December 08, 2018

What it's like to try on clothes after a 30-pound weight gain

weight loss jeans comparison

This post is not going to be whiny, I promise. I just discovered something very interesting when I was trying on clothes yesterday, and I thought I'd share my thoughts.

To recap, I lost 125 pounds from August 2009 to December 2010. In the time since then, my weight has gone up and down a LOT, but my current weight (163) is the heaviest I've been since 2010. So, I've spent most of the last eight years or so at a fairly "normal" size.

I've gotten numerous emails over the years asking about my mindset after losing the weight. Did I see myself as the new, thinner me? Or did I still see the 253-pound me?

And to answer that, it probably took me about five years to finally see myself as "normal" or even "thin". I had very distorted vision when looking at myself in the mirror. I always saw myself at least 50 pounds heavier than I was. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but my mind played tricks on me.

I would even have Jerry take a photo of me before going out so that I could see what I "really" looked like. Sometimes, I thought I looked terrible, but then in the picture, I was surprised to see that I looked good.

When I would do laundry and fold clothes, I couldn't believe that the jeans I folded were actually mine. Sometimes I would even put my jeans in the kids' dressers because they just looked so small!

size 24 versus size 4

When shopping (I only ever buy clothes at thrift stores, and they are completely unorganized--nothing is arranged by size), I would flip through the racks of jeans and when I found a pair I liked, I'd mentally judge if they were my size before finding the tag to check.

Almost always, I would think, "Oh, these look about my size" (when I was a size 4) and then I'd look at the tag and it would show a size 10 or 12. I would look at a size 4 and think they wouldn't even fit my thigh!

FINALLY, a few years ago, I started seeing myself as thin. When I dropped from 160 to 121 between September 2015 to February 2016, I actually saw myself as normal, or even thin. It felt fantastic to finally have my mind catch up to my body!

(I remember, very specifically, not wanting to post the above photo on my blog because I thought I looked too fat. Crazy, right?!)

When I would go shopping, I'd flip through the rack and when I found jeans that I thought would fit, I'd see the size 4 (or even 2!) and throw them in the cart to try on. The size 6 or 8's looked way too big for me, because I'd gotten so used to the size 4's.

Sooooo... I am finally getting to the point of this post.

I am now at 163(ish) pounds. (Yes, even after a virus that made me throw up for two days, I didn't drop a single ounce!). Yesterday, I went to Salvation Army to look for a couch, and while I was there, I decided to check out the clothes.

I have always hated shopping when my weight is up, but I haven't been losing any weight lately, and I desperately need clothes that fit. I have a couple of pairs of jeans that fit, and that's it. All I've been wearing lately has been yoga pants or sweat pants (likely with paint on them) and big t-shirts or hoodies.

When shopping yesterday, I had no clue what size to even consider. I started flipping through the racks, and when I'd find something that I liked and I thought looked to be my size, I'd check the tag... and almost always, it was a size 4. It's like my brain is now stuck with the mentality of me being much smaller than I actually am!

(Just FYI, the photos I'm using in this post are not current... I remember HATING the photo below because I thought I looked so fat! *eye roll*)

trying on clothes in the fitting room

When I grabbed some 8's and 10's to put in the cart, I thought there was no way they would fit--I figured they'd be too big. They looked way too big! (I mean that in a relative way--I am not saying that size 8 or 10 is "too big", just that my brain is fucked up and plays tricks on me.)

(In the above photo, I'd actually found a dollar in the pocket of the jeans I was trying on! This happens more than you can imagine. Last weekend, I found a $20 bill!)

I've been wanting a pair of light-washed baggy jeans to replace a pair that had become so worn I finally had to throw them out, so I found a few that I liked and I thought they'd be perfect. They looked like they'd be baggy.

With a cart full of sizes 8 and 10 jeans, I went to the fitting room. Pair after pair, I pulled them on. Some, I couldn't even get past my thigh. A few of them would button, but looked way too small. And there were a few that actually fit. (Which is typical, because different brands fit differently.)

I was shocked. The jeans that I thought were going to be really baggy actually didn't even button. With each pair that I tried on, I got more and more surprised--and kind of mad at myself for not seeing it before.

Anyway, I thought this was an interesting topic. A lot of times, when we lose weight, we don't see ourselves as thin (or whatever our weight is). We always see ourselves at our heaviest and think of ourselves as our heaviest.

