Zara

February 18, 2012

I’ve really come to love clothes shopping over the past year or so. For most of my adult life, shopping was a mandatory but embarrassing experience: I was way too large for most retailers, so my shopping was done at two nearby big & tall stores, and that wardrobe was complimented by catalog purchases.

Things started changing when the pounds started coming off. Once I no longer needed to shop at big & tall stores (an epiphany I celebrate in this blog post), the whole mall opened up to me, and now I have fun checking out stores and seeing what fits me and what I like. I’ve learned a lot, and they’re still tons to figure out. I already know that I tend to have good luck at Macy’s (most of the time), and that my favorite type of Levi’s are their 514s (slim straight). I’m still on the hunt for a good basic t-shirt with a flattering cut, a heavier fabric, and a reasonable price tag. I’ve also discovered what doesn’t work for me, and that information is just as valuable: I know some brands and labels that run short or are too narrow for my shoulders. And there are stores I used to frequent, like Gap (which I wore a lot of in high school), that just don’t interest me anymore.

What’s most fun, however, is walking into a store that I know nothing about and checking it out for the first time. I did this last summer in Seattle with a store called AllSaints Spitelfield, and it was a complete bust, but still fun. The other day, I did it again, with a store called Zara.

The first time I heard about Zara was a few weeks ago, when I met up with my friends Paul and Court at the Getty Center (an outing which yielded kickass ‘before’ and ‘current’ pictures that you can check out here). I complimented Paul on his shirt, which came from Zara, which is one of Paul’s go-to stores. Then, about a week ago, I complimented Tavi (ugh, yes, this is yet another blog post that Tavi figures into) on a sweater he was wearing, and that, too, came from Zara. It was time to check out Zara.

Zara is a Spanish retailer that only has about 25 stores in the US (and about a 1/4 of them are in southern California), but they’re all over Europe – actually, they’re in over 70 countries on 6 continents. They’re huge. The other day, Tavi and I went to the one in Pasadena, which is housed in an festively festooned storefront on Colorado Boulevard:

The men’s section is large, clean, and well organized:

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, so I wandered, and ended up pulling two large armloads of clothes to try on: pants, jeans, sweaters, t-shirts (maybe they’ll have the perfect basic T for me!). I picked up things at Tavi’s suggestion that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Generally, I liked the aesthetic: a nice mix between clean lines and fun details, with a lot of neutral colors and bold pops of color. I was reminded of the description Paul initially gave me of the store, which turned out to be pretty spot-on: H&M style at a Banana Republic price point. I also noticed, from the get-go, that a lot of their offerings were slouchy and lacking in structure, which is not a flattering look on my body, but I reserved judgment until the dressing room.

The dressing room was illuminating. I learned, really quickly, that Zara is not the store for me. The textiles were a little thin and the European sizing was a little different, resulting in tops that, much to my chagrin, proudly showcased every roll of fat on my body. It was laughable how unflattering these clothes were: they clung like saran wrap, and I felt and looked like a sausage. I fared a little better with the pants – there was a pair of jeans that looked good. They were size 38″ (the largest size Zara makes), although they were the tightest 38″ I’ve ever tried on. They cost $80, and I’m not gonna spent that much on anything that I don’t absolutely love, and these jeans didn’t quite fall into the “love” category.

I was fine with completely striking out at Zara. I was curious about the store, and now I have my answer. I’ve since done a little reading about Zara, and their business model is kinda fascinating. They do no advertising whatsoever, and focus on clothes that are already trendy and popular, as opposed to trying to establish trends of their own. They can design a knock-off and have it in stores in 2 weeks, and if that item doesn’t sell within a week or two, they’ll yank it from the shelves. As a result, they’ll sell 10,000 unique items during a year-long span, compared to 2,000-4,000 items for their competitors. They’ve resisted outsourcing more than other companies, and claim that 75% of their clothes are made in Europe (mostly Spain). I recommend the Zara page on Wikipedia for an interesting primer on fashion retailing.

Zara’s not for me. Big deal. I’m not in the market at the moment for any clothes anyway, except workout pants, which I should be able to find easily at a discount store or on the sale rack at a sporting goods store.

Do you have any ideas for retailers that I can investigate next?

