I love winter.
Maybe it comes from having been born and brought up in Scotland, where the winters can be long, dark and biting cold. I don’t know. But I love all the wool and cashmere clothes this time of year. The rich colors. And putting on coats and boots and wrapping up, snuggling against the weather, but going with the season.
For a good few years, each August I’ve begun thinking about the new pieces I’m going to buy and put in my wardrobe. Then, the Autumn/Winter collections are just appearing , while most of the fashion-buying world is still on the beach and far from wondering about what they’re going to wear come December. So I have often gotten the pick of the crop of coats, shoes, trousers…
But this year I’ve felt differently.
August came. I looked at the usual suspect shops online. They had some nice bits in, for sure. All sizes. (That’s a good sign. Sometimes, yes, even in August my size is already out of stock, despite the sunbathers.) But this year I couldn’t get excited in the way I’ve done before.
I followed up my Internet window shopping with a look round some of my favorite stores. I was in Edinburgh early September and was sure that I’d find some things there. Started at Harvey Nichols, tried John Lewis, House of Fraser and then the other reliable chains. I bought one Chanel-like cream jacket from LK Bennett. And that was it.
I thought part of my reluctance to buy anything was that I was writing more, coaching from home more too. My whole wardrobe needs are changing. On days when I’m not either going into London to see clients, or driving to them wherever they are, I can live in sweatpants, camisoles and a rather elegant, but nonetheless functional zippy jersey top I have. It struck me recently how much this kind of thing has become my new work wear. How I can feel sometimes like a factory worker, putting my uniform on every day. How I enjoy that. How dressing like that means I spend less time worrying about whether this dress will go with these shoes and should I have a brighter color handbag? And I just get on and write or talk. Or be.
But another part of it was that, over the summer, I felt like I put on a few pounds. I had a rib injury in June, and an Achilles tendon injury in September and was out of the gym for weeks on both occasions. I notice as I get older that any time away from exercise, no matter how well I’m eating, quite often means I end up feeling fatter.
So, some weeks ago, I convinced myself that I needed to lose these pounds.
That it was pointless buying new clothes until this pesky weight had gone.
I spoke to my trainer. We carved out a plan that involved less food and more exercise. And I did all of this faithfully for a month, at the end of which I had lost +2kg. Okay, so that’s the positive spin on saying I’d put on weight. Which I had. On the scales at least.
“It’s muscle,” says everyone. Except me.
Part of me was a little miserable.
How can you be perfect in your diet and exercise and still gain weight?
How does that work?
Last week my trainer suggested cutting my food further. Which meant me putting myself in quite a big calorie deficit.
I was miserable. Spent the week tired. Woolly headed and making stupid mistakes. But still managing to turn up for workouts and stick to my eating plan.
Over the weekend I asked myself what the hell I was doing.
I’m no longer twenty-one years old. At younger points in my life, if I felt I needed to lose weight for whatever reason (usually for some holiday that required minimal dressing; or in the anticipation of luring a particular new man) I could starve myself and get myself down to the weight I wanted.
Did I look amazing? Sure.
Was I happy? Not often.
(Although I could usually mask my unhappiness by continuing to drink way too much alcohol. Not sure how drinking lots went with eating little, and maybe that’s a subject for another day.)
One of the advantages of getting older has been valuing my health and well-being more. Hell, a couple of years ago, I ran my one-person well-being experiment (something I’m thinking of restarting). And last year, I ran an invite-only breakfast session for some of my friends, clients and prospects on the whole well-being thing.
I was the queen of well-being.
But there I was on the weekend, feeling like I was compromising my own well-being and for what?
For the sake of losing a few pounds?
So I got curious about these pounds and the stories I was making up about what they meant.
That I’m a bad person. Unloveable. Imperfect.
And that the world, when it sees my extra pounds, sees all of that.
Believe me, there’s history in all of that. I was once the awkward teenager, who’d just lost her father, whose mother imploded in grief and was thence nowhere for her, who turned to food for comfort, got a little fat, and thought the fat said everything about how awful life was right then. Everything she didn’t want anyone to know about. Because if they knew about how miserable she was and allowed her misery to be, she was afraid what would happen to her. What abyss of suffering she’d fall down. And so then starved herself in order to try to be invulnerable.
But I’m not that girl any more, even if I carry a seed of her within me.
And I don’t have to beat her or me with starvation.
I no longer need to be invulnerable. And I don’t need to carry shame about a few extra pounds.
It is what it is.
These are words I’ve heard said by a few people recently.
“It is what it is.”
“It is what it is.”
I rolled them around my head, thinking about them in the context of my pesky extra weight.
And decided that it is what it is.
A few pounds. Who cares?
And so the fuck what?
I announced this to my trainer last night. I love working out, I said. Give me more fabulous exercise. Because when I exercise I feel alive and invigorated.
But only if I eat well.
So, I’m going back to eating well again. Out of calorie deficit. And working with more energy and enthusiasm as a result.
Today and yesterday I’ve felt better. The woolly headedness is gone.
And I’m writing like a dervish again. That’s so important. I need a clear head for that. God knows it’s hard enough.
What I’m Wearing For Autumn
So, what am I wearing for autumn? Well, it appears I’m going to be at least temporarily wearing a few extra pounds.
Pounds I no longer hate.
Pounds I no longer feel the need to hide or get rid of.
Pounds I’m owning as an important part of my own story.
I cannot tell you what a liberation that is.