Into the closet

Last year I hated opening my wardrobe. All those too-tight or just plain too-small clothes seemed to mock me. They were testament to my lack of self-control, my weakness, my laziness; whatever negative phrase you want to put there.

After awhile, when I retreated into all-out denial, I didn't really open it at all. I'd just slide the door a wee bit so I could reach in for my coat and the handful of trousers that still fit.

Something has shifted in the past few weeks. Now I am opening the doors and having a good nosey around. I feel a little rush at the thought of wearing them again. I know it's not going to happen for a long while but I feel it in my bones that it will happen eventually. I no longer feel threatened or overwhelmed. A dress is just a dress again, not failure-on-a-coathanger.

What saddens me is how little I wore these clothes when I actually did fit into them. I've got about five dresses and three skirts and to be honest each has been worn only a few times. I'd think, "I should save this For Good" then went back to my Jeans And Top uniform. I felt like an imposter if I put on girly clothes. It was almost scary. It felt like someone would bust me and say, "Who do you think you are, trying to wear normal clothes?!"

It must sound nutty but I'm not sure I ever believed I was smaller. On some level I don't think I felt I belonged there, or that I deserved it, or that I'd ever be able stay there. I'm only just processing these thoughts so it's not making much sense right now. I just remember that strange feeling when I was in the Green Room, waiting to go on the telly in America. The feeling I was still too fat, that I was in the wrong place, that everything was about to explode. The Applause sign would light up but instead of applause it would say FRAUD!

I know I keep saying it's different this time; I wonder if you're rolling your eyes. But it just does. I see exactly how and why it fell apart. I feel like I have grasped the "what can you sustain for the rest of your life" concept and backing that up with small, calm, consistent actions.

But I tell you what, whenever I do manage to get back into the size 14 frocks, I'm going to wear the buggers out on the town or down to the supermarket. And in the meatime I'll make the effort to actually do my hair, put on some lippie and look after myself where I am, right now.

77 thoughts on “Into the closet

  1. Oh honey, my heart smiled reading this post πŸ™‚ And far from rolling, my eyes smiled too. You sound like you’re in a really positive place right now, long may it continue. Do your hair and wear that lippie, self care doesn’t come with a size 10 on the tag. You deserve to feel proud and special every day of your life xoxox

  2. No, I’m not rolling my eyes at all! I find it inspiring, the way you’re going about this healthy living thing. I’m past my own honeymoon period and have gotten to the point where maintaining my weight loss (and hopefully getting back to losing more weight) is a struggle. It helps to see how someone further down the road than me is dealing with things.

  3. I swear on days like this you crawl into my brain and express my every thought. I often feel like an imposter when I am wearing clothes that don’t require a drawstring or elastic to fit. Some days I feel amazing in those clothes and then other days I feel like a little girl playing dress-up in her mama’s shoes. Keep up the great work and you will be rocking those 14’s in no time flat!

  4. I could have written this myself. I work in a place where jeans and tops are practically a uniform, and had a hard time handling the comments I’d get if I wore something “smart”. They were positive, but I just didn’t like the attention. Dresses and skirts feel flimsy somehow, and I felt vulnerable in them, or maybe like I was trying too hard, falling in between mutton and lamb. So I saved them “for best” and “best” didn’t come very often. I’m also currently in the position of having lost and then regained weight, and deciding to do better for myself with clothes as I head downwards again. So I recently splashed out on (and frequently wear!) two nice tops and a beautiful skirt that gets compliments every time I wear it – the purchase was definitely worth it even though I hope not to be able to wear them for too long. Break out the lippie, Shauna πŸ™‚

  5. Go for it, Shauna! I’m glad you’re so positive. Wear those fancy frocks to go to the corner shop when you get back into them. Life is for living and clothes are for wearing!

  6. I’m in a similar place to you right now, having regained most of the 2 stones I lost two years ago. I have lots of clothes in my wardrobe that don’t fit, but plenty that do! I have recently experimented with ‘dressing up’ and treat it like play time, just as we used to when we were kids. It’s great fun! Charity shops are great for experimenting with different looks without costing you a fortune!

    Keep going. You’re doing so well and I love the fact that you’re posting about the bad times as well as the good. You are an inspiration.

