In college, when I was about 30 pounds heavier and several pant sizes larger than I am today, I hated myself. All I wanted was to be cute and tiny, but no matter how much I wanted it, I couldn't make it happen. Diet after diet ended in failure. Workout plans came and went. I never lost weight—only motivation. I was close to accepting my fate as an overweight person, bound to struggle forever.
Eventually, I learned that getting healthy—both physically and mentally—had to start with love. Self love. I may have wished my body was different, but if I had any hopes of changing it, I had to learn to accept my body in its current state. That meant caring for it and treating it with respect.
During my journey to self-love, one of the best bits of advice I ever received was to dress the body you currently have. This single, somewhat simple, piece of advice helped me on my way to loving myself and eventually led me to weight loss.
When I was overweight, I hated shopping. When I did grow out of my clothes, I had no choice but to go shopping. I hated seeing the sizes on the clothing tags that fit me at the time. Sometimes, even though an item fit well, in protest I wouldn't buy it because of the size on the label. I didn't want to believe I really wore that size! And I certainly didn't want the store cashier to know! Hands empty, I'd leave the store and walk away feeling even worse about myself. Eventually, I had just one pair of pants that fit me; they were a size 12—vanity sizing at its best! I couldn't even zip any other size 12s.
My fashion choices were most often limited to bulky, oversized shirts and pants. I don't know who I thought I was fooling by wearing those tent-like clothes, but I guess they made me feel like I was hiding my body (although fashion experts agree that oversized clothes only make you look larger). In contrast, I would drool over the cool, cute fashions in smaller sizes. Sometimes I even bought clothes knowing they were too small—you know, for my "future" body. "I'll lose weight and fit into this someday," I'd think. But it never actually happened. I had a closet full of clothes that didn't fit, new ones I bought for the future and old ones that just reminded me of the size I no longer was. Shopping for my future body and hanging on to my past body was undermining my confidence in the present. It was also preventing me from accepting and loving myself in that moment.
Dress for the body you have today.
When I heard this advice, it was as if a light bulb went on in my head. I had always loved shopping, but I was allowing my size to prevent me from enjoying it. So, I cleaned out my closet and donated all of the too-small clothes I used to wear to others in need. I kept only the clothes that fit me, flattered me and made me feel good. I went shopping again—and had fun doing it! I realized that I didn't want to wear big, oversized clothes as I had been. I started wearing more fitted looks and basing my clothing decisions not on size, but on fit. Wearing clothes that fit me made me look slimmer. And by no longer squeezing into clothes that were too small, I was more comfortable, too.
As I got ready each day, I had more choices and I took more pride in my appearance, even got a new haircut. I felt more confident. I was more outgoing. I was starting to like this person, extra weight and all. And the more I liked myself, the more I cared for myself. The less I sabotaged myself and said nasty things about myself. I started eating better and exercising more regularly and eventually, the pounds melted off. Then I had fun shopping all over again as my pants got looser and looser.
I'm not saying that shopping or wearing cute clothes in and of itself is all you need to do to lose weight. But I do believe that taking pride in your appearance by dressing for the body you have today goes a long way to helping you feel better about yourself and love yourself. After all, you deserve to look and feel fabulous TODAY—not 20 pounds from now!
What do you think? Can you relate to hiding in large clothes or hoarding clothing that's too small? Do you dress for the body you have today?
More From SparkPeople