How to dress when you’ve put on a few pounds

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I’m  going to be honest with you: over the past few months, I’ve put on some weight. And not just the five or so pounds we’re all constantly taking off or putting back on, but so much weight that my best jeans don’t fit over my hips, and mirrors have become the enemy.  All summer I could kind of ignore the issue because I usually wear pretty voluminous dresses, but now that fall is arriving the truth must be faced head-on. This is requiring a fresh diet and exercise regimen, and a few new articles of well-fitting and more flattering clothes—mostly pretty well-priced but with a couple of nicer numbers in there too. I find that pants are the hardest item to locate, but am very happy with these Citizens of Humanity jeans, which are super-comfortable and boyfriend-cut.

I got these Everlane pants in this slate gray and army green too, and while they’re higher-waisted than I’m used to, they’ve got a very flattering silhouette.

My biggest splurge was a pair of these Nili Lotan Paris pants, and while my boyfriend took one look at the drop crotch and asked if I was wearing them wrong, he later allowed that they reminded him of something Marlene Dietrich might have worn, so I feel like that’s netting out as a compliment.

I missed these Universal Standard joggers the other day, but I really like them a lot: the fact that you can belt them adds a touch of polish.

I am not so crazy about how it looks when I tuck shirts in these days—and as a strong devotee of the half-tuck, you can only imagine how painful that is for me. So I acquired one of these Everlane silk shirts in black and another in fuchsia because I like the boxy cut and straight hem.

An easy tunic that’s just about long enough to cover my ass, which is a priority at the moment.

Another cute straight-hem top from Xirena.

I like the clean, slimming lines of this Mac coat.

I know it’s more slimming to belt a dress like this one, but I like how it looks loose and flowy.

And finally: if you’re really in the mood to blow the bank, Zero+Maria Cornejo shirtdresses are rather magically slimming. Here’s a cheaper version.

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Comments

111 Thoughts on How to dress when you’ve put on a few pounds
    Kim
    28 Sep 2019
    2:17pm

    Check out the Citizens of Humanity Harrison pant. True to Size but stretches out a bit to resemble the Nili Lotan Luna pant silhouette. Super comfy, thicker more fall like material and more flattering than it looks on the model.

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    Maia
    28 Sep 2019
    10:39am

    I’ve really enjoyed reading these comments. It occurs to me that our collective anguish at no longer having youthful bodies is rampant, fueled partly by feeling betrayed or grieving the loss how we used to be. Also, since marketing and media celebrate youth, and find endless ways to sell us stuff to bring it back, we feel wronged by our bodies at middle age. I also had to buy new pants, try different shapes of clothing and eat differently. It’s not evil though. It is my body now. I still work out, ride mountain and road bikes, do yoga, garden and love life! And work a full time job I’m trying not to get too caught up in the number of pounds or inches of hip, but appreciate the activities and expertise I have now.

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    Lore
    28 Sep 2019
    9:24am

    Thank you for this very helpful and honest post!

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    Nicky Pierce
    28 Sep 2019
    9:25am

    Kim, can you do a post on drop crotch pants, I love them, but there are so many bad ones out there. Oh, for $345. !

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      kimbersam
      28 Sep 2019
      4:46pm

      OMG! Yes….seconded. PLEASE!!!

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    tamara
    30 Sep 2019
    10:00am

    there is actually a light at the end of the tunnel ladies…most of my post-meno clients (pilates) seem to drop the weight once the hormones settle out…and it really seems like they do settle out. weight loss is definitely slower but it does happen and then it really seems permanent at least with my people (women and men). stay hydrated and try to keep moving and stay calm about it…the stress does not help! on a side not…kim how do you wear the drop crotch lotans??? i feel like i look as if i’m wearing diapers…i love the look in the front but the back view is horrible! i am short waisted and narrow hipped (DON’T HATE. BORN THIS WAY) is that part of my problem? keep the faith, thanks for the help, and consider pilates!

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    y.k.
    30 Sep 2019
    8:02pm

    this is the first chance I’ve had to go through this excellent string of comments. I’m 55 and it’s been SO hard to shake the 5ish lbs that have settled in on the lower abs. I can live w/ 5 but I’m worried about 7, then 10… The only thing that’s helped slow it down, in addition to some kind of daily movement is cutting out all sugar. This is only brutal in the first few days . Easy for me to say since I can’t really drink.
    I also love what Mouse said above about re-thinking the entire silhouette. Although this makes me SO sad since that means putting away my belts (half tuck looks so good w/ a belt!) – I think her approach of emphasizing the positive makes sense.
    I have looked at old paintings w/ women in Empire waists longingly.
    I remember back in my 20s wondering why older women were always obsessed with scarves.
    Thanks Kimfrance.

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    lc
    27 Sep 2019
    12:28pm

    After being a fairly steady weight all my life I gained about 35 lbs in my late 40s. It was definitely a perimenopause thing, but I also was having alcohol more regularly and had a new relationship (always skinnier when I’m depressed). After about five years I managed to slowly get back down, but post-menopause is definitely a new phase metabolism-wise. If I’m not careful the weight creeps back on a lot faster than it used to, but at least I feel like myself again.

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      Liz
      28 Sep 2019
      9:45am

      I’ve had the same issue despite the fact that my diet has been the same, but I recently got a bit of good news. All conventional wisdom is that what you eat matters more for weight loss than exercise, and every article geared toward women over 40 makes it seem like you can barely eat anything if you want to lose.

      However, I just got back from two weeks in Lisbon, where I ate chocolate mousse every night, pastry every morning, some kind of steak for dinner, and wine or cocktails every night, as well, and I actually lost 5lbs. It has to be due to all the hills and walking (5-10 miles a day) to the point where my legs burned, probably combined with fewer processed foods and smaller portion sizes. Knowing that increasing my activity level does work for me, even just walking, has been encouraging. We’ll see if I actually do it, but I like knowing it’s an option. If that fails, I’m moving to Europe.

