The Best Clothes If Your Weight Fluctuates

What to Wear if Your Weight Fluctuates | CorporetteWhat wardrobe items should you invest in if you’re losing (or gaining) weight?  What clothes will fit even if you regularly fluctuate by 10-20 lbs?  Reader K wonders what the best clothes are for someone dealing with weight fluctuation:

I have a story idea; the work wardrobe for the weight fluctuator. Me and many of my friends bounce around by 10-20 lbs. It is expensive to buy everything in two sizes. I thought it would be helpful to do a post on the type and style of clothing to invest in if you want to have an office wardrobe that works when you’re up or down.

For instance; I have a lot of wrap dresses as they are forgiving and flatter across a 15 lbs spectrum. Sheer blouses can be belted in at any weight. I own a lot of dresses as they can be belted in if I’m training for a half marathon or without a belt they’re more forgiving after Christmas party season. I steer clear of non-stretch, and very fitted fabrics as they tend to look bad when too tight or too loose. I make sure to buy work pants with belt loops so that they’re not falling down after an ugly breakup has left me without an appetite. A longer camisole with a blazer over it can hide if I can’t do up the top button on my pants. Fitted work shirts can be paired with a camisole if the buttons won’t close over an increased chest.

This is a fantastic question, and I’m so curious to see what readers will say — we’ve talked about when to give in and buy a larger size, as well as how to keep a working wardrobe while losing weight — but we haven’t talked about this.  When I was younger I regularly fluctuated 10-20 lbs, generally in the same clothes — but when I was at my thinnest, I found that even a few pounds made my pants fit differently, so I knew pretty quickly when I was gaining.  Now that I’m heavier, of course I’ve said that I don’t want to invest the money in a good wardrobe because I’ll inevitably lose the weight (right? right!?) — but I’ve found that there are a few items that I can buy now that, for whatever reason, I can imagine being great even if I lose 10-20 pounds. So here’s my list:

  • Wrap dresses.  This is a tried and true dieter classic.  If it helps, supposedly the “trick” to wearing DvF dresses is to buy them two sizes up (told to me by small friend in the know) — so if you buy your current size you’ll still be able to wear it for a few sizes below. (Pictured: New Julian Two Silk Jersey Wrap Dress, new to the sale section at DvF.com — was $365, now $255.50.)
  • Knit blazers.  I’m a huge fan of the knit blazer in part because they will fit a range of sizes.  One of my favorites, an Iisli blazer I bought years ago at Barneys, fit me when I was a size 2, and I wore it all the way up to size 8.  My 35th birthday splurge for myself was a stretchy Armani blazer because I knew it would likely fit well even after I lost some weight.
  • Stuff with spandex.  This can be a blessing and a curse — the more spandex there is in an item, the more it will stretch (and, depending on how it’s made, even reshrink again upon each washing).  I kind of blame my numerous washable pants for “helping” me gain weight during a rough patch in 2009 — the same pair of pants still fit from size 6 all the way up to size 12.  (Gap washable wool trousers, I’m looking at you!)
  • Elastic waists.  These are generally more Angela Landsbury than Anna Wintour (i.e., not that fashionable), but you can find some nicer knit skirts and the like that do have elastic waists.
  • Jersey dresses.  I’m putting this last because often, the stretchier a dress is, the clingier it is — and never in the right places.  That said, if you’re fine with Spanx (or a heavier underlayer), these can be great.

Of course, some clothing is so cheap it can practically be viewed as disposable — there are various political and cultural ramifications to shopping at super cheap stores, but on the less thinky side, I hate when clothes fall apart after one washing, and I hate having a closet jam-packed of cheap clothes (or worse, taking a bag piled high with cheap clothes to Goodwill, where I know there won’t be much use for them).

One final note: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: don’t neglect your underpinnings.  If you’re gaining or losing weight, the odds are good that your bra size is changing.  If you’re gaining weight, keep a critical eye out for what I’ll delicately call “quad boob” effect (where your bra cuts into the top your breasts, making it look like you have four breasts), as well as spillage over (on the sides, in the back) and under — all of this can be noticeable even when you’re dressed, and it doesn’t look good.  Even if things look ok, gaining weight can stress your bras more than usual — I consider one or two new bras every six to nine months a a worthy splurge.

Readers, which clothes have you found to be friendly to weight fluctuations?

Comments

  1. Sydney Bristow :

    Pencil skirts are my go to item for fluctuating sizes. It’s possible to fit appropriately at the higher size and be slightly looser at the smaller size. I’ve had better luck with skirts than dresses, but this may have a lot to do with where the weight is gained or lost. I tend to lose weight in my stomach and upper body first so dresses can start to look too big more quickly. I haven’t tried wrap dresses though so I might need to try them.

    • Wannabe Runner :

      Yeah, not for me. Pencil skirts don’t look right on me no matter my weight.

    • I love pencil skirt’s, but have to be carful, b/c dad say’s the last thing I want to look like is a tub of lard with a pencil skirt that is to small and my tuchus is sticking out. On the other hand, a Pencil Skirt also look’s dumb if it is to big on me, b/c it look’s like a TENT. Who needs a skirt that I have to grow into? Not me. FOOEY!

