17 May 2007

A New Normal

This piece is dedicated to the always-lovely Rebecca, who so honestly shared with her readers about her own pants-dilemma.

In the dressing room today, wearing pants that fit

If you’ve ever watched the popular TLC show “What Not to Wear”, I’m sure you’ve heard Clinton and Stacy advise their fashion-challenged objects of prey to dress the bodies they have -- not the bodies they once had, neither yet the bodies they wish they had, but the ones they have now.

This is, more often than not, most unwelcome news to the show’s participants. Many of them get looks on their faces that would make you think that someone just shot the family dog.

I’ve been in a similar state of denial about this and for quite the opposite reason that most of the show’s victims assert so vociferously. One woman will swear up and down that she will one day fit into the jeans she wore in high school, and another adamantly claim that those three-sizes-too-small pants are just the incentive she needs to lose the extra baby weight. My protest has been, I will gain some weight back!

About three weeks off the modified elimination diet and I tell you –- I gained about four pounds back at a week and a half, which I promptly lost again by the end of the following week (meaning I am back at my 30-lb weight loss number, but holding steady). I won’t be adding anything else back in to my diet, so I have to assume that this is my new normal.

Consequently, I am yet another fashion victim (and I sincerely hope there is no secret footage of me that is on its way to TLC). As I stood in front of my closet this morning, I selected a pair of casual olive-colored slacks (freshly washed and dried), a favorite of mine. Once upon a time, these pants fit perfectly; they gently hugged my hips without pinching and I was able to fill out the derriere quite beautifully, if I don’t say so myself. Today it was hard to tell if I had one at all.

I learned early on this morning that I risked finding these pants in a puddle around my ankles every time I stood up from my desk. Just for kicks and giggles, I tried a little experiment in the restroom stall: I could pull them up and down quite easily while fully buttoned and zipped. This is sick! There is room for at least one more ample bottom in there and when I turned to the side, not only did I think What is Nicole Ritchie doing in my apartment?, I could see that my once-favorite pair of pants looked like the “fat pants” people wear in the before pictures of ads for diet shakes and fat-burning pills.

I know, I know. Most women would chide me in tones dripping with sarcasm, Gee what an awful problem to have!

But this means I had to go shopping, which I truly loathe. Yes, it is true. I am a woman who does not enjoy shopping. I enjoy having new clothes, I just don’t like the process of acquiring them.

So I braved the mall after work today. I picked up two pairs of rather cute capris in a size smaller than what I was wearing at the time (I am deliberately withholding that number). They fit perfectly, they did not pinch or create the dreaded illusion of “back fat”. When I turned around in the dressing room, I could tell that I had a rear-end in there. How glorious! And better yet, they weren’t falling off. I would not risk accidentally mooning anyone in these pants.

And while I was there, why not pick up a couple of the rather inexpensive brightly-colored tank tops and that cute t-shirt on clearance? But of course!

All joking aside, I am learning something valuable even in this. This is my new normal. I am healthy and well again; I have energy that I haven’t known since I was a child. I may need to acquire a new wardrobe over time, but the way I look at it, it is not so much about the weight loss or the size of the pants I purchased today. My body has shed its illness and its junk; it has rid itself of disease and taken on good health.

And no matter what the number on the tag says, that is what I celebrate.


  1. Health is a precious item... not taggable, to be sure.

  2. What I have come to realize is that a woman who is healthy and comfortable in her own skin IS beautiful, no matter how large or small she is. I know many beautiful woman and the common denominator in all of them is a candid, cheerful acceptance of their own body. Some are thick and some are thin but each one I am thinking of loves the way God made her, chooses clothes that acknowledge the curves (or lack of them) and lives a healthy lifestyle. It isn't about size! It is about thanking God for making you just the way you are.

    (I fear I am beginning to sound like the Dove commercial!)

  3. LL - I could not have said it better myself! Being healthy again is the most precious gift of all.

    Rebecca - If you're going to sound like a commercial, the Dove ones are among the best you could sound like. I agree with you completely. I had just acquired a level of satisfaction & comfort with my "old" body so this new one feels a bit awkward right now. It will take some getting used to!