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      Kay Erikson
      27 Sep 2019
      3:57pm

      I was told by my nutritionist that most women gain 10lbs during menopause. And yep! That is exactly what happened to me. I have always struggled with my weight, but trying to loose weight now is very different. My metabolism has changed. I agree with Kim, those Nili Lotan Paris pants look great when you have gained a few pounds (or in my case 40lbs). Its starting to come off, but its slow! I can’t drink wine like I used to. Sign…….

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    Eloise
    27 Sep 2019
    12:40pm

    Off topic (except for the fact that the reason I need new jeans is because none of my old ones FIT!!) – just nosed around the Universal Standard site – anyone try their jeans?

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      sunny
      27 Sep 2019
      3:04pm

      I bought some during their warehouse sale and find the cut super flattering (FWIW, I carry my weight in stomach area vs. booty/hips). The denim is super thick and stretchy in a way that sucks you in. I usually wear Madewell or J Crew but these def compress you way more in a good way where you don’t have a muffin top. Highly recommend!

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        AmyM
        30 Sep 2019
        4:57pm

        AH! This explains it. I’m all hips/thighs/butt and their jeans don’t work for me at all.

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      Rebecca
      27 Sep 2019
      1:05pm

      I have, and I’m not a fan. (I do like most of what US offers.) For me, I found they were too long in the rise and had some gap issues. I am hippy so YMMV. Denim I do like as a 18-20: Warp and Weft, James Jeans.

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      Clatie
      27 Sep 2019
      8:49pm

      I was going to ask the same question. Those red boyfriend style jeans are SO cute.

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    Peggy Orenstein
    27 Sep 2019
    12:20pm

    LOVE this one, Kim. Please do a post (or more) on how to dress when you have a FREAKISHLY SHORT TORSO. Not that I have a stake in that. It just seems it would be a useful post for, you know, someone.

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      Kim France
      28 Sep 2019
      10:42am

      Thanks, Ms. O. Will give it some thought. And to the rest of you, here is the BRILLIANT TED Talk by this commenter (who I worked with back in the day). https://www.ted.com/talks/peggy_orenstein_what_young_women_believe_about_their_own_sexual_pleasure And here’s a plug for her new book: https://rstyle.me/+G6AahsiFA3nD3yiP8HWPBA

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        Viajera
        28 Sep 2019
        5:18pm

        That looks like an awesome Ted talk. I don’t like to watch video so I’m gonna look for a transcript …

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          Viajera
          28 Sep 2019
          5:20pm

          Woot! Transcript is right on the page … yayesssss….

          https://www.ted.com/talks/peggy_orenstein_what_young_women_believe_about_their_own_sexual_pleasure/transcript

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            Viajera
            28 Sep 2019
            5:27pm

            I know a couple youngsters who are getting those books for Christmas. Right on Peggy!!!!!!!!!!!! … unless they already have them, need to check first. So awesome.

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      RebeccaToo
      27 Sep 2019
      12:42pm

      Me…that someone is me.

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        Jeanne
        27 Sep 2019
        1:06pm

        Omg me too! My girlfriend and I both tried on the JCrew Sophie jacket. Hit her beautifully at the upper thigh. Me? At the most unflattering part of the hip.

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    D.Morgendorffer
    27 Sep 2019
    11:48am

    I really appreciate this post. My weight gain has been due to being shot up with fertility drugs for two years. I now totally get what I’ve heard other women say about weight gain due to hormonal stuff being especially challenging. One of the tough things for me was trying to decide how to handle it, wardrobe investment-wise. I hated to think I was sinking a lot of money into what I hope will be a transitional phase. So, this post is very validating/reassuring on how I finally decided to approach it: some reasonably-priced, well-constructed stuff interspersed with a few nice pieces. I will say, I’m glad I’ve gotten some nice stuff. I’m pretty disciplined with my diet and exercise, but making do with unattractive clothing does not help motivation.

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    Amy
    27 Sep 2019
    11:50am

    Thank you for this post! I am 54 and have put on 25 lbs in the last few years, despite eating clean/healthy and a good consistent exercise regimen. I attribute weight gain as does my long term doctor to menopause and a slowing down of my once high metabolism. Most of my weight gain is around my middle as often happens in menopause. I also have had thyroid disoder (Graves’ disease) for almost 25 years so can attribute some minor weight fluctuations Over the years to that. I’ve learned to embrace my larger size (I often lovingly refer to myself as fit and fat!) and have changed my wardrobe accordingly. Though my body has changed my love of fashion has not.

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      Clatie
      27 Sep 2019
      6:16pm

      Same, girl. Menopause is a hell of a thing.

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      liz
      28 Sep 2019
      8:53pm

      I have graves also. The meds slow down your metabolism so that TSH is 1. I have been in remission for over 5 years but aging and the MMI have seriously messed with my metabolism.

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    Cindy Kirk
    27 Sep 2019
    11:13am

    In the past, I have always put on weight in the summer. I have also loved wearing loose fitting dresses. It finally occurred to me that my weight got out of control because I could not keep tabs on my waistline. This summer I switched things up and wore shorts rather than dresses. I quickly realized that having a waistband keeps me in check. No weight gain this summer!

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    Michelle
    27 Sep 2019
    11:21am

    Thanks for posting this Kim. I’m 47 and also dealing with perimenopause. Talk about an uphill struggle. I’m going to check out some of these suggestions!

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    Ann
    27 Sep 2019
    11:22am

    I love Xirena so much. I want to donate everything and just have all their stuff.