      I met with the IRS guy. He is actualy cute and wanted to know why I was not MARRIED. I said b/c I dated a guy who I thought would marry me but was a drunk that onley wanted sex and he was kind of a loser in bed b/c of the alchohol. He seemed interested, but he onley works for the goverment and probabley does NOT make enough to suport me and our children if we should have them, so I am NOT goeing to let him pursue me. He did know some of the same places that I liked in DC, like Hawk and Dove on the Hill and Blu Restruant and the A bar, so he could have posibilitie’s if we ever open up a DC office. But for now, I JUST have to charm him into goeing away. YAY!!!!

  2. Has anyone bought cashmere sweaters at everlane? What is the quality like? How is the fit? A lot of their other items are very slouchy/long waisted so I worry about work appropriateness. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  3. Amen to the wrap dress! I bought my first one when I was pregnant (I hated maternity clothes) and it worked until I was about 7 months along. Then it was perfect while I was nursing (hello, easy access!). And now that I am back to my normal size and not nursing, the wrap still looks great.

    • saltylady :

      I think this would work better if I had sized up in my one DVF wrap dress. That sucker is small. And I don’t know how anyone wears them without a camisole under. If I didn’t, I would be flashing whole boob.

  4. I’m a big proponent of the health at any size philosophy, but I cannot accept that it’s healthy to fluctuate up to 20 lbs. regularly (unless you’re having babies within a short span of years). Losing (or gaining) weight when you are going through an emotional issue is a sign that you’re using food to cope with your feelings, which is not healthy at all. Even if you’re training for a race, it can’t possibly be healthy to constantly lose weight during “race season” and then stop exercising and put it all back on again. I hope the reader can find a size she feels comfortable and healthy at and work to maintain it :(

    • Anonymous :

      agree. I think 5-10 pounds is closer to a normal fluctuation. Gaining or losing 20 pounds is A LOT.

    • Wildkitten :

      That’s not a helpful response.

      • +1 That is not a helpful response at all. It is more of unsolicited advice.

      • I recognize that my response doesn’t answer the reader’s question, but I am uncomfortable that her premise about fluctuation was just taken at face value. If the reader has a lot of friends that have similar fluctuations, perhaps she thinks it’s not an unhealthy cycle. Sadly, because yo-yo and fad diets are so prevelant in our society, it may in fact be common for many people to fluctuate that much – but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

        • Depends how tall you are. That’s a lot more on a tiny person than it is on a tall person. I can fluctuate 5 pounds in one day, so 10 is NOT a huge amount. Even losing/gaining 20 isn’t quite a whole pants size on me.

        • I agree with roses. I was surprised to see reference to fluctuating as much as 20 pounds—and that all her friends do it too. I am five foot nine and I would consider 20 pounds a large “fluctuation.” On a shorter person, it would be huge.

      • lawsuited :

        I don’t think you need to accept it, or even think about it unless it’s a situation that applies to you. It seems like the sort of thing that a person who fluctuates in weight and their health professionals would need to discuss, understand and accept.

    • Anonymous :

      Totally agree with Roses. Pregnancy or plus/minus 5 lbs is one thing, but a 15+ lb fluctuation on a regular basis is a problem. It just is, and in and of itself is not healthy for your metabolism. If you’re healthy and fit at a 12, be a 12. If it’s an 8, be an 8. Whether you are training for a race or not should not make your clothes fit drastically differently. If they are, it’s a food problem, and something to be dealt with, not shoved under the rug in the name of body positivity.

      • anon not to out :

        The OP said she is a serious marathon runner who gains/loses based on where she is in the pre/post marathon training cycle. I guess Anon at 1:48 has never run an actual marathon before. Athletes at high levels routinely gain/lose body weight with intense training. Training is not just running 30 mins a day. My husband (who trained professionally at a high level for a few years after high school) needed to increase his calories by 5,000 per day for a “training” day to MAINTAIN body weight. I think these posters are confusing a marathon with a 5K.

        • I got from the OP that her weight fluctuated when she was training for a half, unclear that she’s a “serious marathon runner.” And this post doesn’t purport to only apply to significant weight fluctuations due to periods of intense exercise/training, it is generally about 10-20 lb fluctuations. I think it is totally legit to point out that for many people, that may not be healthy.

        • Anonymous :

          Anon at 1:48 here. I’ve run three marathons with a PR of 3:56:48. Thanks. Yes, my weight probably fluctuated by a couple of pounds during training. Not 20.

          • I agree with the above, 20 lbs is a lot to fluctuate regularly!

            I also run regularly, a few marathons and lots of half marathons (hats off to your sub-4, I’m a slowpoke!) and none of my running friends would fluctuate that much.

          • Agreed. I’ve run five marathons, and I’d find this unusual among my circle of training partners.

            FWIW, it’s not unusual for people to gain weight when training for a marathon because they overestimate how many calories they’re burning, to be honest (and attribute weight gain to building muscle) – it’s actually a well-known problem among newer or less-experienced marathoners.

          • Are we supposed to be impressed with that time?

        • I think you need to go re-read the post. The OP said she had trained for a half marathon, and that she loses her appetite after a breakup, and gains during christmas party season. There’s no mention of being a “serious marathon runner.” Btw, your husband is doing it right – if you are going to train for a serious athletic event, great! Nourish your body for it, and keep active even when you’re not training, instead of yo-yo-ing between extremes of exericse/no exercise.

          • Anonymous :

            Thank you!

            The idea that there should be a great increase in activity/exercise while training for an event is pretty dangerous. Keep it even and steady and consistent.

        • Anonymous :

          Re: running – I 100% guarantee that almost all non-professional runners do not lose weight while training. Also, significantly increasing mileage (like, 3 or 4 times) to train for and run a marathon is not healthy (instead, you increase mileage a little and add quality work).