  7. We all feel like a fraud at times. That is our head lying to us. We are all children of God, beautiful, perfect and complete. We just need to love ourselves UNCONDITIONALLY as God loves as and as our family and friends love us.

    When you feel like a fraud, or full of self-hate just repeat, to yourself, I am beautiful, perfect, and complete.

    Love yourself as we do.

  8. I love this: “A dress is just a dress again, not failure-on-a-coathanger.” Perfectly said! I hope you will not only put the stuff on again, but also post a couple of pictures. πŸ™‚

  9. I think it is great that you’re back. It’s very common for formerly obese people to buy clothes that are still too big because their body image hasn’t caught up. You will get there again. Take that new body image with you this time. You are not a fraud. I think we also tend to look at the naturally slim and think they have no problems; they do – theirs just don’t show like ours does.

  10. I saw a tagline once that read:
    “Don’t get stuck in the closet — wear yourself out!”

    Not sure if that was meant as a same-sex manifesto or what, but I think it could be interpreted as not saving yourself (or your clothes) for special occasions πŸ™‚

  11. Shauna I can’t tell you how much I have felt the exact same way. My husband has always said he loves me in skirts and boots- but to be frank I feel like a fake in them. As if people are saying “look at the fat girl trying to look nice- aww, bless.” I’m still working on getting my head out of that place. In the meantime I’ve been following your lead- mainly about being mindful. Eating mindfully, eating healthy, and most importantly moving more. It’s nice to know (again) I’m not alone!

  12. Shaunna, I believe we all feel this way as we lose the weight. I am getting compliments all the time and comments about my cute clothes. I think the whole bunch of them a bonkers, personally, but I also know that they are right too! I am looking better, I am definately feeling better and the money I have spent on clothes recently, they better look good!!

  13. Shauna, I understand 100%!!!

    I’m in the same place you are right now… I’ve thought and tried to just wear the crappy clothes because, “I’m not really thin yet” and I don’t really deserve to wear them.

    Then, one day about two weeks ago I was signing back into the training base when my master-bombadier said to me, “Chapeski, what is this? A fashion show?”

    I thought he was insulting me, actually and was making fun of my wind-blown hair.

    “No Master-bombadier, the wind just blew it all around…”

    Then he replied, “I’m not saying there is anything wrong, you just look like you belong in a fashion show!”

    My hair wasn’t pinned up like it normally is… he actually could see my streaks… he saw me wearing civilian clothes that actually fit me nicely… he saw my black jacket that fits my figure perfectly and makes me look like I have a shape other than round.

    I felt kind of silly… and the next day again, he asked me, “What? No fashion show today?”

    I had never been “accused” of being dressy or decent looking and I had no idea how to accept the compliment. I felt a bit like a fraud actually.

    But then I realise, I haven’t been this “thin” in years and maybe my confidence shows. Maybe it’s okay for me to like, you know? Dress as though I have respect for myself? So many years of hiding in old-lady fat clothing, finally now at the age of 32, I can dress like a normal person, who loves herself.

    It is awesome you are catching yourself NOW doing this. It’s okay about the 20kilos… you know you will get them off again, you’ve done it before. What is REALLY awesome is you (and me!) have now realised it’s okay to be pretty… it’s okay to love ourselves and it’s okay to not feel like “frauds”… because, we aren’t.

    We are rockin’, awesome human beings πŸ™‚

  14. I know exactly what you mean. I own perhaps a couple of pairs of jeans from when I lost weight (all 4 stones of which I put right back on again) but not much else. Certainly nothing in the skirt or frock line. I tell you what, if I get back down to size 14 territory (first 10lb lost, many MANY more to go!) we should all get togged up and go out on the town to celebrate. (Although I can’t promise lippie – I’ve never really understood make-up and am frankly a bit scared of it)

  15. I so relate to this post! I, too, have had a turnaround, and I am getting smaller again. I am going to bolster my community-mindedness and not get isolated or obsessed. I’m not going to let others’ criticism of my healthy lifestyle affect my commitment to my own optimal health (remember, extra pounds are associated with extra cancer and heart risk!). I loved your book, by the way. It made me laugh out loud and cry a little bit, too. You are wonderful!

