The Closet Witch

The Closet Witch

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Hello to a Better Body!

The Closet Witch

A sense of dread washed over me when my husband suggested a date night. We hadn’t been out together as a couple for months. His invite in past years would have evoked joy. Instead, my insides cringed from knowing I would have to face my clothes closet witch, the wicked monster who silently taunted me.

Even now I remember the nasty questions I imagined emanating from my closet. “What size are you this week? Will those black dress pants still fit? When are you going to lose weight?”

I had attended my daughter’s wedding in a full-panty girdle so that I could fit into a dress purchased six months earlier. That was a wake-up call. I began obsessing about my weight gain. Then, within a year of the wedding, the big “M” happened. Yes, and menopause in all its hormonal glory ushered in the birth of the closet witch.

I work from home, so pajama loungewear was my typical dress du jour. It’s hardly the type of clothing someone wears to accentuate a shapely figure, and conveniently for me, it hid the mounting pounds. Some people have comfort foods; I had comfort clothes and plenty of them. I found myself staying home more often. The process of finding casual or dressy clothes that fit was a daunting task and staying home meant avoiding the closet.

As my body had grown, so had my closet. There was a “skinny clothes” section, a “post-skinny clothes” section, and a “fat clothes” section. At some point, to keep my sanity and marriage intact, I moved the skinny clothes to the attic. My weight obsession was driving my husband crazy. He was tired of hearing me complain that I didn’t fit into anything. When I officially graduated into the closet’s fat clothes section, I became depressed and defeated.

For most of my life, I had been thin. I could down a bag of chips, a chocolate candy bar and can of soda without adding an ounce. In my late thirties and early forties I worked out at a gym five days a week. I was fit and proud of it. When others mentioned weight gain issues, I was clueless and insensitive to their struggles. It’s funny how things come full circle. Now I was in my fifties facing weight issues that many family, friends and co-workers had faced for a lifetime. I felt ashamed that I had been less sympathetic to them.

I tried fad diets and quick weight loss programs. Usually these were prompted by an upcoming trip or vacation requiring swim attire. I would lose weight on these diets, but within months I was right back to my mid-life status quo weight. And every regained pound was like quicksand. I was being pulled under by the weight (no pun intended) of knowing I had no long-term plan for maintaining my weight loss and making a lifestyle change.

Then it happened. One morning I stepped on the scale and realized if I didn’t do something to lose weight, I would eventually have serious health issues. And my self-esteem could plummet into a black hole from which it might never return. So began my weight loss journey.

The following Saturday my husband clicked on a cooking channel before heading outside to mow the lawn. Over the sound of the humming lawnmower, the television blared in the background. I walked over to turn off the TV but became engaged with the Hungry Girl cooking episode showcasing basic recipes. I was engrossed in the demonstrations of simple healthy recipes geared for weight loss. The recipes seemed so easy and effortless.

I was not someone who enjoyed cooking and I hardly ever did it. But, something about this cooking show captivated me. I had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could cook to lose weight. And that’s precisely what I did.

Call it divine inspiration, or an epiphany. Whatever happened on that Saturday morning changed my life. Knowing I would be leaving for a trip to Chile and Argentina in three weeks motivated me even more. This type of business trip with my husband’s peers usually included poolside lounging in swimsuits. I visualized that picture and it wasn’t pretty. Following the cooking show episode, I jumped online and ordered three Hungry Girl cookbooks. Upon their arrival, I devoured the books like they were snack foods. I composed a grocery list and planned out weekly meals for my weight loss mission. I started eating five small meals a day and was diligent about portions. I limited myself to 1,200 calories per day and included veggies, low-fat meats, carbohydrates and even desserts. Soon I realized the secret was in keeping the fat intake low and using low-fat, no-fat ingredients whenever possible.

To stay motivated, I began making lunches for my daughter. Even now she stops by every morning en route to work to pick up her plated meal. Yes, “plated.” I discovered that creatively plating your meal helps you eat slower and consume less. To date, my daughter has lost twelve pounds and continues to enjoy her Blimpy Girl lunches (what I’ve dubbed my new plated meals). I photograph my plated meals and post them as “Diary of a Blimpy Girl” episodes on my Facebook page to inspire others.

Within a five-month period, I was thirty pounds thinner and still holding eight months later. Date night with my husband is now exciting. In fact, I can’t wait to open the closet door. That closet witch has turned into the closet fairy godmother.

~ Denise Marks ~

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