      • anonymama :

        It’s not the healthiest thing ever, but it is pretty normal for some (most?) people’s weight to fluctuate over time. I think it’s ridiculous to insinuate that someone has serious “food issues” or needs counseling because their diet and exercise habits change over the course of a year, or over the course of dealing with an emotional event or other lifestyle change. And change doesn’t mean they go from no exercise to training for a marathon, or eating carrots and hummus to eating fondue every night. It might be the difference between running 2-3 miles once or twice a week and running 6 miles 5 times a week. Both of which are perfectly healthy, and you shouldn’t have to only pick one or the other because your weight happens to fluctuate easily.

    • HappyHoya :

      As someone whose weight fluctuates 10-12lbs., I could see how it would be possible to have a 20 lbs. change without having emotional problems or food issues. My weight tends to fluctuate because my work schedule changes pretty dramatically with specific busy and light seasons. When I’m very busy, my diet becomes very regimented, not because I am imposing it on myself, but because it makes life easier and eating is more about fueling my day than socializing or fun. During those times, I tend to weigh less, because I am eating very healthily (although, less variety) and not going out. When I am less busy at work, I am catching up with friends, which usually involves lunches and happy hour, and trying new restaurants with my husband. I don’t binge during those times, and don’t drink or eat rich food at every social outing, but even “healthy” restaurant food is going to pack more calories. I am not going to limit my social outings with friends when, because of my work schedule, there’s a limited window of time for them to happen. Neither set of behaviors is taken to the extreme, and both “normal” weights are normal for me. It’s as if I have two different lifestyles for different seasons. That’s probably responsible for 6-8lbs. of weigh change, with normal, predictable hormonal fluctuations responsible for the rest. I can see how someone with a more extreme version of my situation (or who participates in a sport seasonally) could easily fluctuate 15-20lbs. without underlying issues. I’m glad you’ve never had to deal with this, because it’s sooo frustrating, but try not to be so judgmental of people who do!

      • Anonymous :

        I’m not trying to be judgmental, and I apologize that my comment reads that way. However, if you are “sooo frustrated” by the situation, it clearly is a problem for you. You’d just rather change the clothes than the behavior. That’s a choice. Some of us make the other choice that has more to do with behavior.

        • HappyHoya :

          You didn’t present what you said as comparing two equally valid choices. My objection was to your claim that this indicates a food issue. To me, the choice you are saying you’ve made would be more indicative of a food issue than just going with the flow and accepting that people eat for many different reasons in our society, and several of them can be part of a healthy relationship with food. Maintaining a stable weight in the face of dramatically differing circumstances would require much more monitoring and would tend to make me much more neurotic about food. While I acknowledge that some people might be able to carefully control their weight without getting crazy about it, more women have food issues stemming from rigidity than flexibility.

          • “Maintaining a stable weight in the face of dramatically differing circumstances would require much more monitoring and would tend to make me much more neurotic about food. While I acknowledge that some people might be able to carefully control their weight without getting crazy about it, more women have food issues stemming from rigidity than flexibility.”
            Perfectly put. Investing in some flexible clothing seems like a much more sensible choice than obsessively monitoring your food intake and exercise.

          • omg, thank you. I almost replied to this post earlier, and I’m glad I didn’t because you said it so well.

          • Joanna Toews :

            + 1,000,000

      • Anonforthis :

        I have a tendency to gain and lose 20 Lbs. I want to be at size 6 as I feel more confident about bit. But my body hates to stay at size 6, it feels more comfortable at size 8 – 10. So, I have to work very hard to maintain myself at size 6. Even a couple of months of too much work during which I cannot exercise can make me gain 20Lbs (and eating the same as I was eating before). It is easy to advice me to stay at the weight that is easy to maintain, but if it was so easy for people to accept their natural weight (and not be judged as overweight), then we would not be talking about the problem of fluctuating weight at this length. As HappyHoya said, be glad that you don’t have to deal with this and not be judgmental of people who have to deal with this problem.

        • Anonymous :

          Christ, almighty. I’m 5’9″ and a size 10. I run 25 miles a week, and I’m content with my body. Would I be “happier” at a 6? Maybe, but probably not, since I’ve been there and it’s called me with an eating disorder. If you’re working yourself to death to maintain a size 6 when your body prefers and 8 or 10, you’re the one with the problem. I’m sick of people not being honest about things on this site.

          • I’m pretty sure everyone on this site is honest about everything. I’m a French model.

          • Anonforthis :

            Hmm..you came to conclusion that I have some problem because I am trying to be 2 sizes smaller…and if you are so sick about people on this site, then why do you read/comment here?

        • Yes, but you are exactly the type of person that the above poster is saying is probably unhealthy and has issues with food. Defending it by saying “I am unhealthy and have issues with food” is not exactly countering her point.

    • 20lbs does sound like a lot, but maybe for a bigger/taller person it’s not that much? I grew up in the midwest, and people there are just bigger. Not necessarily overweight, but big. If you are close to 200lbs because you are close to 6 ft tall, maybe 20lb-fluctuations aren’t that extreme.

      • Baconpancakes :

        That’s a good point, PolyD. I originally had the same reaction, that that’s way too much fluctuation, but depending on how big a person is naturally (bone mass, muscle mass, height, etc), a 20 lbs pounds might not make that big of a difference. I have 4’11″ friends who lose 5 lbs and wear a completely different size dress, but 5 lbs on 5’7″ me is just period water weight.

