the scale and the closet

Posted on Feb 2, 2012 in Fashion & Beauty

It’s funny how your perspective changes when you have no idea how much you weigh.

I ditched the scale last October and haven’t looked back. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my overall mental health and day-to-day happiness. It’s interesting though, because it’s not like the physical measurement of size disappears just because I’m not weighing myself—I still know roughly what physical size I am—what does change though, is how important those different types of measurements become.

It used to be that the daily number that flashed on my trusty scale was the most important gauge of my health. That number was the reward when I was doing well and the punishment when I was faltering. I lived and died by that number. It didn’t matter if I’d done the right things or had some big fitness breakthrough, without verification from the scale, I wasn’t buying it.

I could be in the world’s worst mood, feeling sorry and disgusting, but within the amount of time it took for a “good” number to pop up on the scale, I’d be snapped into pure bliss. That part was awesome. The drastic and powerful opposite was not. I could be having a day where everything was going my way. I could step on that scale with excitement about life. I could feel healthy and fit and strong. And then, a few seconds later, be sucked into the deepest and darkest feelings of failure and self-hate thanks to a “bad” number. My emotions, self-confidence and self-esteem were entirely dependent on how my scale reacted. My relationship with the scale was not only bipolar, but totally, and completely toxic. It’s blue LED numbers held the kind of power that superseded any emotions (good or bad) that I already had. It was like everyday there were two different versions of me you might encounter—Before Scale Cass and After Scale Cass.

So obviously, with this abusive kind of relationship, me and Mr. Scale had to part ways. I know a lot of folks have a great relationship with the scale, but for me, the abuse had to end.

And with that end, an immediate and drastic perspective change happened. Just like what happens when you lose a sense, my recognition and appreciation of other ways to measure my wellness became heightened. Nearly immediately after ditching the scale, I became more aware of how powerful my body was when doing sprints. I noticed for the first time what it really felt like when I wore my favorite pair of jeans. I started eating the right foods because they gave me more energy and clearer skin, not because they would result in a loss on the sale. And most importantly, I realized the best judge of my wellness was simply how I felt. How I felt when I looked in the mirror or how I felt when lifting a heavy kettlebell or how I felt when my husband told me I was beautiful. For so long that stupid, three digit number had clouded all those things for me. I couldn’t get past the 0.2 gain to see that I had a million things to feel amazing about, even if the scale didn’t think so.

This brings me to clothes.

For years, my closet has been filled with thrift store finds and discount store misfits. When I was actively losing weight, I thought there was no need to spend money on clothes because I’d just “shrink” out of them anyway. Just as long as they covered up the right parts, they were fine by me. I’d spend the real money and build a real wardrobe when I was at my goal weight. I’d hit this magical number on the scale and angels would sing, confetti would drop down from the ceiling and suddenly I’d be happy, well-dressed and totally confident. I had these amazing daydreams of frolicking down Fifth Avenue in my size six jeans with a thousand shopping bags on each arm after a massive shopping spree to celebrating hitting my goal.

But then, the goal weight I had in mind never came. And even more than that, my desire to reach (or really, care) about that goal weight disappeared. In fact, my desire to focus on numbers at all vanished and I instead focused on how I felt. A size six now seems totally laughable, not because I don’t believe I could get there but because the “size six” number doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. Now, I find myself thriving with goals that focus on me and my body instead of store sizes and shopping sprees.

So after years of being in waiting to really buy the wardrobe I want, I’m ended up with a body I love and a closet full of clothes I don’t.

It even goes further than being unhappy about my ill-fitting t-shirts and short jeans. It goes to the heart of my self-confidence. I discovered that I am really, truly content with my body and my health on days when I dress wearing clothes that I felt good in. There is no “Oh, I like this outfit, but it’d look better with 20 less pounds.” It is 100%, true body love. I look at myself in the mirror and think, “I’m strong. I’m beautiful. I’m happy.” In contrast, on days when I don my discount store duds, I look in the mirror and think, “You know, I might want to lose a few more pounds.” You can literally plot the points on a graph and see the correlation between days I wear crappy clothes and days my brain spews body-hate.