  16. oh gorgeous you, that even came up with a colour of unitard that suits our hair (red head too, and emerald green does wonders….) but still, I remember being a 10/12 (british size) and not being satisfied, and, I’d kill to be that size again, I’d appreciate it fully, without looking to the next size down… now that I am several sizes away, again, I could cry about this if I let myself, I love your honesty, I really cannot tell you enough how much I should have appreciated the smaller sizes, but back then, it all , for some weird reason, felt much easier…..

  17. I am eating up your words right now–the feelings you had when you got down to your lowest weight, the feelings you had several months ago, not even wanting to completely open your closet doors, and the feelings you have now–that this time is different. I love not only what you say but how you say it. OHHH, how I wish I could write like that!
    I am praying that THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT for me too. I simply don’t have time to lose all this weight again, I’m 60 fricking years old! I’m buying up way too many “new frocks,” and I’m going to learn from you, and WEAR them all now while they fit, cause you just never know!

  18. No eye rolling. Been there, done that. Now every time I start getting the “save it for good” tendency, I ask myself, “what the &*^# are you saving it for?”.

  19. Can I get this:” A dress is just a dress again, not failure-on-a-coathanger.” on a bumper sticker?? I love it! And I totally believe you that it is different this time. I think these life changes start in the soul before the body and I’m so happy that you are feeling it deep down:) You can do this! And when you put on those adorable dresses, you better post pics so I can admire!

  20. And this is why you’re the only blogger that I’ve ever really followed for more than a couple of posts – once again I’m in exactly the same boat (though back in stinking hot Queensland now!)

    When I got to my smallest I spent a fortune on lovely Cue clothes for the first time in my life and they’re currently hanging in my wardrobe just waiting for me to lose the 20kg i gained last year so that I can fit back into the buggers again… with you all the way babe!

  21. we were talking about something like this at my house yesterday, and our conversation had nothing to do with weight.

    I have three girls at my house (13, 17, 20). One (my middle child) wears dress up stuff even if she is home with no one really to see. and if she is out, she is very put together even if it is jeans and a hoodie, she adds hat and bag and looks like she just stepped out of magazine ad for cool teenagers. 20 year old saves things and never wears certain things because they are too good. I dive into my pj’s the minute I walk in the door and tend to wear the same things out day after day (sniff test girl). Youngest wears school uniform out and pj’s in.

    we are such creatures of habit.

    such a good post.

    glad you are brave enough to face your closet. it is a hard one for many of us.

  22. I am SO right where you are now! I’m beginning the journey of “what can you do for the rest of your life” and learning to love being fit. No rolling of they eyes here….just teary ones because I can relate so well to what you’re saying!

    Keep fighting the good fight!


  23. i totally understand the ‘fraud’ fears and the brain late in catching up with the body.

    it has been a revelation to me to have choice in my wardrobe these last few months! but also that i can go into shops and buy things – beautiful clothes that show off my waist rather than tent me out.

    i am in love with the wrap – tops and frocks – they can shrink with me and are therefore an investment πŸ™‚

  24. We’re sharing a brain again. Getting into the right headspace is so important, and I’m really trying but I keep running into landmines like this one. Not sure if being a married woman makes it easier to slip into Frumpville but it sure is a convenient excuse for me.

  25. yes! i am inspired! it is a holiday in canada today, but i am going to go buy toilet paper and go to the office to deal with admin backlog, wearing a cocktail dress. SO THERE.

  26. You are an inspiration as always, Shauna. Thank you for writing such an honest piece (yet again!) I hope to get my fancy stuff out again soon, too.

  27. Yah, and the best bit is that this time you will save money because you already have the nice dresses in your wardrobe!

    I had the same experience the other day. I was on skype to my sister and she was going through all my clothes and there are so many dresses I’m just a little bit too big for. It’s great motivation.

  28. I love this post Shauna and can completely understand. I work with all males in my office and when I do wear a skirt or something they do make fun of me (hopefully in a good way), but I am self conscious of anything I wear so it is hard. I am working on loving myself just as I am. I feel the same I know I am going to make a change for the best.

    Love yourself Shauna and the rest will follow πŸ™‚

  29. Hey Shauna, don’t simply WEAR the buggers when you are back to a 14 – PRANCE, FLOUNCE, SWISH and bloody SKIP in them!! G’oan yersel’ !

