipping that jacket on. Perfect fit.
I stood in my closet, smiling at the memory of it, but the smile faded within just a few seconds. I know all too well what happened next and my moment of joy was replaced with shame & disappointment. Just a few months later, I started another downward spiral and I gave up on myself. Again.
Having never been able to give myself credit for the accomplishment of losing 75 pounds, I was still berating myself for being 295 pounds (my top weight at the time) – even though I hadn’t weighed that much in months. I call that kind of negative, automatic thinking my “auto-pilot”. I didn’t even know I was doing it until my attitude hit the skids. I tried to pick myself up with a pep talk. “Hey! I do NOT weigh 295 pounds! I’m kicking ass!!” I tried to believe in myself, but I never felt it in my heart. It made me vulnerable in ways I couldn’t see.
While at my most vulnerable, I was unprepared for the jerk parade that ensued when I started dating again. It only took a couple douche bags to break me down. It wasn’t long before I started finding excuse after excuse not to work out. Fast food was suddenly more convenient. Ice cream was back in the freezer. That bitch Little Debbie was back in my life. It was easier to curl up on the couch with a plate full of pizza rolls and let the world outside go by than it was for me to look at what went wrong and try again. By the time I stepped on the scale again, I was 299 pounds. All the way back up to my top weight with 4 pounds extra. Nice job.
The leather jacket in my closet is a symbol of the good times on the road to weight loss and the pitfalls that await me if I make the same mistakes. In some ways, it might be better if I just gave it to charity. I can’t. Not until I can wear it again. When I slip that jacket on my shoulders again and I feel in my heart that I am a Hot Mess Bad Ass, then I can let it go. That’s the way it is with all the clothes in my ghost town closet. There is peace to be made. Retribution.
It’s going to be difficult for a while. Auto-pilot is hard to fight when I have no physical reminder that I’ve lost weight. An obese person can’t see or feel a loss of 5, 10, or even 20 pounds. It doesn’t make much of a dent. Pants don’t feel looser when they have elastic waists. It makes it a lot harder to stay positive when you’re able to wear the same pair of pants through pounds and pounds of weight loss. I don’t expect to be able to wear the next size down for at least another 10 or 15 pounds. The scale and the tape measure are my only real tools for measuring my success – at least for a while.
Just a few days ago, I caught myself on auto-pilot again. I sat down in my chair at work and thought to myself “I can’t believe I weigh 381 pounds…”
Here I go again, right? I don’t weigh 381 pounds. I weigh 361 pounds.
That’s right, peeps: I’ve lost more marbles since my last post! I’ve lost 20 pounds since December 15th, 2011. Why do I have such a problem acknowledging my own success?
That’s why I left myself this note on my monitor at work the other day:
Of course, now I’m going to have to put a new note up there: 361. What a horrible inconvenience to have to keep rewriting these notes, right? 🙂
I was so excited to see 361 blinking back at me from the scale this morning. I had to weigh myself three times before I would believe it, finally stepping back and muttering “shut UP!” My groggy hubby, still in bed, rolled over and said “Pretty sure you’re not supposed to tell the scale to shut up, babe…” Goober.
I’m two pounds away from the 350’s – which means I have two pounds more to lose before one of those little pink jewels go PLINK in the “Pounds Lost” jar. It looks like I’m going to hit my next mini goal: 359 by Valentine’s day.
What’s my goal after that? 354. Why? Because I will no longer be able to say I have to lose over 200 pounds. 🙂 At 354 pounds, I will have 199 pounds more to lose.
Seems insurmountable, doesn’t it? 199 more pounds. My God. I’m here to tell ya: I’m gonna do it. I will kick every single pound squarely in the ass and send it packing. Ten pounds at a time, they’re dust. For me, success is no longer just hitting my goal weight. Success is changing my life and earning my way.
So here I am: a 361 pound success. Proud and grateful.