Where does that leave me? With another bipolar, toxic relationship. But this time, with my closet. Now my closet has the ability to make me feel terrible or amazing about myself at will. And just like with the scale, I’m cutting out the toxicity. It started with my massive cleaning out of the closet this past weekend and ends with me filling it up with amazing, fantastic, beautiful clothes that help me appreciate my strong and healthy body, even if it isn’t a size six.

I’ve always said that I might one day decide to lose more weight, and I still might. But living in this future world of “might” is cheating my present. By holding off on stocking up on clothes that make me feel fantastic, I’m losing the opportunity to have a self-confident-body-lovin’-totally-happy day, today. Right now. This very moment. I’m going to stop that. I’m going to stop focusing so much on this future me that may or may not show up and instead focus on the me that is here right now, and pretty damn awesome. She deserves some pretty things.

Where does this leave us? Well, you’ll probably see a few more fashion posts on BTHR. While, from the outside, it can seem like fashion doesn’t belong on a wellness blog, I think our clothes are just another cog in the gear that drives how we feel about ourselves. And feeling healthy, strong and beautiful through different avenues is what BTHR is all about! I hope you’ll stick around and embrace my not-size-six body with me, new clothes and all.

Do you like what’s in your wardrobe?

 

25 Comments

  1. I love this post. I mostly love what’s in my wardrobe, and I do love it more since I decided to get rid of everything that didn’t fit, too small or too big. It was depressing to see a huge closet filled with clothes that I couldn’t wear. Now, I know that everything in there fits me and I feel good when I wear it.

    I also haven’t touched the scale in months. It got packed when we moved in October and I haven’t dug it out, and I don’t plan to. I was totally obsessed with the number. It’s so nice to be free of it.

  2. Great post! I can relate in the sense that I have lost a good bit of weight in the past year and kept it off, but I have avoided buying clothes that fit, and so now all of the ones I have are baggy and outdated. I guess I just don’t quite trust that I’ll keep the weight off? I am getting ready to graduate and get a job, and I am scared I won’t be able to maintain this fitness level once I am in the “real world”.

  3. I usually do a closet clean-out once a year but I don’t get rid of too much because I know that means buying new clothes to replace the old ones and I absolutely hate shopping for clothes.

    With your big closet cleanout you should consider hosting an online clothes swap! I’d be down for that.

  4. When I gained a lot of weight in a surprisingly quick time, I still kept my size six clothing in my closet because I was getting back to that size as soon as possible! I bought only a few ill fitting tops and bottoms that I didn’t feel good in, and walked around thinking that every time someone looked at me, their first thought was “look how fat she got”.
    I couldn’t continue on that way, because it only fueled the emotion-driven eating I was doing. I tentatively went back into my old favourite stores and sought out tops I could still fit in. I started to feel better about myself and the weight started coming off. It’s probably not totally due to the increasing number of Anthropologie items in my closet, but my self esteem certainly increased as I started to feel better about how I looked on the outside. I no longer thought about people’s judgments when they looked at me.
    I have my favourites of the size 6 clothes in a big box in my basement, because who knows, I may fit into them at some point or I may not, but some of those clothes do hold memories for me. I sold a lot of it.
    I now have new favourites in my current maternity wardrobe although I will be just as happy in a few months to get back into my pretty size 12 tops. And I never thought I would say that!
    There’s a “Mad Men” style dress I can’t wait to wear to a wedding in the summer (3 months post baby) because I feel beautiful in it…and given the style, it will definitely hide any post-baby-body issues I am dealing with at that point.