      • Anon for this :

        For a long, long time, 165 lbs was my happy weight — it was very easy for me to stay within 10 pounds, on either side, for me — so a 155-175 range was really normally. I would get to 175 and my 14s would start to get tight, and I would diet a bit — sometimes I would be busy with school or get in a good rut with exercise/food and I would dip below 165 down to 155 and my 12s would be more comfortable. But at 165 I could generally wear both 12s and 14s. (I was shocked the first time I made it below 150 — I honestly did not think I could go below that.)

    • Agreed in principle, but in practice some bodies are different. My weight can fluctuate 7 pounds in one day, and if you add in the highs and lows of my monthly cycle, I can get pretty close to a 20 pound swing each month just from hormones and fluid retention. It has nothing to do with my eating habits or physical activity, as I keep detailed logs and can account for those changes. It sucks, but that’s just how my body works.

      • I get that, and perhaps I should have been more open to the idea that there are other reasons you could fluctuate that much that are out of your control, but the reader in the post specifically mentioned aggressive exercising and emotional non-eating as reasons for the weight fluctuation. That isn’t healthy.

        • HappyHoya :

          Okay, so after all my posts about how fluctuations can be psychologically healthier than trying to be rigid about weight, I’m glad to see you post this. I agree that the behaviors the reader posted about don’t appear to be the healthiest (since I don’t have all the info., I’ll reserve judgment). However, let’s not generalize to all people who deal with this.

    • anonymama :

      I’m a pretty small person, and I think I have a pretty stable weight (other than pregnancy has stayed in the same 20 pound range over 15 years), and I have definitely fluctuated by at least 10-15 pounds over the course of a year with only mild lifestyle changes. I mean, usually my weight is about in the middle of that, and with normal monthly fluctuations (which some people get worse than others), combined with random lifestyle things (happened to have a lot of outdoor activities and healthy food one month, or got the flu, or more indoor social events and restaurant meals another) can easily add up to 7 pounds up or down from your “normal” weight. And even a variation of 5-10 pounds can mean clothes fit differently, or not at all.

    • Anne Shirley :

      So unhealthy people don’t need clothing advice? We should all just stop eating or buy muumuus? I gain and lose 20 pounds frequently. I don’t think it’s healthy and I’m not proud of it. But it doesn’t make me a better or worse lawyer and I appreciated Kat’s advice about how to maintain a professional wardrobe.

      I’m not sure what your advice had to add, but it’s disappointing your need to judge my health means this thread is full of weight-judgment instead of actual style advice. Personally, silk blouses tend to work for me tucked or un-tucked at a range of sizes.

      • Anne Shirley :

        And, to clarify, even if it really just is about fluctuating weight being unhealthy from your point of view, we. still. need. clothes. Refraining from buying a wrap dress isn’t going to do anything for my weight issues, except, maybe, make me feel professionally confident.

      • Wannabe Runner :

        I kind of feel like the poster above was trying to reach out to you and provide some care and body-love instead of “weight judgment.” It has absolutely nothing to do with your lawyering skills.

      • Where in my post did I say that I objected to Kat providing clothing advice? I merely objected to the fact that she also treated the fluctuation as perfectly OK, when her post had screaming food issues. It’s almost like if someone wrote in saying “I get my purse stolen a few times per year when I’m walking home alone through alleys at night. Could you recommend a more secure purse?” Well, ok, sure we can recommend a more secure purse….but should we ignore the screaming elephant in the room??

        • Anne Shirley :

          “care and body love” ?!? Are you serious?!? I get my “care and body love” from a) doctors, and b) actual people who love me. Unsolicited comments about how healthy a poster with a fashion question may be are never helpful.

          • Anonattorney :

            Hahahahahaha, without weighing in on the propriety of the discussion above, I do have to say that the “care and body love” comment is pretty amazingly insincere.

          • Joanna Toews :

            Word.

          • this objection is a little hard to take from the reigning queen of unsolicited advice; is it any less personal to constantly tell people they should dump their SO?

        • Anonymous :

          +1,000,000.

        • But it IS “perfectly ok.” It might not be the apex of great health, but it’s fine for most people to gain/lose 15-20 pounds. I am a fairly petite person and my understanding is that my healthy weight range is anywhere within a 25 pound or so range. I have fluctuated as much as 20 pounds, not overnight or over a couple of months, but I’d say over the last ten years, I’ve gone up and down a couple of times. I didn’t get from the OP that these fluctuations were happening multiple times a year or something. I think it’s pretty normal, certainly nothing so alarming that Kat was remiss in not saying something about it, and honestly I am sick and tired of women accusing each other of having “screaming food issues” for being too fat/too think/fluctuating too much/liking their body/not liking their body/what have you. Unless you know someone in real life OR they actually say they have a food issue, how about you just assume they don’t.

      • +1 to Anne Shirley. Also, there are actually sick people out there with ridonkulous weight fluctuations. So even though that’s exactly not what the OP was referring to, people with weight fluctuations DO need clothing advice. That’s just how their bodies are.

    • Joanna Toews :

      My $0.02: Pre-pregnancy, I ate well and exercised semi-regularly, AND I could most certainly gain and lose 15+ lbs over a few months depending on whether I was focusing on weight lifting.

      If I was an emotional eater or hardcore gym rat, you can bet the weight difference would be more. And if I had an invisible illness that drastically effected my lifestyle (as many, many people do), the weight fluctuation would be even MORE dramatic.

