Thursday, September 22, 2005

The promised land isn't like I expected

Every morning I get up and put some work clothes in my bag. A suit. I have lots of suits, unfortunately most of them are size 20 and 22 and are getting comedy big. Last time I tried on the very biggest, a Marks and Spencer size 22 that I was wearing at the beginning of the year (and which was getting snug again after loosening up a bit last summer before I had my mini-blip over winter), it was already getting to the stage where I can see that it might be useful for one of those stand in one of the legs photos at some point in the future. Really, there is absolutely no way the trousers would even stay up without some sort of assistance, they'd just fall right down over my massively reduced stomach and hips.

Anyway, I have lots of suits, but in terms of things that might actually be wearable I have one size 18 suit, and two size 14s (one which I bought a while back and one which I "liberated" from my sister's old clothes last week). Every day, every time I wear the size 18 suit I realise how much too big it is, the skirt now starts twisting round at any opportunity because it's just so loose. But I love that suit and still I wear it. Every day. I spent over £100 on it back in June when getting into a size 18 was an amazing achievement (OK, to be honest, I bought trousers and a skirt for it in a 20 as well as 18 because the 18s didn't exactly fit. But getting into an 18 jacket, even if it strained a bit when I fastened it, was an achievement…). At that stage I'd spent nearly a year getting from a 22, to a 20, to a 22, to a 20 and then edging towards 18. I didn't realise how little wear I'd get out of it once my weight loss really kicked in.

I love that suit, but in a way the reason I picked it up every morning was that the thought of wearing the size 14s scared me. It's strange, considering how much I looked forward to dropping a size when I was bigger. I've started wearing the occasional top in a 14, but I've not been trying on 14s like a madwoman like I did when I approached 18 and 16.

When I first started this 14 was an impossibly distant number. Something almost theoretical. Yes, I could be a size 14 one day, but it won't happen. Imagining myself looking slim and sleek in size 14. Thinking that I would be happy to make it to that size. That size 14 was the answer to all my weight loss prayers, and I'd be thin beyond my wildest dreams. I think the reason that I'm reluctant to admit that I'm verging on a size 14 (see, I'm not admitting it even when I'm talking about not admitting it, why can't I say "reluctant to admit that I am a size 14"?) is that it involves me admitting to myself that all this time I've been underestimating the scope of my task and giving myself too much leeway.

I never imagined that my stomach could look as flabby as it currently does and still fit in size 14 clothes, or that I could still have so much flab left to lose. I've started to realise that I'm not one of those people who looks fab at size 14 (because there are some people who seem to have impossibly toned bodies but still pick up the same size skirts as me), and that maybe, in order to get down to the shape I would like to be I'll have to be wearing clothes sizes that I never even thought about in my wildest most optimistic dreams. Size 14 bodies come in all sorts of different shapes, and although mine is far better than my size 22 body, it's still a long way off what I was hoping for. It makes me worry that maybe I'll never be happy with my body. That if I can get to the size I wanted to be and still want to lose more weight then what happens if and when I do that? Will I still always want to be thinner? Will I always find a bit of fat to point at to make me feel like there's still work to do?

So my "size 14 looks better than this" thinking has kind of led me to putting off trying or wearing those 14s. It's made me feel like I'm some sort of fraud, that I'm using magic or something to get them to fasten because there's no way that this body is a size 14. That as soon as I breathe out or sit down the seams will split and bits of clothes will go flying in all directions as soon as my flab spills out. I look at other people my weight who are wearing far bigger sizes than me and, even though I'm relatively tall, I use this as further evidence that the label is wrong or it's just a fluke. I can't actually be a size 14, can I?

Well, yes. Actually.

I bought a cheap size 14 suit a month or two back on the basis that the 16 was a bit loose, I liked it and it was reduced, so I thought I'd get something to shrink into. Even though I've been aware for the past couple of weeks that it's perfectly wearable now - not tight, not in danger of ripping the seams (which I used to do with frightening regularity), I've left it hanging in the wardrobe. Somehow I didn't feel worthy of wearing it. Today I forced myself to pick it up and put it in my bag, together with a size 14 top. I left the house and there was no turning back, I'd have to wear it. Head to toe size 14. And it fits fine, it looks good, and it doesn't provoke shrieks of "what the hell is she doing, trying to squeeze herself into that". Maybe it was labelled wrong, but that wouldn't explain why almost everything in my sister's size 14 stash fit too, would it? I got to the end of the day and the skirt hadn't split, ripped or otherwise burst into pieces. I hadn't got red marks round my middle from it digging in. Even more people than normal had stopped me at work to ask how much I'd lost now (new clothes always seem to do that, good for an instant conidence boost), and wearing a short skirt I suddenly noticed how fab my lower legs look from all that running. Shame about the stomach...

I wouldn't claim that I can fit in every size 14 in the world, but more often than not I do, so maybe it's time to admit that I am a 14, and that I need to reconsider where I want to end up.

Maybe size 10 isn't a dirty word. There, I've said it. I don't think I'd ever have admitted it to myself at my biggest, but there it is, in type. Something new to aim at. Forget my old 12 - 14 target zone. Time to kick on. Even if I never make it, at least I'll know I tried.

*A note for any US readers. I'm talking about UK clothes sizes here. I need to make sure I'm sitting down to type this bit. UK sizes are smaller than a US size with the same number. I have some Gap jeans which are labelled as US size 14, UK size 18. And some skirts that are labelled as UK size 16, US size 12. Which would mean that a UK size 14 is a US size 10. Which may go some way to explaining why I feel like I should look better than I do and be lighter than I am at this size.


Blogger kathrynoh said...

It can be scary fitting into "those" sizes. My sister is around the same size as me now but because she's recently put on weight, she has no problems going into a store and trying on clothes whereas I feel like the alarm bells are going to start ringing.

I still wander into the plus size department in stores because I feel like that's where I belong. The mental adjustments take so long - I used to think that I'd be content at a size 16 but now I'm not so sure.

11:29 PM  
Blogger VTH said...

Wandered here by way of Dietgirl and I'm so glad I did! I read most of your archive yesterday (please don't tell my boss!) and was wowed by your determination and progress! Congratulations! Looking forward to following on your journey. And I must admit as an ardent rugby fan, I'm dying to know which player you've cropped out of your photo! ;)

1:01 AM  
Blogger dieting blog said...

I think US sizes are getting even larger as Americans get larger, but they still aren't large enough that I can shop at regular non-plus size store. That's my goal!

3:37 PM  
Blogger B said...

I can totally relate. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I might someday fit into a U.S. size 6. I've been morbidly obese my entire life, sizes like that can't be possible! But they are, so please don't sell yourself short. Keep on taking the chance and daring to try the next smaller size.

Now, on the point of being happy with your body, it may never happen. But if you can learn to accept for what it is, you can learn to love it in spite of it's flaws. I know that's a tough one, and I'm still working on it myself, but I believe we can get there someday if we never give up.


1:48 PM  

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