  30. I know that feeling …. I have that feeling all the time (well, not the going on tv in America thing obviously!). I might wear a size 14 now, but I still don’t *feel* thinner a lot of the time. But I have started wearing all my “girly” clothes more, and like you say – there’s no point saving them for best. And you know what? I *love* all the compliments I get when I do wear them … it makes me feel great!

  31. *applause* great writing Shauna, and I know just what you mean. The sign doesn’t say, “Fraud” it says, “You’re great!”. It’s funny how we see ourselves, isn’t it? We’d never say what goes through our minds to someone else, yet we keep hearing those negative thoughts. xxx

  32. Until we work through our issues, the weight will continue to keep rolling back on. It’s the one thing I’ve learnt from this constant battle. I’m not rolling my eyes at you either. I’m cheering you on! You’ve totally got this!! *hugs!* :o)

  33. Yes, yes, yes, you are on a roll and we are so happy that you have got “it” back, Shauna!!

  34. I understand the “it feels different this time” feeling. Thankfully, I am there too! The acceptance of what the journey is rather than the fear of failure. Whew. I’m so glad. I guess I picture you as very fit! We’re in this together…

  35. I am such a deliniator myself. I always separate into ‘for special’ and ‘for normal’ and it drives me mad. I have tried to just have one set now for everything, and wear my ‘good’ dresses and shoes (and makeup and jewellery) as often as I can. And I get compliments, or confused looks. But I like not always to resorting to my ‘uniform’ of black trousers and comfy top. I now wear a bright freaky top with those black trousers, or a dress I would have normally saved for nightime during the day with some leggings and a cardi. Luckily my days of having to wear suits to work are well over, and half my time I have a munchikin hanging around so practical things like leggings and a tank top under my dress are so that the general public doesn’t see my underwear in public (my son likes ‘hiding’ in my dresses…
    Break free of the uniform and wear whatever you feel like. Dr G and your friends (including online ones) will always think you are georgeous!

  36. I think you are spot on with the ‘lippie wearing” and looking after yourself right now. Each day that passes is ‘life’. you cant put life on hold until youre a size 14. live life now, this minute, slap on the make up and do your nails etc…and before you know it you’ll be matching your nail polish to your size 14 dress. you dont have to be apologising for saying that ‘you are always saying this time is different’. when trying to live healthily and be the best you can be you are constantly learning new things so each time you reassess and recommit to your goals things really are different….because you are using things you have just learned to help you move forward.

  37. I love love the way you write, Shauna.
    The way you weave your words and convey your frustration in a way which makes me leave your blog thinking, repeating the words youve used in my head, and KNOWING you can do this.

    I know it goes without saying but Ima sayin’ it.

    you are fantastic.
    without changing a thing.

  38. Oh I can so relate. I’m in a mode where I wear the same ‘uniform’ to church every week. Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration in your ups and your downs and your ups again!

    P.S. I agree with Miz about your writing and use of words!

  39. Oh how I love this post!!! I am at the point that you are pulling out of. I am far from rolling my eyes at you, I am actually smilling just knowing that there is somebody else out there that has gone through what I am currently going through. I am still in denial about my 100 + pounds weight loss and I don’t feel skinny especially since I have gained about 20 pounds of it back πŸ™ and some of my clothes aren’t fittin as they should. I am determined to get into my dresses for the summer but I have a fear that I will not be able to. I am so glad that you have put this post up and will read and reread every time that I get discouraged that I am not able to get into those dresses. Just knowing that it is possible to pull out of this funk and mood will help. Keep up the positive attitude and hard work. I know we have the strength to continue on!!!

  40. Absofrigginlutely! Rock those girlie clothes. There’s no reason not to.
    I regained a bit and am staring longingly at my size smaller jeans. I’ll be there.

  41. Hi Shauna, I’ve lurked on your blog for a while now but haven’t commented yet, you write so honestly and skilfully about what a lot of people go through.

    I’m writing because I’ve sort of been in your position. Before I went to uni I joined Weight Watchers and lost 17.5lb to get down to 10 stones 13lb. Due to depression and then plain ol’ stuffin’ my face over the 4 years I spent at uni I put the weight back on again and more and reached 13 stones 10lb at my heaviest. After finishing uni I decided I was going to make a change and re-joined Weight Watchers. It’s taken me from summer 2007 until now to get back to a few pounds off the weight I was when I started uni.