    But I agree with you completely -- it is never about size. It is about self-acceptance, confidence, and exactly what you said -- being comfortable in your own skin (no matter what that skin looks like!!).

    Thanks for sharing. :o)

  4. Okay, I'm going to have to "sound in" as the one woman still in transition on this subject. I have been thinking for two weeks about my own post I desire to write about my experience with body image as I've come to recognize it, and I already know it is one that will be written from a "not yet arrived" perspective. That is hard for me to admit, especially in the company of so many beautiful women who are well on their way to arriving, if not already arrived! Body image is such a vulnerable thing, is it not? And yet it is something that all of us grapple with at some point or another on this earth.

    Your post offers me hope that I will someday get there to a place of more healthful understanding of my body and be happy with the frame I'm living in. I'm thankful for that hope. Now if I can only be patient with myself in this time of transition to get there . . . and offer myself grace for the place I'm in, in the meantime.

  5. I am glad to be one of the few that know that "little" number you are now...or am I? What a problem to have I know? I had to say it!

    You are the incredible shrinking woman. You could star in the movie remake!

    I am glad you are adjusting to this new body you have and that it is now healthy!


  6. Dear Christianne,

    I feel so much where you are coming from, dear friend. I think most women are in that transitional place. Body image is such a tender & vulnerable subject with most women these days & is one I have struggled with most of my life. I know a very few women who embody the attitude of body acceptance that most of us crave. Our minds and the media they absorb are powerful indeed and are often enemies of a healthy body-image.

    I'm on that journey too, constantly reminding myself to accept the place I am in right NOW (not because of any number, but because no matter the size, I am dressing a healthier body now). As my body adapts & hormones change, as DNA catches up with me and I age, it will change again. I know I can count on that.

    I've struggled with this my whole life and am slowly inching toward appreciating the miracle of the body & how good it feels to feel healthy & whole -- not worrying about what the tag says or what people say about how I look.

    I look forward to reading your own thoughts on this ... thank you for being vulnerable & giving us all a glimpse of your heart here.

    You are such a beautiful woman, dear friend. I just needed to say that. And I don't need to see you in the flesh to know that.

    I thank God for every inch of skin you live in because without it, I would not have been able to come to know you and your generous, loving, & gracious heart in the new way I have in these last several months.

    Kaari -- You are the only one in the blogosphere who knows!! I choose not to share because if the number on the tag is not the issue, then why bother mentioning it?!

    I, too, am thankful for feeling good and healthy again. It is so great to have energy and to feel strong. That is what I love most about this new body of mine now. And should it gain back a few or several pounds over the coming months & years, I hope that is STILL what I will celebrate.

  7. Kirsten, I have no idea how to respond to the truly life-giving friend-words you wrote to me here. Thank you so much. This is all so new to me, as I've never struggled with body image before . . . until this past year of my life. (Well, I could say I never struggled with it, though, truth be told, my struggle in this past year only reveals that there were some deeply entrenched beliefs lodged in my soul about this very issue, which only now have come to the surface now that there's an "issue"!)

    Thank you for saying what you did about "every inch of skin I'm in" and your thankfulness for our friendship. Yours is one I've come to cherish so much these past few glorious months we've been back in each other's lives. It only makes me wish we knew each other more when we were living in close proximity those many years ago! :)

    I'm proud to walk this journey of the heart and body with you, beautiful friend.

  8. Christianne -- My heart is in the same place; I wish we had connected more when geography was to our advantage. C'est la vie!

    When there's any discussion about body image, there are bound to be a lot of pat answers offered, and it is far too complex an issue
    for any of that. I always used to think I'd be happier & more secure if I was thinner; now that I am, I find that I am not more secure: I just have different body hang-ups. But also have been on this journey from illness to health, I have a new understanding and appreciation for my physical health, because if that is out of whack, how can we interact with others the way we're meant to?

    Bodies are a messy business to be sure, but I believe God made them good. Then comes the hard part -- seeing and accepting the changes of the body, accepting and loving it no matter what season it is in.

    Much love, dear friend!