I’ve gone through my closet a couple of times in the past month or so, weeding it of pieces I’ve had for years. The soft loosely fit pants I bought in both a steel grey and khaki because the trousers I normally wore to work were getting too snug around my waist and were too warm for summer. The newer navy pinstriped trousers I found on sale, with a more comfortable waistband that kept me from thinking about my expanding midsection. Three pair of my favorite Bermuda shorts I think I lived in last summer. A couple pair of ancient light-weight cargo shorts that made shrugging out of pajama bottoms so easy from one day to the next.
And then there were the jeans.
Stretchy jeans. Favorite faded jeans that had gotten too small, then happily fit again, now too big even after a good hot water washing and spin in the dryer. Big jeans purchased in desperation, only briefly worn when things were seriously getting out of hand. Dark colored trouser jeans I bought for our trip to England a year and a half ago and then outgrew. It took a year, but I managed to do it.
As I removed each piece of clothing from its hangar, I tried it on — something I detest doing. The better part of a day was spent standing in front of our mirror clad closet doors while I examined my reflection noticing sagging in the rear, or a gaping waistband. Pants easily removed with a simple tug — no unzipping necessary. As much as you might expect I’d cheer each time it happened, I didn’t. I was busy trying to ignore my practical self voice– the one that thinks about how much was paid for something worn only a few times. Or the seemingly helpful self who cautioned that a waistband wasn’t all that loose and that I may need to hang on to some things.
Just. In. Case.
Four large plastic garbage bags were filled by the time I was done and as much as I can say it felt good to realize losing 20 pounds makes a such difference, I noticed my preoccupation with other things. Things like the sizes on the clothes — many of which were 14s. Size 14s that all fit so differently from huge to still just right. Fourteens with waistbands too high and tight, and others low cut and baggy. A couple of size 12s were also too big, others too small. One size ten I could squeeze into if I thought I wanted to look like an enormous trussed chicken ready for the oven.
That was nearly five pounds ago — and counting. Every other day or so weigh-ins to document my progress have become something that can easily upset me depending on what that progress actually is. Sometimes, there seems to be no logic to it: a one and eight-tenths gain, then a two and four-tenths loss the very next morning regardless of the strict consistency I strive for with this routine. It’s maddening, catching me wanting the gratification of a particular number instead of the understanding that the big picture provides.
So I review.
Eat breakfast before 9am. Check. Alternate between eggs and veggies, whole grain cereal with a bit of fruit, or a carefully orchestrated smoothie. Check. Eat enough calories in one day. Struggle to check. Get your cardio and strength exercises done each week. Sort of check but always working on it.
All my life, I’ve thought of food, but thinking about it in this capacity at times has become exhausting. I’ve begun to notice that instead of wanting to be constructive about planning meals with creativity, I simply want to get it over with. How challenging can it be to grill a small piece of fish or lean meat and roast a vegetable? Grab a healthy snack between meals. Fire up the blender for a smoothie?
I’ve reached the halfway point — or to be more accurate — see it right in front of me, taunting me. Telling me I need to step it up. Get myself moving. But today, I’m tired and cranky. And I’ll allow myself that because staying on good course for 18 weeks, I’ve done what I set out to do. But I’ve been waking earlier than I normally do and staying up later. When I’m not careful about what I eat, I end up with too few calories in my body and feeling like I’m out of fuel, because that’s exactly what I am.
No patience, easy to rile, and seriously lacking in motivation. Flat.
But I don’t “cheat.” I use that term loosely because most understand that being on a diet implies there are rules that must be followed just so — and if they’re broken, it’s cheating. I never set out to be on a diet. I set out to change the way I live my life and feed my body.
At first, I was almost religious about eating five times a day. Three fairly even meals with a morning and afternoon snack. But as I’ve progressed, things have changed. The snacks have sort of disappeared and not by intention. I get busy and don’t think about it. Saved calories, right? That doesn’t work for me. I’ve figured that if I don’t keep the fuel steadily coming, then the whole thing breaks down. I’ve also shifted away from eating even sprouted wheat bread once in a while — toasted with a measured mound of egg or chicken curry on it. Again, this hasn’t been by design.
It’s been days that I’ve been writing this and struggling over how to say it all. When I read it over, there’s no justice served to what I’ve learned.
Perhaps it’s a lesson about my life in general. What I’ve learned must be summed up in a particular way, and because I’m not done, well then, it’s not easy to put down.
Words escape me, but I’ve taken photos just to document. Yes, photos. Each month on a given day, I subject myself to photos taken in three positions. I make a collage of sorts and date it, and each month, I compare the extent to which I’ve grown smaller. Clearly, I have. The clothes show it, the photos show it, and I can see it. I share the photos only with my husband who says he could never do it himself.
But it holds me accountable far more than loose clothing or a number on a scale. A glance in the mirror.
Yet, I’m wondering. Am I just giving in to something I’ve always said I’ve deplored?
Thin to be thin?