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    Tammy Darmagnac
    27 Sep 2019
    11:23am

    Thank you! My body is changing and I don’t like it! At 52 I’m sure it’s menopause related. It’s depressing. I have beautiful clothes and can’t wear them. Getting dressed has become a chore. This post couldn’t have come at a better time.

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    EW
    27 Sep 2019
    11:24am

    I am wearing those CoH jeans right.now. They are soft stretchy and nice enough for jeans day at the office.

    ditto on the weight gain in the bum grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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    Mary
    27 Sep 2019
    11:28am

    Perimenopause has decided the number of calories I used to consume simply cannot continue. Luckily, my plant-based diet fills me up! Your boyfriend’s comment about the Nili Lotan pants is hilarious! My husband would say something similar.

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    Viajera
    27 Sep 2019
    11:30am

    Great post, Kim! I can totally relate, I am going through something similar. It is quite a nuisance, just on a clothing level. I am glad to hear you are surrounded by love, you deserve it. Oooooh! Cue the Diana Summer song …… ohyeah…… Honestly, musically not my favorite of hers but the lyrics are *apt,* as Lisa Simpson would say.

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    Eloise
    27 Sep 2019
    11:31am

    The CoH jeans are 20% off (as is pretty much everything?) at ShopBop right now, and, since none of my jeans fit (I could have written this post!) at the moment, I’m biting the bullet and getting a pair (no watch, they won’t fit – no surprise.)

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    Bobby
    27 Sep 2019
    11:03am

    Can you share why you think you’ve put on weight? Were you just consciously eating more, or is it not really clear? I’ve put on an enormous, don’t recognize myself in the mirror amount of weight, which is so depressing, I can’t begin to tell you. It turns out I have almost no thyroid, but my Dr. said the medication I’m now on to address that will only take care of eight to ten pounds. I guess it’s a start, but that still leaves me with fifty to sluice off, and I’m not really overeating! I’m very uncomfortable with the weight physically, and depressed mentally.

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      Viajera
      27 Sep 2019
      11:21am

      Bobby, I have a friend who went through something similar, and she lost a bunch more than that, so perhaps your doctor is being conservative. It was more like 30, and again, without really changing anything else – well, her diet was already quite healthy. Plus, my friend feels a lot better … and that can lead to other good things. The really good thing is, you kept looking for an answer. I think a lot people just shrug, or blame themselves. Our bodies are very complex and I think medical science in these areas is in its infancy. …….. I am no doctor but it seems to me that we should all be sucking down green tea and eating organic as much as possible. Scientists aren’t going to figure out all this for quite some time.

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      Kim France
      27 Sep 2019
      11:09am

      I think it’s been a combination of things, Bobby. Perimemopause and its attendant metabolism wonkiness hasn’t helped—I swear I eat the same amount as I always have—and neither has a prescription medication I’m taking. Good luck with your quest to reduce—you’ll be in my thoughts.

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        Jai Liriano
        30 Sep 2019
        10:20am

        Hello,
        A year ago I gained 10 pounds, although my diet and exercise regimen had not changed. Although I was in the perimenopause phase, I felt there was more going on. I felt fatigued and tired too. I saw an integrative doctor who did extensive blood work and we discovered that my cortisol levels were low (basically, my adrenals had been working overtime due to stress for so long that they were no longer producing the sufficient cortisol, the get up and go hormone). He put me on some supplements to get my cortisol levels higher and sure enough those 10 pounds melted away after a few months. I am. still on the supplements and have more energy. I continue to eat and exercise the way I normally do and my clothes fit as they used to.
        The usual weight gain women experience as we age is usually do to hormonal imbalances. Of course, traditional medicine overlooks this and never tests for it. Please look up Dr. Sara Gottlieb. She studies and writes about this issue extensively. It is worth a look and worth getting tested. I hope this information helps. I was where you were last year and it was really tough to not have your clothes fit and not feel like yourself in your body. Please keep us posted. I think it is so valuable to have women speak out about this.

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          RL McGruder
          30 Sep 2019
          10:39am

          Double-checking: could you possibly mean Sara Gottfriend?

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          Viajera
          30 Sep 2019
          10:59am

          My friend with the issue had to have extensive blood tests too … the regular tests didn’t fix the problem. Or, maybe she tested borderline and the first doctor didn’t want to move forward. She also takes many supplements though that won’t necessarily be permanent. Not incidentally, she also slept much better after.

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        Bobby
        27 Sep 2019
        5:49pm

        Thank you both so much for replying — made my day.

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      Mamavalveeta03
      27 Sep 2019
      1:39pm

      I can relate, Bobby. I have had hypothyroid issues for almost 20 years, which has caused weight gain and exhaustion among other problems. Add to that menopause and an as yet undiagnosed problem with my adrenal hormones that has made exercise next to impossible. Hopefully, I’m on the road to getting that one diagnosed. You’re not alone!

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        Bobby
        27 Sep 2019
        5:51pm

        Thank you. The thyroid issue has made me profoundly exhausted. I hope that when the meds kick in that will improve as well. Hope you are able to solve your adrenal issues soon!

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          Mamavalveeta03
          27 Sep 2019
          7:49pm

          Thanks!

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      Amy
      27 Sep 2019
      6:36pm

      Bobby, Hang in there…. it will get better. Having had Graves’ disease for almost 25 years I’ve been there with the unexplained weight gain, depression, exhaustion, fatigue, insomnia, and even nocturnal panic attacks. Then one day when the meds kick in you realize what it’s like to feel normal again. I now recognize the early symptoms and call my doctor ASAP for blood work and dosage adjustment. Sending positive thoughts your way.

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    clatie
    27 Sep 2019
    10:56am

    I bought those olive Everlane pants, too, and I got them in white. I LOVE THEM.

    PS They wash like a dream. Everlane knows what they’re doing.

