I Swore I’d Never Return to This Store Again. Here’s Why I Came Back, 8 Years Later

April 12, 2018

I hated clothes shopping when I was 400 pounds. I hated how much I had to look in mirrors, I hated the shame I felt every time I was bigger than the largest size available, I hated every step of the process. It was the worst.

At the time, I wore size 56 pants and either 3XL or 4XL shirts. Because of Read the rest of this entry »


Haircut and Haul

July 22, 2011

There were a couple things that happened yesterday that really made me feel good about myself – and after this tough week (with my three-pound gain), they couldn’t have come at a better time.

1) Haircut.  I warned you all last week that I was gonna get a haircut, and I got one!  I had Heather, my hair stylist, take before and after pictures, so here’s the before:

And the after:

Lookin’ sharp, right?  I love it.  I’ve trusted Heather at Glendale Salon Spa with my hair for years now, and she’s never let me down.  When I went up to the front desk to pay, Renee (the manager and quite possibly the owner – not sure) looked up from what she was doing and blurted out “Oh my god, you are so hot!”  That was my cue to start blushing.

Every once in a while, I catch an unexpected glimpse of myself – usually, it’s a reflection in a window or mirror, where, for a split second, I don’t realize that it’s ME, and all I see is this thin figure and I wonder who the hell it is, and it catches me off totally off-guard.  Once I saw a shadowy figure in my bedroom and thought someone had broken into my house, and I was ready to bolt for the kitchen to grab a knife before it sunk in that the person that I saw was ME in a mirror.  I suppose, living in this body every single day, that I’ve gotten accustomed to my own point-of-view, and I completely love and appreciate those moments, scary as they might be, when I see myself, and this body that I’ve worked so hard to change, from a different perspective.

When I first looked at the above photos, on the little screen on my camera, I had one of those moments again.  I saw the before picture and thought, ‘Who is that in the background?  I don’t remember anyone else near us…  WHOA! That’s me, in the mirror!”  I zoomed in and looked again… at my long neck… the absence of additional chins… what appears to be pectoral muscles… and it felt really wonderful.

2) Produce Haul.  Nothing quite lifts my spirits like a stroll through a produce department.  And I was due yesterday for a little shopping trip.  After eating breakfast and lunch, I barely had any produce left in my house – just a single lonely tangerine, some alfalfa sprouts (originally bought for my kick-ass sandwich for five – see the recipe here), and a few remaining kumquats that came off my friend Robert’s tree:

Since I wasn’t in the mood to create a kumquat/alfalfa/tangerine recipe (note to the producers of “Chopped” on Food Network – that could be a challenge on your show!), it was time to go to the store.  Lucky for me, there’s a Whole Foods a few blocks away from my salon.  So I zipped over there after getting my hair did and ended up bringing home a nice big produce haul that I can’t wait to dig into:

There’s some glare from my flash – sorry about that!  Starting from the top right and going clockwise, we have:  pre-washed kale/chard salad mix, baby carrots, strawberries, blueberries, a red onion, 2 tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, black grapes, cherries, zucchini, santa rosa plums (they’re small and tasty), 3 peaches, 4 valencia oranges (I plan on juicing them), 3 nectarines, a green pepper, a cucumber, a bag of celery hearts, bananas, and a container of broccoli and cauliflower.

And, I saw another new-to-me stone fruit that I can’t wait to try, since the apriums I wrote about yesterday were so delicious.  Anyone know what these are?

They’re called mango nectarines.  I know nothing about them, except that they’re still pretty firm, so I’ll let them ripen a bit before digging in (and sharing the experience with you).

