Healthy and Sane

Diet free living: cleaning out the closet

July 18th, 2011 · 59 Comments · diet free living

I weighed myself about a month and a half ago and found out I was pretty much the same weight I’ve been for the past year. The same weight that despite all the calorie counting and Weight Watchers points, I kept going back to (after losing a pound or 2 one week, I’d gain pretty much the same number, or more, the following week). It was frustrating trying so hard and getting no where, which of course led me to the decision to stop dieting for good (thus the diet free living series where I share my challenges and successes of this journey).

Aside from the sheer frustration with dieting and the aforementioned lack of progress, my hope was also that by removing the pressure of losing weight, I would stop living in the extremes between dieting and binge eating and land somewhere in the middle, somewhere that would help me get to my natural weight which I believed was lower than the number on the scale that day (and what it is today for that matter).

The problem is that it’s not a linear progress. You don’t go from dieting pretty much your adult life without scars and habits to break. So I’m at the same weight I am today without dieting (much happier!) as I was while dieting (and often miserable), which should be considered a small success except that I still continue to emotionally eat when shit hits the fan. Which brings me to my main point…

I’m not at my natural weight and my clothes remind me of this every single day.

Christie thought that my clothes subconsciously reminded me that I “should be thinner.” That in order for me to accept where I am today, I need to let go of the past. Which means I needed to get rid of the clothes that no longer fit (or at least get them out of sight). I was resistant at first but noticed that every morning I would get very anxious until I finally found an outfit to wear (sometimes it was actually easier than what I built it up to be, but every morning I would be restless until I finally got it done).

So here we are. I’ve been putting this off for weeks. It’s a big project that I knew I needed to prioritize yet didn’t seem to find the time to do. Today was that day.

My closet (before):


It was stuffed! The rods actually fell down on occasion because of the weight of all these clothes. Needless to say Adam would start laughing hysterically every time I mentioned “I had nothing to wear.”

I started with the easiest, the tops.

Before and after:

IMG_5544 IMG_5548

Not too bad.

Now the bottoms (skirts and pants) – before and after:

IMG_5545 IMG_5549

Yeah, this one was rough. The skirts were okay but the pants… oh the pants. Pair after pair was either so tight that it looked absolutely ridiculous (and made me feel like crap) or didn’t budge at all. I was going through them and literally every single pair got nixed. It was like ripping the band aid over and over which f-ing hurt and I wanted it to stop now but I also knew it was very necessary and nothing that I couldn’t handle at the end of the day. I officially have only 2 pairs of pants that fit… I bought those last months.

Dresses – before and after:

IMG_5546 IMG_5550

Piles of clothes that no longer fit:


[I put them in a separate container under the bed, out of sight.

So now I have of course 3 choices. Now that I know how bad the situation really is.

1) I can limp along and continue “making do” with what I have. At least now I know what I’m truly working with here and I honestly think that the anxiety of finding an outfit is lessened. Everything in my closet is officially “safe.”

2) I can try to lose weight. Some of the clothes weren’t that far off fitting properly. I feel like maybe 5lbs would do the trick. This of course is very tricky. It’s tempting, I’m not going to lie, but this is where I’m afraid my old habits, and binge eating, may be rekindled (and remember when I do that, I’m still the same weight!!). Instead of restarting counting calories, I can also try to get a little “stricter” with intuitive eating which means really only eating when I’m hungry and really stopping when I’m full. Something I hope to get to eventually but I’m honestly not sure I’m totally ready for yet. It may still feel like a diet and knowing myself, self-sabotage would begin.

3) I can buy new clothes. I’ve been saving for this ring I really want for the past few months so I have a few bucks saved up. It makes me kind of sad to start from square one, saving again… but perhaps it’s the most urgent and important use of this money right now, rather than a ring which obviously isn’t a practical purchase.

Ughhhhhh. Decisions decisions.

Do I regret doing this?