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    Tammy Madsen
    27 Sep 2019
    11:01am

    I think this is one of the best pieces that you’ve ever written, likely because I am in a similar situation, Kim!

    I work part time in a retail store and was helping a woman at the cash register early this week. The woman asked: “When are you due?” I was wearing layers and a belt with a longer tunic. I busted out laughing because I’m 52!!

    Your boyfriend’s remark about the Nili Lotan pants looking like something Marlene Dietrich would wear reminded me of my husband commenting: “At least the woman thought you looked young enough to be pregnant.”

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      Gleaming the Cube
      27 Sep 2019
      11:53am

      Oh god, this happened to me yesterday! I saw a colleague I hadn’t seen in a long time and she asked when I was due… “I’m not pregnant, just fit.” Her response, “Oh, when did you have your baby?” DUDE. STOP. “I don’t have kids. I’m just fat.” Um, why are you continuing to dig this hole? Also, I’ve been upping my pilates practice lately and thought, hey, I’m getting strong again, so thanks, clueless person, for plummeting my self-esteem back into the ground.

      I was wearing a voluminous Issey Miyake dress yesterday, but I like that dress, so screw the clueless colleague.

      Anyway, I also gained, fairly suddenly, about 50 pounds. I was very thin to start, so the adjustment has been hard. Two brands have stood out that make me feel good: Zero Maria Cornejo (thanks, Kim, for bringing her clothes into my life), and Rick Owens. Despite the styling on many the models, which is very thin, his clothes work very well on bodies of a certain age. The weird cuts are surprisingly flattering.

      And I should I really get my thyroid checked — surprisingly, the weight gain didn’t prompt any comment from my doctor and I guess I didn’t even press to see if there was an underlying condition.

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        abp
        27 Sep 2019
        12:27pm

        Oh my god, I thought by now everyone had gotten the memo to not ask about pregnancy unless you are 100%, completely, absolutely sure, and even then, maybe don’t! I don’t usually ask about pregnancy even with acquaintances I know for a fact are pregnant, probably because I don’t have any children so it’s not much of an area of interest for me, but also because I figure the pregnant person would like to be treated as someone with other things going on, not just a vessel.

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          Maryse
          27 Sep 2019
          1:15pm

          If the baby isn’t falling out you don’t ask. End of story.

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            Viajera
            28 Sep 2019
            2:23pm

            Lol … I actually did, Maryse. Good one.

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            Mamavalveeta03
            27 Sep 2019
            7:46pm

            Applause!!!

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        Gleaming the Cube
        27 Sep 2019
        11:54am

        Oh god, typo city. Not “fit”. Fat. Ugh.

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          Viajera
          28 Sep 2019
          2:31pm

          Gleaming … you tell a good story. Keep your head up. I feel almost bad for doctors bc a) most weren’t trained for it and have noooo idea what to tell people anyway, about weight – which is better than the ones who think they know, and are wrong – and b) they don’t want to make people feel bad. On my To Do list is to write a very polite screed to Bill Maher to explain to him all about how he is completely wrong about large people. Maybe if I do it I will try to figure out a way to get feedback from folks here. The thing is to explain to people that you can’t look at someone, decide they are unhealthy, and then try to fix them. It’s that whole “I’m just being honest…” thing. Well no … what you’re being is ignorant. …. No idea when I will actually get around to it. Kinda got off topic there.

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            D.Morgendorffer
            28 Sep 2019
            5:43pm

            Oh my gosh, I know EXACTLY what you mean about Bill Maher. He has given monologues on the pervasiveness of junk added into American food and the various health inequities poor Americans have to endure. He appears to be aware that women have been excluded from medical studies because our hormones were thought to “muddy” the results. Yet, he doesn’t seem to connect this knowledge to the topic of weight. Plus, any undergrad learning about conditioning in PSYCH 101 (which I’m sure he took at Cornell) should know shame is not an effective weight loss technique. I get why you thought of him, by the way. It’s because his mentality on this subject involves the assumptions that make women in particular feel defensive about our presumed behavior in relation to our appearance. By the way, Gleaming the Cube, your clothing preferences sound so cool.

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              Gleaming the Cube
              29 Sep 2019
              4:55pm

              Thanks, Viajera & D. Morgendorffer for the kind words. I am much pickier buying clothes these days: if it doesn’t make me feel fabulous immediately, back it goes. And I’m very glad there are good second-hand options, since the clothes that make me feel good now are alas all pricey.

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              Viajera
              29 Sep 2019
              8:05pm

              I didn’t know he went to Cornell. Interesting. I do still like his show, it is interesting and he’s a great interviewer. But yes… his attitude towards large people is horrible. I’ve been upset about it … sort of in the background … for a couple of years, and then recently he went off on it again. Maybe I should think better of someone who can make me feel sorry for Chris Christie. I will have to give that more thought. It is just odd because I know he sort of knows better, and in fact, he has said so, way back in the mists of time. It must push some kind of button for him. Oh well.

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                kimbersam
                30 Sep 2019
                12:22pm

                His behavior toward women isn’t the best, either, but I guess we need all the advocates we have. I can certainly think of worse.

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                  D.Morgendorffer
                  30 Sep 2019
                  12:43pm

                  So true, all that you say, kimbersam.

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    Tammy Madsen
    27 Sep 2019
    11:02am

    The other reason I loved this post is because COS is one of my favorite retailers, and those Nili Lotan pants are to DIE for. 🙂

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    Rebecca
    27 Sep 2019
    1:51pm

    Girrrrllll. It’s like you know me. Well, I did wear shoes that used to be yours the other day, so maybe there is some psychic Prada link? Either way, the dread of putting on my fall pants has kept me wearing the one pair I know fits after my more-rose-than-usual summer + hello, 46, are we having perimenopausal fun yet? Thanks for the ideas.

