Like most women, my closet was full of clothes spanning different stages of my life. Tops from my “beachy” phase. Blazers from my “preppy” phase. Athleisure from my “I take fitness seriously” phase. Quite the array of styles and sizes.
Before I had kids, when my life revolved around doing whatever the heck I felt like at any time of the day, I was into fitness in a way that can only be described as dedicated. I did the meal prep and exercise tracking. Most days, I did strength training or yoga in the mornings and ran in the afternoons. I drank the protein smoothies and ate lean, clean, and green. And I was F-I-T. I was strong, lean, and proudly sporting clothing a size small tag.
When I got pregnant, my only bodily concern was to stay healthy. Exercising took a back seat to maintaining comfort. I ate whatever I felt like (I was eating for two!) With Cameron, I gained 50 lbs. With Tyler, I gained 40 lbs. And as I transited out of my baby-making stage, of course the weight that remained bothered me. I would be a liar if I said it didn’t. But one day, while putting away clothes, I realized my concern over my weight was exacerbated by the contents of my closet.
As I sat looking at my closet, it was full of clothing that I was so proud of. I had worked so hard for the body that fit into my favorite pink dress. I remember buying those jeans because I fit into them so comfortably and they made my butt look great! And all that workout gear! So cute to show off the body I worked so hard for. And then a sweeping realization feel over me. I am so proud of what these clothes symbolized – the hard work, the dedication, the consistency… but also, I don’t ever want to work that hard again.
After having the boys, I felt like my inability to get back into my former clothes was because I was working hard enough for it. While I didn’t expect my body to go back to its former glory (these hips ain’t ever going back), I did have an underlying hope that I’d at least get close. These clothes, instead of pride, were a constant source of pressure. And not the good, motivating kind of pressure.
Looking at my life now, I couldn’t imagine working as hard as I did for my former body. It was a lot of work and consumed all of my spare energy and time. I’m just not authentically interested in doing that again.
Now let’s be cIear, I see the benefits of taking care of your body in that specific way. I felt amazing and wouldn’t bat an eye at signing up for a hot yoga session or a half marathon. But I can still be healthy and fit without drinking protein smoothies, eating a restricted diet, or working out twice a day.
So going back to my closet, looking at the clothes, allowing the myself to sit with the pride for my former body… I began to pluck the items from the shelf and toss them in the box. Anything with size small tag, went. Any bottoms or dress more than one size away from where I’m at went into the box. And all that athleisure, I kept my favorite pieces, enough to get me through a week of workouts, and the rest went into the box. I did keep a few choice items (my favorite pink dress stayed) until I’m ready to let them go or replace them. This simple exercise cut the contents of my closet in half… and all the pressure I was feeling went with it.
Liberating is an overused word, but it’s wildly appropriate in this instance. Giving myself the permission to acknowledge that I don’t want to go back to those methods allowed me to let go of the underlying expectations, reminders, and pressure. My closet is a much happier place now. Up next is getting into the groove of exercising without pushing myself to perform at the level I used to or fall into old habits. But that’s a challenge for another day.
Until next time…