We’ve all been there… fed up with nothing fitting, having packed on some extra lbs and suddenly everything in your closet has shrunk.   

After my divorce, and leaving my career, starting a new business, managing some pretty heavy diagnoses for my kiddo as well as some other personal issues, and keeping all the balls in the air as a single working mom for the past 5 years, those few extra pounds had brought me back to my “birth weight” – and I don’t mean the one I weighed in at in 1974.  I was tipping the scales at 180.   

Yes, I just publicly published my weight.  And, if you can do math, my age.

Of course, like any 40-something year-old woman, I immediately scheduled an appointment with my doctor.  This had to be hormonal, right? She could give me a supplement or some hormones and fix it, yes? Sadly, no.  After lots of bloodwork and peeing in a cup, I was happily informed that my hormones were fine, I was not menopausal or even pre-menopausal.  (Ok I admit – major relief – I wasn’t ready to swallow that aging pill just yet).  I was simply fat.  (I use that term affectionately as I know it is loaded, and relative, and for many people taboo.  I mean no offense.)  I was heavier than I needed to be; rounder than my current closet full of size 8s and 10s would stretch around; and more out of shape than I cared to admit, with low back, hip and knee pain starting to nag at me.   

Disgusted, I came home and did a massive sweep of my closet.  I already ate healthy and had a somewhat active life.  How could I do more?  I didn’t eat fast food or drink sodas.  I didn’t have a sweet tooth or junk food habit.  I walked every morning after school drop off.  I hiked and played outside with my son.  I was (am) a single working mom with a full load, and had been through 3 of the top 5 most stressful life events in the past 5 years – how on Earth was I supposed to make any more changes to my life?  This was clearly the size I was meant to be.  And so all the 8s and 10s went…and were slowly replaced with 12s.   

And then the 12s got tight.  Wha?!?!  And my belts wouldn’t buckle.  And my bras didn’t fit.  And I could no longer wear my favorite go-to button-up shirts without a minimizer bra.  Yes, I actually had to go buy a minimizer bra… Never did I think I’d see that day! 

That was it.  No way was I going up another size – in undergarments or clothes.  I resolved to crack this nut and drop 30 pounds (the weight I had been at my thinnest and where I felt I looked my best). It was an ambitious goal – 150 isn’t a natural weight for someone 5’11.  That was in April.  

I joined Orangetheory Fitness and upped my walking.  I bought gallon sized water bottles with hourly demarcations to ensure I got my 128 oz of H2O every day.  I started tracking my calories on My Fitness Pal app (free). And I began practicing intermittent fasting.  I gave up processed carbs, increased my protein intake, and cut out alcohol.  Over the summer I shifted from OTF to Lifetime Fitness where they have this amazing pool and water slide and rock wall and kids area plus about a thousand classes to choose from.  I averaged 5 days a week at the gym and consumed less than 1500 calories a day within an 8-hour window each day and drank enough water to drown myself.   

Y’all… it worked.  When the calendar flipped to September 1, I weighed in not only at my goal weight, but one pound under.  149.  It was hard; but not impossible.  I celebrated with a cheeseburger (actually the new Impossible burger with cheese but the calories are practically the same).  And then I took a look at my closet again.  

All the new size 12s and XLs are now too big for me.  And I lament my hasty Marie Kondo’ing of so many of my beautiful skinnier clothes.  But at the end of the day, I’m much happier lapping over the waistband of my pants and punching another hole in my belt.  Because while the clothes may make the man, they sure as hell don’t make the woman.  Hard work, dedication, goal-setting, and believing in one’s self is the answer there.  And whether I was a size 12+ or a size 6, that was – and is – always the case.   

Size, like age, is just a number.  It doesn’t define us.  It doesn’t even contribute to what makes us “pretty.” Being your best self does that and living your integrity; owning your mistakes and flaws, as well as your gifts and strengths; getting healthy inside and out; setting your priorities; drilling down to your why; stopping self-sabotaging behaviors; and believing in yourself regardless of your size (or age) – this is pretty.  And this is where we want women to be.   

Do I kick myself when I think of that perfect leopard print velvet shift dress with the portrait collar that went to the church’s charity clothes closet?  Heck yes!  It was my favorite dress and I can’t believe I got rid of it! But it’s just clothes.  They can be replaced (mostly).  This body… this body’s got to last a lifetime. And no matter what I cover it in, I have to be happy covered in it first.