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I Lied to My Therapist About ‘The Skirt’



Several years ago, I was going through a life change that landed me in a not-so-healthy state of mind. I’ve written about it all before in a post called Does My Butt Look Big in This Gown? I finally came to terms with my not-so-healthy state of mind and put myself into therapy where I worked through some binge-eating and body dysmorphia issues. It was a tough row to hoe, but I managed to get through it. I learned some lessons and how to apply them.

The binge-eating thing was actually kind of easy to get over. I knew exactly why I did it, so it was just a matter of recognizing emotions when they happened and addressing those emotions versus ignoring/placating them with food. The dysmorphia gig is still a challenge. I see things that I know aren’t really there, or aren’t as big a deal as I make them out to be. It drives The Candyman  up the wall if I start in on myself. I try not to, but it can be difficult, particularly when I'm stressed out.

I’m not the crazy work-out fiend I used to be. As a result, I’ve gotten a little…let’s say soft. Yes, soft is the word.

My weight has remained the same, but I can tell that muscle tone is gone and parts of me are bigger. For the most part, I’m okay with a few changes. However, I’ve gotten to a point where the switch flips and my mind starts in on myself. I don’t like my shape or the way I feel, both mentally or physically. I’m on dangerous ground and I know it.

Back when I was in therapy, we talked about some of the triggers and how I judged myself. One of the things I would use to measure my physical self (since weight was never was something that provoked me) was The Skirt. I bought this skirt back in 1999 or so, on sale at the now-defunct Marshall Fields on State Street in Chicago. It’s a gorgeous, Oriental-looking silk brocade by ISDA & CO. and I simply love it.  Since it’s a woven brocade it has ZERO stretch. And I mean ZERO. That skirt was my measuring tool. If I could put that skirt on and walk and sit comfortably, I was “fine.” If I couldn’t, I was not “fine.” I let that fucking skirt rule my life at times, putting it on daily to measure success and failure. When I discussed this with my therapist years ago, it was a mortifying secret. I bawled as I told her. Now I look at it simply as slightly embarrassing, but in a quirky, funny sort of way. I don’t think of it as an ugly secret any more. At the time, my therapist told me to get rid of the skirt. She told me to get rid of it when I was ready, but to get rid of it.

Um, yeah. I wore that skirt to Marie’s (of Marie +Vic’s Unfake Wedding) rehearsal dinner this past April.

And I totally told my therapist I trashed it like 5 years ago. I totally lied.

I just couldn’t let it go because I do truly love it. I just stopped using it to measure myself. Um, until last week.

I know, I know! I’m a terrible patient. I’m a terrible person. I do have an excuse though. Wanna hear it? OK, here it is: I needed something to kick me in the arse to get me back on a healthy track. Honestly, I’ve been eating like a jack-ass. I’ve been eating whatever I want, whenever I want and not caring about the consequences. This behavior has come about little by little over the last 6 months or so. Before I moved, I‘d have at least 3-4 servings of fruit and veggies a day. Now, I’m lucky if I have one. My main source of calcium?  Cheese and mayo– daily. Fiber? Meh. See where I’m going with this? I haven’t been binge eating or doing any of that to replace emotions or anything, just eating like total crap. And once you let it go a few times, it just becomes a bad habit all over again.

So you realize that I wore the skirt to Marie’s wedding – this was at the end of April. It fit, not terribly comfortably when I sat, but well enough to wear. I put this skirt on last week and nearly died. So tight I would not walk out of the house in the thing. It was only two and a half months ago that it fit! I mean, WTF have I been eating? So I sat down and figured out exactly what I had been eating: crap. High fat, low fiber crap. *Sigh*

I had to get back on track and the only way I know how to monitor what I’m eating is by journaling my food via the Weight Watchers point system. It’s always been my wake up call. Some people (myself included) claim that food journaling can be just as neurotic as other eating disorders. For me, I don’t believe that is the case and my therapist encouraged it. It puts things into perspective for me. It reminds me how important it is to drink lots of water, eat naturally grown versus over-processed foods and to get creative with my meals. That creativity thing has been a challenge too. Since we eat at home nearly every single meal now, I’ve fallen on some easy recipes that aren’t always the most healthy for us.

