One of my closest friends has a pair of jeans that have moved with her through three cities and five different apartments.
They're her "skinny jeans" -- the ones she hopes she'll one day fit into again.
In the 10 years I've known her, she hasn't worn them once. She just keeps them, hanging neatly in the front of her closet. She'll probably never wear them again. After all, they're 10-year-old jeans! Styles have completely changed since she bought them.
Most people think my friend is crazy for hanging on to a pair of jeans that she'll never wear again and that - due to the inevitable changes a woman's body undergoes in her 20s and 30s - probably wouldn't even fit her well anymore even if she got back down to that size. Heck, I used to think she was crazy. But now that I've helped over 800,000 people lose weight and have seen all the pep talks and lucky charms people use for strength and support, I've realized that my friend has been way ahead of the curve.
Losing weight and being healthy is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical and nutritional one.
If all there was to being healthy was eating the things we knew were healthy, everyone would shed weight in weeks. No one really believes that fast food and ice cream are good for you. But they eat it anyway.
I'm not a psychologist, so it's not my place to go into why people do things that are unhealthy for them, but as a nutritionist and trainer, I know that even people who have made the decision to lose weight and eat right sometimes need a little support.
And while there are plenty of very good reasons to toss the jeans you used to fit into, there are just as many to support holding on to them.
3 Reasons You Shouldn't Toss Your Skinny Jeans:
- Daily Motivation: I know of at least one time every month that women who are otherwise determined to lose weight want to chuck their diet plans and curl up on the sofa with a pint of ice cream and a Real Housewives marathon. Having a physical, visual reminder of what you're working towards may be just the boost you need to head to the gym instead of the gelato stand.
- Incremental Goals: Most people have jeans in several different sizes that can chart their weight gain over several years. If you're currently a size 14, set a personal goal to fit back into your old size 12 jeans. From there, set your sights on size 10.
- Big Picture: One of the biggest motivation destroyers out there is stepping on the scale and seeing that your weight hasn't budged in spite of all your hard work. Jeans help prove an essential point: Weight is only part of what's important. Your health is another component, and the third part is inches. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you drop fat but gain muscle, the needle on the scale won't budge. It may even go up! That's what's fantastic about judging your success by how your clothes fit. Your size 8 jeans don't care if you lose weight. They care about inches.
Of course, this motivational technique only works if you lose weight by setting healthy, realistic goals.
If you're trying to fit into skinny jeans from 20 years ago - before you had two kids - or into a style of jeans that look great on your 20-year-old neighbor but are no longer realistic for your body type, you could end up using your old jeans to beat yourself up.
But if you look at your jeans as something to strive for, rather than some unattainable ideal you'll never reach, you can use your clothes as one more piece of motivation to help you lose weight and get healthy.