      And you know whose business my weight is? Mine and my doctor’s.

  5. kjoirishlastname :

    I just use goodwill. Having recently lost a quarter of my body weight, I’ve had to replace just about everything. And so far, everything has been from goodwill. I can’t afford to replace 6 pairs of work trousers at retail price. So, I comb through for the few pairs of JCrew or Talbots or Banana Republic pants that show up at our goodwill every now and then. Same with tops. When each item of clothing costs you less than $5, you can afford to view them as disposable, to some extent. I’m sending back out into the world, a pair of BR Martin-fit pants that I bought last fall at goodwill, that are now too big.

    I think to some extent there are clothes that work for fluctuating weights (and I also agree that a “regular fluctuation” of 20 lbs probably isn’t very good), but I feel better and I feel like I look more put-together in clothes that fit well. When tops are too big, they can be too revealing. When they’re too small, they bunch and pull. It doesn’t take a whole lot of fluctuation on either end of a particular size to make it pretty apparent that the clothes don’t quite fit.

    Also AMEN to good bras. A well-fitting bra can make the difference between a shirt that you think is too small (pulling at the buttons) when all you really need is the right bra.

  6. BankrAtty :

    Tunics over ponte leggings with tall boots is a good formula for me–with a scarf thrown in if I’m trying to district from my midsection–but my weight fluctuations tend to be much smaller than the OP’s.

  7. hoola hoopa :

    I’d add drapey shift dresses fit to the larger size. I like the look when they are loose (and they are comfortable when you want office pjs), but you can belt them too. I also like that you can fluctuate without it being too obvious to others. They have to be in the right fabric, though. Something stiff won’t look right.

  8. So I have a question that is slightly on topic: I am 5’1 and am used to about a 5 pound fluctuation but I’ve had a couple ridiculously busy months and have put on probably 15 pounds more than my goal weight. My clothes are all too tight but because of the way my weight is distributed, I can still wear mostly everything.

    I guess I’m asking for help or a kick in the pants. How do I lose this weight? Everytime I try, my workout schedule gets thrown off because of work or something and I end up eating whatever I want and am totally off track.

    • First Year Anon :

      I think it needs to be baby steps- start with eating a healthy breakfast and just worry about that for a few days. Then try to bring in healthy snacks and prep them one night when you get home quickly. Slowly build up from there. You should start to feel better when you eat better as well so that is usually good motivation for me to keep on track.

    • I’d recommend tracking. I do Weight Watchers, and it really works for me – but I think the thing that really keeps me accountable is writing down (or tracking in an app) everything I’ve eaten that day.

    • I lost about 7 pounds that I had put on over 7 years. It was not baby steps at all, it was very cold turkey. I stopped eating extra calories I didn’t eat at night. I cut out foods that I couldn’t help eating too much of (bread and pasta, for me). I now eat more filling foods – more proteins, dried fruits, avocadoes, and nuts – that have calories but don’t leave me looking for more. I got some of this advice here at thissite. I actually feel healthier and I don’t feel hungry (except late at night, when I should be going to bed anyway).

      Something else may work for you, but this worked for me.

      • Typo: meant to say I stopped eating extra calories I didn’t *need* at night. The hours between 8-12 or 9-12 are just prime snacking time, and I didn’t need 300 extra calories every night after eating a whole dinner…

      • This combined with more walking (or other exercise, but walking is the one I’m most likely to fit in) is the most successful approach for me as well.

    • kjoirishlastname :

      i drank the koolaid and sing its praises because it turned my body (and my life) around. BUT i’m not one of those crazy folks who works out 8 times a day and eschews grain and chocolate and alcohol. My life doesn’t revolve around it, but my life sure does work more efficiently with it in my life.

      So, I crossfit. 3x a week on average–but there are prolonged periods that I don’t get to the gym sometimes. I took off about 6 weeks over the course of the summer, the fall and again in the winter, because we were just so busy at work, and I was sick, and it was one more thing that I didn’t need on my plate. Even with that, after 2 years of doing it, and being at a pretty constant size for the last 6 months or so, I maintained, despite not doing ANY sort of physical activity.

      I love it, I love that it is varied. I love that I can do ANY of the movements, I just scale weight, reps, or range of motion, or any other variable. Everyone is like “oh, you have to be so tough to crossfit, I could never do that”. not true. The class I normally attend is peppered with moms. Just.like.me. I’m not an elite athlete. I chose Crossfit because I was just spinning my wheels trying to lose weight on my own.

      I did a 40-day paleo challenge about 2 years ago. While it did make me feel pretty good, I couldn’t maintain. I didn’t want to. I love food, and I have reached a point where I can eat just about whatever I want (my NEED for calories has decreased, so yes, I will have a butter-slathered ham & cheese roll, but I can only physically eat one, before I feel full) without counting calories or feeling guilty. I just don’t have the physical capacity for a ton of food any more. It is self-limiting.

      I started in November 2011 at about 155-160# and a size 10/12. Today, I am 115#, size 0-2-4. I thought that I was a curvy body type. But in fact, I am not. I’m pretty straight up and down. I don’t have a well-defined waist, not because my waist is big, but rather because my hips are small now. So, it has been 2 years of hard work, but it really does work.

      • Novice Crossfitter :

        kjoirish, could you elaborate on what approach you take at the gym? Do you focus on lower weight at greater speed, or push yourself to use as much weight as posssible?