I’m not going to lie – it’s hard to face the truth when it’s so clearly laid out. Ignorance in my case was not exactly bliss since on a daily basis I had to deal with the anxiety of finding an outfit in the sea of clothes that weren’t right. So at the end I think it was the healthy thing to do. So I’m still glad I did it.

Can you relate? What would you do??

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59 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren at Keep It Sweet

    I’m so proud of you! I have dealt with the same feeling many times- the jeans from so many years ago hanging in there as a small form of torture. You are amazing and don’t need to have clothes in your closet telling you otherwise. Buy yourself some new clothes that make you feel good!

  • #3 - sarah (the SHU box)

    i definitely, definitely think you should buy some new clothes. my situation is a little different, but i gained somewhere around 10 lbs on purpose for fertility reasons [i was unlucky enough to have total amenorrhea at a weight and activity level that others would consider healthy — but clearly it wasn’t what my ovaries wanted!]

    anyway, i fought myself about buying clothes. i thought, “well, i’ll get pregnant and then what will be the point!??”. finally i caved in and went shopping. first, i was happy that i was still not some gigantic size; second, i ended up with enough items [1 skirt, 2-3 pairs pants for work, 2-3 pairs jeans] that i can go into my closet without stressing out. i also did what you mentioned — hid and cleaned out all of the things that do not fit anymore.

    i cannot tell you how much better it made me feel to have a closet full of [cute] things that fit me! i definitely recommend doing it — worst comes to worst, you will lose the weight and you can put the items up for sale or packed away as future maternity gear [for those transitional times — if you are planning on having kids, that is!].

    hope this helps and have a great week!

    • #4 - Elina

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Sarah! I’m kind of annoyed at myself for getting rid of so many awesome pieces because I thought I’d never be this “large” again… but I need to just move on!

  • #5 - Tiffany

    Cleaning out a closet is a big step because it forces you to consider some very serious realizations about yourself. In this case I think you’ve handled the situation really well. You recognize that you’re dealing with a different body type than before, but I don’t see you admitting defeat about it. You’re being very realistic in approaching the concern head-on and coming up with a series of ideas on how to feel comfortable in your own skin.

    I’m super proud of you; I know how much you love your clothes (don’t we all? 😉 ), but doing this clean out is a big step, and you are handling it with grace and dignity. Buy some new pants and hold your head up high, because the number on the waistband doesn’t add a damn thing to your worth!

  • #6 - Lauren @ Healthy Food For Living

    I think you’re definitely taking steps in the right direction! I know it’s tough to replace clothes that no longer fit… but you’ll feel so much better when you have a closet full of flattering pants, skirts, dresses, and shirts. Clothes that fit perfectly can boost your self confidence like nothing else! Yes, the David Yurman ring is gorgeous (I’d love one to match the watch John bought me a while back), but just think how many great new outfits you could buy, which will make you feel awesome about your appearance. Go for it!

    • #7 - Elina

      I totally agree – nice clothes can definitely boost confidence. I need it after this little project!

  • #8 - Lee

    I deal with this too. I’m about 15 lbs heavier than I think I should be and I have a ton of clothes that just don’t fit. Every morning is sort of a struggle to find something. I have been buying a few items in a bigger size and it really is nice to wear something that actually fits rather than something that I’m squeezing into and is leaving red marks on my stomach because it’s too tight.

    • #9 - Elina

      Yeah, those 2 pairs of pants (recent purchase) have been awesome. I actually feel comfortable in my own skin… outside of pajamas and gym clothes :)

  • #10 - MelissaNibbles

    This must’ve been so difficult. You’re making such peace with yourself. Congrats!

    • #11 - Elina

      I’m definitely not totally “in peace” with myself (this definitely stirred up some emotions!) but I know it’s good to take these steps! Can’t get there if you don’t try :)

  • #12 - W8Lossgirl

    Buy new clothes. You will feel so much better, even with just a few new items. Here’s the thing – you look fabulous. You really do – you are happy and healthy and it shows. Does it hurt that some clothes may not fit? Sure – but at the same time – you were REALLY skinny before – I’m sure that you were depriving yourself left and right. You’re happy and healthy and gorgeous – you’re active and eat well. You’re also a few years older than you were, which slows things down. Let go of the past, and buy some new fabulous clothes.

