My New Wardrobe

Not actually Andy's butt...

The girls used to say "Wrangler butts drive me nuts..." No, that's not actually Andy's butt.

I’ve noticed that over the past two years I’ve written quite often about my experiences and adventures reshaping my body and redefining my lifestyle. Essentially, I woke up one day and realized I was too heavy, too fat, and on a path toward long-term health issues that I didn’t want to deal with.

I didn’t have one of those “wakeup calls” at the Doctor’s office. In fact, for a big guy, my blood work is really good. I get a full workup done every year so I know how my HDL, LDL, Triglycerides and sugars are shaping up. If something isn’t going right, I want to know and I want to know now.

One of my biggest actual concerns had nothing to do with the prospect of heart disease or diabetes, but rather with my joints. I get around just fine for a big man, thank you very much, but I had a nagging fear that I’d hit 40 and be one of those big men with bad knees and bad ankles that has a helluva time getting up and down the stairs. I haven’t lived on the ground floor of any house, dorm or apartment building I’ve lived in for 11 years, so this was a very real concern.

The bottom line, even so, was that I didn’t like the way I looked anymore. My clothes didn’t look good on me anymore because I hadn’t maintained a consistent size and shape for several years. I had a pile of clothes on one hand that were entirely too tight and a pile of clothes on the other hand that looked like they were manufactured by the Lafayette Tent & Awning Company. For a self-professed clotheshorse, this was a frightening reality.

Two years and 81 pounds later, I’ve just finished one of the most rewarding weekends in my life: discovering a whole new wardrobe.

It isn’t entirely what you think… I didn’t just up and buy all new clothes, although that is certainly part of it. It started over Christmas, really, when on a whim I told my Little Brother that my jeans size was actually a waist size smaller than the pants I was wearing that day. He dutifully bought me the smaller Wranglers, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t fit like a glove. In fact, Mom got me the exact same jeans in the size I thought I was “supposed” to be wearing, and they looked like they would fall off my hips any minute.

That’s not to say that every pair of pants I have is now in this new smaller size, of course. I’m currently wearing three different-sized pants. My Wrangler 13MWZ jeans are one size, my dress trousers and casual khakis are the next size up, and one of the new suits I just bought is actually the next size up from that, although they required some serious alterations.

The suits were the second step in the new wardrobe. After Christmas, Mens’ Wearhouse ran a “buy one get one free” promotion. Knowing that I was in dire need of new professional clothing due to the change in my body composition over the past several months, Miranda suggested we pop in New Year’s Day for a look.

It was a good thing we did. I picked out two new suits and some matching trousers and found that not only had my waist size gone from a 52 to a 46 (or 44 in the aforementioned Wranglers), but my jacket size had also dropped from a 56 to a 52!

After picking up my alterations from the tailor Sunday, we proceeded to clean out my closet and take my old clothing that didn’t fit to Goodwill. We donated six sport coats, a dozen pairs of pants, a tuxedo and who knows how many really nice shirts. Things that I hadn’t gotten that much use out of, quite honestly, but that I couldn’t wear anymore. And more importantly, that I never want to be able to wear again.

Here comes the best part of the story… While buying new clothes is a lot of fun, especially when they come in smaller sizes than you are used to wearing, the most rewarding part of the wardrobe weekend was pulling two tubs full of old clothes out of the closet, emptying the contents, and trying everything on.

Understand that these two tubs probably contained over 100 garments… Jeans, casual pants, shirts, sweaters, jackets… Items I’ve had in storage for three, four or maybe even five years, and that have moved with me three times over the past two years. I probably should have thrown them out long ago, but I held out hope – backed up by determination – that I would wear these clothes again. Like MacArthur’s promise to the Filipinos in WWII, I had promised these clothes I would return.

From two tubs bursting at the seams, there is less than half of one tub left in the “I will return” category. I discovered 10 pairs of Wrangler jeans – literally 10 pairs – that I can now wear and wear comfortably. In fact, I’m wearing one of these “new” pairs of jeans as I write this post. We found dozens of shirts that now fit well and look good on my new physique. In fact, we did donate several of the “tub shirts” to Goodwill, but because I had too many shirts in a given style or color, not because they didn’t fit.

After all, a guy only needs so many shirts… We wear pretty much the same stuff week in, week out, anyway.

To say that I was excited about the “new” clothes hanging in my closet is understatement. I was – and still am – thrilled beyond belief! The moral of the story, though, is not that I’m bragging on my success, but rather to pass along some advice and encouragement.

First, the advice: throw away (or better yet, donate) clothes that are too big for you, and resolve never to wear clothes in that size again. I used to watch Stacy London on TLC’s What Not to Wear, and I firmly believe that oversized clothing looks every bit as bad as clothes that are too tight. I’ve done this consistently “on the way down,” and I find it both liberating and motivating. Going to Goodwill with a basket of clothes becomes a reward in and of itself.

Also, don’t be afraid to hang onto your “skinny jeans.” Or for that matter, any article of clothing that you used to wear that you will use as the benchmark for where you want to be in your fitness goals. The caveat here is to be realistic… I no longer own the Wranglers I wore (38″ waist) back in high school… My body has changed immensely in the 12 years since I last wore that size, and I don’t realistically expect I’ll ever wear them again given my current lean mass and body composition goals. But, I have a dozen pairs of pants in a 42″ waist that I plan to be wearing in a matter of months, not years.

The idea here is to give you a little added motivation, not an unreachable goal that will be longterm detrimental to you achieving your goals.

And here’s the motivation: You CAN make a change in your life, lifestyle, physique and fitness. From my own challenges (and there have been a few) and successes I can say without reservation that making meaningful changes in your diet and physical activity will yield meaningful results.

If I can do it, you can too.

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About Andy Vance

Grains and Biofuels Editor at Feedstuffs, the weekly newspaper for agribusiness, and resident blogger at BeefProducer.com. If the pen is truly mightier than the sword, I may be the most dangerous man I know...

One Response to “My New Wardrobe”

  1. Proud of you Andy… for not being afraid to take the first step. Just starting on the road to weight loss is a huge first step that many of us fear.