  5. I really like this blog Cassie. I’ve been following you from the start and rarely comment, but felt the need here. Thanks for the reminder to live in the now rather than cut myself short hoping for a better me in the future. I struggle so much with this. After losing 100 pounds I’ve got a frumpy “in between phase” wardrobe right now. Money’s tight so I don’t have a lot of options, but I do buy myself something nice, that fits, every once in a while. Thanks for giving me yet another push to ditch the scale. Looking at that number on a daily basis is really not doing much for me in a positive way.

  6. You go girl! Just this morning I tried on some shirts that just didn’t feel right and slung them on the floor. I grabbed my new favorite good-fitting dress and didn’t look back. You have such a great and inspiring outlook. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been trying to articulate for YEARS the relationship I had with my clothes, but I could never put my feelings about it into words. I look into my closet and I am NOT delighted in what I see. I totally agree that you can feel amazing in the right outfit, not just a “small” outfit. My other major problem lies in the fact that I often times buy clothes that are “trendy” just for the sake of fitting in. Do you know what that leaves me with? A closet full of clothes I don’t wear because I don’t really like the style. Who does? Am I really that wildly insecure that I can’t even buy clothes that I like simply because I’m the one who likes them? So I am trying to slowly filter out the “not me” clothes and start refilling my closet with clothes that make ME happy. And you know what? Who cares if that leaves me with a closet with nothing but jeans and t-shirts. Because that’s ME and I’m not going to keep discrediting myself by trying to be someone I’m not. :)

  8. I hate my wardrobe. I wear the same variation day-to-day of jeans, t-shirt, hoodie or cardigan, and skate shoes. And I’m almost 31 freaking years old. I hide behind my clothes because I gained so much weight and don’t feel pretty anymore. Now that I’m losing, I’m feeling a little better, but definitely far from “cute” or “sexy”.

    Sigh.

  9. Love this. I can completely understand the scale thing. Not having a scale is AWESOME. I weigh myself occasionally at the doctors office and that’s good enough. Now that I’m not dependant on a scale I feel SO much better. And I couldn’t agree more about a wardrobe. Being pregnant 3 times in the last 5 years has been awful for my wardrobe, but there is nothing like having well fitting and cute clothes no matter what size you are or if you plan on loosing weight. It’s so important to feel comfortable and confident now :)

  10. Are those all your pairs of glasses? Jealous! :)

    • Those aren’t even 1/4 of all the pairs I own. :P I’m kinda obsessed.

  11. Great post once again! It really hit home. I can say that I do love pretty much everything in my closet because I purge on a regular basis. If I haven’t worn it in a while or I don’t like the way it fits, I get rid of it. If I purchase new clothes or shoes, then I try to get rid of the same amount of things to help keep the balance.

  12. I can sooo relate to this.For so long I have been holding off buying nicer clothes because we have been a little tight on money and I’m “going to lose the weight.” I’ve been saying this for the last 5 years.I’ve noticed too that I feel better when I dress nice, I’m more happy, confident and outgoing and when I dress like a slob I feel frumpy, insecure, and more timid.So I’ve decided that I’m going to quit punishing myself, and as cheesy as it may sound, I’m going to celebrate the things I do like about my body and myself by taking a little more pride in my outward appearance. I think, for me anyway, it’s about forgiving myself for my perceived failures and allowing me to love me again.I think once I work that out the rest will follow.

    Wow, my coffee must be kicking in.lol.Great post though.

  13. Honestly: I hate my clothes and I pretty much hate my body right now. That hurts to say, because I don’t hate who I am, but I am so dissapointed with my body. I don’t want to buy a bunch of clothes for my body today because I’m not happy with it. I need to inhale some of your body love and remember “But living in this future world of ‘might’ is cheating my present.”