    This may sound like I’m a hypocrite since I”m currently trying to lose weight. But I’m at an unhealthy weight point – obese, and not even just a little. I have lost and gained weight and at my skinniest was a solid size 4, at 125 pounds. I’m not even almost trying to get back there – I just want to be healthy.

    Buy some new clothes, maybe hit up the outlets so it’s not too expensive. I personally had a life changing experience at DKNY in Wrentham a couple of years ago.

    • #13 - Elina

      Thank you!! I actually was never REALLY skinny… I was on the upper range of my “healthy” weight and am now officially overweight. I guess it’s not about the number though. I feel healthy. My weight isn’t stopping me from doing things I love so I need to remember that it’s mostly a mental thing for me at this point.
      Love Wrentham! I may have to plan a trip there very soon :)
      Also, good luck on your weight loss journey!!! 😀

  • #14 - Elizabeth

    I think this was such a smart move. If only to make your closet less cluttered. I am very anti clutter. I think you should try making due with what you have for a little plus just a few new purchases.

  • #16 - Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo)

    Hey girl, Oh gosh, that is a painful process and I’ve been there yes indeed. It DOES lessen the anxiety of ‘what will I wear’ because you don’t have to go through that stress of wondering if it will fit. You absolutely did the right thing.

    Here’s my system for what it might be worth. When I’m feeling ‘strong’ I do what you did: anything that is really small (like 10 pounds away) goes to Good Will. Anything that is small (like 5 pounds away) goes into a rubbermaid container under the bed. Sometimes miracles happen and I can dip back into it. Sometimes it goes untouched for months. ALso I try to look at everything in terms of “would I buy this today?? Also, bear in mind that my ‘wearable’ clothes has a pretty decent range of clothes- I’d say a good size perhaps two. This is because I do seem to fluctuate within about that much of a range.

    Once last year when I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but had no cute new clothes, I went to Marshalls or Ross and just got a bunch of cute maxi dresses- it made me feel so much happier.

    I’m on this journey with you. It is not an easy one.

    • #17 - Elina

      I never have much luck at those stores! I wish I could wear some maxi dresses to work though… that would be quite comfy :)
      I like your strategy! I also got rid of some clothes that don’t make me feel good (even if they fit). Last year I went through my closet and finally got rid of clothes that I shouldn’t be wearing… there was some stuff from high school there! Ridiculous :)

  • #18 - Alice

    I did this exact same thing recently!! Get those clothes out of sight.

    And – yes, DEFINITELY go shopping! Just get some cheapies from H&M or Zara. A couple of bright and cheerful tees, maybe a couple of dresses, you’ll be set.

    I also wrote a list of cute outfits that I knew fit me. So, every day before work, I don’t try on a million things that don’t fit me and get depressed. I just look at my list and I’m ready to go. Try it!

    • #19 - Elina

      Ooh, totally forgot about Zara and H&M. I know what I’m doing this weekend 😉 I don’t want to spend a lot of money at this time so this would be perfect!!

  • #20 - Michelle

    I’ve been purging my closet for moving purposes and definitely had to make some realistic decisions about what fits…what doesn’t…and what probably never will….I think you should replace the items that you’ll miss the most and keep the rest in storage (if you can!).

  • #21 - Christie Inge

    Have I told you lately that I love you?

  • #23 - shannon

    i’d have to say option 3. it’s hard, i know, but when you have clothes that fit well, you will automatically feel better.

    i have been meaning to do similar things with my closet, i just don’t have the $$ to find new stuff, so i’m playing the avoidance game too. it wouldn’t really matter, since i’m only wearing certain stuff anyways, lol.

