I’ve struggled with my weight since elementary school, and it became a much bigger issue in college – pun intended. I first joined Weight Watchers (WW) in 1995 and have made many attempts since then to get back to a healthy weight range. My current effort is the most successful ever. Part of that accomplishment is due to the fact that I took the time to figure out what lessons I could learn from my past failures and semi-successes.
In 2004 or 2003, a colleague organized a Weight Watchers at work program that started the week before Thanksgiving and ran through mid-Winter. I participated and lost around 15 or so pounds. For the first time in my life, I did not regain all of the weight I had lost during one of my WW attempts. Furthermore, I hadn’t even started at my highest weight ever. After I moved from Texas to DC, I lost about 10 - 15 pounds because I drive less and walk more here in my day-to-day life.
How was I able to maintain this loss of 10 – 15 pounds? Part of it was the increased activity from living in a walking-friendly environment, but there is one other tactic I took that I highly recommend. At the end of the Weight Watchers at work program, I went through my closets and drawers and removed all the clothing that was a size or two too big at that point and gave it to Goodwill. Most of my size 16 plus clothing, all of the 18 plus and the most-hated, it-was-so-hot-in-Texas, and I-had-no-shorts-that-fit-and-I-was-desperate, size 20 plus shorts were gone, and I vowed never to buy clothes in those sizes again. Whenever the remaining clothes got tight enough that I started to long for some of the very nice clothing I had given to Goodwill, I got motivated enough to do something and lose 5-10 pounds. Part of this motivation came from my frugality, but some of it came from stubbornness.
The value of drawing this clear line in the sand was a very useful lesson, and I’m turning to it again. Yesterday and earlier this summer, I went through my closets and drawers and pulled out all of my clothing that was too big. I have a mountain of clothes on my loveseat that includes the following sizes: 16 plus (not a lot – most of it went the last time I did this), 14 plus, X and even some 1X, 16 regular (including several fabulous Jones New York suits), a few 14 regular, extra large, very few larges and a few men’s sizes and other stuff so random I almost don’t know how I accumulated it. Looking at that pile makes me very happy, but it is tinged with a little fear.
Even though this has worked in the past, it’s still scary. I’m giving away a lot of very nice clothing – stuff that would be very expensive to replace – and it’s been so long, more than ten years, since I’ve been in my size range – a pretty solid 14 with some “small” size 16 stuff and “big” size 12 stuff. I’m also more of a large or a rare medium on top instead of an extra large. Is this just a temporary fluke? Can I stay here or even get smaller? I’ve been fat most of my adult life, and for years, I accepted that as what I was meant to be.
Some of you may notice that I said I cleaned my closets earlier this summer. That too-big summer clothing has been sitting on my loveseat for more than a month because I couldn’t find the courage to bring it to Goodwill. It was good stuff, and I couldn’t completely convince myself that I wouldn’t need it again. The pile has now doubled. I need to believe in myself and that my journey to becoming and staying a healthy writer will be a success. I need to acknowledge the fear holding me back, confront it, and get over it.
This morning, I sent an email to my local writer’s group offering this clothing to anyone interested (some of it really is very nice) and gave myself a deadline of next Sunday to get the remaining clothes to Goodwill. This is my vote of confidence in myself for the next four months – and beyond.
What kind of “vote of confidence in yourself” can you make for the next four months that will help you along your journey to becoming and staying a healthy writer?