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    Stephanie
    27 Sep 2019
    2:26pm

    The timing of this! Just yesterday I hauled out all of my jeans — there are so many, it turns out — and tried them on one by one. Some wouldn’t go past my knees. Basically I plan to wear my J Crew toothpick jeans, which are like Spanx in denim form, every day until I lose the beach ball where the middle of my of body used to be. Just thinking about it gives me a hot flash.

    Btw, I’m considering cutting out the nightly glass of wine — which I love, love so much — as part of a weight-loss plan. Will this work? Is 6 pm without wine even worth it? There’s really not much left to cut, food and drink -wise.

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      Candy
      29 Sep 2019
      10:27am

      I also loved my 6 pm glass of wine, but as a breast cancer survivor, my doctor advised me to stop the daily alcohol. I switched to preparing myself something low-cal, non-alcoholic in a nice glass instead and my reward after a month or so was also dropping 5 pounds. Win-win.

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      Mary
      27 Sep 2019
      7:27pm

      I wouldn’t cut out the wine – find something else to cut out!

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      liz
      28 Sep 2019
      9:09pm

      I’m constantly trying to change my mainly vegetarian diet.

      Maybe there should be a post about what works for us.

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      Laurel
      1 Oct 2019
      4:38pm

      It might make a difference. My doctor told me that alcohol changes the way we metabolize fat as well. Maybe make it a Friday night thing rather than an every night thing.

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    Elisabeth
    27 Sep 2019
    2:31pm

    I love these picks, and the compassion and commiseration in the comments. I want to share this poem by Kate Baer:

    Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels

    Unless you count your grandmother’s
    cake, hand-mixed while she waits for the
    sound of your breath at the door. Or if
    you consider the taste of the sea, hands
    raised while you enter, salt at your lips.
    Or maybe you’ve forgotten the taste of
    a lover, your mouth on his skin. I ask-

    have you ever tasted the cool swill of
    freedom? The consuming rush of a
    quiet, radical love.

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      Elisabeth
      27 Sep 2019
      2:33pm

      Oh dear, the comment system screwed up the formatting and line breaks. Message still stands from this excellent poet.

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    c.w.
    27 Sep 2019
    1:10pm

    Weird weight gains, menopausal or other body shaping factors––I love all these clothes! (except the Nili Lotan pants––I can NOT get past my own self defeating prejudice of those pants making my legs look like they are three inches long).

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    Dana
    27 Sep 2019
    1:13pm

    As someone who lifts heavy weights in very tight pants three times a week, I 100% empathize with the upset that a sudden body change can bring. Having stuff you rely on not fit sucks hard even when you’ve lost a lot of weight, but at least everyone around us thinks weight loss is good. When you gain — and it could be hormones, medications, happiness from new relationship and good sex, whatever — of course we feel frustration and shame. It was really kicking me in the head because of perimenopause, despite my workout routine. I’ve finally landed on a combination of knowing I’m doing the best I can, and a fuck-those-pants mentality. If they don’t fit, it’s them, not me. There is always a new pair of pants that will love my wonderful and functional body, which is also doing the best it can, because it is me. If my body needs to change, my pants can get with the program or get gone. This attitude doesn’t always work, but I am trying!

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      Jenny
      27 Sep 2019
      1:32pm

      “get with the program or get gone” is my new mantra.

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    Mamavalveeta03
    27 Sep 2019
    1:13pm

    So far, I can only think of 2 good things that have come with menopause: No fear of getting pregnant, and no periods. But the uber-dry skin, hair loss, sagginess, hot flashes and weight gain SUCK. I know, I know…I’m supposed to say that my confidence and creativity soared with menopause and that I know myself to my core. (Obviously, I’m having a bad day.)

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      Mary
      27 Sep 2019
      1:47pm

      I don’t seem to have to shave my legs nearly as often, for some peculiar reason. Guess this is a good thing but worry about the hair on my head getting the wrong idea!

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      Eloise
      27 Sep 2019
      1:16pm

      Could’a written this myself. Trust me, you are so not alone.

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    Jeanne
    27 Sep 2019
    1:15pm

    Add me to the perimenopause club. I started several months ago and gained a freakishly high amount of weight. The worst part is that it used to come off steadily and now it’s not budging. I’m so beside myself and hate getting dressed, something I used to love. What’s killing me more is that last year I lost 30 lbs and gained it back due to a bout of depression. If I had just kept it off back then, I would be in a better place now. Tips from those who have experienced this are most appreciated!

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      Mamavalveeta03
      27 Sep 2019
      8:12pm

      I lost 55lbs awhile after my last daughter was born, and then several surgeries and thyroid problems led to its return. I’ve tried several times to lose it all again, but the truth is, it’s not easy if you have underlying health issues and yes, particularly depression (me, too). Whether it’s my medication, hypothyroidism, menopause, or some combo thereof…I don’t know. I know it doesn’t work for me to eliminate everything that I love (wine, ice cream) because I feel deprived. But I’ve made peace with the idea that overall health is a better goal, and more attainable than being a size 8. So set tiny reachable goals for yourself – focus on movement, a healthy intake of fruits and veggies, and once a week, a splurge. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach them! (i.e. new pants, a glass of wine, a lipstick) ❤️

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    Sarah
    27 Sep 2019
    12:47pm

    WHYYYY do those Nili Lotan pants have to be $345? It’s like she does it to torture us.

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      Tammy Madsen
      27 Sep 2019
      9:21pm

      SO TRUE. Nili is so talented, but I can’t afford anything!

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    RebeccaToo
    27 Sep 2019
    12:58pm

    I am 52 and past menopause by a few years. I have modest eating habits and my weight was always pretty stable. And in the past couple of years I have gained 10 lbs around my middle that simply will not budge. And, you know, it’s not the end of the world but I feel like we could all manage it better if we knew it was coming…if it was accepted like puberty, pimples, and growth spurts…instead of some private, shameful struggle for each of us. Ergh.