  14. This is totally inspiring.

  15. I did the same things as you when I did my first big weight loss (yes, I have had more than one…kids, yo). It’s true – feeling good is so, so important, paramount in fact. I do still like a good thrift store find but for different reasons – not because I don’t plan on fitting in it long, but now more because a) It’s already shrunken (that is a big deal when you are tall) and b) Because if I wear it a few times and say “hey, you know what? I don’t feel awesome in this” I don’t feel bad sending it right back to Goodwill…that alone is liberating. Feeling good can be the same as looking good – attitude is everything!

  16. My wardrobe is beyond pathetic right now. I have a closet and dresser full of clothes, most of which I can’t wear. I keep most of them because I really like them and am working on getting back to wearing them. I have gotten rid of the ones I didn’t like anyway. The positive side is that most of what I do have to wear right now is pretty decent and I feel comfortable in it. I do wish I had some more, but as a full time student with a single income, new clothes are in the “not a neccesity” column right now. I do buy a new thing every now and again to supplement or if I find a really good deal. A couple weeks ago I bought a pair of long running pants from Old Navy for a killer deal. That was worth it!

  17. I did the same thing in January, went through all my clothes and worked out what to throw, what to keep and so on. What I noticed is that I didn’t throw away the clothes that made me feel good, if they’re too big they can be tailored. It’s never a waste of money to find clothes that make you feel like the best version of you. I have several pairs of black trousers, known as my ‘take no prisoners’ trousers. I have similar trousers in three different sizes, they all have the same effect on my ego though!!

  18. I. LOVE. THIS. POST!!!! And I LOVE your healthy perspective even more :-) So very true that we often waste our present moments & opportunities chasing something that may or may not even come (and that may or may not even “fill our tank” if in fact it does come). Way to be healthy, confident, and proud of who you are NOW! So refreshing :)

  19. That’s such a good reminder. I’m still semi-reliant on my scale, but am cutting back to only weighing once a week instead of every day. but that’s definitely motivation I need to hear! I try to dress for me now and I do find when I do that I’m happier. which is what matters, right?

    thanks for sharing, girl!

  20. I definitely agree with everything you said about the scale. Breaking up with that toxic beast has vastly improved my relationship with my body.
    I’ll admit, though, I have problems with my closet. My eating disorder led me to lose weight I didn’t need (or have) to lose, and I still haven’t gained everything back. However, I still continue to own and wear my too-big clothing. It’s partially denial regarding my disorder and partially hope that I’ll be able to fit into those clothes again some day.
    Oh, also I’m a student and generally can’t afford to buy a whole new wardrobe. :D

  21. I couldn’t agree with your perspective on clothes more! You absolutely shouldn’t wait until you are at your goal weight to buy clothing that makes you feel nice. Now is the time to do it. I can’t tell you how much more good, confident, and in control I feel when I’m wearing an outfit I love versus one that will do but I don’t love.

  22. I just recently found your blog, and I’ve loved every post so far — keep em coming!

    This post actually reminded me of a friend, who has sort of the opposite problem: she keeps the size 6 pants in her closet, because some day she will fit into them. I don’t think she has ever fit in them before (she is a hot size 10) but she won’t get rid of them, even though I’ve urged her to dress her “present body,” not her possible future body.

    I love that you are overhauling your closet! I hope there is a shopping trip in your near future to start filling all the empty shelves and hangers ;)

  23. I have a very typical “mom” wardrobe. Jeans and t-shirts and hoodies. It’s not that I don’t like the way my clothes fit, it’s more that I wish there was more fun and personality in my wardrobe. I am slowly figuring out who I am and how to express that in my wardrobe. So I’m slowly tossing the clothes I don’t love, and adding things I DO love. My summer wardrobe is my favorite, though, as i love all the dresses and fun colored shirts.

    Actually, I am THRILLED to pull out my maternity wardrobe again! I had so much fun with maternity clothes, and i loved them so much. I also really loved being pregnant and loved having a big baby belly. That probably helped. I really want to add a few more dresses and cute tops (and leggings!) to my maternity wardrobe with this pregnancy.

    • I love my summer wardrobe, too! :) So many fun bright colors.

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