Sunday, December 07, 2008

The power of options....

One of the things that truly was horrid about obesity was the lack of options. The option to lose weight was one that would cross my mind on occasion, and even go so far as to do something temporarily about it. But most of the time, I just ignored the obvious. After all, they still made clothes in my size -- and larger!

That worked until I reached the point where I was in the largest commercial size for stores. The only remaining options were buying clothes from a few specialty catalogs, or making my own clothes. Let me rephrase that: to pattern my own clothes. McCall's and Simplicity carry larger sizes but even they stop where the stores do. At one point I really did look into buying a very expensive pattern-making software (think well over $500) -- as if I even had time to buy enough cloth, cut out a pattern, sew clothes, etc. I made one dress once upon a time, and it took me weeks (since I was working that summer as well). To ask a seamstress to do it for me would be more convenient, but also more expensive. Again, losing the weight was an option I wasn't really ready to consider.

Three years ago, before I started the weight loss process, we had an office Christmas party. I wore this black "slinky knit" tank dress. I actually am still a big fan of that material, as it covers a multitude of sins. I found a sheer wrap with some sparklies on it, and wore that. I felt so out of place it wasn't even funny. I looked okay, but compared to some of the other dresses being worn, I felt fat and frumpy. And even though people told me I looked nice, I couldn't help but feel that I could have done so much better, if I'd only had more options.

We didn't have office Christmas parties in 2006 or 2007. We did last night, however, and I again had to plan an outfit. This time, I had an outfit already in mind. I have a lovely cranberry velvet long-sleeved top, to wear with a beautiful ankle-length black skirt I have. I picked up the top weeks ago, planning to wear it on Christmas Eve for midnight Mass. I figured it would work just as well for the company party.

I had to have shoes (of course!), so I went shopping yesterday. Then I realized I didn't think I had a black clutch, so I went to Goodwill just to see if they had one. Listen, I have absolutely ZERO qualms about thrift-store shopping. I've shopped mostly off the main grid (so to speak) for years, and my philosophy is "Why pay full price for anything?" And especially with needing to replace my whole wardrobe at least twice a year, why would I pay full price for more than just a few items? Well, anyway, most of the local Goodwills offers a very small selection of formalwear. Shocker of shockers, this one not only had several in stock; TWO were in my current size. I took both to the dressing rooms, and proceeded to try them on. The first was a two-piece cranberry dress (skirt and spaghetti-strap top). It was definitely designed for a teen body, not mine with the muffin-top and all that. I could have bought it just for the skirt (to use with that top I bought earlier), but really, why? So I tried on the other: it was a beautiful gold/beige top with skirt attached in the same iridescent gold. It was short-sleeved, but I thought to myself, well........

I tried it on. It fit fairly well, enough that I stood in the dressing room and twirled like a princess. Now, just this past summer, when I was getting ready for the 80s Prom sponsored by a local radio station, I opined about trying on formalwear and what a pain it was ... and yet all the cool things about it. Today was a different story -- the dress was the same size as this summer, but I'm about 20 pounds lighter. The dress was actually a little loose in places, but I also knew that the next size down would have been too tight (and they only had one dress in that size and it was UGLY!). I debated -- should I buy? Should I put it back? I already had a plan in place ... and then this little voice in the back of my head said, "Stupid, the dress is $10.25. Buy the damn thing."

So I did and here it is:
Smaller Me & Tree

Now, I am aware that I was in desperate need of a matching bolero jacket to cover those now-worse-than-ever batwings. But that's not what I intend to write about......

What I am writing about are options. Losing weight has given me options. I don't have to simply pull out the only thing in my closet that might work only because I have nothing else. I no longer have to spend an obscene amount of money for clothing because there aren't that many stores who carry that size. Don't believe me? Step into a plus-size specialty store and just see how much they charge for larger sizes. Sure, I bought this dress at Goodwill, but size-wise, I now have the power to go into Goodwill, Belk, Macy's or a swanky boutique and buy a dress there.

It's not just the clothing -- though God knows, that's quite a satisfying reason.... I also have options to do things I couldn't do before. The first time I did the Cha-Cha Slide was at a party for a coworker's 50th birthday. I had lost about 50 pounds at that point, and I was still out of breath at the end of that dance. Now, having lost an additional 163 pounds, I was able to do that dance last night with the hops, the skips, all the fun stuff, and not even breathe hard. I was not tired. I could actually hop, not just pretend. Do you have any idea how good that feels?

If I could bottle the feeling of what it means to really have choices and to be almost-overwhelmed by that sensation --- oh my, I'd bottle and sell it. And it isn't limited to clothing, weight, or other tangible items. When you feel you have no options, you have no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, no reason to change because ... well, why should you? But with options in a few things, you may suddenly realize that you have choices in other areas of your life; that you don't have to settle; that you have the power, and you can do whatever you imagine.

I'm just starting to grasp this in my own life. Oddly enough, the process of that started about a year or so before I started the weight-loss. I think that the weight-loss has been more successful because I was already learning that if I didn't like my life, I could change it. There was nothing stopping me but my own self.

So find your own gold dress -- something that will remind you of how powerful it is to have an option. Embrace it, batwings and all.


KimmyDarling said...

Seriously-- let's hear it for OPTIONS!!!

You look fantastic, and I am still so proud of you, and inspired by your journey.

Much love,

Kate/Susan said...

It's a beautiful dress Annette and you are glowing far shinier than any tree! :-) So happy to read this and know that I someday will have options too!!!

Keep up the great work!

Mommyof2 said...

I just found your blog and am blown away by all your accomplishments. That is truly amazing, what you have and are doing!