OH – one more picture to share.  The Glendale Whole Foods is right across the street from the Casual Male Big & Tall store that was one of 3 stores I could shop in when I was at my heaviest (subsequently, they got hundreds, possibly thousands, of my dollars over the years).  Well, the Casual Male used to be across the street.  I must not have been paying attention, because at some point in the recent past, the Casual Male and the gas station next door were demolished, and construction started on this building:

I don’t know what that building is, or will become, but I checked online, and the Casual Male moved about 10 blocks away.  Not seeing the Casual Male there reminded me of one of my all-time favorite blog posts – from last fall, when I said good-bye to shopping at big & tall stores FOREVER.  If you haven’t read my open letter to Casual Male, click here – it’s a good read that I’m quite proud of, and when you get to the picture of the store in my car mirror, know that I spent 10 minutes aligning myself in the parking lot, blocking traffic, to get that shot to line up.  I do it for you, blog readers!  NO.  That’s a lie.  I DO IT FOR ME.  Your enjoyment is an added bonus, and my knowing how much you enjoy it is the best added bonus of all.

Keep it up, David!

COMING UP:  There was another great moment yesterday that I want to share, but since I thought this post was getting a little long, I’m going to save it for next time.  It involves a major Los Angeles landmark (no, not Angel’s Flight)!


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!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Jacket Edition

January 26, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve done an Incredible Shrinking Clothes post (see the most recent one here, or go to My Favorite Posts to see all of them), but I have a good one for today.  I decided that I needed to clean out my closet and dressers again.  I have a lot of clothes that I’m no longer wearing because they’re too big, and I want them out and gone from my house to make room for new clothes.

While going through the closet, I pulled out an old winter jacket that I used to wear at my heaviest.  I didn’t wear it often – I don’t think ever in Los Angeles – but since I’ve gone to Michigan every Christmas, and I’ve spent many New Years in Chicago, it’s come in handy then.  It’s a size 4XL (!) and it was part of – get ready for this – George Foreman’s clothing line at Casual Male XL.  Yep, he doesn’t just hawk countertop grills, he also has a clothing line for big and tall men.  Well, he used to, at least, I don’t know if he still has the line or not.

Anyway – I tried on the jacket one more time before tossing it into the “donate” pile:

Wow.  That’s a big jacket.

A few weeks ago, I got a new jacket, as a Christmas present from my parents.  It wasn’t a surprise – I helped pick it out with my mom and sister, but I love it and wear it all the time.  Ladies and Gentlemen, check out my new jacket:

It’s not real leather, which I didn’t realize until we got home from the mall, as it feels and even smells like leather, and you bargain-hunters will be happy to hear that, all told, it was 70% off.  Score!  Oh, and I nearly forgot – the size is XL.

Keep it up, David!


Day After Christmas

December 26, 2010

It’s been 5 days since I’ve last blogged… my apologies to anyone that stopped by hoping for something new!  It’s been a fantastic 5 days – lots of family and lots of fun, and Christmas as well!

I haven’t worked out this week as much as I would have liked.  I decided to make the 22nd a rest day, because my shoulder was acting up.  I have recurring pain in my shoulder – little flare-ups about once a month that stem from a rotator cuff tear earlier this year.  When I first started experiencing the flare-ups, I mistakenly thought I could push through the pain and work out like any other day, but nope, I can’t.  It only makes it worse.  On the 22nd, the pain was tolerable, and I knew I had to rest it instead of worsening it.

On the 23rd, I just didn’t make it to the gym.  My brother was in town, and we were sharing a car, and it just didn’t happen.  On the 24th, my shoulder was feeling great, and my sister came along with me to the gym, and together, we did 45 minutes on the crossramp elliptical and then some sit-ups.  I didn’t exercise on Christmas day – the gym was closed, and plus, it was a busy, family-filled day.   Earlier today my sister and I went back to the gym, and I did a more varied workout:  I ran a mile on the track to warm up, then did 23 minutes on the crossramp, followed by 35 minutes on the bike.

My eating during the week has been pretty good, with the exception of Christmas day.  The other days, I was mindful of proportions, and while I indulged in seasonal treats, I didn’t go overboard.  On Christmas day, I was grazing and munching all day long, and on lots of stuff I normally wouldn’t eat (or, at least, wouldn’t eat nearly as much of):  Cookies.  Nuts.  Fudge.  Baklava.  I got back on the wagon today.

