In my room I’ve got my favourite pair of jeans hanging up, nope not in the cupboard, but hanging from a shelf. They don’t fit me anymore. Sure I haven’t tried them on in a while but the last I did I couldn’t pull them over my legs. I distinctly remember when I thought the washing machine was shrinking them, turns out it was just my legs growing, in the wrong direction. I’ve kept them as a reminder, and goal, of where I used to be and where I’d like to get back to.
One fitness tip which people always suggest for weight loss is keeping old clothes. If you get rid of all your old clothes you won’t remember, or realise, how much weight you have put on. Makes sense right?! In a way it’s like a frog in boiling water, if a frog is placed in boiling water it jumps out. If I try and put these old jeans on I just won’t fit. If a frog is placed in cold water which is left to boil it’ll die. If I keep getting rid of my old jeans I’ll never realise how much excess weight I’ve put on (it’s a lose link but hopefully you get the point). Keeping old clothes is a good tangible marker to show when you’ve lost weight and remind you, possibly, of a healthier, positive time in your life.
However, when I look back at the time I could fit in to these jeans, I wasn’t necessarily in a happier, healthier or more positive time of life. I was in the middle of having chronic fatigue, I’d been training as an amateur triathlete and would have sessions twice a day, plus cycle to and from and work. My mind and body was not in a healthier place, yet I had a great pair of legs and a much slimmer waist. Do I want those legs and waist back? Sure. Do I want to put all that effort in again? No. It’s not necessarily that I don’t want to work hard, and enjoy my exercise, but I don’t want to go back to that state of mind where I’m so focused on hard workouts, not recovering properly, not always enjoying my sessions, letting my mind give myself crap, missing events to train and generally being focused on looking good to make me feel good.
Where those jeans used to be a badge of honour, almost an emblem of my past, they have now become a reminder and representation of all that was unhealthy for me all those years ago. Instead they now hang up as a reflection of what my physical training sessions used to be like, how my mind was processing life and feeding negative thoughts, and how my emotions would toy with my mind and my habits. Instead I look at these jeans and see a life long journey of finding an exercise I love, having my mind respect where my physical body is at and have my emotions enjoy and accept how my body looks and feels.
Our wellness depends on how often we let ourselves focus on those old jeans (I do understand that slimmer jeans could be a positive goal to work towards but for this article I’m looking at them as a negative). How often we put ourselves into old patterns of thinking and feeling, into old habits which weren’t healthy for us in the first place. Part of wellness is to let ourselves grow and change and adapt to what life throws us. If we are to move forward, not just in our personal wellness, but our friends and families, our communities and even our culture at large, we need to stop stepping back into the old. Instead looking at it for what it was and learning.
These jeans remind me, daily, of how far I’ve come in my physical, spiritual and emotional health. How I’m now far more balanced, respectful and at rest with myself. So the next time you have your tight pants on, or not as the case may be, remember back to how life used to be when you wore those jeans and ask yourself, am I healthier now? Or was I healthier then?