Am I Afraid to Embrace My Weight Loss?

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Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Two years ago, I reached the heaviest weight of my life. It was near the end of 2016, and a decade of heavy drinking had finally caught up with me. I was ending my twenties about 65 pounds heavier than I had started them.

Fortunately, I was able to recognize how bad my drinking had become and decided to get sober just a few months before my thirtieth birthday.

With the alcohol gone, my weight immediately started to drop. When I plateaued, I turned to exercise and occasional calorie counting. Over the next year and a half, I lost nearly all the weight I had gained.

I was excited when I finally hit my goal weight in the middle of 2018. My weight loss had gotten slower and slower for the last few pounds, and I was proud that I managed to stick with exercising (and sobriety).

But, I wasn’t quite as thrilled as I expected to be. For one thing, when I looked in the mirror, I had trouble telling whether I really felt satisfied with my weight or not. Sometimes I looked too skinny, and other times I felt like I still had more weight to lose. I decided to trust my original goal, but with some reluctance.

The bigger issue though, is that I’ve continued to feel like any day now I’m going to start gaining the weight back. It’s been about half a year since I hit my goal weight, and I still haven’t really accepted that I’m back to being skinny.

Worrying about my weight for the rest of my life

I recently read a book by Peter Sagal in which he quotes Jonathan Reynolds saying: “If you’ve ever been fat, you will either be fat for the rest of your life or you will worry about being fat the rest of your life.”

I absolutely identify with the second category in that sentence. I hope this will not be a life-long issue for me, but so far, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to gain weight again.

One way that this fear has manifested itself in my life is that I’ve been unable to bring myself to get rid of any of my clothes from when I was heavier. I’ve written before about having to replace all of my clothing as I lost weight:

I was surprised by how expensive it was to buy a new wardrobe. Even though I think of myself as someone who doesn’t own much clothing, the costs still managed to add up.

As I replaced each piece of my old wardrobe with new, smaller clothing, I could never actually bring myself to donate or throw away the old clothes. Instead, I just stored it away in drawers. I still have nearly every article of clothing from when I was at my heaviest, even though none of it still fits.

Why don’t I just get rid of it? Because there’s a part of me that still expects to go right back to the size I was. Part of me is just waiting until I need to wear that larger clothing again.

Am I Thinking Irrationally?

How many times have you read that most people who lose weight will eventually gain it back? I’ve seen this fact repeated more times than I can count. So, it’s no wonder that I’ve internalized the idea that my weight loss is only temporary.

In a way, I think holding onto my old clothing is the rational thing to do. If I’m going to gain the weight back anyway, then I’d just be wasting money by getting rid of it.

But, I don’t like that attitude. I know that if I continue to think in that kind of self-defeating way, I’m just increasing my chances of regaining the weight.

I know that my best chance of keeping the weight off is to embrace my new weight and commit to making it a permanent change. And that means getting rid of the old, now oversized, clothing.

That’s why last week I finally started to go through the clothing that I’ve been keeping around for the past two years. I didn’t get through it all, but at least I got a few items out of the house. This week, I plan to continue, and hopefully finish the job.

I’ve been surprised by how satisfying it’s been to get rid of the old clothing. It’s finally starting to make my weight loss feel real.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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