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Can the clothes in your closet make you fat?

Posted Sep 05 2008 6:25pm 1 Comment

A few days ago, someone who will go nameless was wearing a pair of jeans that were at least two sizes too big. They had been purchased when the wearer was much heavier and were a favorite article of clothing. But now, after a few months of much exercise and careful eating, the jeans were falling off and had it not been for the anti-gravity action of a tight belt, might have dropped completely.

When it was suggested that the jeans might be given away, the response was, “Well, I can always wear them if I gain back my weight.”

I suspect that many of us have clothes suitable for our thinner and fatter selves and we hesitate to get rid of the larger sizes in case one day the smaller sizes stop fitting. But does the presence of larger sizes prevent us from maintaining our hard-earned weight loss or deceive us into thinking we have not gained any weight? Maybe the clothes that no longer fit were shrunk by dry cleaning or a long spell in the clothes dryer.

Clothes, even more than the scale, will tell us whether our bodies are expanding or shrinking. A tight waistband, a blouse that barely buttons, pants which don’t allow you to sit down, or a suit jacket that must remain open signal that your body may be bigger than it was when the clothes were last worn. And the opposite is also true. The skirt or jacket that was too tight last year now slips on easily and gives breathing room as well.

As the cooler weather of fall approaches, most of us will be trying on clothes we have not worn for several months. If summer has not been kind to your weight, you will become acutely aware of this as soon as you put on that first pair of woolen slacks. If your closet holds clothes that only fit when you weigh what you want to weigh, your response will be to start that exercise program again and trim the calories from meals and snacks. But, if there is a rack of clothes that are perfectly suitable when you weigh more than you like, you will put those on and shove the skinnier clothes to the back and forget about them.

Last week l I saw a friend whom I had not seen all summer. He had been fighting a weight problem for years and now he looked thinner. At least that is what I thought because his shirt was loose. When I complimented him on his successful weight loss, he laughed and said, “I haven’t lost any weight, I was tired of having my shirt buttons pop off. So I bought a larger size shirt.”

Obviously clothes are not going to make you gain weight. But having clothes that will fit you over a 20 or 30 pound weight range may take away your motivation to lose weight. Few of us will step on the scale if we suspect we won’t like what it reads. And if we think last year’s size will no longer fit, we will immediately start to wear the larger size that is already in the closet. And because cold weather clothes tend to hide rather than reveal figures, it is possible to delay doing anything about weight until it is too hot to wear that down jacket any longer.

The fall and winter are seasons that tend to see the greatest weight gains. Less time is spent outdoors because of cold and darkness, appetites increase, in part because of the early afternoon darkness, and the holidays are usually good for a five-pound weight gain.

But don’t let the larger size clothes lurking in your closet seduce you into ignoring weight gain. Keep them in the back and your smaller sizes in the front. Avoid elastic waists, baggy pants and stretched out sweaters. Wear clothes that will tell you immediately whether you have been exercising too little and eating too much. Your body and health will thank you.

Comments (1)
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I was visiting with a lady in her seventies recently.  She told me that her secret to keeping her figure over the years was to never wear anything with an elastic waist.  Even when she came home from the office she didn't succumb to the lure of sweatpants she always changed into something with a zipper and buttoned waist.  Sounds like a good plan to me.
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