Yo, how’s it going, man? It’s been a while, says a fellow gym goer who I haven’t seen at the gym for a bit, as we greet each other. You’ve lost weight, he says to me. Hmm, really, you think so? I reply to him. The scale seems to tell me otherwise. Based on it, I’ve actually gained a few kilograms. I feel stronger than I have in some time and, in fact, feel and think I look a bit bigger and broader in the shoulders.
Strange as it is to hear it when everything points to otherwise, it’s not much of a deal to me really. The funny thing, though, is that when I started out, hearing those words came with a fleeting sense of confirmation. Then, my goal was simply to lose weight as I had a lot to lose. Now, however, it’s just weird to hear it when my expectation is to expect the opposite as I do a lot of resistance training, muscle building and work on my strength, and in fact actively gaining weight.
We settle on the fact that it must be just down to the fact that I look like I’ve lost weight, and it must be just fat loss, good loss of weight or something that neither of us really understand. The consideration for me here though, is the ability to understand how I respond to this. I held myself back from a eating at real calorie surpluses for some time because I was worried about putting all that weight that I had lost back on. My friend used to say to me, take the gloves off. You train hard, just eat more. Just have a few fish finger sandwiches a day.
What strikes me most here is that with the fluctuation in sizes, how the mindset and feeling towards them change overtime, throughout the journey, with each new goal. It’s a bit of a mental and emotional rollercoaster. At the start, my goal was to lose weight which would mean a drop in clothes sizes alongside it. I still remember the huge clothes I would have to buy from the big sizes in the men’s section even at the age of eleven or twelve.
The day I was finally able to fit into a medium and especially a small, felt pretty good. It was exhilarating and validating to be able to buy any clothes I liked of the rack at any shop at any time. Then it came to fitting out of the small and moving back to a medium. And, yes you guessed it, in many places, now a large. I recently bought a bunch of large t-shirts and it had me thinking about the last time, I was fitting into large clothes, albeit it was actually a couple of sizes larger than large.
It’s not the same size though really, is it? Then it was for having excess fat and being extremely round and unhealthily overweight, so I had to wear very large clothes to fit. Now, it’s more muscle mass, bigger back, more width and a wider shoulder span. I don’t have a toned belly, with remaining skin that has continued to be my pal since I lost all the weight, but it isn’t covered in layers of fat. However, when part of the goal and primarily its internal validation relied on fitting into the smaller size clothes, fitting out of them comes with its mind games.
You start to consider the possibility that you may have potentially put some of the bad weight back on. But then you think that has to be crazy because it has to be just the muscle mass you’ve gained and good size. Badly defined as good and bad or how either is understood, but you get the idea what we might consider as healthy weight vs unhealthy weight. It’s just going back to a clothes size which you’ve mentally linked to certain levels of trauma of being in a place you worked hard to remove yourself from, starts to confuse you on what the result was in the first place.
Fitting into a larger size isn’t a problem and that’s the thing to remember. It’s how we associate the size of our clothes that creates this emotional translation. Trying to force myself into a smaller piece of clothing because that’s what’s associated with being fit in fitness and health. Being a large was what I considerably got away from, but really it was the reason why I could only fit into large clothes. I did enjoy some time buying and wearing the smaller sizes. But recently, as I bought this pack of t-shirts, I didn’t try on or even look at the mediums. I went straight to the large.