skinny jeans don’t lie

Skinny jeans1

I’ve had a sneaking suspicion lately. Each time I’ve pulled on my skinny jeans the past couple of weeks, they’ve felt a little more snug than usual. Just a bit tighter around my calves and ever so slightly around my waist. But without my trusty scale which I left behind in North Carolina, I’ve just had to believe my husband wasn’t accidentally putting my jeans in the dryer.

It was just a matter of time before I stumbled upon a scale though. There in the locker room of my husband’s tennis club after a sweaty workout, with an empty stomach and wearing hardly more than a sports bra and shorts, my suspicions were confirmed.

The damage is minimal -three pounds or so- but let’s be honest, skinny jeans aren’t at all forgiving.

This got me thinking. I’ve gone through a few major life changes lately. I got married, moved to a new city and started a new job, all of which have impacted either my eating or exercising habits.

Having a Husband

My single girl ritual of grabbing a slice of pizza or having a bowl of cereal for dinner on nights I’m not particularly hungry are few and far between these days. The hubs and I eat dinner together most nights of the week, regardless of my appetite. We hit up a new restaurant almost every weekend and thoroughly enjoy our bacon and french toast for Sunday brunch. Rob’s also a dessert fanatic. So on top of my afternoon chocolate fix, I’m also now having a small dessert with him most evenings. That’s a lot of eating I never had reason to do before we started living together.

Moving to San Francisco

One of the first things I did after moving to North Carolina was join a gym. Well, it’s been nearly five months and I still have not joined a gym here in San Francisco. Hopefully that’ll be changing soon, once our office relocates. The frequency of my workouts hasn’t changed but the types of workouts I’m doing has. I used to split my workouts evenly between the gym, running and went to power yoga once a week. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of running –neighborhood runs, runs to and from the park with a mix of pushups, lunges and squats, runs with new friends, and weekend hikes with the hubs. I admit, I haven’t been back to yoga since you-know-what happened. Aside from a few pushups and lunges, there’s little to no weight lifting in my routine anymore. There’s also no stair climbers, stationary bikes or rowing machines, all things that tone and strengthen different muscles.

Finding my Dream Job

It’s been a couple of years since I spent forty hours per week sitting behind a desk but back in May, that all changed when I got my dream job. I grab lunch with coworkers a couple times per week, usually a steak burrito with tortilla chips but occasionally a fancy sandwich with salt and vinegar potato chips. And then there’s those those Sea Salt Brownies in my desk drawer. Yeah, I’ve definitely been double dipping on occasion lately. They’re a little too good to resist!

Here’s the bottom line, it all adds up. Actually, I’m quite impressed it’s only added up to a few pounds. But still, nothing irritates me more than overly snug, designer skinny jeans. Some things will be going back to the way they were.

  • About that husband: I quite like my husband so instead of getting rid of him, I’m going to allow myself the single-girl weeknight dinner and let hubs fend for himself when I’m not particularly hungry. I’m going to get back in the habit of limiting my portions and taking home leftovers from restaurants. As for those after-dinner desserts, I think I’ll watch the hubs enjoy his evening treat and just have mine mid-afternoon when I crave it.
  • On being gymless: The day we know our new location, I’m joining a gym and hitting the weights. Until then, I’m going to dust off my 5-pounders and put them in plain view so I can do a few minutes of strength work after my morning runs.
  • And at work: I’m going to log 2 miles per day at the treadmill workstation and bring my lunch 3 days per week. I will limit my sea salt brownie intake to 2, 100-calorie squares per day. Some things I’m just not willing to give up but I can work on practicing self-control. I’m also going to start logging my food to get a better idea of where my calories come from and what nutrients I might not be getting enough of.

I know if I make these small, easy changes now my skinny jeans will gradually loosen up. I also won’t have to falsely blame my husband for putting my jeans in the dryer anymore. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.

On extra snug skinny jeans: How do you keep tabs on maintaining your weight? Are you a habitual scale hopper or do your clothes tell you all you need to know? What small changes to your diet and workouts helped you feel more comfortable in your clothes?

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  • Losing weight and keeping it off is about 80 percent diet or how you eat. You have to eat with a purpose and small changes gradually over time. Exercise especially weight training will change your physiology.
    The more muscle on your body the more calories your body burns. Eat most of your carbs ealier in the day and with protein and fiber which will slow down the carbohydrate digestion. Stop snacking all the time. When your hungry eat a meal and balanced one with good healthy choices. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and stop eating at a reasonable time like 7p.m and at least a 12 hour break before the next meal. It’s all about making smart choices, meal timing and trying to improve with herbs spices, vitamins and some supplements. If your serious about change, then you have to try to improve what your doing in meals, supplementation and exercise, possibly HITT training which is more efficient for cardio and calorie burn. Exercise doesn’t burn fat it burns calories. It all takes time asyou change your bodies physiology.