    I’ve still got a little way to go yet, but I want to say that while getting back down to my current weight every pound I lost I felt like a fraud, because I shouldn’t have been at that weight anyway, when really I should have been rejoicing about the healthy choices I was making in my life and eating, but your positive attitude has helped me feel proud of the weight I’ve lost, instead of ashamed and resentful of myself that I gained so much.

    It has taken me literally YEARS to shift the weight and have lost and regained and lost again several times over, but I know deep down that even if I regain some of the weight, I will not give up no matter how long it takes and I will beat it, and reading your blog is a real inspiration for this. Weightloss isn’t about how fast you can do it, it’s about DOING it.

    Thank you,


  42. I remember the day before you were scheduled to be on The Early Show was the day before my first appointment at the headache clinic. I had driven four and a half hours to a city that was covered in snow and the temperature was -4F below. I stayed the night in a $50/night hotel and covered my queen-size bed with all my medical records for the past year which I had to sort through before the appointment. I distinctly remember wishing that I could switch places with you at that moment, so it’s sort of comforting to know that you were dealing with your own stresses at the time. Not that I’m wishing either scenario on anyone, but it’s a good reminder that we all have our invisible struggles.

  43. I’m just delurking to tell you that this post from you couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I feel the exact same way, and there’s something very freeing about being able to look at those clothes and see them not as a hurdle anymore, but as a celebration waiting to happen.

    And, for what it’s worth, this stranger in the U.S. absolutely believes that you are right where you need to be right now- and that it’s only going to get better for you as you work towards your new goals. πŸ™‚ I look forward to reading about them.

  44. You are gorgeous. My advice is: wear your BEST clothes all the time, petal! I mean, maybe not your wedding dress, but your nicest things that make you feel good when you go out at night. Wear em to work!

    I go nowhere exciting in the day, and yet dressing up a bit makes me feel better about the fact that kid-snot smeared on my shoulder is my defining accessory. I don’t like wearing jeans for assorted neuroses, and, since I threw my daggy ill-fitting mum jeans away and went back to wearing dresses, I’ve felt heaps more like myself again.


  45. Shauna, I’ve been following you since 2006, but I think this is the first time I have commented. After this I will probably fade back to lurkdom. So here’s my one and only comment:


  46. great clothes are all about fit, not size. but it does feel great to get back into smaller sizes!! congrats on your “new” wardrobe!

  47. i noticed that you’ve published a book. i’m in the process of working on a cookbook. any suggestions about how to secure a publisher?


  48. I love what Jeannette said, that you are “Right where you need to be, right now.” No external or internal pressure to be someone-to be “Diet Girl”. You just get to be Shauna while you lose and get into those pretty dresses.

    I read once that true and lasting weight loss comes when feel “click” in your mind and will and you’re suddenly ready to lose weight and nothing will hold you back. Only this time around, you know the lay of the land. You aren’t hitting your goal weight while starting out in a marriage with new book out-you just get to be you and enjoy the process and progress and relax into it.

  49. I’ve had this same feeling but with my actual body rather than clothing. Throughout my teens and early twenties I felt like I was too big and like I needed to lose weight. Then I moved in with my husband and gained 30 pounds so I actually was overweight.
    I’ve lost 20 of those pounds to date and I keep finding myself looking at old pictures and thinking “I can’t believe I thought I was fat!” I was a completely average-sized person.
    It makes me so sad that my body image was so distorted by what I saw and heard around me and that I ended up spending a huge chunk of my life feeling fat when I wasn’t. I know that a lot of it comes from being the “early bloomer” who had to wear a real bra in elementary school while my classmates got away with wearing cute, strappy little tank tops well into secondary school or even adulthood.
    I’m glad to see that you seem to be in a really great head space these days and I hope that all of us can get to that same healthy head space at some point in our lives!

  50. Can’t tell you enough how much this post resonates with me

  51. Strikes me this would make a kickarse podcast subject… making the most of where you are now, while still recognising that you are on some kind of journey to what you feel is a better place/way for you to be. (That’s all “you” in the general sense rather than “You” in the Shauna sense πŸ™‚

  52. you should dress the way that makes you feel the most you, whatever you weigh now. it’s okay not to like a particular style or type of clothing like dresses. it’s not always low self-esteem talking, sometimes it’s just your personal taste. when i lost 40lbs, i found that i still didn’t like dresses and other frilly clothes.