Keep it up, David!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Sportcoat Edition

February 8, 2012

A trip to the dry cleaners isn’t usually anything to get excited about, but I was geeked to go to the dry cleaners yesterday. And the dry cleaners didn’t disappoint! I wasn’t there to pick up a piece of clothing that had been cleaned. Nope – I was there to pick up an article of clothing that had been altered for me. To learn the rest of the story, we have to jump in a DeLorean and time travel 14 months into the past. Buckle up!

December 2010. My friend Laura’s wedding is fast approaching, and I have nothing to wear. I’m losing weight at a steady clip, and my one suit no longer fits. Alterations to every seam to make it fit would be costlier than buying new clothes, so I opt for the latter and hit the discount stores. With your input (thanks to a poll on this very blog), I buy a sportcoat (and pants, but this blog is more about the sportcoat). I go to Laura and Chad’s wedding, and have a fabulous time. Here I am with the bride:

Beautiful, right? And Laura looks amazing as well! HEY-O!

(Fun fact about Laura: She was one of the people who, way back in the day, encouraged me to start a blog in the first place, and for that I’ll always be grateful. I can’t wait, when I’m super famous and super wealthy, to screen her calls and pretend I don’t know her. Just kidding! Or am I?)

(Fun fact #2 about Laura: I don’t think she’ll mind me saying, but her weight has been all over the place in the past year, and that’s because a couple months ago she and Chad had a baby! Now she’s reading Keep It Up, David as a tool to help her lose the baby weight, and I have no doubt she’s gonna do it. And their baby, by the way, is adorable.)

January 2011. The ensemble in the above photo gets worn a second time, when I deliver the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral. I’m thankful that Laura’s wedding forced me to go shopping, because there was no time in my grandmother’s final days and during the prepping for the funeral for me to make it to the mall.

February 2011. The ensemble gets worn a third time, at a fundraising gala for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. I’m working the event as a volunteer, and my friend Nicolette walks up to me at the gala, looks me up and down, and says something to the effect of: “You look very nice, David, but I think your jacket may be a little big.” The jacket is two months old at this point, although I have lost weight during those two months. I take the entirety of Nicolette’s comment as a compliment, and smile. A big shit-eating grin. I love shrinking out my clothes!

We’re done time traveling. Back to present day. A full year has gone by, and I’ve had no occasion to wear formal clothes (which is not abnormal in casual Los Angeles). This year’s gala for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is approaching, and I’m volunteering again (I still have community service hours to work off for punching that cop). Last week, I take the sportcoat to my cleaners, which has a slew of tailors on-site. The tailor ends up removing a couple inches of fabric from the sides. Wanna see me in the jacket now?

This is what I’m wearing to the gala, from head to toe.

Let’s talk sizes! I’m not wearing the same pants to the gala this year that I wore last year. Last year’s pants were 40″ around the waist, but I got a great new pair as a Christmas present (thanks, Mom and Dad!), so I’ll be wearing those this year, and they’re 38″ (I fit into both 36″ and 38″ pants right now, depending on brand and cut).

Even more exciting: The jacket is a 48″ Long – although not after it was taken in! My previous suit jacket was a 54″ Long – check it out:

I hate this photo – I look like Kevin on The Office, but with more hair – but it’s the only one with that suit.

And the piece de resistance: The suit I wore at my heaviest, in July 2009, to the wedding of my friends Lisa and Matt in New Jersey. This suit is size 64″ Long, and it was ordered from a catalog – even big and tall stores don’t carry suits that big.

The number in suit sizing refers to the distance, in inches, around the widest part of your chest, doesn’t it? So, my advanced math skills tell me that a drop from 64″ to 48″ in suit size reflects a loss of 16 INCHES around my chest (and now a little bit more than that, thanks to my jacket getting taken in). WHOA!

Keep It Up, David!

Check out My Favorite Posts for all the Incredible Shrinking Clothes blogs – this is the ninth one!


Year Three

January 23, 2012

This post completely snuck up on me. For some reason, I had it set in my head that I would be writing this post later in the week. And then yesterday, I realized that it was January 22nd. Which means that today is January 23rd. Today is my anniversary.

Two years ago, on January 23rd, 2010, I met with Richard Simmons, who offered to help me lose weight. He had me start keeping a food log that he looked over every week, keeping me accountable for what I put in my mouth. It was the beginning of my effort to lose weight.