  • It’s always my clothes that out me after a naughty weekend of indulgence. My weight fluctuates quite a lot so I’ve given up on going by what the scale says. If I know I’ve over indulged I’ll make sure I plan my meals and snacks for the following week and throw in an extra Spin or Zumba class. It soon get you back on track!

  • Oh tell me about it sista! It’s bloody painful having a partner when you are trying to be fit and healthy. I was used to toast for dinner, a can of soup, or veggies from the microwave…. Now it proper wholesome dinners…. Or if we go out, of course I am always going to bloody well get the healthy steak burger with not-so-healthy chips. FML.

    I don’t jump on the scales ever, but I damn well know when I look down at the belly first thing in the morning. if I can see my little tattoo on my navel clearly, I know I am doing good. If it seems a little on an angle… I know I need to work on it. :-/

  • I recently lost 30 lbs and I do get on the scale every morning primarily because it reinforces my crazy hours (I workout at 5a) to get motivated. I started eating very clean (no processed or refined sugars) and eventually lost my taste for meat. I’m now dabbling in eating fish (first time at 41) and I really like the way I look and feel. Clothes are the ultimate judge of weight. Marriage, moving and a new job… you’ve gotten hit with three huge changes. Give yourself a breather and then get back to the gym to restart. That will burn great calories, build muscle and give you some time to release any pent up stress or anxiety you have. Good luck!

  • Clothes are always the best judge for me, more so than a scale. I find that when I’m building muscle my clothes are a much better judge — since the scale usually goes up. It’s especially telling at work when the uniform lady hands me a size bigger pants.. now THATS a wake up call.

    I never knew you were robbed on the way to yoga… the other day I had a guy try to grab a bottle of wine out of my purse on the bus (I was going to a housewarming party), and it was terrifying. I don’t blame you for being traumatized by the experience.

    Your brownie in moderation policy is great. I love to bake, but I try not to because all I do is eat what I bake all at once.. I have to work on moderation, but I also have to work on getting more exercise in.

  • I think clothes are way better judge than a scale. When losing large amounts, I think a scale is needed, but you’ve got water weight and muscle to take into account. My clothes just look better on me now and I feel way better that I’m down a size, but the scale isn’t telling me that!!

  • Lol, I love your comment “i quite like my husband” so cute! But yes, it was small changes that got your jeans a little too skinny, so it will be small changes to get them back. Good for you for noticing!


  • I hear ya on tighter skinny jeans not being very comfortable. Glad you’ve found a new method of attack to get you to where you want to be. I gained weight when I moved across the country, it was so stressful that I ate my feelings. It’s rough! I’m still trying to lose that extra… I’ve been logging my food & counting calories with a site that you know well – It helps keep me accountable & I eat far less junk.

  • I read one runner’s advice about getting married and weight and she said the biggest thing to remember is that you do not east as much as your spouse so just because he is snacking, doesn’t mean you should!

    On the flipside, I had a humorous experience trying to change into skinny jeans in a car after a long hike… oy.

  • I don’t weight myself, the clothes say it all. I gained weight when we got married too. It’s because he wanted foods I’d normally not eat in the house but since they were available I’d eat them. I started eating a different dessert than him and giving him more dinner than me by far. Joining a gym has been huge for us because we’ll keep each other accountable. Marriage is a learning process and the eating is just part of it, we’re still figuring it out :)

  • I had a very similar revelation lately but unfortunately my gain was 17 pounds, to be exact. This is partially the cause of living with my husband, getting comfortable while being married and struggling with my workout/commute schedule. These are all things I can adjust so that’s what I’m working on. :)

  • Haha, sounds too good to be true, right? Here’s the sad truth, they’re cut into 1″ squares. And LoseIt is one of our biggest competitors… I’m the RD at MyFitnessPal so you can guess what app I’ll be using! ;)

  • Thank you for such a inspirational and eye opening post! Three years into marriage and one baby later I have gained about 8 pounds. Your post made me finally identify the different habits that have contributed to the weight gain.. Instead of focusing on just losing the weight it made me look at what behaviors I need to adjust. It is also wonderful to hear from an RD that you can fit in treats on a daily basis !

  • I used to be obsessive about the scale, but then I realized the scale doesn’t mean anything if I’m already eating right and working out. Now, I just rely on how my clothes fit and really just how I *feel* about myself. Some days are still tough, but I always remind myself that I am a healthy person!

  • Marriage did the same thing to me… But not at the price of two pounds. More like 10. And it took a few really bad pictures and being sick of the ugh feeling in my gut to knock myself out of the funk.

    I’ve lost 13 pounds and am happy with the way I feel, but really love feeling cute in my clothes. So I’ve tossed the scale and am focusing less on the number and more on my body. My clothes won’t grow or shrink (unless my husband does the laundry), so I’ll let them keep me remembering where I’m at.