I haven’t done a weigh-in since the 19th (1 week ago).  I know I’m up a couple pounds, and I’m okay with that – I just don’t need to know the specifics.  Tomorrow I’m off to Mexico – My sister’s birthday is in a couple days, and she planned a birthday trip for family and friends.  So I’m gonna wait until I get back to LA after the new year before I weigh myself again.  My goal is to stay even.  Oh – and I may or may not blog from Mexico… we shall see!

Now on to a few photos.   My sister brought to Michigan a shirt I had accidentally left at her place in Chicago the last time I visited her there, over the summer.  It’s a 4XL – the size I was wearing at my heaviest (and was still wearing when I visited her, as I had yet to do much shopping for smaller clothes, despite having lost around 85 pounds at that point).  It’s heading straight to Goodwill, but I thought I’d take a photo wearing it before sending it off:

Very tent-like – I love that!  I’m wearing XL shirts now, and earlier this month even bought a size Large hoodie!

I was given a new (and badly needed) wallet as a Christmas present, and tonight, I transferred everything from the old wallet into the new one:

I was able to toss a bunch of stuff during that process.  Most of it was old receipts and notes to myself, but there were also 2 things of note that I no longer need:

On the right is my Casual Male XL Rewards card.  Basically, I got a $15 gift certificate for every $200 or $300 I spent in the store (I forget which it is).   For the past 5 or 6 years, I was getting an average of 2 of those certificates a year.  But no more.  I no longer have to shop at a big and tall store, so my rewards card has a new home: in the trash can.  You can read about my final visit to Casual Male XL here – it’s one of my favorite blog posts!

On the top is my card for the local Bally Total Fitness gym that I joined when I arrived in Michigan on the 9th.  it was a great decision to join that gym – I went to it 13 times in 17 days, and since I only paid $20 for it, it divides out to only $1.54 a visit!  Those visits include taking 2 different classes (Step and Powerflex) and doing 6 swimming workouts, during which I swam a combined total of 12,250 yards.  That’s 490 total lengths of the pool, and 6.96 miles!

Keep it up, David!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes – Workout Pants Edition

October 25, 2010

A month ago today I posted a really great photo that shows the difference in size between the t-shirts I was wearing when I was 402 pounds, and the t-shirts I can wear now (click here to see the photo).  The other day, while doing laundry, I decided to stage another photo, illustrating the difference in the pants I wear when I go to the gym.  Take a look at my incredible shrinking clothes!

I lined up the seam on the right side on all three pairs of pants, so you can fully appreciate the shrinkage.  The black pair on the bottom is size 3xl.  I used to love these pants – I would buy them from a big and tall catalog in 3 colors, all at the same time.  The blue pair in the middle is size 2xl.  I bought these at Casual Male XL (a national big and tall chain) in May or so.  I think they might have been one of the first items of clothing that I bought that were a size smaller, and I was annoyed because Casual Male only stocked sweat pants that were banded at the bottoms of the legs, which I hated, so I bought these, took them home, whipped out the scissors, and cut the elastic bands off so the pant legs hung straight.  The grey pants on top are size XL, and I bought on sale for $8.99 at either Sears or Kohl’s a few months ago.  They were maybe even a little small on me when I bought them – the pockets puckered out a little bit – but now, they fit perfectly, and are really comfortable.

What surprises me most about this picture isn’t that there’s a huge difference in the waistbands of these pants, it’s the huge difference in the legs.  Took a look at the legs on the right side of the photo (which would be the left legs of the pants) – the seam along the sides are lined up, and the black pant leg looks to be slightly over 50% wider than the grey pant leg – crazy!

I plan on staging at least a few more photos like this… In my non-drawstring pants, I’ve down about 16″ or 17″ so far, so that will be a fun photo to see!

Keep It Up, David!


My Incredible Shrinking Clothes

September 25, 2010

I’ve noticed twice, in the past day, that I put on clothes that were too big for me.  Not a shocker, since I’ve lost 136 pounds…  but what’s pleasantly surprising is that these aren’t my fat clothes, from when I was my heaviest – they’re the first round of skinny clothes that I started buying in June.

To satiate my naturally curious nature, and to provide a lovely visual aid for the blog, I arranged a photo op.  Here are three of my t-shirts.  I lined the bottom right corner of all three.