        I’ve been trying Crossfit for about half a year now, but my clothes actually seem to fit worse than before. I may just be overindulging after workouts, but I don’t think my eating habits have changed so drastically compared to pre-Crossfit, when I only sat at a desk all day. While I have seen some of the men slim down, many of the women that I see at my gym are already strong, and only seem to get bigger and stronger. I’d love to hear from a woman who actually lost weight with Crossfit.

      • Wildkitten :

        Hot d@mn! Good for you.

    • Abs are made in the kitchen, so if you can’t workout, eat a few hundred calories below your TDEE. If you google TDEE calculator, you can get a rough estimate. I’ve lost 27 pounds in the past year (and am now down to a very healthy 23% body fat) through weighing and measuring food (I don’t do it anymore, but if I plateau or gain, I start again so I can accurately track what I’m eating), focusing on getting good protein and fat, and lifting heavy heavy weights. I’ve done some cardio, but other than a weekly step class that I love, I don’t worry about it. Taking a break from restaurants helps.

      I’ve run a half-marathon. I’ve tried Zumba. It’s weightlifting that’s become totally addictive. I have great definition and I’m 3 sizes smaller. Happy clap happy clap.

    • Beck Diet Devotee :

      Check out the Beck Diet Solution book, by Dr. Judith (I think) Beck. It’s about helping you get motivated, prepare logistically to diet, anticipate challenges, and bounce back from setbacks. It’s not a “diet” – you choose whichever diet makes sense for you – but a tool for helping you get started and stick to it.

      One of the main tools is the “Advantages Response Card,” where you list your reasons for wanting to lose weight. You review this 3 x 5 card twice a day, plus whenever you find yourself struggling. I decided that I wasn’t yet ready to “diet” last month, but I did implement this trick, and I’ve lost 3 pounds, just by keeping my reasons for wanting to be healthy at the top of my consciousness so I think of them when I’m tempted to eat something unhealthy.

  9. I think it depends on how you gain/lose weight. I tend to gain weight in my butt and thighs so I find dresses/skirts that hug the waist but are then loose to be the most forgiving.

  10. Blonde Lawyer :

    Haven’t read the other responses but just throwing this out there for anyone in my former situation. I used to gain/lose up to three pant sizes throughout the DAY. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I thought I just carried extra fat in my mid-section. My husband pointed out that if it wasn’t there in the morning but was there after lunch it wasn’t “fat.” Turned out I am non-celiac gluten intolerant as well as lactose intolerant. I cut out the gluten and the dairy and I stopped constantly fluctuating. I lost several pants sizes and didn’t lose a pound. It was all bloat and inflammation. So, my point – don’t rule out food intolerances if you are constantly changing sizes – particularly in the same day.

  11. Diana Barry :

    I will put in a plug here for not weighing oneself. I also easily fluctuate 5 lbs in a day, and I had years where I would weigh myself in the morning and FREAK OUT ALL DAY because the number was the “wrong” number.

    I much prefer going by how clothes fit rather than how many pounds.

    • definitely. I don’t even own a scale. But the flipside is I only get weighed when I go to the dr every 2-3 years, and that means the number on the scale can come as a real shock sometimes. Sigh. Oh wells.

      • At the doctor, I ask the nurse not to tell me my weight. It’s not a meaningful number if you don’t regularly weigh yourself, nevermind the possibility that the doctor scale weighs heavy or light (or maybe you’re being weighed in the afternoon, or the week before your cycle, or after eating a bowl of olives, etc).

        • Diana Barry :

          Yes. I ask them not to tell me either. If I am wearing my normal pants I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW what my weight is.

        • At the doctor, I request not to be weighed at all. This has never been a problem as that number has never had anything to do with my health.

      • Wannabe Runner :

        You can also face away from the number when you step on the scale at the doctor.

        • Recovering anorexic :

          But even if you do that, sometimes they tell you anyway. I’ve been told my weight by a nurse even after I asked her not to, because “oh you’re skinny do you have nothing to worry about.”. Ugh.

  12. HandyMenTrouble :

    I’m so tired of handy men coming in to our home for repairs and asking us if they could use the bathroom. I’m pretty sure the last guy p**ped in our powder room (he was loud!!!). Is it ok if we tell them the bathroom is out of order. I don’t mean to sound mean but seriously, I can’t keep cleaning them everytime they use it. It’s driving me crazy.

    • HandyMenTrouble :

      I meant it* – I can’t keep cleaning it* everytime they use it.

    • Anne Shirley :

      Are you the Dowager Dutchess of Grantham? If yes, then absolutely. If no, then they are people too, just like you.

    • Anonymous :

      Where would you suggest they go?

      If they are working in your home, they have to use the bathroom. I would rather clean the bathroom than the yard.

    • I’m not sure whether to page Ellen Watch or STFU C-r e t t e.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Why do you have to clean the bathroom just because someone pooped in your toilet? You do know that is what toilets are for right? Pooping? I can not believe you would deny somebody the ability to perform a normal bodily function at your house. If it matters that much, get a porta potty on your lawn until the work is over.

    • Build a separate bathroom– isn’t that what they did in The Help? Watch out for those pies though.

    • Anonattorney :

      I don’t mind if they drop a load in my bathroom. I DID mind when one guy clogged my toilet and then broke my plunger, and then didn’t say anything and left the mess for me to clean. That was pretty frustrating.

    • Joanna Toews :

      Yo, as the wife of a carpenter, I’ve got to say:

      Actually, what I have to say about homeowners like you is not fit for this website.