    It took me months to realize that I can’t (and don’t need to) eat at the same rate and ratio as my 6 foot, 180 pound husband. His caloric needs vastly differ from those of my 5 foot, 130 pound self. It was hard to come to terms with at first, but then I see my progress pictures and feel my clothes fitting nicely and it doesn’t matter that much. :)

    • All photos have potential to be unflattering but you’re right, they can highlight a few extra curves that have developed gradually over time! And I’m not sure why but I have to have the same size portion as my husband. Perhaps it was having grown up with a hungry older brother who would beat me to going back for seconds and leave nothing for his little sis? If there’s anything left when I’m done, the hubs is always happy to clean my plate though!

  • I feel ya on the husband thing (mine is a boyfriend). Mine looooves ice cream, and whenever he has some I want some, too! Sometimes I have to remember that just because he’s eating it doesn’t mean I have to. Great post!

    • I hear ya. I’ve never kept ice cream in the house. It’s something I enjoy going out for occasionally much more, but since getting married we’ve had a giant tub in the freezer that I’ve occasionally dipped into!

  • Funny I have 2 different types of skinny jeans- one type that is still a denim jean, but more legging like and it will totally lie and give me a weight leeway. The other kind only fit me if I’m in tip top shape and even then they get unbuttoned on the way home from dinner (classy, right?). It’s hard not to cave into what the boy is eating, esp. when he can eat and eat and eat and the scale might actually go down (what??).

  • Elle, like many have also said, I really love the honesty in your post. I don’t currently own a scale and haven’t for some time, so I definitely rely on how my clothes fit to gauge how healthy/unhealthy my lifestyle habits have been lately. I think it’s wonderful that you are focused on getting back on track and making small changes to do so. Being aware of what you’d like to adjust is half the battle. Most importantly, thanks for portraying balance by not cutting out all the things that make eating/life fun… brownies, dinners out, etc.

  • this is the struggle I go through each day. My boyfriend never gains an ounce while me, just looking at the dessert will gain 2 pounds. I have been taking baby steps, working out as much as I can and eat salads/fruits for lunch to balance out heavy dinner and desserts. Also, I just want to remind you after reading some other readers comment, we all have our happy weight we are comfortable and sometimes even if its 1 or 3 pounds or if clothes doesnt fit you right- its kind of upsetting. I am so proud of your positive small baby steps.

    • I totally agree. We all have a weight that we feel comfortable at. I went through a particularly tough time a few years back and fell a few pounds BELOW my happy weight which definitely bothered me more than being a few over! It was a wake-up call that I needed to focus on eating better, sleeping more and taking care of myself, physically and emotionally. Everyone carries weight differently. Whether it’s 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 pounds that makes us aware we want to make some changes doesn’t really matter. What matters is being in-tune and making small adjustments to get back to that comfortable place.

  • I honestly was a little sad reading your post today. The focus on weight worries me. I understand wanting to maybe not just eat a full meal when you’re not hungry or not mindlessly eat extra brownies at your desk, but the way you framed it around weight being something negative upset me a bit. Even more so because you’ve only gained about 3 pounds. Three pounds from “normal” life events. Three pounds can even just happen in the flux and flow of day to day life (even from being on your period!). I would encourage you to focus more on the lifestyle and habits, rather than the weight. Someone who hasn’t gained three pounds could be exhibiting unhealthy behaviors as well as someone who has. :)

    • Thank you, thank you for saying this. Look, no one likes it when their jeans feel tight, but it’s 3 pounds! Elle, you are obviously very fit and healthy, and I would much rather read your other positive and healthy posts than one that is so negative about gaining a few pounds. It’s encouraging to read a post with a new healthy recipe or about a great workout. It’s totally discouraging to read a post with a picture of the belly of a slim, toned, healthy woman harping on her weight gain.

    • Oh no! Sorry if this post upset you. It’s actually less about weight than it is being in tune with my body. I did try to focus on my lifestyle changes and habits, good and not-so-good, but maybe that didn’t fully come across. At the end of the day, I wanted this post to be about how I’m adjusting to life’s changes. My focus is on making small, better choices to stay healthy and fit. Thanks so much for your honesty though!

  • I so admire the fact that you aren’t torturing yourself. Your plan is so sane and I love that. (I could never be one of those women who just gives up sugar. I need my chocolate fix!) I’ve been putting on a bit of extra weight recently, and while I’m perfectly happy with the events/things that are causing me to gain, I do need to reign everything in. I’m going to take a leaf out of your book and do it in a fashion that is simple but effective. Thanks for sharing your plan!