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      Mouse
      27 Sep 2019
      1:47pm

      YES. I’m 59 and have been in full menopause for about 12 years, struggled with changing weight etc, and just this past summer noticed that I now have a real belly which I have never had before. (Always gained weight around my hips/butt/legs. I wonder if that’s a menopause thing too….

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    Kathi
    27 Sep 2019
    1:01pm

    Love this post!! I also struggle with some extra weight & two of my prescription meds don’t help with the attempt to lose. I am happy that my BMI is right at the 25 healthy range but wish I could lose even 5 pounds! I live in boyfriend jeans and continue to half tuck as that at least covers my rear and I feel it makes me look more streamlined. I love Everlane and will have to check out the pants posted above, but I tend to stay away from high waisted pants, I am all about the mid rise.

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    MaryAlice
    27 Sep 2019
    12:41pm

    I am intrigued by the Everlane pants. What shoes would work with them, do you think?

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      Kim France
      29 Sep 2019
      9:38am

      I, of course, wear them with clogs and sandals too, and when it gets cooler I’ll pair them with ankle boots.

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    Lori
    2 Oct 2019
    5:30pm

    Ugh, I’m so with you all! And relieved to know that others are struggling, too, although I wouldn’t wish this suffering on anyone. I’ve been feeling as if I’m going insane with the perimenopause nonsense for the last couple of years (I’m now 48 and 1/2), while my close friends seem unscathed. The sudden, shocking weight gain with no dietary or activity changes (nearly 20 lbs. in 3 and 1/2 weeks at the end of last January, which I cannot lose to save my life — I was already low-sugar, grain-free, high-protein-and-veggie, alcohol-free, caffeine-free, etc., on doctor’s advice due to a kidney disorder — continues to creep upward0) is throwing a wrench in my identity works in a way I didn’t even know was possible, since — although I love fashion — I was never invested in my looks the way the “hot” or pretty girls were (I was always tall, nerdy, and athletic). It is absolutely startling to find that the weight gain, which makes it impossible to move through space or get dressed normally each day, actually feels like the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life — and this is after several years of pure hell with family tragedy, domestic violence, medical challenges, financial destitution, etc. Seriously, the perimenopausal weight gain, crazy-debilitating insomnia, uncharacteristic irritability/anxiety/overwhelm, weird hair and skin issues, and so on, are making life intolerable — and I had no idea to expect them! After a physical last March, blood work showed everything to be normal, and I’m not a candidate for HRT because of family health history, so I just have to ride this crap out — but am beginning to feel desperate without being able to fit into a single pair of my pants, and can’t afford to buy new ones at the moment! Would love to take Pilates, and be in therapy around this (and other) stuff, since if the weight won’t budge, my self concept will have to, but can’t afford either. (I don’t feel obliged to lose the full 20+ to be back to normal at this point – – no need to be hot at 50 when I wasn’t at 20 — but would at least like to drop 10 so I could wear a few pairs of bigger jeans!) Anyway, apologies for the long, rambly post; just grateful to read of others’ experiences with this phase of life, especially from a clothing perspective!

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      Mamavalveeta03
      4 Oct 2019
      4:59pm

      Lori, what about finding someone who specializes in alternative medicine? Maybe an osteopath – and sometimes you can find one who will charge on a sliding scale. I’ve been considering this, too. You sound like you’ve been through a lot lately, so maybe a good sympathetic ear in the form of a trained therapist? There’s no shame in admitting we need help getting through life’s shizz. All the best to you! ❤️

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    Stephanie
    27 Sep 2019
    3:33pm

    Please add me to the perimenopause group. So many pants don’t fit me now as I seem to be carrying additional weight around my stomach, hips and upper legs. It is crazy how when that part of your body is carrying extra weight how difficult it is to get dressed. I’m trying to stay positive and I continue to eat healthy and exercise but I feel like I just have to adjust to this new normal. I just wish this “new normal” was one that was depicted in the media so everyone would accept that middle-aged women come in all shapes and sizes.

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    TL
    27 Sep 2019
    4:18pm

    Thanks for this post—I too am in this club! 54 and gained over 20 lbs in a few months after taking a med that sent me right into menopause. I can’t get used to the changes in my shape, and the styles of clothing that felt great before don’t fit or flatter at all. I had no idea to expect this! Why does nobody talk about this??

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      Mouse
      28 Sep 2019
      8:07am

      I think you have to tune out all the “advice” about what looks good, esp. about showing your shape, which usually means showing your waist. I never liked doing that even when I had a waist to show, so it’s easier for me as I get older. (I’ve been wearing Eileen Fisher since I was in my 20s.) Change your ideas about shape, and now is a good time to do it as fashion is going through an architectural phase instead of a body-con phase. I wear lots of leggings or slim pants on the bottom and large things with interesting shapes on top. I want to be free to move. Interesting shoes will help too. It can actually be incredibly liberating…..

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    Mae
    27 Sep 2019
    5:01pm

    I’m 60. If I’d spent as much time thinking about global issues as I’ve spent thinking about how to lose weight, I’d be President of the United States right now.

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      Dana D
      27 Sep 2019
      7:56pm

      Mae…I wish you were president of the united states right now!

      And I love all of the honesty here…starting with your transparency Kim. I also love NOT menstruating, so I’m just trying to go along with the other stuff. Yes, don’t like the belly situation or the fact that old ways of maintaining weight no longer work…but golly, I was SO tired of trying be a positive feminist every month when the blood came…just so, so tired of it…

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      Mamavalveeta03
      27 Sep 2019
      8:16pm

      You just made me guffaw loudly!

