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Your Stretchy Pants Are Lying to You

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stretchy-pants-585Part of successful weight maintenance is building accountability into your life. In business, it’s often called a feedback loop: You do something, it prompts a response from someone, and you adjust your behavior.

In the case of maintaining weight loss, this responsibility lies solely with you. You can enlist the help of others but ultimately, it’s all you.

Ways to Build Accountability Into Your Weight Maintenance

1. Your scale is not going to cut it. The scale, although limited in its ability to give you daily feedback, can be a tool for periodic check-ins. However, most people who have lost large amounts of weight and put it back on (myself included) own scales. I own two, which didn’t double my chances of success; I just gained it all back twice as fast. I’m not sure if your weight regain is proportional to the amount of scales you own, but I don’t doubt it. Chances are, the more obsessed you are with numbers, the harder maintenance will be. Moving from wanting to see a smaller number every day to being happy with the status quo can be very difficult.

The problem with scale accountability is when we know we’re off track, they are easy to avoid. It’s easy to put it in the closet or have it become part of the bathroom landscape and never step on it. It can move from a place of prominence to a static decoration in matter of moments. Scales don’t work.

2. Your tape measure has issues, too. Your tape measure can be a handy tool, as it can help with some tangible motivation when losing. Seeing a loss of inches really brings home the idea that your body is getting smaller, even when it may not feel that way or you can’t see the difference in the mirror. When you’ve reached your goal weight, your measurements may change while your weight stays stable. Personally, I’ve lost inches in my waist, gained them in my back and arms, all the while hanging out around the same weight. However, there is nothing stopping you from just “forgetting” to measure and see the inches creep back on.

3. It’s not always fair to ask others. Like I mentioned, ultimately, this is our lives, our bodies and our responsibility. It’s nice to have our partners, friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, and personal trainers on board with our maintenance. But (and it’s big but), what part of “for better or worse” is it going to be when your partner has to find the courage to ask you if you’ve put on a few? I feel that it’s putting our loved ones in a very tight spot (no pun intended) when we ask this of them. It often results in hurt feelings and can even compound emotional eating. If you’re in the unique situation where that doesn’t interfere or disturb your relationships then, awesome—that’s one more tool in the tool belt.

4. Stretchy pants are the work of the devil. Ironically, the choice apparel for exercise is a sure-fire way to lose accountability. Your main wardrobe should be clothes that don’t give. You can push your scale out of the way, but you will always need to get dressed. It’s why you may have heard the time-honored advice of “give your big clothes away.” Yet time and time again, people resist doing so or buy clothes that don’t build in the feedback that we so desperately need when making this change for life.

Don’t just give your clothes away when you’ve reached your goal weight; give them away as you go. I’ve had the question so many times, “When do you give your stuff away?” My answer? When I can no longer wear it, not when it’s hung in my closet for months, too big to put on. Give it away the second that it doesn’t fit. If you keep it any longer, what are you saying? “This is my backup plan?” Holding onto something “just in case,” is the kiss of death. Resist the urge, purge the big stuff, and buy clothes that don’t give. And make you feel fabulous!

When all other measures of accountability fail you, your clothes won’t lie. You will be left with a choice: Recommit to a healthy lifestyle and figure out what isn’t working, buy bigger clothes or go naked. All options are not easily dismissed in the corner of the closet, they require attention and action.

In short, have a plan. Build in whatever accountability you need to keep you on track or get back on track before you waiver too far. Success does not happen by accident. Give your feedback loop some thought before you need it. You’ll be happy you did. —Rita Barry

At the age of 30, Rita Barry began the weight-loss effort that culminated in finding a healthy weight and lifestyle for the very first time. She is currently completing her Personal Training Certification to be endorsed through the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Upon certification, Rita will be starting her own personal training business that operates through in-home consultations to help bring fitness and nutrition back to the place it starts, in the home. She lives just north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where she runs around after her 4-year-old daughter and tries to find new ways to stay fit, get healthier and maintain balance in her life. Rita can be found running on the gravel roads of the Alberta countryside training for a half marathon or random triathlon, swimming her heart out at the neighborhood pool or trying desperately to figure out what gear she should be in to make it up that next huge hill. Rita blogs regularly at The Giggly Bits.

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9 Comments
  1. Ivori says:

    I love using my Wii Fit Plus for my weigh-ins , BMI check and for fitness fun.
    I disagree with this whole post ; I went from 275 pounds to now, 135 because I check my weight 2 times a week.
    For me, checking my weight keeps me in check with my goals.

  2. I completely see your point, when I lost my weight I checked the scale as well. However, maintenance as you may have experienced, is a slippery slope. After all only 5% of people actually keep it off after 3 years. I would hazard to say most of them have scales.

    I applaud your lose, that’s incredible do you have any other advice for maintaining that lose?

  3. biobabbler says:

    When I wore a uniform for work, it was an AWEsome way to say No to dessert. I’d look at the dish someone was offering me, and think about the pants I had to wear the next day (which did NOT stretch and I REFUSED to buy bigger pants), and I’d say No.

  4. MJB says:

    I completely agree with this post. I can’t blame stretchy pants for my weight gain, however, I did gain my college weight in a time when stretchy pants were very much in style. I realized that the stretchy pants had facilitated it that weight gain. As I became heavier and heavier, I didn’t need bigger pants. So I only wear yoga pants for yoga and I only have a couple pair of knit athletic pants that I wear when I’m sick or just needing the comfort. A real waist band helps protect a real waist!

    I’ve banned stretchy pants, even jeans that are supplemented with stretchy fiber to make the fit bitter.

    The one problem I’ve found? As I’ve done more strength training, my body has changed and some skirts and pants no longer are comfortable. I didn’t get fatter but my muscles did grow.

  5. Chelsey says:

    Woot woot props to E-Town! Edmonton AB is where it’s at!!

  6. @Biobabller It’s hard to argue with having no clothes to work, or going naked. Probably frowned upon. 😉

    @MJB Congrats on those muscles girl! Awesome. I have “grown” out of a few jackets and button up shirts as well. Just that much more metabolically active body mass to help everything work even better.

    @Chelsey I like it too.

  7. RedPanda says:

    I’m another long-term maintainer, having kept 90 pounds off for seven years. Like Rita, I use my pants to keep me in check. I call them the “pantsometer” – the pantsometer never lies!

  8. SurgeryChick says:

    This is too true. I wear scrubs at work, though they aren’t stretchy, they do have that awesome drawstring. I could go for weeks at a time without wearing “real” clothes (especially when I could wear scrubs to clinic) I gained 40lbs (at least). I went to another hospital and was embarrassed to have to scrounge around to find scrubs that fit. Now I will make myself get up earlier and wear regular clothes to work and change when i get there. The scale may fluctuate, but my jeans don’t lie.

  9. Jo says:

    YES. Stretchy pants should come with a friggin’ warning label.