    • I could never completely give up sugar. Life without chocolate would be complete and utter torture. :)

  • Major life changes always take an impact on my physique. It’s hard when there is so much going on. Some things just take priority, and I can get lazy when it comes to working out when I get busy. I am very anti-scale. I know that a lot of people prefer to weigh themselves but I use my clothes to truly determine how I’m doing. I can’t ignore when something feels tight or pulls more than usual. When this starts to happen, I usually just take it as a wake up call to step up the workouts, refocus my eating habits and maybe skip that glass of wine or beer at the end of the night. It’s hard to balance it all but it’s a good reminder to be nice to my body and in turn it will be nice to me.

    • Exactly! I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the crazy, past five months -all of the celebrations, dinners, desserts, and glasses of champagne that goes along with getting married, starting a new job and moving to a new city. I don’t regret it for a bit but I’m excited to setting in to a new, usual routine. :)

  • I use my clothes about 80% of the time but do a bi-weekly check of the scale. I can always feel it in my body if it creeps up a few pounds. I have to agree with the single girl dinners…I have been with my husband for 11 years and married for 6. Along with having teenage children in the house I find myself cooking about 3-4 nights during the week. But if I’m not feeling hungry, I’ll grab a salad and enjoy the company. On other nights, its fend for yourselves. Funny…no one ever seems to starve with out dinner being made!

  • I go through phases without scale and phases with scale. I think whenever there is a major lifestyle change (moving, moving in, new jobs, having kids, or all of it) there is also an adjustment period that also includes watching eating habits that either lead to slow weight gain (or weight loss). Once the eating habits are ‘adjusted’ to the new situation so that the weight stays stable the scale-less phase starts again.
    Scales can have quite a large variation on how accurate they are, so a 3 pound difference might be just a measurement variation. The skinny jeans are indeed the more ‘reliable’ measure :-)

  • I love how real and honest this post is. But I also love that you’re not going cuh-razyyyy over a few pounds and still allowing yourself to your daily chocolate :) it’s great that you took several things into account. Clothing definitely tells me more than the scale, but sometimes they coincide.
    You’ll be fitting those skinny jeans perfectly in no time, Elle! :)

  • Elle, I am so glad you wrote this post! As a fellow RD, I feel like it’s not necessarily easy for dietitians to be open and honest about a few pounds of weight gain. I too recently went through some major life changes this year, including getting married, graduating with my MS, finishing my internship, and starting a part-time clinical job. So needless to say, some of my healthier habits, especially regular workouts, have suffered. My skinny jeans DEFINITELY do not fit like they did 6 months ago. I know what needs to be done to get back to my routine, it’s just a matter of taking those first few small steps. The first, which I finally did two days ago, was join a 24/7 gym that is literally 2 minutes from our house.

    All in all, I think it’s important to find that fine line between not beating ourselves up too much and not letting ourselves go with health/wellness/fitness. Again, I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate your honesty and openness on your blog….I do not know if I could be that brave! Keep these types of posts coming :)

    Olena :)

  • Good for you…identifying the root causes and making a channge. I weigh in pretty often to get a feel of where I’m at. This summer has been filled with more sweets for me. Time to get back on track.

  • I totally agree – this weekend as I was getting dressed, I realized that taking my focus off of healthy living this summer (to have some fun!) has had a bit of an effect on my waistline. I’m not beating myself up over it, but it’s time for a change if I want to rock my skinny jeans this fall!

  • I completely agree! Those dang skinny jeans are even better than a scale. I recently got married too and have gained a couple of pounds since then. I’m on board for the skinny-jean-eat-healthy train. :)

  • Timely post!

    Over the last six months or so I have gotten into some very, very bad habits. Think drinking a couple of bottles of wine a week, plus more if I’m socialising. Binging on calorific junky foods too often in front of the tv, buying my lunches at work, indulging in way too big portion sizes, doing little to no exercise. It’s just too easy to get in a rut of being lazy and thinking unhealthy foods are yummier.

    Like you, I felt my jeans getting too snug. I started the turn around gradually. About a month ago I started taking a daily vitamin supplement drink to make sure I was getting some extra vitamins and minerals. Then I started taking neighbourhood walks and last Saturday I got serious and decided to eat healthy foods for all of my meals and snacks. Since Saturday I’ve lost a pound or so so I think I’m doing something right!

    So my small changes at the moment are: tracking my calories and exercise on the My Fitness Pal app (totally didn’t click you worked with them until now!), trying to get some activity in most days (even if it’s just a walk), only drinking alcohol socially and not at home, eating breakfast consistently and focusing on my hunger cues. I only want to lose about four more pounds but from there I will be all about toning!

  • I had the same problem of sitting down to eat meals I wasn’t really hungry for. Especially when it’s just the two of us and he expects a real meal when he returns from work in the evening! I tend to just eat some of my meal and pick at it through the night, or make myself a smaller portion to begin with so I don’t end up eating for the sake of eating.