How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care |

How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care

About 8 years ago, I started on this journey to better health. It included doing a lot of stuff, gradually, over time. Making changes. Trying new things.

How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care |

One of those things was strength training. Over the course of months and years, I gained much-needed muscle. And predictably, my clothes all became too small.

I’ve added about 25 pounds in total which shocks a lot of people because they assume getting healthier means losing weight. Not in my case. Because I was under-eating and doing tons of steady state cardio with endurance racing, my body was cannibalizing my muscle tissue for energy. Hardly a pretty situation.

My body changed slowly but surely, and I started noticing some of my clothes not fitting anymore. For SO long, I held onto the clothes that didn’t fit me.

Cute cap sleeve, button down work shirts. (If I flexed, it was like I was gonna Hulk right out of them.) Jeans that I couldn’t comfortably button up. Skirts that got way too tight.

At the time, I was still teaching high school so I couldn’t work in yoga pants and tank tops like I do now.

And even though I was happy about my transformation – for the first time, I was focusing on what my body could do rather than how it looked – every time I’d see those too-small clothes hanging in my closet, something in my brain would whisper, “Remember back when you could wear this?”

Why did I keep them around?

Was it my way of subconsciously staying attached to “being smaller”?

Was it holding onto clothes for longer so I could justify what I spent on them?

Was it a way to hold back from accepting the reality of my body right here and now?

Here’s the thing, this story plays out in closets all across the world…and it just might be happening to you right now.
And this is what might get me in trouble….(But eff it, I’m here to point out the difficult truths because you.deserve.better. Full stop.)

Holding on to your skinny/fat clothes as “motivation” to change is total bullshit.

Dressing for your size, in clothes that make you feel good and comfortable and complementary to your style, is an act of self-care.

My main mission in life is to help people get reconnected to their inner power. Confidence, mindset, and self-esteem are linked to that mission. I don’t often talk about clothes, and fashion just ain’t my thing. But after binge-watching the whole season of the new Queer Eye on Netflix last month, I keep being reminded of the idea of acting how you want to feel.


But the opposite is also true, and I would wager, far less painful. In other words, you can ACT HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL.

How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care |

I hear a lot of self-care talk around food, fitness, recovery and downtime, treating yoself, and even mindset. But rarely do I hear this:

Holding onto clothes that don’t fit because they’re going to “motivate” you to change is a constant reminder of how far you still have to go and not “being there yet.” (If this sounds like you, you might like my other article, 5 Mindset Traps That Kill Motivation.)

Does that make you feel good, even for a second?

It’s self-flagellation by dress pants. A mind-fuck by bikini.

I’m nobody to judge fashion or style, and I’m a firm believer that everyone’s version of feeling confident and sexy in their clothes is their own to determine.

But really get honest with yourself.

Is dressing in those clothes that are two sizes too small helping you feel more confident?

Is holding onto “fat pants,” “pre-weight gain clothes,” or clothes that make you feel uncomfortable doing you any favors?

Using those things as “motivation” rarely works.

Is the cost of keeping those ill-fitting clothes around worth the benefit you’re getting?

Your self-talk affects everything. And if the conversation in your mind is about how big/small whatever your body is in the clothes that don’t fit you, what kind of outcome does that have?

Buying a bigger (or smaller) size can feel hard. And scary. And sad…because you may think of it as a failure. Or giving in.

But when you feel better in your clothes, when you ACT differently, you FEEL differently.

I get the struggle to find clothes that fit your unique shape (um hello, I’m the captain of Team Thick Thighs) & I also get not wanting to spend all your money on clothing. Plus, shopping is torturous to some.

But all it takes is wearing one really well-fitting pair or jeans or a new top to make you feel like a million bucks. ACT –> FEEL. (In case you’re wondering which jeans I’m wearing, they’re called Fran Denim. They make jeans for people with athletic bodies. Use my code STEPH10 to save 10%.)

Time to clear out the clutter.

How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care |

✨Tell me: What are you ready to let go of in the name of self-care & confidence?

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How Dressing for Your Size is an Act of Self-Care |

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8 Responses

  1. Thank you for this today!! Been working though my 2nd Whole30, while lifting/yogaing, and SAW differences in myself (not to mention noticing major differences in how I feel w the food I’m eating)… but tried on a pair of my “goal jeans” and was supremely frustrated that they fit no differently than before!!! Luckily my head is in this enough to not derail me, but I was still mad. Just nice to know it’s not just me, and be reminded that sometimes ish doesn’t move in the way we want it to. Thanks!!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on that Carey. You know, sometimes body comp changes for the better and we don’t see scale changes or differences in how clothes fit. That’s okay! There are so many other ways to measure health <3 Keep up all the good work.

  2. I’m ready to just let go and love my body… I’m an ex college athlete who finished her college soccer career with a knee injury… And I have really struggled with my body ever since. I have been a cross fitter since 2014 because it’s the only thing that comes as close to the intensity I felt playing soccer. And with the lifting comes weight, I know Im strong but sometimes the lbs. don’t feel good. I want to let go of whatever I think I should look like and just fall in love with what I do look like. Thank you for this!!

  3. thank you sharing this i have been trying to wear all this good dresses i have which i couldnt fit anymore but sometyms people say you should get into good shape or its hard to find a guy who is going to marry you.this is nonsense and not comes in all sizes ..thankyou keep sharing.

  4. Wow, Steph, great article! I’m 50 & started more resistance training & less cardio about 2 years ago. My joints are so much happier, I can ski without braces anymore, but man o’ man those 7 lbs of muscle I put on have messed with me!!! I’m so healthy & managing my Hashimoto’s like a superstar, but my butt & thighs mock me daily! They don’t jiggle though!!!! 😀 Not bad for a 50 year old!!!! HA HA HA!!!! You have motivated me to go through my closet yet again, and just GET RID of EVERYTHING that is too SMALL. My doctor is so happy with all my numbers, now I need to be happy with my scale numbers, and just get over it!!!
    Thanks for the reminder!!!!

    1. Much love to you Kiki…seven pounds of muscle is impressive and more importantly, health protective. I have a way to be happy with the scale: stop weighing yourself 😉 Seriously, one of my community members is a hospital nurse and is emphatic that the only time it’s important for someone to know your weight is your doctor so s/he can dose medication properly.

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Lord of the Rings nerd, cold brew drinker, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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