Usually in this column I write about my strategies to get more exercise and eat healthy. But another piece of the puzzle for me as I journey toward improved health and fitness is being happy with myself. So this week, I have a slightly different topic to address, and that is clothing.
For most of my life, I wore clothes to cover myself up, because I was unhappy with myself and how I looked. I thought I could hide under baggy and poorly fitting clothes, and I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into my appearance.
If you know me, you’ll know that my appearance still isn’t my top priority. (I mean, seriously, who has time?) However, I have been taking more care with the clothes I select, with the aim of liking what I see in the mirror.
My friends and family have all heard me rave about a television show that has helped me a lot in this respect. Called, “How to Look Good Naked,” the premise of the show is self-love, self-acceptance, and maximizing your assets.
There are two versions of the show, which can be viewed on Hulu: one is British, and the other is American. I think the British version is better, although both are good.
Here’s how it works. For each episode, a woman who hates her appearance is chosen. These women are all shapes and sizes; some are overweight, and others are not. But the thing they have in common is that they hate the way they look. Some have not stripped down, even in front of husbands or life partners, for years.
Through a series of interesting exercises designed to help these women see what other people see (which is not the grotesque monster these women imagine they look like), the show’s participants come to recognize that the negative self-images they hold are not reality. The culmination of the program is that the women do a (tasteful) nude photo shoot.
Part of the process for them is to go shopping for clothes with a stylist, who knows how to make the most of each woman’s body type, and to downplay “problem areas.”
So if a woman has a pear shape, like I do, there are clothes she can wear that accentuate the waistline but downplay the hips. The principle holds true for all body types.
I took the stylist’s advice in choosing my own clothing, and have been doing this for a few years.
My rule for my clothes is this: If I am not in love with an article of clothing, I get rid of it. If a piece of clothing doesn’t fit me exactly the way I want it to, I get rid of it.
I do keep a few pairs of “skinny jeans” that I try on every now and then to see if they fit me now, as my body shape continues to change as I continue to work out. But if clothes are now too big, I get rid of them. Why?
I don’t want to leave myself an “out.” I don’t want to assume that someday I may need those size 22 pants again. My plan is that I will never need those size 22 pants again, so why keep them around? They are out of my closet.
So now I’ve now got clothes that accent my good features and downplay those features I don’t wish to draw attention to. Again, why?
If you’re like me, you are used to trying on clothes and having that be a stressful occasion. I used to pick up some giant pair of pants, thinking they would be way too big, only to find out they were too small. I have cried in dressing rooms more than once. Does that sound familiar to you? In moving toward health and fitness, I am working on the whole package: my emotional health and my physical health. I do not want to cry in a dressing room.
To try on clothes that flatter my figure makes me feel good. Simple as that. And when I look in the mirror and like what I see, I feel good. Who doesn’t?
The other day I tried on an outfit that I really liked. I actually had to send a photo to my daughter to ask her if I really looked as good as I thought I did! My family has a long-standing joke about “fashion consulting” because my style tends to be colorful and maybe not always matching. So when my kids lived at home, they would occasionally stop me and say, “Mom, you need some fashion consulting. Don’t wear that!” But this time, my daughter agreed with me: I looked good.
My looks, like my weight, are not really what my journey is all about. My goal is physical fitness. But fundamentally, taking care of myself is about loving myself. It’s hard to get motivated when you look in the mirror and hate what you see, so that’s why for me, it all goes together. When I like what I see, it makes everything I do to get healthy just a little bit easier.
Do you love or hate what you see in the mirror? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or [email protected], or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]