There comes a time in most of our lives, particularly after you hit 40, when we gain weight, go up a size or two and then spend a good amount of time fretting, obsessing over calories, and boring our friends and significant others to tears about it. There are plenty of books, blogs, and programs to help you lose weight. This article is not one of them! This article is about dealing with weight gain in a healthy, affirming manner and fighting the real battle, which is not your new waistline but the one in your head.
1. Evaluate the situation and your expectations.
This involves more than figuring out why you gained weight. For most of us, this is a no-brainer. For me, it was after I moved back home from California where my typical diet was lean cuisines and, if I dined out, it was either vegetarian or sushi. I did either spinning or power yoga every day except Sunday . . . and I was the thinnest I had ever been in my life. Oddly enough, I wasn’t happier, more successful, and nor did I have an endless supply of date invites. But, sistah, I looked good in my designer jeans! After I moved back home, I met Mr. Wonderful, a chef who believes that using margarine, non-fat milk and artificial sweeteners is some variation of satan worship. Oh, and he really loves cooking for me – after he gets off work at about 11 p.m. at night. To all that, I stopped making the time to work out regularly.
It is quite obvious why I creeped up from size 8, to size 10 and now a size 12 in two years’ time. Same ole story, different author. Yaaaawwwwn.
But, what I ultimately figured out is that it took a lot of dang hard work and time to get to and stay a size 8. I have since come to the realization that I don’t want to live the kind of life where I am a slave to the calorie counter and the gym. Maybe that me means being a little bigger than my dream size 8, but I made peace with it.
However, I did determine that, in my current size, I am unhappy and sluggish. So, I am currently focusing on a happy medium: developing a sustainable healthy lifestyle that means healthier food options, no late night noshes, and incorporating some form of activity in my everyday life — even if it is just dancing alone in my bedroom to Prince.
Evaluating your situation may also mean looking into the reasons why you are over-eating. If you are over-eating due to depression, boredom, anxiety or some other issue, address this problem first before you undertake any weight loss regime. Otherwise, you will be addressing the symptom without dealing with the underlying problem, a sure-fire path to failure.
2. Learn how to dress with your new curves.
- Don’t wear baggy oversized t shirts and sweatpants.
- Don’t wear boxy shirts, blazers, sweaters or dresses.
- Don’t wear ill-fitted clothing which tends to accentuate problem areas. Puckering, wrinkling or creases in the front pant (when you are standing) means your pants are too tight. For jackets, there should be no pulling at the back and you should be able to hug someone and comfortably steer your car. As for blouses, the button panel should lie flat and there should be no pulling at the button holes.
- Choose shirts, blazers and dresses that have hour-glass silhouettes and create a waistline.
- Wrap dresses in a soft jersey knit are great for any body-type, but they look especially flattering on curvier shapes.
- Don’t wear high necklines, crewnecks, or turtlenecks. Not only do they make your neck look short, but your face will appear fuller, as well. The key is to elongate your upper body.
- Flowing and A-line skirts are best for those with weight issues around their tummies and backsides.
- Banish the muffin-top and the possibility of it ever coming into existence! Ditch the low-rider jeans and pants (they are off-trend now anyway) and choose pants with a higher waistline.
- Opt for medium-weight jersey knits. They are forgiving and also hug your curves in the right way.
3. Buy a new outfit or two – in the size you are now.
What?!? I can hear all the gasps and grumblings out there. “But I’m not going to spend aaaannny money on clothes until I loose this flab!” “Then,” you say, “I will reward myself.”
Well, I’ve been trying this little trick the last year and a half and it doesn’t work.
What it does is make you miserably uncomfortable trying to squeeze in ill-fitting clothes that will NOT be flattering but will actually call attention to the fact that you HAVE gained weight. Every time you get dressed in the morning, you will be reminded of the weight you gained (a situation that, for me, usually results in a hefty dose of verbal self-flagellation and then hurling myself rather melodramatically on the bed). Your stomach will still be in a death vice from those jeans, but now you are also a surly and despondent wreck.
Sure, buying new clothes in a size or two bigger is going to result in a little shell shock at first. But after you rip out the size label and start dressing nicely again and being comfortable in your clothes, you will soon forget that label.
If you are on a budget and really want to save your cash for your new “skinny” clothes, there are plenty of stores and online retailers that offer trendy and very reasonably priced clothing. For as little as $200, you can end up with a new set of basics for your transition wardrobe. I did by shopping from Kohl’s, JC Penney and forever21.com. For those uninitiated to Forever 21 (someday we may get one in West Virginia), the sizes are extremely small and anything over a 10 will be found in their plus size section.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I have 12 subscriptions to fashion magazines so I know how hard this is. However, these publications can ding even the strongest self-esteem by causing you to compare yourself to unreasonably high standards of the female figure. Never has the disparity been larger between what Hollywood and the fashion industry proclaims is “normal” and the real world. Licensed Mental Health Therapist and Life Coach, Jay Petry, routinely advises clients on weight loss issues and notes that our obsession with Hollywood images is not only unhealthy, but counter-productive. He suggests that we focus consistently and routinely on our positive traits, visualizing our best possible self.
“Hollywood bodies are Hollywood bodies for a reason. It’s their job, and they would be out of work if they didn’t fit that mold. The unfortunate comparison trap that we find ourselves in destroys our natural self-love in one important way. If you’re always striving to be a Hollywood body, you can never find and/or be your authentic self because you’re always focused in the direction of someone else’s self. We are unique for a reason. The key is to find balance and be your best SELF, not picture perfect someone else. Enjoy your food and let your mind and stomach work together to help you moderate your intake so you’re healthy, you look good and most importantly, you feel good.”