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These Workout Pants are Tighter: The Fear of Gaining Back Weight

Mom on the Run: The Next Chapter

My eyes narrow as I pull on my workout pants. Hey …

I step across my bedroom towards the full-length mirror and stand in front of it, hands on hips. I step closer and turn left, rotate so my body is reflected full-length, sideways. Deliberately, I move my hands down and grab my butt. Well, more precisely, I grab the seat of my pants. No, no, no! These pants, this fabric, this was definitely looser, right here, this part, just, what, the other day? Weren’t they? Are they that much tighter? In just a day? Is this possible?

OK, I try to think slowly, rationally. Maybe it’s the pants. Right? I recently took the ones on the bottom of the stack and swapped them with the ones on the top, knowing I do laundry frequently enough that my workout pants aren’t wearing evenly; I wear some a lot more frequently than I wear others. Maybe this pair is just less worn, less stretched, so they are smaller, tighter? Optimistically I peel off the one pair, cross to the dresser, and select a pair from the bottom, of the stack in the drawer. I shake out the pants, which are identical to the pair I just took off – same brand, same size, same color, purchased at the same time – and step into them, one leg at a time. I pull them up, settle them around hips, and move back to the mirror.

Where … aaah! No! It can’t be! But my hands, grasping the fabric, tell me it’s true. There is no doubt. My pants are tighter. In the seat. This pair, and the other pair too. I have – shudder – gained weight.

This, then, is the terror of anyone who has lost weight: gaining it back. It has been almost exactly two years since I started going to the gym and cutting back on food. I don’t know exactly how many pounds I lost, I didn’t weigh myself before I started. But I lost four sizes in total, and I love being this smaller size! I love looking good in clothes, and feeling healthy, and mostly looking good in all the lovely colorful fashionable new clothes that my smaller size required me to buy.

I have been absolutely determined to maintain my new size, and I’m really working at it. I honestly have achieved the much advertised change in lifestyle: I spend my evenings at the gym. Weekend activities revolve around, well, activity. I hardly ever eat bread or dessert or drink soda anymore. I drink protein drinks at breakfast and eat fruit for a mid-afternoon snack. I virtually never miss a scheduled spin cycle class, and I am competitive and a little crazy about weight-lifting, annoying all my male gym buddies by comparing my weights to any other woman who happens to wander into the free weights section of Gold’s Gym.

Except for the past month. It’s been trying, the beginning of the New Year. Schedule changes have cost me more than a few spin classes. Holidays and general feelings of complacency have led to some poor eating choices (I look good! I exercise! Sure, I can have some chips and queso! Yum, cookies?). My husband took over the daily dog walks. And now … now my pants are tight! Aughhh!

I twist and turn in front of the mirror. I take the workout pants off and try a pair of jeans: same thing. My clothes still fit, sure, but they are definitely tighter. In the rear, and, I stop and grab my belly, in the waist, too? No!

I rush to face the mirror again. I stand, pooch out my belly, in what even in my worry I understand to be an exaggerated fat pose. And my fear is rewarded: look! I turn sideways again, inspect my bulgy midsection. No no no! This can’t be!

I stop and close my eyes. I breathe, and set my jaw. OK, fine, I think. I can do this. I lost the weight once. I maintained it. Everyone gains a little bit of weight over the holidays. Life has been stressful. But it’s just a few pounds, just a little bit extra, and I will lose it again!

Still. I shudder. I don’t want to go back. I turn, look into the mirror one more time, and say goodbye to chips and queso. Again.


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