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    Annie
    27 Sep 2019
    5:02pm

    For all you GOACA who are lamenting your new shapes (more to love, I say) there is a 48 hour sale at Eileen Fisher. xoxo

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    Jennie
    27 Sep 2019
    5:10pm

    I found my tribe. Thank you all for your frank honesty, starting with you Kim. I sailed into 40s fit and then came the weight gain. I am scared. I put on a solid 12-20 that will not budge (will be 46 in Feb) and I want to be at my healthiest. I decided to have a baby when I was bit older (almost 39) and I want to be healthy and here for a very long tine. I have had to let many beloved articles of clothing go and working out seems to feel more and more difficult physically despite the fact that I enjoy it and am committed to it. I am scared because if this is happening now, what will menopause bring? My Dr. does not seem to really be hearing my concerns – more of the “good job, you are maintaining your weight” when I want to scream, “Keep scrolling and check out 2017!”

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    Anna
    27 Sep 2019
    5:42pm

    It is SO good hearing you all talk about what is usually taboo…weight gain in middle age. I’ve put on about 15 pounds in 5 years (I’m 66) and it is NOT possible to lose it! I eat well, do Pilates, etc. Yes, I like wine, but hey…life’s too short, etc. and by the way, I work with eating disorders so I do know about nutrition and the science about weight. Please don’t shoot the messenger, but there is NO evidence that weight loss is sustainable after 5 years. Yes, anyone (many people) can diet and lose weight….but it comes back. Plus. And now in menopause, I can’t lose it at all. There, I’ve said it: I’m destined to be in this larger body. And….so are many of you. So Kim, please write a post….or many….on what looks good when you’re larger. And especially those of us shorties where the weight really shows. So for all of us….we have to learn to accept ourselves and our bodies at this higher weight. Constant self-flagellation and self-blame and attempts at dieting are NOT helpful! I’m not going to tell you to love your cellulite and the spare tire that suddenly appeared above my waist last year..but it’s the only body you have. As a cancer survivor, that means something. Learn to accept, dress well, and live life to its fullest.

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      Viajera
      28 Sep 2019
      5:14pm

      Truth be told (mine anyway) … I feel like focusing on weight and numbers are a distraction. I’m more interested in how people feel, their energy level, and whether or not they are able to do the activities they want, than in the scale number. Though, I think a scale number can be helpful for directional-indicator purposes. My most recent bout with flab started before I had noticed, and I should’ve maybe been paying more attention. Beyond that, I think it matters what is being gained or lost – muscle v flab. *** Which isn’t to argue with you at all … I do get the impression that that is what the research says. Still, it seems to me that about 95% of research focuses on pounds, which mean little to me. Too, I am just a schmoe who reads about studies in the paper. And I won’t say that getting older doesn’t have downsides. **** With all that, I think we can still reject fatalism and self-hatred. Our bodies may all be different even with things in common, the science isn’t going to help us any time soon, and health is not the same as thinness. Muscle and energy – these are the things I want more of. I’ve always been overweight and … I’m not sure it has bothered me that much. Feeling yucky does though.

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    Melynda
    27 Sep 2019
    6:17pm

    Glad to see I’m in such good company! I’m 56 (!) and post-menopausal. I was wondering if you could do a post for those of us whose weight gain has come above the waist. If you’d told my 18-year-old, flat-chested self that I’d be a 38D at my age — and that I’d be complaining about it! — she would have flipped over backwards. But it’s a royal pain. I can’t wear button-down shirts anymore. Jackets don’t fit right. And a lot of things just look matronly. If you could do a post for the ample-chested, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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      patricia blaettler
      28 Sep 2019
      10:51am

      I just told a friend recently that I think mine grow in my sleep. I’m now wearing an F cup and I’m only 5’1″. Not ideal.

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      Karen
      29 Sep 2019
      1:56pm

      I was wondering if anyone else’s breasts were at least half the source of their menopausal weight gain! Topping out at 38D as well, makes me look much fatter than I am, since my hips are still fairly slim. Very difficult to buy flattering clothes, it’s a daily struggle to be happy with my appearance.

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    bonnie
    1 Oct 2019
    11:27am

    I’m late to this party but so grateful for the post and the comments! Menopause three years ago, happily remarried to a man who cooks (!) five years ago and quit smoking six years ago. Hyperthyroid (oh how I miss the energy), then went hypo in the last throes of perimenopause. Would anyone be surprised to see 20 extra pounds? (TBH, almost + 30 from the “peri-divorce” era of size 0/2.) In writing this, it almost makes me grateful for the weight, since it seems like it’s a trophy from some pretty turbulent times.

    Intermittent fasting and cutting refined carbs are changing the way I feel and getting the weight down. I don’t want “before,” but I do want “better.”

    I went into what felt like a pretty frumpy hole for a bit. It was even a change in mental attitude – I seemed to want to fade/blend into the background and not stand out, not look good. Part of the “transition” with menopause? Anyone else with that?

    I wouldn’t trade where I am, but… I do miss the clothes and the days when everything looked good. Now, the meno-boobs are always in the way, eliminating many of the GOACA picks that look so great on others. I’m embracing the flowy but with the boobs, it’s hard not to look tenty. Any suggestions there would be much appreciated.

    Thanks for opening this honest space to vent and embrace the change 🙂

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    HickfromStyx
    1 Oct 2019
    11:45am

    Yeah, I’ve been through this, a dramatic weight gain over six months, with no change in eating habits: hyperparathyroidism, in my case.

    Hyperparathyroidism is one of those health issues that affects women disproportionately, especially around menopause. Check your blood calcium and parathyroid hormone levels after 50.

