Weight loss Regime Survival Tip #12: Purge Minus One

Yup, clothing time.

I know in my Friday post I mentioned that this weekend I would be sorting through clothing. Part of that sorting was getting ready for fall weather and the return of bulkier items from my backroom storage. The rest of the clear out has to do with my continuing weight loss journey. Now I know some of you are thinking, yeah you get rid of clothes that no longer fit and do a happy dance when you can get into the smaller sizes tucked away in the back of your closet.

Big deal.

Except that it sort of is a big deal. And it isn’t just about smaller sizes. There are layers. See here’s the thing about committing to losing weight. It’s tricky. Not just the losing part, but the mental part. You can sweat daily, count every calorie going in and coming out, see the numbers change on the scale (and in your favor) and still not fit into the smaller size of jeans you have stashed away in your ‘one day’ drawer.

Because you are not only fighting your body, but dealing with various manufacturers and their assembly process as well as the possible stretching and constricting possibilities of cloth. So we deal with the closet purge in steps.

Step one, assess the damage. This is one of those few times where overly worn clothing makes you feel good. Because if you have committed to the battle of the bulge it will show on your clothes, especially if you went the cheap cotton t-shirt route. No matter how good you deodorant or how good your laundry soap, those shirts will show your efforts. Even with all the salt and sweat stains removed, the cloth will start to pill and be slightly discolored. I suggest that before you start going through your workout clothes, get yourself a new pack of shirts. Try getting a pack one size smaller than the ones you are currently wearing (as long as you can actually get them on). If they are a little tight, it can get you motivated. (or at least it does me, as when I put on a smaller size I always feel like I’ve gained a little weight because of the tighter fit) In addition, you can compare the crisp new shirt to the ones that you have been sweating in.

See the difference?

Revel in the difference.

Then consign the old shirts to the rag bag, or if they are still wearable, garden use for as long as you can.

Step two is your regular closet. I know, those smaller jeans don’t fit, yet, but there are other clothes in that closet. Start with your current favorites. Put each on and stand in front of a mirror, full length if you have it. Now look at yourself. Not the quick dash of eyes to see if you are presentable before you leave the house. Actually look at yourself.

Scary, I know. If you’ve gained a lot of weight like I did, you have no doubt become an expert at looking at yourself without actually seeing. It’s a defense mechanism and one I got quite good at pulling off. So don’t assess yourself. Assess the clothes.

How does that shirt fit? Is the neck line a little lower than it has been in the past? Are the sleeves slipping down your shoulders just a little? I know that most clothes for larger people are somewhat shapeless, but try to see how they garment is supposed to fit. Is that neckline supposed to rest on your collar bone? Even if it is only a millimeter lower, good job, keep going. If it is sagging low enough to expose cleavage in ways you didn’t actually want it exposed and threatens to slip off your shoulders should your posture relax, woo hoo, take that too tight jeans!

And into the donation pile the shirt goes.

Because that is part of the purge, you want to get rid of those larger clothes so you have nothing to go back to. Moving backwards will now require that you go shopping and shell out cash for new larger clothes if you go back. But you aren’t going back, so you can get rid of them.

Step three is to look at your older clothes, the ones that were just a hint too tight last time you tried them on. Don’t go digging to the very back of your closet for that dress you wore when you were the ‘perfect’ size, whatever size that happened to be for you. Think delicate archaeological dig. You must peel back the layers of the historically protected Fort Closet to reveal the many nuances of continuous occupation. So start with the just a shade too tight layer. Chances are that if you are getting rid of some clothes, at least a couple of items can be moved into wearable rotation.

Now just like with the other clothes, you must assess. Yes my darlings, I’m afraid it is time for the mirror again. Full length if you please.

Look at the fit, look at how it sits on your body. Don’t get critical of your body, that is not the point of this. Just assess the cloth. Think of yourself as the mannequin form the clothes are on if you have to. In time it will get easier to look at yourself.

But for now… Is this how it was designed to fit? Is the neck in the right area? Can you move your arms up and down without the sleeves cutting off circulation. Does this skirt feel as though it will bisect you in half like a magician’s trick gone horribly wrong or can you sit down in it without passing out?

All of these are things you need to look at. But there is something else. If you are like me then the larger your size got, the less you purchased clothes because you liked them and the more you purchased them because they fit. At many stores, I was faced with a limited selection and let’s face it, if I talked myself into shopping it was because I really needed something. There are a lot of garments that made it into my closet because they fit and they would be suitable for an immediate need (meeting, wedding, funeral, baby shower…).

So when I started pulling things back out of the closet, there were a lot of things I didn’t actually like. I still have things I don’t really like, because I’m still large enough that I’d be naked if I got rid of them all now. But I whittled them down. I figured out how many I realistically still needed and got rid of some of the worst offenders. The rest I threatened with the evil eye. Yes there was pointing and the words ‘Soon… SOON your time will come’ may have escaped my lips. Which is why I sorted when no one was home.

You use the method that works for you, I won’t judge.

So once you’ve smiled about fitting into something that was too tight before, decide if you actually like it. If not, then decide if you need to keep it for the moment, or if you can go ahead and add it to the donation pile. If you can, donate it. Your aim is to have a closet full of clothes that exist in your world because you want to wear them, not because it was the only thing available to prevent you from being naked in public.

I should also mention that this is also the time where out dated clothes need to go too. I know, back in the day you rocked that dress. Oh, the stories it could tell. Now you can fit into it again, but you know in your heart of hearts that if you step outside in it you will need to fake being a lost and confused time traveler in order to pull off wearing it in public. I’m not saying that can’t be a fun Saturday, but after you’ve proven you could wear it if you wanted, maybe let it go.

Its okay if your neighbors think you are a little kookie, just don’t make them want to have you committed. Figure out that line and make sure you know which side you are standing on.

Now, if you remember the title of this was purge minus one. It is always good to remember where you’ve been, even if it is only because you never want to go back. While you are getting rid of a lot, keep one item or outfit. Make it your favorite from before you started to lose weight.

You know which one.

The one that always made you feel good when you put it on. The one that always boosted your self esteem and made you feel pretty. Especially if you didn’t look in the mirror. This does not get purged. Instead, it gets put into the back of your closet. Then whenever you feel like you are not achieving anything, you pull it out, put it on and realize that despite everything you have made some progress.

You might have noticed that I referenced the mirror a lot in this tip. Part of that is because I noticed that as my weight went up, I stopped looking at myself. I stopped seeing me. You can get away with a lot if you don’t have to look at yourself in the mirror. Double portions are excused because it is so delicious and you don’t want it to go to waste. Larger clothing tags are a conspiracy by the fashion industry. Not looking at yourself becomes a habit.

When I started losing weight, it became important for me to break this habit, for a host of reasons. But even if it was for no reason other than needing to see if I was making progress, then it was important. Starting by looking at the clothing and assessing how it fits, how it was designed to fit, instead of looking at and judging my body underneath, was an important jumping off point for me. It allowed me to ease back into looking at myself. Truthfully, it is still something I am getting comfortable with, but as the end goal is ultimately for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, it is something I will continue to work on.

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