A couple weeks ago I got a book that had been on my Paperback Swap wish list for a couple of years: How to Never Look Fat Again. It had gotten some good reviews and I was curious about the advice; I was hoping to learn a few new tricks beyond the ones I already knew (e.g., black: yes, horizontal stripes: no).
Now, I know the only way to never look fat again is to not BE fat to begin with. But let’s face it, I’m never going to be skinny again; the only way I can pull that off is to go back to disordered eating and popping diet pills like candy, which I refuse to do. I’m hoping for a happy medium – to weigh less than I do now and (more importantly) to be fit, but to not worry if I weigh more than I did in high school.
I’ve done diets and food restrictions and all that, but what works best for me is to just be aware of what I’m eating and track calories. The problem I’ve found is that it’s easier to track calories if you eat a lot of already-made, processed food or if you eat out at well-known restaurants that publish nutritional information. When 95% of your meals are made from scratch, it’s a huge pain in the ass to figure out the nutritional content. Sometimes I get lucky and the recipes have nutritional info already there; on the other hand, that only helps if I follow the recipe exactly and don’t make substitutions. Most of the time I end up having to enter the entire recipe into a recipe calculator to figure out the calories.
It takes a lot of time, and that’s the main reason I stop doing it after a while. But right now I have the extra time, and also the extra motivation of my yearly check-up in about a month. What better time to watch my calories and maybe drop a few pounds, right?! (I use either Spark People or LiveStrong to do my calorie tracking; this time around I’m doing LiveStrong.)
When you get older and you’re VERYVERY short, like me, your daily calorie allotment dwindles to hardly anything. It’s even less if you’re trying to lose weight. Right now I’m supposed to be eating 1,209 calories a day. Let me tell you, it’s very easy to go over that without even realizing. Once I lose weight, that number will go down even more. When I lost a decent amount of weight a few years back (around 20 pounds, which gets me out of the ‘overweight’ category on a BMI calculator), I was down to about 1,000 calories a day. I could definitely have stood to lose more weight but damn, I was freaking starving. After a while I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I always exercise too; I’ve tried just exercising without restricting calories but that never works for me. You have to exercise SO MUCH just to burn one calorie, and I’m not a jogger or runner or heavy-duty exercise nut. I always have to restrict calories in order to lose weight; I exercise for the health benefits and because I feel better when I do, but never for weight loss.
Okay, so – watching what I eat, exercising, blahblahHealthyblah, but it takes forever, right? And that’s cool, I know it takes a long time and I prefer losing weight slowly and keeping it off. But that means I’m going to look like this for a while. Hence the book – why not try to trick the eye into thinking I’ve lost more weight than I really have?
The book is divided into sections for all the problem areas most women have. I looked at all of them except the Big Bust one – that’s never been my problem, never will. It would be nice because big boobs would detract from tummy bulge but, alas, it’s not to be. First I checked out the sections on thighs and belly (my biggest problems) and also checked out the arms section; I already know never, EVER to wear cap sleeves and I avoid tank tops like the plague. I got some satisfaction when the author complained about the fact that most dresses are sleeveless, even though many older women have a bit of arm flap going on, even the skinny ones. You always have to buy a separate shrug or something to cover up the arms. Why not just put SLEEVES on the dresses to begin with?! I wear a dress maybe once every five years, so luckily it’s not really a pressing issue for me; it’s just something I’ve always noticed and it was gratifying to see I wasn’t the only one miffed by the preponderance of sleeveless dresses.
What was most amusing to me was the section on belly bulge (another thing a lot of older women deal with, especially if they’ve had kids). This has been the hardest thing for me to get used to; when I was younger, my stomach was actually concave a lot of the time. I mean, I never EVER had a tummy bulge or had to deal with it when wearing clothes. Even so, I’ve always been super sensitive about anything that clings to my stomach area; even when I was pregnant, I wore very loose tops and would never have dreamed of wearing the form-fitting tops you see pregnant women wearing nowadays. (Not that it looks bad on them – it’s just not something I would’ve chosen to wear.) After I had kids, I couldn’t wear an A-line or empire waist dress or top without someone asking me if I was pregnant; if I wore very fitted clothes, people would comment on my stomach. (And this was back when I weighed about 115-120 pounds.) I took to wearing leggings with big, loose cardigans or long knee-length sweaters over them, anything to hide my non-existent stomach.
Me, Stacy & Dave, back in the day (happy birthday, Stacy!!) — If I couldn’t wear a sweater, it was an oversized t-shirt. Hide my stomach at all costs!!
Now I really have a stomach that needs to be hidden, and I can’t stand the clingy fabrics so many tops are made of these days. What I wouldn’t give for those huge, long sweaters and cardigans to come back into style! Sadly, the book had no real tips for me in that area. The main thing, repeated over and over, was to wear support undergarments ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY. (The author favors support bike shorts.) Now, I can break out the Spanx on a special occasion, but to hang out around the house? I don’t think so. She also recommends a belt, which is fine if you don’t ever want to sit down.
Actually, that’s my biggest tummy problem – I have lots of pants that fit and look great when I’m standing up, but they squeeze too much when I’m sitting down. Nobody ever seems to acknowledge this on shows like What Not to Wear – they dress people in these fitted outfits that look cute when they’re standing up, but you know they’re busting out of them if they sit down. Do these people never sit down?!
So I read the book with an air of resignation; much of the advice stressed support undergarments to be worn all the time, and that’s not what I’m looking for. I did learn some brands to keep an eye out for as far as jeans (never at full price – I always shop at Goodwill), and she did convince me to try to move away from the oversized clothes I tend to wear. I know it makes me look bigger than I really am; I am just so loath to have anyone see tummy bulge that I can’t resist oversized shirts.
Yesterday Dave and I headed to Goodwill; he had a 25% off discount card and I was thinking about upgrading some of my fall/winter clothes. The first store was a bust; I was shopping one size smaller for shirts and that was just too tight for me. We headed to the other store in our area and I scored – five shirts and a pair of dressier black pants for under $20. It was kind of funny – I really felt like I was in an episode of What Not to Wear. I’d reach for an oversized t-shirt and then pull my hand back, thinking, “No … I’m supposed to be looking for v-neck shirts, and not that big.” I’m shooting more for clothes that skim my body but don’t cling, and pants I can sit down in without asphyxiating. (One tip: If you have a tummy like me, try Jag jeans – they fit well and have some give in the waist so you can sit down comfortably … but they don’t sag at the waist when you’re standing up.)
I’m also going to try to incorporate some minor heels into my wardrobe too, maybe with ankle boots or something. I hate heels and, if given the choice, I’ll wear my Mizuno gym shoes all the time. I know I have to suffer a LITTLE bit for beauty though, and I can definitely use an extra inch in height. (I could really use an extra five inches, but I’m not that crazy.)
In closing, if you see me in person and I’m wearing a more fitted top than usual, you don’t need to ask … NO, I’m not pregnant.