sweet dreams and flying machines

I cried in a dressing room today. Wasn't much, just a tear or two, and only for a moment, but whether or not I feel embarrassment admitting it, it did happen.

I've told a lot of people that I can't quite see the changes that have been happening to me in the past three months, but that's not exactly the truth. I see small things: changes in tautness of skin, the return of a dimple that I haven't seen in several years. Just not what the rest of you are apparently seeing.

The scale isn't moving much, but the clothes aren't lying. Over the past few weeks, I've been gradually giving up on many of my clothes. I've been lucky - I've gone through some various stashes of old clothing that I've found, and uncovered enough pair of jeans and shorts to last me a few more months. Our stack of t-shirts will work nicely, no matter what size I turn out to be when I'm done.

The problem's been the sleepwear.

Most everyone in my life knows I have the plainest wardrobe known to mankind. Partly out of shyness, partly as a function of my weight, I've spent my entire adult life settling for essentially whatever would cover me decently with a minimum of fuss and fluff. Cover the bits, get the job done, move on, go home.

It's starting to sink in that as I lose weight, this can change.

When I was originally searching for my first pair of goal jeans, I wandered into our local Sears to see if they carried the Lands' End jeans I was thinking of buying. They didn't, but the section of clothing on the other side of the aisle caught my attention: Intimates. Quite possibly the one department of any clothing store that should be designated with a "No Fat Chicks!" sign. If you're above the Magical Unknown Cutoff Point, it's not even worth your time to go into that section, because the only things there for you are Fatass Flowered Muumuus.

I dunno about the rest of you out there, but while I may have hated myself for my weight, I had some pride.

I walked over to the jeans, muttering quietly to myself, "I'm here for jeans…think about the jeans…concentrate on the jeans…" but I kept looking over at a little powder-blue nightgown with a nifty little sheer inset in one corner.

It was…pretty.

I didn't own pretty things. Pretty things didn't come in my size, and if they did, they wouldn't look pretty by the time they got put on me. What would be the point of buying them, if all they'd get to do was attempt to make me look better (a pointless task if there ever was one)?

This week, I admitted to myself that I was out of sleepwear. I had two pair of comfortable satiny pajamas, red and blue, both of which were starting to do the backstroke across my boobs. Not good; eventually, even I have to admit that a piece of clothing has gone from 'comfortably baggy' to 'unintentionally ventilated.'

I kept thinking about the little powder-blue nightgown I'd seen, and loved. I wondered if I could wear it. Today, after the weights workout, I decided to tiptoe out to the mall. Just to see, I said. Just to see. Maybe my friends were right. Maybe the changes I couldn't see would be borne out in changes in clothing.

I took several different sizes of the blue nightgown into the dressing room in preparation for disappointment. Medium. Large. Extra large. I tried on the XL and thought, "I don't think I need this size." I tried on the L and it was just about right - wearable, but snug enough that I should still be able to wear it in two months' time.

While I was there, I browsed around the lingerie section. Let me say that again, because I don't think the rest of you really understood the import of that statement: I browsed around the lingerie section looking for something I wanted to buy. Not dreaming, not wishing about what I'd wear someday if I somehow managed to lose weight, but looking around just to simply see if there was something I wanted to try on and perhaps purchase.

It. Seemed. So. Simple.

I found a second little nightgown - red, spaghetti straps. I loved it. It was cute. I tried it on, realized it would fit in a month or so, and mentally flashed an enormous middle finger in the direction of a certain family member's years of urging to "not wear anything showing your upper arms, because you don't want people seeing those marks."

I bought two pieces of clothing, neither of which had a size that contained the letter 'X', and moved on to the second store I wanted to visit. It was time to answer the question I'd been quietly asking myself for months: how many shirt sizes have I lost?

I performed the same dance in the second store, pulling out shirts in several different sizes to try on. My friends have been insisting that the image my mind sees when I look in the mirror is not indicative of what the rest of the world is seeing now, so I took shirts in sizes I didn't think I could wear, and began to try them on.