    • #24 - Elina

      Well, if you already only wear a few pieces then might as well put away the rest, right? Maybe it’s a good pre-move exercise 😉

  • #25 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    I just cleaned out my closet this weekend, too. It was a huge undertaking, where I had to 1) get rid of clothes that I am not “young” enough to wear, lol; 2) store clothes I won’t wear often (e.g., clothes that I bought when I was heavier but fear I’ll one day need again); and 3) organize! This was all very painful to me because of other issues that have to do with my living situation, but it’s very cathartic.

    As for new clothes, I’d say.. wear your existing wardrobe for a while and see if it’s enough for you. If not, get new things as needed.

  • #27 - Carly

    I’m wearing your shoes right now! I have gained substantial weight (like 20+ pounds) in the past year, and I have no problem maintaining that. I mean, I may shift a few pounds in either direction, but based on my clothes I haven’t changed. I had to work so hard to be that 20 lbs lighter, and every week maintenance was a challenge. I guess I’m at my “happy point”. It is hard to look in my closet and see beautiful clothes that don’t fit, but I’m happier mentally and physically. I have more energy and I have more fun! So, I sucked it up and bought 2 new pairs of jeans that I LOVE! I fit comfortably in them, and I don’t look like a sausage stuffed into them! I say, bite the bullet, buy some new clothes that FIT and you will FEEL more comfortable and be more comfortable in your skin. I think reading blogs makes some of us try too hard to be a shape that we aren’t meant to be. I constantly wonder how bloggers who eat a lot of cookies and drink a few times a week stay so skinny, but that must just be their “happy” weight. I’m proud of you for taking the first step at cleaning out the closet, now you just need to refill it for the new, happier you!!!!

    • #28 - Elina

      I wonder that too although I think that they overcompensate in other areas like exercise and undereating at real meals. That’s my take on it! I actually really try not to compare my body to others’ – just my own. And yes, I HATE that I can’t fit into so many of my clothes… or the ones I’ve recently tried on at the store (larger size). I hope that once I find those right pieces, I’ll be able to be more comfortable in my skin again… something about this experience made my hyper sensitive to the size I am right now.

  • #29 - Sophie

    I think what you’ve done is great, it’s a really positive way of moving forward and I don’t think you should regret it! You’ve reminded me that I really need to do the same with my closet.
    I love your blog, you write some really fantastic posts :-)

  • #31 - Lizzy

    Oh Elina, I’m so sorry you are going through this, but I think you are making the right decision to put away your clothes until another time. And I think you absolutely should treat yourself to new clothes. A thing I do a lot is I buy and wear a lot of dresses. I tend to carry most of my weight in the middle so I feel most comfortable in dresses and they make me feel pretty and confident. Try to find some good summer dresses!!!

    • #32 - Elina

      Summer dresses are totally the best… my own gripe about them is that they’re usually so short! I’ve never liked my legs and especially at this higher weight, I can’t seem to find a lot of dresses that look good on me. They really are so comfy though!!

  • #33 - Jessy

    I can sort of relate. Last summer I lost a lot of weight and a little more during the year, so my old clothes didn’t fit anymore and I had to buy new ones (mainly pants). However, for the last two months I’ve been binging almost every day and I’m almost in the same place weight/body-wise as last year … meaning, my newish pants don’t fit anymore, especially as I tend to carry most of my weight in thighs. I’m NOT going to buy new clothes again, though, because I do not feel comfortable with my body right now and this is NOT a happy weight – it’s a weight, resulted by binging.

    I think if you’re eating well, then continue what you’re doing. I believe that every body goes to the ”happy weight” if you eat well and are active. Perhaps you could add some more exercise? The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your skin, in my opinion.

    • #34 - Elina

      Sounds like we are in the exact same place, actually. I don’t believe this is a happy weight for me too but I also believe that seeing all those clothes that don’t fit is a form of gentle abuse and I (and you!!) deserve better!!! Something to consider before your next shopping spree 😉

  • #35 - Corey

    Elina, these posts are so well written and from the heart. I can tell how hard this was for you, but I think you will find it was a step in the right direction. Having clothes that do not fit is a constant message that you should be smaller, and that’s not what you need right now. I think it would be nice to buy yourself some pieces that you feel REALLY good about yourself in, and see where that takes you. Regardless if this is your natural weight or not, you 100% deserve to feel good about yourself everyday. The fact that you know in general you are happier not dieting, that is a huge accomplishment!

