Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celebration Week Moment: Clothes

Of all the things I anticipated on this journey, I never really thought the reality of this one through. I guess in my brain I would start out at one size, and when I reached my goal wake up at that size. I never thought about what would go on in between or the ramifications of a rapid ongoing weight loss.

Where I came from: Eight months ago my clothes were at the top of the limits of even the plus size stores. That was part of what pushed me to do something. I feared reaching the point where I could not find clothes in any store, especially clothes for work. In shirts I was wearing a 4x (snuggly) and my pants were what my favorite plus store called a 12x (this is somewhere around a women’s 32 I believe). My shoes were a size ten wide and my rings were a 10 also.

Finding clothes was about what fit and not much else. If it fit and wasn’t grossly ugly it was purchased. My style was conservative at best. All dark colors, no embellishments, nothing that would make me stand out any more than I had to. My clothing was also pretty casual. Even for work it was the least dressy I could get away with but still be client presentable. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t care what I looked like, I cared a lot, but just knew I couldn’t look like I wanted to, so had accepted what I could find as ok. While I cared I never really put in much effort.

Overall my closet was made up of things I had had a decade and things that fit and I went with that. I hated shopping because I could find nothing I liked and I just went with what I had.

Shoes were also real issue for me. While in my younger days they were something I loved, after the nerve damage my shoes became about functionality and safety. Sneakers anywhere I could get away with (and some places I shouldn’t), dress shoes were flat and sensible. The other problem with dress shoes was that I easily could gain 20 lbs of fluid in a day, so anything that fit well in the morning was unbearable by 5pm, so again shoes had to be chosen for functionality and comfort throughout the day.

Where I am now: Shopping is something I love, because a world I have never been able to explore is opening up to me. I am shopping in real stores for the first time in my adult life and each time I go it gets easier and easier to find new places where I can find my sizes. I am still at the top of the range of many normal stores, but I am ok with that and know that it will only get better. Currently my pants are a size 14/16 and my shirts vary from a large to an extra large depending on the store and style. I can now walk into Victoria’s secret and buy undergarments off the shelf. It is amazing.

And because my world has opened up with the size change, so has my style. I now have one. I love wearing skirts and dresses, I love looking good and I love showing off my shape. Even with 80 more pounds to go, I have a body I have worked damn hard to get and will not hide anymore. If I take something out of the closet now and it is baggy or hides me too much it immediately goes in the charity pile. I love colors…this week I bought PURPLE JEANS and I am getting better about the embellishment stuff (still struggle with ruffles and foo fooey ness on clothes). While my greatest dream outfit used to be jeans and sneakers, I now rarely wear jeans even if I can get away with it. I find myself putting on a skirt to go to a casual dinner with a friend and packing them by choice when I travel. I no long change into jeans and sneaker as soon as I leave a client’s office and before the plane (something we used to dub “consultant superman”). Now I travel in dress shoes and I fly dressed up most times. I have even allowed myself to get on a plane in dress shorts which I would never have done before.

Shoes are even better. My shoes are now and 8 ½ or a 9 and no more wide shoes. Oh and as my friends have seen, I have discovered my toes and pedicures. I love buying shoes that show off my feet, because I no longer fight what I used to call “fred flintstone feet” from swelling. If I do swell during the day it is a pound and my shoes easily handle that. The best part of the shoe change has come from the work I have done in my training. I no longer have to select shoes to be functional, because my core and my body take care of that. I can buy heels, and actually prefer them. I think about how much shoes look not about if I can walk in them. This does have its downsides, packing is a lot harder now as I often have to break my “wear one, pack one” self imposed limit, but if that is my biggest problem I am good with that.

Jewelry has always been a passion of mine. Even when clothes wouldn’t fit, jewelry would. Today my ring size is a 7 ½. I have bought two rings of incredible significance to me, one being my amethyst which marked losing 50 lbs with my trainer and will be updated with a diamond each time I lose 50 more lbs and the second being my “mantra ring”. I had engraved into a plain gold band Gui’s words which so resonated with me “Forward….Regardless....Relentless”. Anytime I start to lose my focus, with exercise, food or any of the journey I only have to look down and it is there to remind me I need to keep going. I have also ordered a fun ring for myself also recently.

Earrings are a new passion. I tended to wear very small earrings before. It really didn’t matter, you couldn’t see them the way I wore my hair and to be honest I also worried about looking trashy if they got larger. After I changed my hair a few weeks ago my ears became visible and I started to become more adventurous. I now love long, large earrings and keep my eyes open for unique new ones every time I am out.

As I said in the opening of this post, I never thought about how many wardrobes this journey would take. It has shocked me how quickly I go through clothes (before they are too big) and how much I end up spending on replacements. To date I have sent 13 large garbage bags of clothes to charities and I have a pile in my closet that is probably another 6-8 bags that will go soon. Sending the first load was a lot of fun, it was getting rid of the old and just felt cathartic. The second and soon to be third loads I am having a lot harder time with. These are clothes I just bought, that I like and I hate to see them go. I am especially going to cry when the polka dot dress goes in the near future.

There has been one reaction in all this I totally didn’t expect. I find myself at times being sad as I have to let go of a store I can no longer shop in because they do not make sizes small enough. I have been a creature of habit for so many years, always buying the same bras, the same dress pants, the same underwear, the same coats, all in the same stores. And for as much as I am loving all the new options, sometimes losing the comfort of the known items is sad and unsettling. The ease of buying the same is being lost in all the choices I now have and at times that overwhelms me.

Because of this feeling of being overwhelmed, I now will not shop alone. I have three friends I trust to shop with me. They keep me honest (I still tend to buy things that are too big and wont fit in a week) and also help me push myself to try on things the old me never would have and often end up looking really great. They also help me deal with the insane paranoia I still have that even though I can see it fits I am not willing to believe something that small can fit and worry I am looking like a fool wearing it. I couldn’t write this post without thanking the three of you for your honesty, your patience and your help these last few months. You have made shopping a lot less stressful and a whole lot more fun for me and I love you for that.

My Goals: This is the best part, because I know it is only going to get better and better from here. My ultimate goal (and it has been since day one of this journey) is to be able to walk into any store, any where in the world and be able to pick up a medium anything and it fit. I want to know that I never have to feel out of place in a store or worry about do they have the marginal sizes for us big people.

My dream outfit…I want to walk into Ann Taylor and buy an amazing suit and look hot as hell in it! Ok yes I am still a geek, what can I say and an Ann Taylor suit is something I used to watch a previous boss and friend wear every day and look great in and knew I never would. Now I am willing to dream that I can!

I also want to be able to buy one or more great pieces of formal wear and make men’s jaws drop when I walk in wearing it. I still live with the scars of prom and wearing a dress I hated because it was what fit, I want to wear that hot red cocktail dress I really wanted to buy and turn heads in it. And at this rate I may be able to show up at my 25th high school reunion in just that!!!!!!

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