The more I progressed through the shirts, the more stunned I got. The shirts just didn't fit. Everything was too loose. In the end, when the cards were played and all the shirts had been tried on, I was standing in a clothing store fitting room wearing a lime green shirt, size 14/16, with my hands pressed over my mouth and my eyes suspiciously leaky.

It was real. It was really happening. The sweat in the gym meant something. The toughing out the weightlifting meant something. My friends weren't lying to me. It was real. In January, I wore a size 22/24 shirt, and 24 jeans. I've lost three jeans sizes and, apparently, four shirt sizes.

I didn't buy any of the shirts. I didn't need to. I knew the answer already.

* * * * *

Tonight, I showed Jeff what I bought. I didn't try to explain; instead, I laid them out on the bed and said, "They were…pretty. You know me. I just don't own pretty things."

After a lifetime spent owning purely functional garments, I can't even begin to tell you what it's like to actually own some clothing that I'm actually happy to wear, but I can tell you this. On the way back from the store this afternoon, I felt the tickle of the short, fine hairs near my ears from the breeze coming through my car's open windows…and the sound of my voice, in song.

Jonatha Brooke redid 'Fire and Rain' on her new album, Back in the Circus. (Link points to page with streaming versions of the album.) Her rendition is almost … joyful. Breeze not available. Use your imagination.


HOT DAMN...and I told you so :) I am SO proud of you.

See, we told you ... now get out on that runway and shake it baby! :) Okay, perhaps not. But I'm glad you're making progress.

Anyone who has ever fought a weight battle knows exactly what you're talking about. Congradulations and (((hugs)))! Good going!!!!

Amy :) Well done.

. . . and Jesus, it's only been 3 months. You really are pretty inspirational. Ok, I'll stop brownnosing now.

Angel - the weird thing is that people in the gym are starting to come up to me and say things like that, too. It's disturbing and flattering all at once. On one hand, it's easy for me to say, "Yeah, only three months." But, on the other hand…I know that this is happening because I've made a point to be in that gym almost every day for three months. When I first started working out, I caught myself muttering under my breath, "I swear, I'm having to sell my soul to get this body." Lately, I've noticed the tone has changed, to something more like this: "I'm buying this body back. One pound at a time." Of course, right now I still seem to be on the "turn in a pound of fat and we'll give you a pound of muscle" program. The scale hasn't changed much, but I'm really curious to have my body fat percentage re-measured in another week or two. I know there are changes. I'd just like to know how much. Sometimes it's one day at a time. Sometimes it's one weight, one rep, or one step at a time. Never said it was easy, but I will say that it's worth it.

Amy said: "Sometimes it's one weight, one rep, or one step at a time." Yeah, tell me about it. I went out for a run tonight (I'm finally running again, a year after knee surgery) and it was literally a one-step-at-a-time exercise. I went out after I read your blog, and I was literally using you as inspiration all the way around. It's scary how quickly you can lose your fitness, but it's also amazing how quickly you can get it back. For example: I'll do the same routine day after tomorrow (2 minutes running, 1 minute walking, repeat 6 times) and it will be almost too easy. Then the next time after that I'll have to up the running time to 3 minutes, and I'll be worn out again. By this time next week, tonight's workout will feel easy. But it didn't tonight!

I know you don't know me, I stumbled on your site somehow this afternoon. Just wanted to take a moment and say WAY TO GO AMY! I too have been fighting the weight battle (70 Lbs since last May) and I felt and lived every word you typed! Keep up the *G*R*E*A*T* work!!!

Congratulations! I realize seemingly random comments from strangers don't count for much so I'll add something useful. :) You may be slimming down more than you realize. Your body is getting rid of fat and probably replacing it with muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. So your weight may not change as much as you'd expect. If you're interested they make scales that tell you your fat/muscle ratio when checking your weight.

Matt: That's what I've been sayign to her. :)

You're making *me* cry. I have followed every single one of your entries lately - and I am so happy for you. :)