  53. Shauna, if the budget can take it, why not buy a dress that fits you right now, and practice for when you can get back into those size 14 dresses and skirts? Why wait to indulge in the girly stuff? Go girl!

  54. Your posts are such an inspiration to me! Especially the fact that your comments and podcast have got me into mindful eating. We’re both starting out again at a similar size and at a similar point, and I take such a lot of hope and motivation from what you write. This time it’s going to work for good πŸ™‚ xx

  55. Hi, Shauna! Like you, I had been thin (after losing a significant amount of weight) and regained. Unlike you, I gained all of it back and then some. I still have clothes – particularly pretty dresses – I’d love to wear again, whether they’re in fashion or not. And I will. We all deserve to feel good and be healthy.

    Thank you so much for such a thought-provoking and inspirational post. It really helps knowing there are so many of us on the same path.

    Bobbi x

  56. Yes I can absolutely relate to this post! Why do we women go around feeling like a ‘Fraud’ when most men never do??

    I like the part about ‘calm, consistent actions.’ I find myself making better choices every day, and the rewards are coming slowly but surely. Better health and more energy are probably the best of all.

  57. Hi Shauna,
    your post was so great. I was head in my closet a couple of weeks ago thinking that I will take my old friends back in use with celebration.

  58. I can totally relate. I’ve always had a hard time REALLY seeing me for me. When I was at my very biggest a 100 lbs ago, I never thought I was THAT big, and when I was at my thinnest, I felt like a big fat cow. When I finally admitted to myself that I was 20lbs from where I needed to be, I distinctly remember the fat girl trying to weasle her way back into my head.

    I’m really trying to get a handle on that whole body image thing because as long as I’m playing with a little extra baggage, I remain in a state that I feel like a constant failure and fraud all wrapped into one. Hopefully with the help of a mental mechanic, I will also get the tune up I need to make a little peace with me as I get back down to where I need to be.

    Good luck – You can do it!

  59. Imposter!! What a wonderful way to put it…I felt this way when I was finally able to wear skinny jeans after my son was born. I hated them before dropping the pounds and expressed my loathing time and time again. However, once the weight was gone and I slipped on a pair “for fun”, I fell in LOVE. I was a total imposter in my skinny jeans and I felt guilty for at least the first 2 months of wearing them. It’s good to know someone else shares these feelings. πŸ™‚

  60. Thank you so much for the comments everyone! I've been away for a few days so way behind on everything, including approving comments. Hope to post soon as soon as work stuff is back in order.

    Β And great news about Jillian, Phil… woohoo!

  61. I must be the other way. When I lost 3 stones (which I have now put back on but am endeavouring to shed) I lived in skinny jeans. Now I live in dresses and skirts and boots! It’s a funny old world. I was also getting fed up being faced with failure on a coathanger every time I foraged in my wardrobe. So I had a damn good clear out, made 5 piles of clothes: clothes to wear now, clothes to store for when I am a bit thinner (although left two inspiration items), clothes to sell on e-bay, clothes for charity shop and clothes for textile recycling. And made sure that all the items arrived at their destination. It made me feel so much better and organised and I feel more ready to take the bull by the horns. I want to be back in those skinnies by Autumn/Winter

  62. I have just caught up with you blog and am so glad to hear how positive you are – good to see some change that makes you happy – hurray for a wardrobe of clothes you can use – fingers crossed mine wont just feed the moths!

  63. I am with you on wearing the cute clothes! My goal is to wear cut sundresses and walk down sidewalks window shopping with my daughter who will also be in a sundress. I want her to say “Look! Thats my mommy in the sundress” not “Look, thats my my mommy in my daddy’s t-shirt and pants shes had since 2002”

    If we have the bodies to pull off the look..then why not? Why not take advantage of our cuteness. I wish I had and now I cant wait to not look like a box in a moo moo. I want my waist back damn it!

  64. I have a closet full of clothes that I hope to get back into and clothes I hope to never get back into,but am afraid to get rid of.If only I could get to the point of “I’m OK with this weight and look”

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