    • #36 - Elina

      Thanks, Corey. I agree. I’ve been trying to do a little shopping for the past few days. It’s been hard. Really hard (I’m a larger size than I even thought I was)… and everything that fits looks just “passable” so I’m struggling with replenishing my closet but with time I’m sure I’ll get there. I definitely know that dieting is not the answer!!

  • #37 - Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect

    I’d say that it’s more than just a small success, Elina. :) I truly (TRULY) know where you’re coming from and know how hard mentally it is (dieting for years, the binges, the clothes not fitting, etc). It is draining! I always say that my brain is tired. I’ve wasted so much energy on it all. I’m SO PROUD of YOU for taking the steps that you have toward a healthier and happier life. I don’t know if it’s something that will ever completely go away, but I think that over time things get better (that’s been my experience, anyway).

    I think that you absolutely made the right decision by cleaning out your closet. Why put yourself through all of the anxiety every morning, you know? Maybe you should take at least some of the money you saved for the ring and put it toward some new clothes. It’ll make you feel better when you have on a nice, new outfit that fits correctly. You’ll look forward to getting dressed everyday. I also find that when I’m feeling better about myself in one aspect of my life I start to feel better in others, which may lead to less emotional eating for you. You might easily lose those few pounds to fit back into some of your clothes and you can always have the new clothes altered, if needed, in time.

    Always here for you. XO

    • #38 - Elina

      I like the alteration idea although I’m ways away from that. I’ve decided to take all that money (there isn’t much there yet!) to use towards clothes. It IS more important at this time for me to feel good in my clothes. The ring will have to wait :)

  • #39 - Courtney

    I went through the same thing a few months ago. Cleaning out my closet was a tough experience and resulted in a lot of tears, but was totally worth it. I’m also experimenting with intuitive eating and accepting my body as it is, and having all those too-small clothes around was a beat-down. Right now they are living in some trash bags in the guest closet; I’m not totally ready to say goodbye to them.

    What has helped me in buying new clothes is choosing things that will still be wearable whether I lose or gain weight, like cute dresses and stretchy leggings, while my body figures out what weight it will settle at.

  • #41 - Bridget

    I know this must of been really hard! But I’m certain it will at least make day-to-day living easier…it’s hard enough just picking out something to wear without a bunch of clothes that don’t fit right staring back at you
    :( As gorgeous as that ring is (it is!!), I think you should take some of that $$ and try to bargain hunt as best as you can, or like someone else suggested…H&M, Zara, or the sale racks at other places and just get a few staples to wear for now so you have more choices. I too love dresses…esp ones that can go from summer to winter with a pair of tights! Look on the bright side as this being a little shopping spree :)

    • #42 - Elina

      It’s hasn’t been as fun shopping since I feel like I’m in that desperate state (like I MUST find some stuff, otherwise I’ll be wearing the same 2 things over and over… not good). I’m hitting up H&M and Zara this weekend for sure!!

  • #43 - Sarah

    I’ve only just gone through my clothes and got rid of things that are too small, too big or more importantly, ones I wouldn’t wear even if they fitted properly.
    It wasn’t easy but I had such a great moment when I realised that if I wanted to, I could buy more pants. I have permission!

  • #44 - Jumanah @ Healthy Living in the Middle East

    Good for you for doing this! I can totally relate. I gained 70 pounds during pregnancy with my twins. Even 4 years after having them, I still cant fit into many of my pre-pregnancy clothes. I kept them around for the longest time as a motivator to get back to my original weight. But in fact, it just made the angry and frustrated to keep looking at them so after years of being angry, I finally cleaned out my closet and like you, separated what fits. Totally made a difference for me not having to look at clothes that are too little. In fact, since cleaning out my closet, I have lost 25 pounds so I hope to be able to add more things back!

