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For years, I took pride in the fact that I was a size 8.  I had been a size 8 in my 20s, and aside from a not-so-brief six months after the birth of my second child, I remained a size 8 at 40.
After awhile though, finding clothes in a size 8 that I "liked" (i.e., something I could fit into) became more difficult. With the intelligence gathering techniques normally reserved for matters of national security, I became an expert in which store or manufacturer made clothes I would buy. Regardless of whether I wanted the garment or not, regardless of whether I needed yet another oversized tunic from Old Navy or not, if I could squeeze into it, I bought it.
Of course, I didn't see that I was in denial. In the dressing room, if the pants were a little snug, I'd blame the fact that I just had lunch. If the shirt gaped across the front, I'd tell myself it was because of hormones and buy it anyway.
Eventually, I had a closet full of clothes that I couldn't wear, and my everyday wardrobe consisted of the few things I could still squeeze into. I spent most of the day tugging and adjusting, and constantly felt uncomfortable because something was always binding me. Needless to say, jeans were the worst. I bought nearly every brand in every cut, but still had a muffin top, and constantly complained that no one made clothes for real women.
Occasionally, my clothes would fit. A two week juice fast, a bout with the flu, and I could zip my jeans up again. Triumphant, I'd go on a mad shopping spree, occasionally even emerging with a coveted item in a size 6, or anything in a medium. Then I'd gain the weight back, and be back to wearing the clothes that had already stretched out.
The fact that I could simply buy a size up was not a possibility. Despite the fact that most of my wardrobe (and budget!) issues could have been solved by stepping a few inches over on the rounder and looking in the 10s section, I just wouldn't do it. I had a completely delusional idea that I had "maintained my figure", a phrase I must have heard from a commercial since I don't know anyone who actually uttered those words. Perhaps if I had to go from a size 6 to a size 8, it might have been easier. But I was as superstitious as a 17th century Salem villager when it came to wearing a size in the double digits.
As with most things that cause me to change, the catalyst came from my children. I had to find a dress to wear to my son's middle school graduation, and began my search in March. By the time May came around, I had pretty much exhausted all possibilities. In a store one day and rushed for time, I grabbed one dress in a size 8, and then telling myself that this could be my "fat" dress, I reached over and got the same dress in a size 10.
After seeing the always-prevalent stretching across my hips in the smaller size, I slipped on the 10.
Ta-da!! I wish I could say the dress was loose, but it wasn't. It I could move in the dress, and for once, I wasn't providing an all too obvious outline of every bulge in my body. It had been such a long time since I actually liked the way I looked in a mirror that I stood in that dressing room for a few minutes looking at myself in amazement. For once, I could assess the item itself and not simply whether I was able to hold my breath and zip myself in.
I started over again, this time trying things on in a size 10. Some things fit, a few things were still too small and I had to try them in a size 12. I wasn't happy about that, but when they were TOO loose, an experience I hadn't felt in years, I was relieved to put them back.
So, here's my happily-ever-after ending.  I can finally wear clothes I buy, and I actually look better, and yes, thinner, when I don't look like a an overstuffed armchair.  Oh, and no muffin tops, either.  Who knew it would be that simple?

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