      • Joanna Toews :

        (In case anyone was wondering, HandyManTrouble’s prissiness is not unique. Mr. Toews has been asked to drive 10+ min to the nearest gas station/convenience store/coffee shop more times than I can remember. Classist and gross, hey?)

  13. Kontraktor :

    As somebody who fluctuates a good 5-10 lbs here and there (which can be the difference of 1-2 sizes), i have pretty much built my entire wardrobe to accomodate for changes like this. A couple of tips
    1) Don’t buy anything that fits 100% “perfectly” right now. I always buy things either slightly bigger or slightly smaller to allow for a wider range of wearing. Very few things are bought to my exact body type right this second. For example, if a Size N fits me perfectly, but a Size N+1 looks just fine and not visibly too big, I often buy Size N+1 instead of the perfect Size N to ensure more wearability.
    2) Know what cuts of clothes work well for you based on your weight distribution. I buy very few dresses nipped in at the waist, for example, because my waist is always the first place to gain inches. So, I have a lot of shift dresses and skirts cut lower than my waist; a lot easier to fit into those cuts if my waist expands.
    3) Think drapey and skimmy vs. clingy. Very few things I buy cling/are form fitting because I know the clingier it is, the more unlikely it is to fit if I gain. So, I try to find blouses and dresses that are cut a little looser and skim over potential rolls/bumps to let me feel good while wearing. Unlike other commenters, I avoid most wrap dresses for this reason, since many tend to be made out of super clingy fabric.
    4) Learn to like layering. Nothing like a slightly drapier cardi or longer jacket to hide a bit of pooch or an item that is slightly ill fitting right now.
    5) People might think it’s weird, but if you’re in a pinch, you can wear your skirts slightly unzipped with a drapey blouse over so you can’t see the tiny bit of unzipped zipper. This is a last resort, but sometimes deparate times call for desperate measures.

    • These are great tips!

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      Yes! Since I know that I gain in my hips and thighs, I wear a lot of A-line skirts and wrap dresses, and SHORT jackets. These are much more forgiving of my weight fluctuations.

      One other tip that I don’t think I’ve seen today: wear “suits” that consist of a top and pants/skirt in a basic color (black, gray) and a contrasting jacket. This is acceptable for anything but the most formal settings. I invest in more expensive, unique jackets and coordinating jewelry, but cheaper neutral pants and skirts to go with them. Since my upper body is the last to gain weight and I wear the jackets open, that means I can keep the basics in different sizes and keep wearing the outfit.

      If you gain your weight in your upper body, this might not work as well, but perhaps there’s a variation of the approach that would work.

  14. Blonde Lawyer :

    As to the topic at hand, I’ve had luck having my pants taken in. I have been told they can also be taken back out after being taken in.

  15. Can we shift focus of this weight conversation to talk about me for a minute? :)

    After a year of living with my boyfriend, I am now 20 pounds heavier, the heaviest I have been in almost ten years. I chalk it up to trading in long weekend hikes for lazy Sundays in bed and a general lack of focus in the workout/nutrition department. Now we are engaged and planning our wedding, and I would really like to get back to a weight that I can feel good about, but I am sincerely having a difficult time getting back on track.

    I own a Fitbit, understand the concept of calories in/calories out, and know how to work out. Motivation is where I am coming up short. I get to the gym and just don’t want to be there. I talk myself out of a good workout with no problem whatsoever, and I do the same with food. You would think my wedding gown, the idea of standing before 150 of my closest friends and family, and/or what my wedding pictures will look like would do the trick………..any tips on how to get myself motivated??

    • Not to be trollin’ but why can’t you feel good about your weight now? I’m sure you look amazing. Eat well, exercise, be happy.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Was it on the “best advice” thread recently that somebody said the secret to losing weight (and, I might add, to doing pretty much anything that’s hard ) is not motivation, but discipline. At some point you just have to do it whether you’re motivated or not.

      As for specifics, I have had good luck with telling myself that I’ll just go to the gym and work out hard for 10 minutes, and if I’m still miserable I will go home. I’ve only actually gone home a handful of times, but making that promise to myself has gotten me to the gym probably hundreds of times.

      Food? The best thing I do is put my diet on auto-pilot. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, ditto lunch if I’m not going out. For dinner I like to make a big batch of something healthy on the weekend and then eat it all week.

      • +1. Really, use Nike’s ad, “Just do it.” I’m a runner, and many times, it is just getting out the door that is hard, especially this winter. I’m in a small town, and people are constantly commenting on how they see me out running in the cold, or the heat, or the rain, etc. Do they seriously think I ENJOY every run I do in bad weather!! Well, no. I don’t mean to sound holier than thou, but you can almost always find something you had rather be doing than exercise, especially when you first start out. Senior attorney is right–you will most likely be glad when you get to the gym, or get half a mile down the road, that you got out and did it.

        Now, it’s not eating those Hershey’s kisses that is tougher for me!

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve always thought for most people, the struggle is actually getting TO the gym. If you have the drive to get yourself there but then don’t want to do anything, maybe you could try some different workouts (whether it be a new lifting/cardio routine or group classes). Or maybe you just don’t like the gym setting–you mentioned long outdoor hikes–can you try picking those up again, and maybe adding some bike rides somewhere scenic? If your partner is able, ask him to join you on these activities, as it sounds like you value that weekend time with him and would be more likely to do these workouts if it didn’t mean sacrificing quality time.