January 23rd, 2010 marks a number of of other important beginnings: the beginning of my friendship with Richard, the beginning of a focus on health and wellness unparalleled by any other period in my life, the beginning of an attitude shift towards confidence and self-appreciation. I can see this date whenever I want, because it’s at the start of my weight loss chart – the very chart that shows that since January 23rd, 2010, I have lost 166 pounds.

I was recently thinking about some big hypothetical what ifs. What if I hadn’t taken Richard Simmons up on his offer? What if I had continued to believe that my body was never going to change? What if I hadn’t challenged my own engrained notions that I could never successfully lose weight?

These what ifs led to a depressing series of visions: me, heavier than ever, sitting around, surrounded by junk food wrappers. Me, walking into a big & tall store for the umpteenth time, seeing all the same clothes over and over again, knowing exactly what I’ve already tried on. Me, continuing to slowly isolate myself from the people that love me, continuing to convince myself that I wasn’t worthy of their attention.

But you know what? They’re just visions. There is no alternate universe where I’m lounging on the couch, chocolate smeared on my face, screening my calls. And you know why? Because I took those first steps, on January 23rd, 2010, and it was hard and I was scared, but I kept looking forward. I kept moving forward, finding new ways to be healthier and implementing them, continuing to exercise and push myself like I’ve never done before.

And look where I am now. It’s the beginning of my third year on this track, and I look and feel like a completely different person. One of the things I’ve heard on multiple occasions, from the people in my life that have known me for years and years, is that they don’t recognize me in old photos anymore. They don’t remember the 400-pound body I used to have.

What I find exciting is that the same thing is beginning to happen to me. That guy, in those photos, is starting to seem foreign. The memories of struggling to get in and out of a low-riding car or feeling winded after walking up a hill are fainter, and evaporating more and more each month. It’s exhilarating, because it means that all this effort and determination is really sticking. I’m proving to myself, with every passing day, that this isn’t some fluke or some miraculous spurt of good health. It’s evidence that I’ve changed my life.

That change began on one day: January 23rd, 2010. Today is January 23rd, 2012, and I challenge you to make today a new beginning. It doesn’t matter if this is Year 1 of trying to lose weight, or Year 3, or Year 33 – take this opportunity to start making changes. They can be small at first, or you can dive right in – but either way, make a change. You deserve more.

We’re only three weeks into this new year, but it doesn’t need to be January 1st to make a resolution. My resolution, that I reaffirm on every post of this blog all year long, is to keep it up.  I need to keep it up, because I love shopping for new clothes in increasingly smaller sizes. I need to keep it up, because I want as much time with my family and friends as I can get. I need to keep it up, because I know that the love of my life is out there somewhere, and I won’t find him if I’m holed up in my room feeling sorry for myself. I need to keep it up, because my life depends on it.

So that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. What about you?

Happy Anniversary, David. And…

KEEP IT UP, DAVID!


From The Archives…

December 16, 2011

Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday, folks. I really appreciate it. I’m feeling better today, but not 100% yet. The sneezing and the runny nose seem to have largely disappeared, but I’m still achy and my throat is still sore and I still feel tired, so… I. Am. Still. Sick.

Blerg.

I was digging through the Keep It Up, David archives and I came across a recurring post I used to put together, where I would get creative with the big & tall catalogs that came to my house. Basically, I would create comic strips using the photographs from the catalog. They were called “Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama” – clever, huh? I used to get a catalog at least once a week, which provided plenty of material for these comic strips, but then I called each company and had myself removed from their mailing lists, and, well, “Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama” fell by the wayside.

It’s been over a year since I published a “Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama” post, and they were kinda popular in their day. Since I’ve barely left the house in two days and have nothing interesting to write about, I thought I could send you all into the weekend with a few laughs, if you happen to like my strange sense of humor. If you don’t happen to like my strange sense of humor, well then fuck you.

Sorry, that’s the DayQuil talking. Here are the links to all five installments of “Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama.” Enjoy!

Now my brain is churning about new ways in to interject some humor into this blog…

Keep it up, David!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Jeans Edition

September 7, 2011

I’ve covered lots of different types of clothing in the “My Incredible Shrinking Clothes” series on this blog, from my swimsuits to my dress shirts (all six prior editions are archived on the My Favorite Posts page), but today’s post is about one of the most popular types of clothing that can be found in nearly everyone’s closet…

…JEANS.