    • #45 - Elina

      Isn’t it interesting how something seemingly positive can actually have a negative impact on us? I’ve been definitely trying to pay more attention to things like that lately!

  • #46 - Cara

    I’m not sure what I would do either. I have a lot of clothes in my closet too, many sizes, and I’ll even throw it out there that I’m scared to throw away things that a size or two too big thinking I might gain weight and need them some day. Or at least I could wear them post-maternity, when the time comes around. I know this not very helpful, sorry! The reason I really wanted to respond was to say that I love the ring and have one just like it! It’s from Barmakian (one of their own designs) but a lot of people think it’s a DY. I didn’t pick it for that reason; I just liked it. Then I realized it was at least $150 cheaper than the Yurman and I think the stone is prettier too 😉 I’ll gladly show you some pics if you like!

  • #48 - Heather

    After seeing how brave you were and what a relief it would be I’m thinking it’s time for me to do the same. I’m far from my goal weight but I’m not dieting and I’m at a consistent weight so I need to just let my “skinny clothes” go, or at least pack them away. Thanks for sharing!

  • #50 - Holly

    Okay… so I did this durning “Carmageddon” this past weekend in Los Angeles for my tops and bottoms but need to attack the stuff in my closet this weekend. I have 2 full bins of jeans (just jeans!!!) underneath my bed. Some of them with the tags still on them. Most I had before the baby and they are no where near fitting. I’m talking like I’d need to lose 40 pounds. :/ I swear… there must be $2K in just jeans. It’s really disgusting and wasteful.

    Part of me (on a good day) thinks… I’m gonna have another baby and then I’ll really lose all the weight and wear those jeans again and then the other part is like “fool! sell them on ebay and try to get some money back!” or give them to good will for the tax write off.

    Anyway, as usual I relate so much to your post. xo

    • #51 - Elina

      I have a serious stash of jeans too. Oh well. It doesn’t serve us to hold on to these things that just make us feel bad. Sell them!! You can treat yourself that something that fits now (or something completely different!) and if you ever get to the size some of those jeans are, you can buy another pair. You’ll find a way to finance that at that time!

  • #52 - Holly

    p.s. DY jewelry goes on sale a lot and maybe you could find it online with promo code or something :) GL!!

    • #53 - Elina

      I’ve been looking for sales for sure! Apparently it’s one of their classic styles so it never goes on sale… we’ll see about that 😉

  • #54 - Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    I think you did the right thing and that this will help you make peace with yourself. Cleaning closets is so full of emotion!

  • #55 - Entertaining the family for dinner | Healthy and Sane

    […] Diet free living: cleaning out the closet […]

  • #56 - Rachel @Healthy_Chicks

    I like what you said that even though you are at the same weight today as you were before, you are much happier (and not dieting!) How great does that feel? You should be very proud of how far you’ve come!

    I know it can be discouraging and difficult at times… I went through the same battle of dieting, and obsessing and struggling with food. But trust me if you keep up your positive mindset and your love for food and life, the weight will come and you will reach the weight you want to be & are truly happy with yourself in.

    I know it’s cliche, but it just takes time! You seem oh so happy though Elina & I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. I can’t say it enough!

  • #57 - Rachel @Healthy_Chicks

    oops.. I meant to say *the weight will come off

  • #58 - Kerstin

    Awww, sorry you’re struggling with this. When I went through something similar it really helped to just buy new clothes that I felt confident in and were flattering. I kind of like purging my closet actually – it feels so refreshing.

  • #59 - Zoya

    I say go shopping, but still keep your old clothes too, so that it’s still in the back of your mind, motivating you to work hard on losing those extra few pounds! Also, I am sure you will lose the weight because I remember that you tend to go up and down quite often, so it’d be a pity to get red of nice clothes that you might be able to wear again…
    Good luck sweetie! :)