This was me. On the left. The before picture – XL/L. This was me. On the right. Another before picture – XS/S.
So, what am I now?
Let me start from the beginning.
I was always a “chubby” child. A cute little blond girl with blue eyes and freckles. At one point my hair was so long I could sit on it. In the sixth grade, I kept going home from school with headaches and finally the doctor said, “cut her hair.”
That was the start of “paying attention to looks.” My mom no longer brushed my hair out at the breakfast table to set a ponytail for the day. I had a new cut and a new perm – yes, those were the perm years. Like most middle school teens, I was bad at style. Awkward and over exaggerated was my life of fashion and hair. By high school, I knew I was overweight, so I wore a lot of jeans and big t-shirts. I had moments of “thinner,” but the chubby ones out weighed those.
On my wedding day, June 14, 1997 my wedding dress was a size 24. My mother made it. There was SOOO much fabric. I just remember it being so freaking heavy.
Over the next seven years, I would fluctuate between large and x-large. I didn’t really get on a scale or think about it too much. I was just living life…I would grow to miss that…
The picture above, the left “before” picture, was taken when my daughter was one. I was about a size 16 in “ready to wear” cloths. (For my non-sewing readers, when you sew a pattern, the sizes are still true to original from back in the day. Your sewing pattern size is always higher than your “ready to wear” clothing size.)
Anyway, I played around with weight lose, still not really watching a scale or what I ate. I would just have periods in my life when I was more active. Until my son was born.
That is when EVERYTHING changed!
I was sitting on the floor with my week old little boy so my daughter, then two years old, could play with him. After two minutes my legs were asleep and I felt so heavy on them I had to get up on the couch. I will never forget her saying, “don’t take him from me mommy.” SHE was on the floor and I couldn’t be on the floor. After putting the children to bed that same night, I did what I always do when faced with a challenge. I got pissed. I buckled down. I said to myself, “how are you going to be a good parent, if you can’t even sit on the floor with your children for two minutes?” How was I going to play with them, run with them, dance around with them? It wasn’t even about the weight, it was about the energy. I was completely out of shape. A total couch potato. I watched a LOT of TV.
That night I joined Weight Watchers. I loved WW. In 18 months I lost 100 pounds. Yes, 100 pounds. I counted. And I counted. And I counted. I would literally spit a bit of cake in the trash if I didn’t think it tasted good enough to count the point. Once, I removed the lid from an entire cake and turned it over into the trash can, so I wouldn’t be tempted to pull it out if it was still covered by the lid. But…with all that, I was a size 4 in ready to wear!!! I looked good! But it really was more about feeling fit. The look was a bonus. I started walking. I started running. I loved the energy I had. I loved feeling fit. I loved feeling in control of myself. I loved this new me, that really was the same old determined and tough me, who really just directed that to a new challenge.
Then, after some random changes in our life, I had to start working out at a gym. I joined a Golds and thinking about “what I looked like” took over. The culture at the gym drove the “new challenge.” More muscle. Change in “shape.” Did I say, “more muscle?”
Let me just say, it sucked the life out of me.
I remember the day I “had enough.” I looked at my trainer and asked with all sincerity, “what’s enough?” He was confused. “At what point will you actually like how you look? What would be enough for you?” His answer knocked me on my butt. “It’s never enough. You can always be better.”
I NEVER WENT BACK!
I had started my “weight loss journey” wanting to “play” with my children, and instead I was lost in this world of low carbs, lean proteins, miles on the treadmill, heavy weights, measurements and soulless vanity. Enough. Exactly.
I loved lifting. I loved running. I didn’t love worrying about what I looked like. I didn’t love comparing myself to everyone else around me. I also didn’t love that even though I was 135 lbs and could bench 135lbs (my weight!) and squat 185lbs, that I could never buy clothes off the rack.
Nothing ever fit.
My curves were always in the wrong place for ready to wear.
Flash forward to now…..
I was listening to the Love to Sew Podcast and a light bulb went off. It was something I knew, but didn’t realize I knew.
And if you don’t like yourself in clothes, listen up!!!!
When we shop for ready to wear and we pick up a size 10, that size 10 is designed as a measurement to fit the “middle of the road” person in that measurement. But we have LOTS of measurements. Arms, bust, hips, waist, inseam, thighs, etc. NO two people are the exact same in all our measurements whether we are fit or not. To paraphrase the podcast, we try on a “number” and when it doesn’t fit we ask, “what is wrong with ME???” Even if we don’t realize it, we are making ourselves the problem.
And isn’t it “fitting” that when “we are the problem” the world can “sell” us things to “fix us.”
They can sell us low carbs, active wear, work out machines, new diet trends, gym memberships, etc. There is a clear difference, for me anyway, in working toward a look and working toward “feeling good/healthy/fit.”
Nothing like being diagnosed with a neurological disorder to cause you to reevaluate your life.
After my Tarlov Cyst disorder, I had to stop running and lifting. It was gut wrenching. I literally grieved myself. I loved to DO those things. And not because then kept me small, but because they made me feel strong. I loved it!
Since stopping all those activities and being “stuck” in my mind with just walking, I unknowingly established new eating habits. I stopped counting. I stopped “watching everything I eat.” I feel into a pattern of eating when I was hungry. Eating a little of something because I wanted it. Looking back over the last 4 years like this, I have felt much more free. Granted, I stopped worrying because I replaced that space in my mind with sewing. Yay for sewing, but the point is, “a look” didn’t have control over me anymore like it did when I was going to the gym and training!
Something else that came up on the podcast was Intuitive Eating. This was new language for me. After hearing about this new Intuitive Eating movement, I realized, that IS what I am doing. And, I am happy to say, that for the last four years I have basically been within the same 5 lbs for the entire time.
So what am I now?
My friends. I am a size 10 or Medium size in ready to wear. I am not ashamed that I am not a xs/s anymore. In sewing patterns, I am between a 14 and 16 depending on what area of my form I am measuring. Not a 4 and not a 24. Not Small and Not XL. Just medium.
But I am happy! I can walk three – five miles with no problem (as long as my symptoms are under control). I can pretty much eat yummy things and stop when I “need” to. If I have a “bad day of eating” I can forgive myself and do better tomorrow.
I can also make my own clothes. When I measure myself and fit a pair of jeans or shorts for me, they fit ME. When clothes fit you it makes you feel comfortable. When you feel comfortable you carry yourself differently. It eliminates the mind games that ready to wear causes.
Knowing that, I am going to work to fill my closet with a full handmade wardrobe.
I am starting with three new pair of jeans, three new dresses and three new shirts. Stay tuned for more…I will be documenting the process here.