One of the big issues that comes up again and again on The Project 333 is what to do when you’re losing (or gaining) weight.
I’ve had to deal with this. Last year I gained a lot of weight as I went through my separation. I suddenly found that nothing I owned fit me any more.
Although you hear advice to “just buy new clothes and bin the old stuff”, my budget didn’t stretch that far. I’d gained nearly 20 kgs (44 lbs). Ouch!
Even my shoes didn’t fit! I couldn’t just buy a whole new wardrobe!
So, instead, I used the “boxing” technique. I knew that the excess weight was temporary (due to severe and uncontrolled emotional eating). So I boxed up the too-tight clothes, shoes, and underwear, and put them in plastic crates, so they wouldn’t clutter my active wardrobe items while I was much bigger.
Then I dealt with my eating issues sensibly and logically, with a lot of help from my friends and online resources. I’ll talk about this in a moment, and how I’m one third of the way back down already.
This worked well. Now I’m coming back down through the sizes (and feeling better now the emotional triggers are gone), it’s a great feeling to get clothes out that didn’t fit me, and find that they do again.
Of course, for everything I bring out of retirement, something I was wearing must go. But that’s usually not a problem, because the things I was wearing in my bigger body are usually too baggy now. They’re off to the charity shop!
It’s important to ONLY have clothing in your active wardrobe that fits. There was no point in keeping items that were too small on hangers, where I could see them, while I was going through hard emotional times and feeling bad about my body. Seeing clothes that were too small only made me feel worse.
It was like shopping for clothing with a very skinny, supermodel friend – every time I opened my wardrobe made me hate myself even more!
I turned a corner for my body when:
- I realised that being bigger didn’t change the amazing person I was inside. My kids still loved me. So did my friends. I was just as capable. I was just as powerful as a woman. Self-hate did nothing.
- But being bigger made me feel less sexy. I didn’t like that. I found it hard to feel attractive sometimes. I found it hard to find clothes I liked and felt good in. I wanted to wear my old clothes. I wanted to look better.
- I realised that my habits were making me fat. A no brainer? You’d think so, but it wasn’t. My portions were too big. Even healthy foods in too-large amounts will make you fat, and they did that to me. I was eating too much. I needed to admit that, instead of lying to myself and pretending that somehow I was getting fat for no reason.
- I went back to the gym. Because the gym put me outside my comfort zone, it really helped me tackle my weight problem. You know, the hardest thing ever was walking in the door that first time. I was so scared! I thought everyone would stare at me, and I’d be the biggest whale in the joint. But I wasn’t, there were lots of people who were as fat as me (and fatter), and I was okay. It just took courage to make that first step.
- I needed to accept that there are some foods that I will NEVER be able to control myself with. I needed to ban those foods from my life. I will never be able to control myself with dairy chocolate (I eat 85% dark chocolate instead now). I cannot stop eating toasted cheese sandwiches, once I start (now I eat salad and tuna for lunch). I have a problem with junk food outlets (so if I take the kids, I have a kiddy meal too, instead of an adult sized meal, and I give them the fries). I cannot control soda or diet soda, so now I drink plain soda water with lemon juice (and it’s really yummy!). Knowing yourself is a key to success.
- I needed accountability. Weighing in for the first time was HORRIBLE. Then I accepted that I need to weigh in every day. Now I do it. The weight is coming off. I’ve also started blogging about my fitness journey (more accountability) and joined Fitocracy.
- I needed to see what I was actually eating. The free MyFitnessPal app was invaluable, and it still is. I’m logging everything. I was stunned to learn that I was eating more calories from “snacks” than from my actual meals. Chocolate, biscuits, cakes, soft drink, alcohol – all these little “extras” were adding up to over 1000 extra calories a day. Sometimes much, much more. It was a real wake-up call. I’d put on weight for some very real reasons, and all of them were called FOOD. I’m still logging every single thing I eat, down to a single bite of an Easter egg from one of my kids. It matters. It all matters.
- I needed to stop judging myself. And others. I was surprised at how BITTER I’d become. How judgemental. I think, because I was hating myself more and more, I’d also started hating others too. We women are so critical of ourselves! I needed to understand that our society is really harsh on people about our weight – men too – and that we should support each other, not criticise. If someone is really overweight, you can be sure as hell that they know it, and are hurting. Be kind. I’m still working on this one, but I like to think I’m getting there.
I’m gradually recognising my old body again. It feels good to be returning to ME again. Sometimes NOT throwing old clothes that don’t fit out is the wise decision. But the first choice must be to love ourselves, no matter what shape we’re in. Only then can we begin to start a healthy journey, no matter where it takes us.