The blue one is from when I was at my heaviest.  It’s size 3XLT (the T is for ‘Tall’).  The gray one in the middle is one I bought in June.  It’s size 2XLT.   The orange one on top was purchased for me (thank you, Mom) on Labor Day weekend.  It is size XL.

Despite what’s implied by the photo, I’m not actually getting shorter.  What I’ve learned is that I don’t necessarily need to buy ‘tall’ clothes anymore.   The tall came in handy when I was fatter, because the extra length provided extra material to cover my belly – and I wouldn’t be caught dead (then or now) in a midriff-bearing shirt.  I think I may still continue to be comfortable in some ‘tall’ clothes, but it will depend on brand and cut.

One more final quick note:  That blue t-shirt is one of maybe 6 or 8 garments that I held on to from when I was my heaviest.  The rest went to Goodwill in mid-August.  I took a picture of everything I gave away before loading up my trunk – it was about 75% of my total wardrobe at the time!

Keep it up, David!


An Open Letter to Casual Male XL

September 20, 2010

Dear Casual Male XL,

I wanted to take a minute to let you know that you’ve lost a customer, for good.  You’re my favorite big & tall retailer, and I’ve been a loyal shopper for nearly a decade.  You’ve sold me clothes when I was a 2XLT, then a 3XLT, and you’ve even sold me a few items sized 4XL.  But not any more.   Now that I’m 134 pounds lighter, I’m buying clothes sized XL, and, as you’re aware, I can buy those pretty much anywhere.

Today I visited your Glendale, CA location for the last time:

As I blogged about last week, the reason for coming was to use the $15 coupon that I earned through your Rewards program.  I intended to buy 2 black pairs of boxer briefs, size XL, but, alas, this location didn’t have any in stock, although your associate there, Dana, was very sweet and even looked in the back for me.  I took your lack of inventory as a sign that this was how it’s supposed to be.   As for the coupon, I used it on socks instead.

I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars at your store over the years, and am quite familiar with your brands and product lines.  As I looked around at your wares today, I realized that I wanted to thank you for a number of things:

Thank you for consistently selling clothes that I felt comfortable in, and always carrying my size.

Thank you for selling fashionable clothes, so I could find things to wear that were flattering and not outrageously off-trend.

Thank you for selling “waist-relaxer” pants that have hidden side elastic panels, giving the waist a few extra inches, allowing me to buy pants in my size, but knowing that they’d stretch a little as I gained weight.

Thank you for hiring employees that never looked me up and down when I walked in, realized I’d never fit in the merchandise there, and ask who it was I was shopping for (yes, that’s actually happened to me).

Thank you for making my shopping experiences a little less painful and frustrating.

You’ve been good to me, Casual Male, and I appreciate it.  But it’s time to move on.

There you are, in my mirror, as I left your store for the last time – and I’m NOT looking back.

Keep it up, David.


What Do I Do With This?

September 17, 2010

Got this in the mail today:It’s a rewards certificate from Casual Male XL, a big and tall shop that I have frequented used to frequent for years.  When I was at my heaviest, and for years and years before that, Casual Male was one of about 3 stores I could go to and be assured they would have things in my size, so I did a lot of shopping there (I also did a lot of catalog shopping too).  I’ve been a member of their Rewards program for years as well, and this $15 coupon was sent because I had spent $300 dollars there in recent months.  I shopped there enough to get one of these a couple times a year for the past 3 or 4 years.

Here’s the good news:  I don’t need to shop there anymore!  I’m elated to share that for the first time since, I don’t know, college, I’m small enough to start going to pretty much most retailers (some may not have many options for me, but still!).  The last time I was at Casual Male, a few months ago, buying a belt (apparently spending enough to cross the line to send me a Rewards coupon), I had the thought while I was leaving that this could very well be the last time I step into this store.

But now I have $15 free dollars there, and I don’t pass up free money.  But what do I buy?  Do they carry T-shirts small enough for me now?  Come to think of it, I am ready to size down my underwear… so maybe I’ll just buy some boxer briefs.  I have to admit – it’s a dilemma I don’t mind being in AT ALL.

Keep it up, David!