    • BankrAtty :

      1. Buy some new workout clothes. Clothes you feel good in. Do you need new shoes? Get those too.
      2. Download some music that make you feel like a sexy beast.
      3. Find a fitness blog that speaks to you. I like fitnessista DOT com; she posts a variety of different workout and often has “challenges.” But it’s all very realistic. I also like Go Kaleo.
      4. Figure out where you want to workout. I need a gym setting or I need to be outside. I do not like to sweat in my living room. So I know that if I am going to workout, I need to get my butt to the gym or go running/walking outside.
      5. …But I don’t mind doing yoga and stretching in my living room. Get a yoga DVD (I got “yoga for the inflexible”) so you can still do *something* on days you don’t want to do anything.
      6. Consider switching up your schedule. Would you be more motivated to workout if you did it before work? During your lunch break? Would exercise feel like a treat at a certain time of day?
      7. Eat fewer carbs after lunch. Maybe elimate them entirely after 3pm several days a week. I lost an inch from my waist in a little over a month eating this way and working out 4-5x/week.

    • If you can afford it for at least a few sessions, a personal trainer is a huge motivator. I found it perfectly easy to cheat myself out of eating well and exercising properly. But I wasn’t about to disappoint a trainer and I’m competitive enough that I wanted to be his best client.

    • Wildkitten :

      Train for a marathon WITH your boyfriend.

      • Anon Associate :

        I’m an extrovert, and for me, a huge motivator is either making plans to work out with a friend or signing up for a class where I know I’ll interact with an instructor and maybe other students. I have never canceled a workout with a friend, and many classes have cancellation penalties that stop me from bailing at the last minute.

        As a former athlete (ah, glory days!), I’m also a big fan of anything competitive–for example, I like to work out at Bar Method, and my local studio occasionally has challenge months where you can sign up to try to complete a certain number of classes in a month. There are prizes, and it’s just generally a little more fun than the other months. Maybe you can compete with friends or others with fitbits?

        Good luck! :)

    • BigLaw Refugee :

      Echoing the advice of other posters that the hardest part is just getting there, you might try this tip from Lifehacker: set a ridiculously easy goal (such as work out for 2 minutes, 6 days a week). Put up a calendar and give yourself an X or check mark every time you do it (if you do the 6 days, put a check on the 7th as well). You’ll be motivated not to break the streak, so you’ll get your gym clothes on. And once you’ve done that, you’ll probably end up doing a real workout most of the time.

  16. BankrAtty :

    Totally unrealted, but: I just worked out during my lunch break for the first time at my new job (well ever, really) and it worked out splendidly. I’ve been exercising after work, but I tend to have low energy in the afternoons and was tired of getting home so late when the days are so short. This adjustment solves both problems!

  17. lawsuited :

    For Reader K:

    Cigar*tte pants with stretch with and untucked silk or chiffon blouse and unbuttoned cardigan or blazer will cover a range of sizes, and I think an untucked blouse looks more put together with cigar*tte than with wide-leg trousers.

    Colourful heels are an investment in your wardrobe that you can enjoy regardless of weight.

  18. What the h3ll happened to this website? Commenters be body-shaming every time I come around.

    Also, I would like to add that fleece tights ought to withstand a gain/loss of 20 lbs. And did you know they’re available at Walgreens?

  19. plusthirty :

    WTF, this thread!? I usually love the comments here, but If anyone at the office came up to me and said half the body shaming stuff on this thread, I don’t know what I would say back; it would not be professional. Kudos to those who have already said it’s not our business what’s medically “normal” for acquaintances. We have no idea if they have medical issues, eating disorders, etc. and frankly it is not our business if they aren’t close friends.

    For the record, I am one of those who fluctuate at least ten pounds regularly. I did when I was running five miles a day and eating 1200 calories, and still a stable size 10/12 (yes that is possible, Biggest Loser aside) and I still fluctuate now that I am almost ten years older, have thyroid problems, and have stopped starving myself. My body does what it does. I went off a medication and then injured my back recently; that coincidence resulted in a gain of thirty pounds in two months (yes I discussed it with my doctor – I complained mightily in fact because I was forbidden to go to the gym for a month due to the injury! Ack!). I’d love to hear from female colleagues at work if I am inadvertently exposing boob, or if my tights have a run, or if I have a vent sewn closed. But trust me, I know that I am heavier than I should be right now, and wearing all my fat clothes, which are tight. It is pretty much the first thing I think of when I wake up each morning and have to face my closet. And saying that to me would be far from helpful. Please: don’t delude yourselves that you are doing chubby girls (or thin girls who fluctuate in weight, either) a favor by pointing out that they don’t confirm to your idea of normal. They know.

    • Thank you for stating this so succinctly. 20 lbs is quite a bit less than 10% of my body weight (The horror! I’m fat!) but I still want to dress nicely and get clothes that fit my ever-changing body. If I was the person with the question I would probably be in tears by now reading all of the nasty assumptions about my body and emotional state that has been inferred (maybe correctly, maybe incorrectly) from what was written. Much of this comment thread isn’t constructive, it is judgmental, shaming, and shows a lot of the insecurities of the women criticizing another person’s body and weight and health. Let’s remember that no one knows where anyone else is in their journey. You are seeing snapshot of a particular person at a particular moment. And if this girl needs to be in therapy or a doctor’s office or whatever else, that is HER OWN BUSINESS.

  20. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to
    produce a great article… but what can I say… I put things
    off a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

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