I hate shopping. I have never been someone that likes the act of shopping – it has always made me cringe. My entire childhood was spent being taken from flea market to store to yard sale to mall, etc. Half the time my Mother never bought anything and the other half the time she only bought things that she wanted. Of course, if I acted like a typical kid and asked to get something, I got the “Stop being a spoiled little brat!” remark.
Now, let me clear something up right now… I was NOT a spoiled brat when I was a kid. These comments came from my Mother, who was VERY strapped for cash when my brother and I were little and she is also someone that does not handle stress and anxiety well. So, instead of calmly telling me, “Sorry, honey… Mommy really can’t afford that Barbie right now.” – I was made to feel as though I was a terrible child for asking. Trust me, Mom comes up quite a bit in therapy.
So what about when I went school clothes shopping and I could buy something? That was a disaster as well. For most of my years growing up, I was about 30-40 lbs overweight… so imagine how fun it was to try and find cute clothing to buy in rural Pennsylvania where there are no big malls in sight. Cut to my late high school and early college years when I was thinner and at about a normal weight. I could finally fit into clothing and looked a bit better… but then I couldn’t afford to buy anything.
For the past 5-6 years, the problem wasn’t money or availability of clothing, it was now the fact that I’ve been 300-444 lbs during that time. As you can imagine, there aren’t too many options for someone at that size. For years I have been ordering clothes from Old Navy.com because even they stopped carrying plus size clothing in the store about 7 years ago and department stores like JC Penney’s and Kohl’s didn’t carry plus size clothing big enough to fit me.
What’s the point? Well, last weekend I went shopping at outlet malls in Maryland with women in my husband’s family and this was huge for me for several reasons. First, I would normally avoid a trip like this because I could not physically spend 5 minutes standing on my feet a year ago without major pain, let alone a trip of all day shopping, walking, and carrying bags. Second, even when I would go shopping with my husband’s aunts and cousins in the past, it was never really all that fun to watch them try on cute clothing and just stand there while they shopped their little hearts out. I felt out of place just walking into most stores! Last year around this time when I went, it really was just for the socializing.
So, last weekend was new for me. I found myself trying clothes on and liking the way they fit. At the first store, The Gap, I took two sizes of the same shirt into the dressing room – an XL and L. Naturally, I tried on the XL first thinking it would be the one! Well, it was definitely too big and the L fit perfectly. It was crazy! I think that I have a pretty good mental idea of what I look like now and I luckily DO NOT see the 444 version of me in the mirror at this point, but I still do pick up clothing and think, “Wow, this is way too small to fit me!” when really it will fit perfectly!
For the most part… shopping was a great experience, although I have to admit, not being able to wear certain things because of excess skin was disappointing. But, the positive emotions I was feeling when trying on and buying new clothing was overwhelming. When people ask me why I’m so strict with my diet and why I’m so driven towards my goal, and why I don’t just have “a little taste of something here and there”, I wish I could bottle up the feelings I had this past weekend and somehow show/give it to them. Letting go of all of the bad shopping memories and making new, positive ones makes the “deprivation (I HATE that word)” worth it to me – at least at this point. I’m not saying I do things perfectly or that I will always eat on plan… but I take each day as it comes and try to make the best choices possible. I do what works for me and I’m so glad I’m in a much better mental and physical place than I was 13 months ago…