Usually, these posts include a photo of a piece of clothing that I wore at my heaviest, which I compare to clothing I can fit into now, but this post is a little different, because I don’t have any pairs of jeans from when I was at my heaviest.  It may be hard to believe, but for a span of close to a decade, I didn’t wear jeans at all.  I didn’t even own a pair.

At some point in college I stopped liking jeans.  As my waistline expanded, I found them less and less comfortable.  Meanwhile, the pants in my closet that I grew to favor most had one thing in common: elastic waistbands.

Oh, elastic waistband, how I loved you!  You made my life so easy.  I never had to pay attention to my actual pants size, because elastic waistband pants aren’t sold by the number, they’re sold in basic Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large sizes.  I was a 3XL.  Plus, elastic waistbands are forgiving after junk food binges – you never have to worry about not fitting into them the next day.

As my love and reliance on elastic grew, my love for denim shrunk, and by the time I moved out to California after college, there was none left in my closet.  I found jeans with elastic waistbands at the big & tall store, but they were so goofy, unflattering, and ugly that I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing them.  So I went jeans-free.

By June 2010, I had lost around 80 pounds, and the thought started percolating in my brain that maybe it was time to buy my first pair of jeans in a looooong time.  Despite my 80-pound loss, I was still too big to shop at major retailers, so I went to the big & tall store and started trying jeans on.  I found a pair that fit that were 46″ around the waist.  A few months later, I was able to buy 44s.  A few months after that, I bought my first pair of 42s, and the bigger sizes ended up in the donation bin at Goodwill.  And so on.

Lately I’ve been noticing that my current jeans are a little looser, and then all my friends on the kayaking trip I went on last month came to the consensus that my jeans were just too big.  That’s when I started trying on jeans, and realizing that I was fitting into jeans that were one size smaller.  That’s an amazing feeling, by the way.  Even though smaller jeans were fitting, I wasn’t finding any that were quite right for me:  the cut wasn’t flattering, I wasn’t nuts about the finish or color, there was some other detail or stitching that bothered me.

The other day I went shopping with my mom, and I finally ended up coming home with a new pair of jeans.  It’s my first new pair in about 6 months, and yep, they’re a new smaller size.

Ladies and Gentlemen, take a look at my SIZE 36″ JEANS!

They’re Levi’s 514 jeans, waist 36″; length 32″.  514 jeans are called Slim Straight, which means the jeans are slim cut through the butt and thigh, but have a straight leg.  They’re comfortable, and even though you can’t see it in the picture, they make my ass look good!

While fitting into 36″ jeans is certainly a notable milestone by itself, there’s a greater milestone that I must mention.  Even though I wore elastic pants almost exclusively before I started losing weight, I went to a wedding two summers ago that required the purchase of a new suit.  The suit pants that I bought were size 56″ waist.  That’s right, folks…

…I’ve lost TWENTY INCHES around my waist!

Keep it up, David!


Platinum Card AND Another Pummelo

February 19, 2011

I got a little something in the mail the other day – a Platinum card.  While I do have good credit, it’s not a new Visa or MasterCard – it’s from Casual Male XL:

I’ve been a long-time member of Casual Male’s Rewards program – basically, every time I spent a couple hundred bucks there, I’d get a gift certificate for $10 to use on my next visit.  As Casual Male XL was one of the two Big and Tall stores in my area, I was getting those gift certificates a couple times a year.  Now, it seems, they’ve targeted me for a bigger, better Rewards program.  Apparently my spending habits make me an ideal candidate for their Platinum Prestige Program – at no cost to me! There’s just one problem – I’m done with Casual Male XL.  I stopped shopping there about 6 months ago (read my open letter to them after shopping there for the last time), because after losing so much weight, I found I could shop pretty much anywhere I wanted, which, by the way, is an incredible feeling after not being able to shop at many places at all for so many years.