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    Mae
    29 Sep 2019
    4:06pm

    I joined the YMCA four months ago and started going to a “gentle yoga” class 2 or 3 times a week at 10:00 a.m. (I’m retired). Ladies, it has changed my life! The instructors are post-menopausal women with the typical thickened torsos, but holy smokes are they STRONG!! The class is 90% women of a certain age, and it’s just incredibly uplifting to be around people who are taking good care of themselves. We all walk outta there glowing. I’ve been working out my whole life (honestly), and yoga makes me feel better than anything else ever has. I’m getting stronger by the week!!!!

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    Mimi
    27 Sep 2019
    8:56pm

    I’m afraid if I truthfully comment here from my experience I’ll be stoned, but I’ll try to do so delicately. Yes, women come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve watched many friends gain weight and have it redistribute from perimenopause and beyond. My hormones went wacky in my early 50s, when I was in peri. I gained some weight and my boobs swelled up. But by my late 50s my weight was under control again. I’m 71 now and for the last 5-7 years I’ve been thinner than at any time in my life, including high school, almost 15 pounds less than when I thought I was just fine as a size 6. Being retired affords me more time for vigorous exercise, which makes me happy, but it’s really about what I put in my mouth, which is not much. I feel better when I eat clean and small amounts, but I’m sure many GOACA’s wouldn’t want to exist on my diet. I sometimes think being able to wear clothes I love is my reaction to aging, like guys who buy sports cars and spend too much time at the gym. I think you have to decide what matters most to you – enjoying food and wine while you love yourself and appreciate that others love you, or looking good in clothes that require a flat stomach, small hips and a waist. (Actually, the latter choice doesn’t mean you don’t have love or self-love.) I weigh myself every morning on a balance beam scale, the kind they have in doctor’s offices. And if I creep up more than 3 pounds I cut back. I know I’m obsessive about my weight, but there are so many things about aging that suck. At least I’ve kept the weight ogre at bay in a way that works for me. That’s my choice, and not one I’d push on anyone. I appreciate that medications and chronic conditions can work against you, but it is possible to be old, fit and not fat.

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      Mary
      29 Sep 2019
      1:27pm

      Hopefully I won’t be stoned either but I’ve never been so thin in my life, at the age of fifty. I’m 5’ 5” and 120 pounds. And yes, I know exactly what it’s like to be overweight – I was constantly on a diet in my younger years! There are many, many opinions but in addition to fashion obsession, I’m also incredibly interested in nutrition and own pretty much every book under the sun. So what has finally worked for me is a low-fat plant-based diet. I eat far fewer calories than I used to (a necessity at this age) but I’m never hungry because the fibre fills you up. So a big no to the Keto diet for me. I don’t believe in high-protein, high fat or giving up carbs. And I feel fantastic! Loads of energy. To each his own and I’ve no doubt many will disagree with me but I thought I’d share my story.

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        D.Morgendorffer
        30 Sep 2019
        12:58pm

        I’m really glad y’all both figured out choices that work for y’all, and even more importantly in my opinion, y’all are enjoying yourselves. When speaking to a group, I’ve been known to say, you’re only doing ________ wrong if you’re not having any fun.

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          Mary
          30 Sep 2019
          1:16pm

          True enough! And I love food so I have no intention of behaving myself all the time.

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      Susanna
      27 Sep 2019
      11:42pm

      Please be careful… I have two aunts who were told to keep their weights down for health reasons (both supposedly pre-diabetic) as they were in their late 60s/early 70s. One ended up literally wasting away, and once she realized her doc’s recs were extreme she couldn’t recover. She died at age 79 weighing about 80 poinds. The other aunt (currently age 71) isn’t quite as thin but hasn’t been able to regain the 15 pounds she lost, which she really needs. I have put on 30 pounds since menopause and I don’t like it, but I believe that going into old age with at least a 10 to 15 pound surplus is far healthier than not, despite the wounds to personal vanity.

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    Elisa
    27 Sep 2019
    9:23pm

    I too have fallen prey to the midlife (if I live to be 120 years old!) middle-of-the-body weight gain. Has anyone here talked about undergarments? I find a nice pair of high waisted French cut underpants with some stretch make me feel much better – I like the Wacoal b smooth brief (although not cotton). Also, I tend to wear a camisole with some smoothing and toning–I actually like the ones from Shapermint (the company with the ads on Facebook of women putting on a girdlelike Granny panty over their stomach fat), or Maidenform or Spanx or Yummie. I just feel more something–secure? smooth? more better???

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    Heidi
    27 Sep 2019
    11:20pm

    Oh, me too! I’ve been busy studying for a board certification exam for months now and just didn’t think about all the snacking I was doing late into the night while studying (studying replacing all my workout time). That is, until I started not being able to fit into my work clothes… Two more weeks until the test and I plan to start working out again, but I’ve had to cut back on the snacking and the wine. Because I don’t have time to go shopping for new clothes and not thrilled about my new spare tire, chunky thighs and large thighs. I get what people say about women needing to love their bodies but I feel so foreign in this one right now. Glad I’m not the only one struggling.

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    Melaine Hennessey
    28 Sep 2019
    1:59am

    Can we make an accountability group? All eat less/work out more/post updates and try to lose it together? Is that dorky? I’m 55 and put on about twenty five pounds in the last few years. It’s menopause and taking care of my triplets. Just eating differently than I used to. Mine just started kindergarten (yes, I had triplets when I was 49) this year and I’m getting back in the gym so I’m hopeful that will help.

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      Mindy
      28 Sep 2019
      9:43am

      I lost 30 in a FB accountability group a few years ago and when I left it, the weight crept back on. We posted our weights every Friday morning and assessed where and why we succeeded and failed. We also posted full body pictures of ourselves, so we could monitor and see our progress (so important!). We somehow managed to find the balance between being blunt, honest and encouraging, but not coddling or shaming. It was great.

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    liz
    28 Sep 2019
    8:35pm

    I am a fan of Everlane shirtdresses

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About

Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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