“Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau
I am weird when it comes to domestic chores. I don’t mind most of them. As long as I have music blaring somewhere, I’m happy to do them. They give me a sense of accomplishment, are pleasantly mindless, and I find them cathartic…save for one.
Give me 10 toilets to scrub. 100 dishes to wash. An acre of floor to sweep, 400 pounds of trash to haul to the dumpster. But for the love of all that is holy, don’t make me put away laundry.
I hate it. I’ve always hated it. No idea why. Washing, changing, drying, hauling up and down stairs, no problems. Then putting it away? What the actual fuck, clothes? How much more do you want of me? Haven’t I done enough? It’s a step too far.
So, I dig in my heels and find something else to do. More often than not, I live in between a cycle of clean laundry basket and dirty clothes hamper. I’m not particularly proud of this.
Last week in an unexpected fit of maturity, I decided to put away clothes when they were done. Like a motherfucking adult. Shirts went on hangers in the closet, underwear and socks were folded and put into their drawer….the only drawer I use. A few pairs of pants and shorts remained in the basket, so I decided that they should go in the dresser.
I pulled a drawer open to find it stuffed (to the point of clothes immediately expanding as soon as it was open) with clothes that were clearly not in the rotation. I’m willing to bet that they were put there when I moved into my current apartment and haven’t seen the light of day since. Well since I’m being all responsible, I decide to organize the drawers into various subtypes of clothes.
I start pulling out the clothes and looking at them. I look at tags and see sizes as high as 18 inches larger than the pants I was wearing. I hold them open, just baffled at them.
These were clothes that used to fit. If I’m really honest, some of these were clothes that didn’t fit. A few of the pants were missing buttons that couldn’t take the pressure of holding my waistline. And they’re all just so…big.
I’m in a weird transitional state. I get compliments regularly “Joe, you’re looking great” or “Looking good!” (which let’s fact facts, is not-so-subtle code for “looking thin/ner”). My personal favorite was when I was playing a game a few nights ago when one of the players a few seats away referred to me as “Fatboy Slim down there.” Anyway, I always correct the people paying the compliments. “Better,” I say, “not good.” This is a whole separate discussion, but I mention it to highlight this weird place I’m in. When I look in the mirror, I see the progress. It’s undeniable. But like so many others traveling this road, enough is never enough. We focus exclusively on what we have not achieved and ignore what we have.
So there was a really strange disconnect looking at these pants that I could put on and put my daughter in, kangaroo pouch style. I can’t get rid of my fat guy mentality at present, and I wonder if I ever will, even when I’m at the point I want to be. It’s really weird looking at them and knowing I really used to be that big.
Atrocious laundry habits notwithstanding, why did I still have these clothes? At one point, there was a similar reluctance to let them go. What if I needed them again some day? It was different this time. They were big even to the point of breaking fatguy mindset. They had to go. I tore through the dresser and bagged up everything that was too big…which was to say everything in the dresser.
You’d think that this would have me pumped up about my progress and ready to swing the pendulum the other way. I have a few pairs of jeans on the top shelf of my closet that are smaller than the ones I’m wearing, which are the ones I talked about here. I’m now pulling up these jeans. If I don’t wear a belt with them, I’m at a risk for self-pantsing every few steps. I look at the size of the loose ones I’m wearing, look at the size of the ones sitting in the closet, just a bit smaller, and back to the closet they go.
Trying on new (and possibly too-small) clothes is scary as hell, because it might mean that you haven’t really done as much as you think you’ve done, or it might magically undo what you have accomplished. SPOILER ALERT: It won’t, but logic doesn’t exactly speak with a loud voice in these matters. The perceived (and likely inaccurate) promise of failure looming ahead is often more than enough to get me to avoid such progressive tomfoolery.
My fitness efforts are steady, strong and paying off. Somewhere, I know that it’s somewhat likely that those jeans will fit. And somewhere I know that even if they don’t, it’s just a matter of time, probably not very long, until they do. With as much as I’ve accomplished, it’s more than a little silly that I should be so afraid of this; but then, it was only a moment of crisis that got me to try on the pants that do (kinda) fit.
This is one of the very few places in my life where fear still exists. I’ve learned that most of the things that seem so intimidating and scary are pretty much cardboard cutouts once you get past them. So that’s what I’ve taught myself to do. My reaction to fear is to grab it and force myself past it. It’s liberating. And for some reason, I can’t do it here.
Oddly enough, it doesn’t extend to all clothes. One of the reward tiers I’ve established for myself is that I get to buy fun geeky shirts for my shrinking body. These things rarely exist in the sizes I needed, so this is a real treat. I have a small collection of goal shirts, and every now and again, I’ll try one on. When it fits, there’s a small celebration. After all, this is the Captain Hammer Project.
I don’t know if it’s the geek/fun factor that curbs the fear or the difference between shirts and pants. Whatever it is, it’s weird and one of the more difficult mental blocks I’ve been dealing with. Which makes it high time I put my money where my mouth is and tried them on. Sigh.
People that are doing this, I get it. It’s so difficult beyond just finding the drive to eat healthy in a world driven by crap and convenience and/or finding time to go to the gym when it doesn’t even seem like you ever have time to stop and catch your breath. It’s a lot more than these things, but if it’s one thing that I am constantly reminded of on this path, it’s that the only one who can stop me is me. The same is true of you.
Every day you grit your teeth and go to the gym when you reeeeeeeally don’t feel like it; every time you walk by the fridge instead of stopping to peek in it; every time you go for the spinach over the fries; all of these things add up. Remembering this can be key to taking the next step. These are tiny steps, and it’s all but impossible to see their impact in an individual level, but this is a war of single steps. The challenge is focusing on these tiny steps when we judge their worth by the big payoffs. There are so many things to juggle when you’re climbing this mountain but goddammit, each and every one of you is worth it. Never lose sight of that.
I hate trying on new clothes, but I love acquiring new geeky shirts. What are you afraid of that is keeping you from doing the things you love to do?