Fitting Into My Thrift Store Jeans (on 2500 calories a day!?)

Today I wore a pair of Free People jeans that I bought at a thrift store in Boston for $24.50. I’m not sure how much Free People jeans normally cost but I’m willing to bet it’s more than $24.50! The jeans are size 27 which I think corresponds to size 4? (Surprise surprise, I’m NOT a size 2 in brands that don’t vanity size like crazy!)

Sneaky picture in the Economics building bathroom aka where I take all my pictures. T-shirt: Forever 21, Jeans: Free People, Boots: Miz Mooz, Belt: Michael Kors

Here’s the thing: I bought these jeans in Boston 17 days ago. Right before I left for Boston, I was in the best shape I had been in since last May. I weighed 140.8 lbs (SO close to the 130s!), my size 2 jeans fit perfectly, my Express shorts fit better in size 0 than size 2 (they’re great shorts but zero give whatsover so I own both sizes from last year–and ignore the crazy vanity sizing!), and I was starting to see definition in my arms that I had NEVER seen before. When I tried on the jeans, they were a little tight, but I figured I still had a few pounds to lose, and even though I was kind of nervous about spring break derailing my efforts, I decided to buy them anyway.

Over the past 17 days, I’ve been to Boston for St. Patrick’s Day (I’m sure you know how St. Patricks Day is celebrated), Florida for Spring Break (self-explanatory), and Richmond for job interviews (drinking wine is professional!) I drank 10 out of 17 days–getting drunk 8 out of 10. I ate out in restaurants 11 out of 17 days. I only went to the gym 3 times. I haven’t tracked calories/macronutrients at all. I could FEEL myself gaining weight over spring break (although it seemed to go away pretty quick after). So I was a little nervous to try these jeans on–I wasn’t sure if they’d even fit.

They fit PERFECTLY now. They’re not even tight!

How did this happen? There is only one explanation: alcohol has negative calories. (I wish!!)

Seriously though, these are my thoughts as to what’s going on:

  1. Even when I’m vacationing/eating out/not tracking calories, I eat the same way I always do (besides the alcohol!): high protein, low carbs. I eat almonds, protein bars, and apples during the day, or greek yogurt/other fruit when I can find it. When getting fast food/airport food, I look for Subway (where I get veggie patties) or a fast food place that will have some kind of grilled chicken salad. At restaurants, I always order grilled chicken or seafood with vegetables or on a salad. Sometimes I’ll eat restaurant bread/dessert, but that’s the only difference. This is not a diet, it’s just the way I like to eat, and I firmly believe that eating this way allows me to maintain my weight while eating a LOT more than I otherwise would.
  2. Yes you have to eat at a deficit to lose weight, but you just have to eat at your maintenance level to gain weight, and mine is pretty high. I pegged it at 2400-2600 based on BMR calculations and what I was eating last year, but it’s possible it’s even higher after a year of lifting. Either way, that’s a LOT of food and if you’re eating healthily (high protein! low carb!) it’s pretty easy to stay at maintenance or even a small deficit without even trying. 
  3. I’m more active on vacation. No, I’m not in the gym, but I am walking around, doing activities, etc as opposed to sitting in a classroom or studying all day. I’m not sure how much of a difference that makes, but it probably makes some, (especially because I was definitely averaging more than 2500 calories in Florida when you include alcohol!)
  4. Three months out of the weight room is definitely going to have an adverse effect on your body. Three weeks, not so much, especially considering I did lift a couple times. Just as it takes more than 17 days to gain muscle, it takes more than 17 days to lose it, and a 2.5 week break isn’t going to make a difference as long as I get back on track (which I am this week even though I’m still eating at maintenance)
  5. Fat?? This is just a theory, but I eat a LOT more fat on vacation. Normally I have trouble getting enough of it in my diet, because I prioritize protein over fat, the majority of my day to day staples don’t have much fat, and it’s an easy thing to cut when you’re watching calories. Over the past two months it’s been especially hard because I couldn’t eat almonds and walnuts for eight weeks after getting my wisdom teeth removed. But restaurant dishes naturally have more fat–fattier cuts of seafood, olive oil and butter in cooking, fat in salad dressing, etc, plus I’ve been eating almonds like crazy after eight weeks without them! I know that the Atkins diet emphasizes eating a LOT of fat–even more so than protein–and there’s a huge following of people who’ve had a ton of success doing this. So I’m going to start making an effort to buy fattier cuts of fish and cook with olive oil, and see if I notice a difference. Especially because once I hit permanent maintenance (ETA: mid-late May) I’d prefer to add back calories in the form of fat as opposed to carbs.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m really happy about this! And it’s cool to have my own experience validate my beliefs. It’s one thing for me to say “If you lift weights and eat like I do, you can eat 2500 calories a day–oh yea I know I’m only eating 1600 now, but it worked for me in the past, I swear!!” but it’s another thing to actually come up with some concrete proof during the process of my journey. And I admit, it’s hard to motivate myself to keep eating at a deficit when I can eat this much and not gain weight, BUT I really want an amazing body for summer (and life, obviously) so I’m going to go at it for another 6 weeks to lose those last 5 lbs, and I think that this break will make weight loss even easier–maybe I’ll keep my intake around 1800-2000 instead of 1500-1800, which should still translate to a lb/week weight loss.

BACK ON AN UNRELATED NOTE: From now on, I am ONLY buying jeans from thrift stores. Seriously, they’re SO much cheaper, they’re pre-broken-in, and it’s easy to try on a ton of brands in your size at once instead of jumping from store to store. I got this outfit from a thrift store too–the tank top was XS from Free People for $20, and the skirt was size 4 Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker for $11.

Tank top: Free People, Skirt: Bitten, Belt: Express, Sunglasses: Juicy Couture, Bag: Steve Madden

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