Full Basket, Hollow Victory…and Hand-sewn Hems

A mystery malady has taken me down for several days this week. I had ice cream last Friday night, then was sick as a dog all day Saturday. I had chicken alfredo pasta every night Sunday through Wednesday for dinner (thanks, huge crock pot, for all those servings!) and have been ill enough to go home from work early two days out of five. I’ve totally lost my appetite. It’s either a food thing I haven’t tracked down, a virus, or aliens. The only common food I can think of is carbs, but even that doesn’t explain everything, as the ingredients for the ice cream were vastly different from those in the chicken alfredo pasta. Whatever the cause, it has given me more than a little misery and nausea.

When you don’t feel like eating, you reach your weight goals more quickly. But this victory felt quite hollow, as it came at the expense of my health.

Two feet standing on a scale that reads 163 pounds.

Goal achieved, but it’s not very meaningful if I only got there because I’m sick.

I had a moment of, “Oh. Well, there it is. Um…where do I go from here?” But this isn’t a finish line. It’s just a number on a scale that could be inaccurate, a number deflated by illness and lack of appetite. While it’s an indicator that my long-term efforts to improve my health by losing body fat are paying off, this scale reading doesn’t tell me that I’m only here because the thought of putting anything else in my body that wasn’t ginger ale sounded like the worst idea ever at the time of photography.

I spent Saturday afternoon convalescing on the couch. I watched black-and-white movies, I got mobbed by the animals, and I managed to put almost-real hems on three of my new smaller pairs of jeans. I don’t have a sewing machine, so I did it by hand. I did a complete bastardization of the “original hem” method and measured 29 inch inseams, folded the hem back up the inside of the leg, pinned everything into place, and baste stitched in about 16 places around each pant leg. If I hold onto these jeans for more than a few months, I’ll take them to be professionally tailored, but this works just fine.

The hand-sewn hems of a pair of women's jeans.

Hemming at home with hand-sewn basting stitches – a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, according to 19th century homemakers.

(You had no idea you were going to see so much of my poorly painted toenails. For your trouble, and for the pain felt by the entire professions of pedicurists, I apologize.)

Side note: I felt as though I was imitating my maternal grandmother with my lazy afternoon of patching clothing, drinking a diet cola, watching movies from the 40s, and removing one of the dogs from a tangle of denim in order to adjust a seam. I would be honored to be considered as industrious and handy as she was.

So! While putting away my jeans post-hemming, I decided to go through my closet and drawers and take out some of the things that were too large for me. This turned into me trying on a lot of shirts that I’ve held onto since I weighed 203 pounds. I was surprised at how cute a few of them still looked 40 pounds later, but for the most part, I was swimming in cloth.

I plonked most of the too-big clothes into the “for charity” basket – a skirt never worn, shirts that never fit quite right, beloved former favorites – and put a few of the shirts back into my closet as plausible candidates for further wear. I sported one of those shirts on Monday. I was cute, sure, but the shirt was huge on me, and I was conscious of it all day. As a tiny, fashion-forward fourth grader, I tried to wear my mother’s yellow-and-white striped tunic to school as a dress; like my 9-year-old self, my Monday self was trying to wear an item of clothing that was clearly inappropriate for my size.

A drawing of a young girl wearing an oversized t-shirt as a dress

Fourth grade fashion disaster: wearing my mom’s shirt as a dress. Hem depicted longer than it probably was in real life. My only excuses are that a.) I was nine and b.) It was the eighties, come onnnnn.

So that shirt, as well as the others I’d set aside, are going in with the rest of the contents of this laundry basket to be entrusted to the next clothing donation center I can find (hoping that the clothes I donate actually do some good, though my hope dwindles upon reading reviews and coverage of the book Overdressed.)

A laundry basket full of clothing

Basket of cast-offs from my closet and chest of drawers. I was surprised I had this much clothing to begin with, much less enough clothing to discard.

I hope to be well enough soon to begin working out in earnest besides stretching and performing push-ups to continue strengthening my bum shoulder. Pilates is on my plate. I love it, but I think I need a new workout. I’ve memorized my old one, and I find the pace a little laggy. Time to do some research.


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