I never imagined that a day would come where I see myself as thinner than I actually am. It's kind of fascinating! I've always wanted my brain to catch up with my thinner body, but clearly it's still lagging behind ;)


  1. I totally understand what you are saying! I struggle everyday with food and how I see myself. Some days I think I am a runner and that is more important than the weight loss, but then I am right back to beating myself up about the number I am seeing or how I look:( I know it doesn’t exactly help and I am sure you already know that you are more than a number that you see on the scale�� I’m rooting for you here in Texas and I know you will get to where you want to be!!!!

  2. Great post as always Katie! Our mind is interesting!

  3. Right there with you and it's breaking my heart.

  4. I think part of the issue might be that clothing brands' sizes have changed a lot over the years. Remember that when you shop at thrift stores, you're buying jeans that were probably manufactured before the current vanity sizing trend the sizes are not what you expect them to be.

  5. Yes! I lost 100 pounds in the years of 2009/2010. I’ve managed to keep it off or at least a 10 pound variance. This year it’s become about a 30 pound gain. When I went to get new work pants, I had to go back twice because I really couldn’t figure out what size I am. I never realized my brain had shifted to see myself as a smaller person and I’ve become blind to what I look like right now. It’s a really weird thing how you slowly adapt.
    I call it the ‘seeing but not seeing’ like how you see the people around you in stores and areas but you don’t actually ‘see’ them.

  6. I have yo-yo'd up and down over the years myself. I love being thin but am not disciplined enough to continue to "starve" myself to stay that way. I greatly enjoy cooking and I had hoped when I retired I would be able to cook my way through Julia Child's cookbook - front to back. I have no one to share it with so that's out. Meantime, I firmly believe that your body has it's own "perfect" weight and we cannot control that. I'm not willing to deny myself these joys. So I too have gained back all that I lost. I found that WW made me obsess about food all day, every day. Now I just strive to be happy and healthy. If I am heavy...well, that's what it is. Be good to yourself Katie.

  7. I completely understand what you're talking about because I've noticed it myself. I went from 209lbs to 138lbs several years ago, and creeped back up to 227lbs over the past 4ish years as a result of certain life events (including a toxic relationship) and overall not caring about exercise or what I ate. While trying on clothes at my heaviest weight after gaining it all back, I always imagined myself smaller than I actually was. Especially in pictures, I'd think I'd look slim and cute, then look at my photos and see nothing but a huge, swollen face. I'm currently down to 195lbs and I still get this.

  8. I feel you sister! I know about what size I need, but I am always shocked at how I look in clothing. I just don't see myself as being as big as I am. It's a sad state!

  9. Hi Katie! Thank you for sharing your thoughts so transparently. You bless me.
    Your posts from 2015-2016 were monumental in my maintenance journey. They made calorie counting not so daunting. CC was simply a tool that got you to your goal and you seemed very happy with results.
    I tried eating intuitively many times but alas, for someone who "eats her feelings" IE ended up in weight gain. I now practice IE with loose calorie counting without recording anything in any app. I know this may sound oxymoronic but this way of eating has been revolutionary for me. Please disregard this comment if you are completely "allergic" to calorie counting ;)

  10. February 2016 entries were particularly inspiring to me.

  11. This IS interesting! It's fascinating how the mind works. I don't have any big ups and downs as far as weight, but there was one time that shocked me... Growing up and through my 20s, I was thin. Then weight started to creep on super slowly. One time at the doctor, while waiting for her to come in, I saw myself in the mirror as I sat on the table in a slouched position. My middle looked so big and downright fat. To my brain, this did not look like me. It was that mismatch between reality and my mind. It was a startling wake up call.
    -- Melissa in Maumee

  12. So frustrating! Have been reading your blog for some time and enjoy your insights. After a recent (unsuccessful) go around with IF and keto (and numerous previous schemes) I've decided that the best route for me is to simply stop. I've been dieting for nearly 40 years and am over dealing with the ups and downs. I am now down in weight from a previous high and am scared about the possibility of gaining it back if I don't keep restricting. But I also know that I cannot continue to drive myself insane and give any more energy to obsessing about weight. Working on a lot of body acceptance. So hard.

  13. I get you.....when I was 25 piunds thinner I still saw myself as heavier and even though I tried on and fit into size 4/6 my brain didn't get it. Now that I am 158...because I weighed myself THIS morning and told myself I have to be accountable to my eating/snacking so I had to see the number on the scale....I was actually surprised because I thought it easily would have said 168. HA!

    Oh well, LIterally two months until I turn 50 and I am bound to be somewhere in between the present weight and the 25 pound drop...about 13 pounds less would be wonderful.



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