I started back on the journaling on Saturday and last night, we had the yummiest dinner of spiced chicken and veggies cooked on the grill with homemade, super-yum hummus (recipe from July’s issue of O Magazine). Instead of eating the whole chicken breast, I ate half, added extra veggies on my plate and had a healthy about of hummus. I was stuffed. For me, it’s all about paying attention – making conscious decisions about what to put in my mouth, which I have not been doing. After two days, I can’t tell you how much better I feel. Is that totally cliché? Probably, but fuck it. I have to do what works for me and this works. Since I’ve been down this path before, I know it will take me a few months to get back into the swing of eating healthy foods without the use of a journal. I fall off the horse, I get up and get back on. It’s just like any other bad habit – practicing the new habits and making them a learned behavior takes time. I consider it a refresher course. We'll see how it goes! Wish me luck!

So do you find yourself waxing and waning in bad habit management? How do you manage your own?

*Please note that I’m not looking for advice on weight management, diets or eating disorders. This is my own call to arms and I encourage a dialogue on how to manage habits, not a neurotic frenzy on how to lose weight (though I apologize if the post reads with that tone). I think the internet has enough of that weight loss crap, don’t you?

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Reader Comments (9)

I took out these wide 70 jeans I wore about 15 years ago. I so thought I was still going to fit them but my thighs have definitely expanded. I do want to decrease my thighs but I'm pairing that with a conscious effort to eat better and exercise.

I want to fit in those jeans again. I also want to live a healthier life. Both can be achieved right?

I've been thinking about writing to you for a while. I'm so mentally beat when I get home it's a wonder I can even read. But i'd love to know how you're doing and hope you're settled in these days.


Chic 'n Cheap Living

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChic 'n Cheap Living

The nutritionist I went to last year advocated journaling, and it has always worked for me. Anything that helps get you back on track is a good thing.
And I'm glad you kept the skirt!

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMom

I remember journaling three peanut M&Ms in my WW food journal way back in our flower days and Mary P. telling me I was a loser. I remember shouting back at her as she walked away - "You Bite It - You Write It, Mary!!!!" hehehe

If I remember correctly WW helped me lose every ounce I wanted to with that philosophy.

I use the same behavior to change unwanted behaviors of mine around here: I write it all down! Or buy a sign of some sort that serves as a reminder.

Some of my favorite reminders around the house are:

Hold On. (A picture of a bird on a wire that I see before I leave my bedroom every day)

It's never too late to start the day over.

There will be NO MOM JEANS.


July 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterabby

Abby - remember our office-wide Weight Watchers Buffet? Everyone brought in dishes with point values assigned! We were a dedicated bunch! I also remember starving myself all day so I could go out and drink all my points at happy hour. MAYBE not the best way to manage your food....

July 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterLouise

Staying healthy and at the same weight is what's killing me! My wedding in 3 months and I've got so much travel for work etc in between (including an international move) that makes healthy eating and regular exercise tough. And I can't afford not to fit into THE dress after finally finding it!

And just my two cents on the skirt :) I would have kept it too.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLilly

I also remember Jodi walking in with a snickers one time on weigh in day and us all gasping at her. She then removed her giant, heavy earrings, necklace, bracelets and bedazzled belt and laughed, SEE - It ain't no thang :)


July 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterabby

I hear you. I have "the Jeans" in lieu of the skirt. And, I find that working at home is challenging. The fridge is right there, as is the box of Triscuits. I am working on imposing some structure to my day, a la, lunch hour - and I am in need of a kick in the pants too. Thank you for this post.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoanna

Congrats! I have jeans that do the same thing, and they are officially tiiiight now. Which is why I finally dragged my ass back onto the WW wagon a week ago. WW is the only thing that gets me back into a healthy and balanced mindset. I KNOW it's neurotic-making for other people, but the structure pushes me towards making balanced healthy choices (and I deal/drink every one of my flexpoints. I have zero comprehension how people don't, unless they're heading into neurotic weight loss territory. They're here so we can eat chocolate and drink wine, dammit.)

Somehow, when I'm focused with WW, I find that other areas of my life get more balanced too. I'm very all-or-nothing. I even use WW to get me in more control of house messiness, overspending in my budget, etc. Having to sit down and plan a week of meals/shopping really sets me up well for a well-balanced life overall. I think the thoughtful approach to the week, even if it steals two hours of my Sunday, is the best way I know to get my life on track. WW forces the Sunday planning.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

I usually say mindful eating. Maybe mindful living is better. Covers it all.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterflo

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