I still get, however, mailings from Casual Male XL, and I’m still technically a member of their Rewards program, and I still get their catalogs.  I get lots of Big & Tall catalogs, from a bunch of retailers.  One arrives, on average, about once a week.  For a while I was using them to create a little humor on the blog (read all the Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama installments by going to My Favorite Posts and scrolling down), but now, I’m just getting sick of them.  Here’s my current catalog collection (which I was holding on to in case I wanted to use them somehow for the blog):

Bye-bye catalogs!  You have a hot date with the recycle bin in your future.  I’ve also added to my to-do list calling each company and removing myself from their mailing list.  I’m done with big and tall!  Done!

Moving on…

Earlier today I ate my second ever pummelo.  Earlier this month, I documented, on this blog, how I went about eating the first one (which was a process, but completely delicious), and I got great feedback from some of you about how you love pummelos, and I also got a suggestion I wanted to try, from Reinaldo.

Reinaldo is a fitness blogger in Chile, who has lost a bunch of weight and writes about his process.  While Spanish is his native language, he blogs in English, which he taught himself – very impressive!  Check out his blog here.  He suggested eating a pummelo this way:

Easier way to eat them tip: just slice it! Like you would slice a tomato into little “wheels”. Then dig in into the fruit’s meat with your mouth, and discard the outer ring. Messier (because of the juice), but a lot more faster and fun.

I bought another pummelo last week and decided to give it a go.  Here’s the pummelo after I started cutting it into wheels:

But that picture doesn’t really give you any sense of scale, so here’s one wheel, with my hand in the picture, too:

That’s a big pummelo!  The first couple pieces I ate like Reinaldo suggested – digging into the flesh with my teeth, standing over my sink, letting the juices dribble down my chin.  So tasty!  But I wanted to enjoy the rest while watching TV (because I watch a lot of TV), so I took a few more slices, cut around the inside of the outer peel to separate the peel from the flesh, and cut out the little core, too:  I put them on a plate (don’t they look pretty?), and you can see the peels in the background:

In total, I’d say I spent 5 minutes chopping apart this pummelo, compared to, I don’t know, 15 minutes the first time around?  I love a good time saver, so thank you Reinaldo!  I’ll be enjoying many more pummelos this way, I’m certain of it!

Keep it up, David!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Dress Shirt Edition

February 15, 2011

Time for another installment of My Incredible Shrinking Clothes! To see the previous installments, go to My Favorite Posts at the top of the page.

I was inspired to write this post this past weekend, because I had to dress up all fancy.  I was volunteering at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra‘s annual Concert Gala, which was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown LA (a frequent Oscar venue from the ’70s-’90s).  It was a formal affair, and I wore the only formal outfit I have right now, which is made up of elements I’ve blogged about before: the jacket you readers helped me pick out, the pants that I bought at the same time, and the dress shirt that I picked up last month before my grandmother’s funeral. 

When I was getting dressed for the Gala, I pulled out the wrong dress shirt by mistake – my old dress shirt, that fit me at my heaviest.  It stopped me dead in my tracks.  Wow, what a big shirt!  I knew I had to write an Incredible Shrinking Clothes post, and well, now I am!

Here’s both dress shirts:  The white one is the one I wore at my heaviest, and the blue one is the one that I wore just the other night:

I lined up the seams along the side of the shirts to fully show the difference.  I don’t exactly remember when I bought the white shirt, although I know I bought it at Casual Male XL, because I recognize the label, Comfort Zone, as being one of their lines.  I know I bought two suits (both from a catalog) in the 2 years prior to beginning my weight loss journey – each one for a different wedding.  I have a hunch I bought the white shirt in June 2009, before going to the Jersey Shore for the wedding of my friends Lisa and Matt.  Here’s a picture of me from that trip – I’m pretty sure this is the same shirt:

That was a really fun wedding, and here’s a fun fact that’s indicative of the way I used to eat:  I was in New Jersey for probably 48 hours max, and I distinctly remember going to Dunkin’ Donuts three times in those two days – and that each time was at a different Dunkin’ Donuts location.

Anyhoo – if you’re not familiar with how men’s shirts are sized, there are two numbers.  The white shirt is a 22 37/38, which means that the neck is 22 inches around, and the 37/38 refers to the length of the arm.  The bigger the neck number, than the wider the shirt will be.

The blue shirt is a 16 36/37, which means…  DRUM ROLL PLEASE!…   I’ve lost 6 inches around my neck!

I’ll leave you with a photo my friend Lacey took of me at the Concert Gala, before all the festivities began.

Keep it up, David!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 691 other followers