Spring-cleaning “jumped ahead” and turned into fall cleaning for me last weekend. As I was sitting in the living room, the shelving in my bedroom closet pulled apart from the walls and everything came crashing down to the floor. I sat there in dismay but I also knew that beast of a closet was on my “things to do” list. When there’s no room for the hangers to slide back and forth you know it’s too full. The cosmos was telling me it was time to purge. I was determined that I wasn't going to put all of those clothes back in the closet so I spent a weekend trying on clothes; many that partook in my seasonal rotation system but had not been worn in over a decade.
As a dietitian, I always hear stories from patients who have gained weight through the years but they still hold onto their smaller-sized clothes. I get it. Their goal is to fit into them again. It’s also expensive to replace a wardrobe. For me, it’s a lot about nostalgia. I’m sure there’s a psychological wizard that has written a book on why we keep things. I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to let stuff go, or maybe you just need a very big nudge like the one I got.
As I battled my way through the piles of coveted clothes, I came to the sad realization that many of them no longer fit or were outdated. Maybe it was the heat or maybe it was my frustration and feeling overwhelmed, but suddenly I had NO interest in them, anymore. They were nice brands; I paid a lot of money for them, but I never wore them. In the end, I sat staring at my clean, organized closet and felt a huge burden was lifted. Now my hangers slide back and forth but I especially love that whatever I iron will stay crease-free!
Being able to fit into clothes is often one way to measure weight changes. It starts with a little snugness here and then creeps up to the next size. I am all for being healthy and feeling good about yourself but sometimes, as we grow older, Mother Nature has her own plan for us and we lose some control as to what things we can change. Like our metabolism. It is affected by changes in hormones, muscle mass, and body fat. And let’s not forget about genetics. Ever look at a grandparent and see a bit of family resemblance beyond their countenance?
In my purging efforts, I had tossed a book, “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules,” into my donation pile. As I thumbed through it before the final heave (I know you are not supposed to do that, and yes I kept it!), I started to read Rule One: You Will Receive a Body.” It illustrates how we come into the world in our own “vessel” and that’s where the true essence of who we are lies in. I read, “The relationship between you and your body is the most fundamental and important relationship of your lifetime.” Not many people come to terms with this awareness but achieving a symbiotic relationship between yourself and your body will transport you to a place of emotional well-being and a healthy sense of self. Simply put, it can improve your quality of life.
Acceptance is a learned behavior but we struggle with it our entire lives. Who didn’t feel those pangs of disappointment when you didn’t fit into a group in school? My heart went out to my two-year old niece who came back crying to her mom because she was told by three-year olds that she was too small to play with them at the playground. Yes, it begins way too early!
Unfortunately, it can be an arduous journey to realize that what truly defines a person is what is on the inside and not the outside. That’s what people will remember you for once they put aside their own pre-judgment and take the time to get to know you. You have to reach a comfort level with your own self-worth; that is who you are as a person and what you look like to yourself, and not to others. Maybe we should learn from our pets. They love us unconditionally, forgive us, and accept us for who we are, no matter what we look like.
It’s important to strive to be your physical and mental best; to stay healthy, to eat well, and to exercise. But if you know deep in your heart that you're doing all of those things and you're still not where you want to be with your weight, then please talk to a health professional before you try any extreme diets or surgery.
One of the gifts we are given as we age is the ability to self-reflect; and that we no longer need the approval of others to feel good about ourselves. As I was leaving for work the other day, my other half said to me “are you sure you want to wear that? It doesn't look too professional.” I looked down at my outfit-- lime green top, black and navy striped jersey skirt, and fluorescent green peds stuffed into marine blue North Face sneakers. Comfy. I quickly answered.... “I sure do!" And walked out the door.