Why I'm Happy My Jeans Are Too Tight - Erin's Inside Job

Why I’m Happy My Jeans Are Too Tight

Why I'm Happy My Jeans Are Too Tight

I definitely didn’t start out jumping for joy as I continued squeezing myself into jeans that had fit me just fine before my move to Chicago. Instead, I started down the easier path of shaming my body and wondering why the damn things still wouldn’t fit comfortably even though I was teaching fitness classes and continuing to work out 4-5 times a week.

Maybe it’s the donuts.

Maybe it’s the deep dish.

Maybe it’s the gelato. (Ok, I like desserts).

In reality though I was not eating these things in any greater quantities than I ever have in the past few years. I tend to eat pretty well and these delicious things were not occurring in excess to the normal way I live my life. So it couldn’t be that.

Rather than deal with the awful, critical Erin that lives inside my head, I decided to not even give her the chance to berate me. I began living in yoga pants and exercise tights most days, which, let’s be honest, are way more comfortable anyway. When I did wear jeans, I would wear looser shirts in hopes that you wouldn’t see the nice muffin top I had going on when I wasn’t continuously pulling them up. Every time I pulled them up I found a reason to bring myself down.

Then it clicked.

I have talked before about how I run in the warmer months and hibernate with weights during winter.  True, I had been attending a lot of HIIT classes at Sweat, but those also incorporate weights. What I was experiencing wasn’t dessert-induced weight gain, but the inevitable muscle gain that comes with strength training.  As someone who has immersed herself in fitness, this should have been one of the first things I realized, but my brain so quickly clouds with self-doubt and shame that sometimes it’s hard to wade through to the other side.

When women start to lift weights, we gain weight. This is because we are building muscle.  Before we get to the point when that muscle starts burning more fat and we actually lose weight, however, we stop. We are afraid of “bulking” and looking “too manly.” This is almost impossible for women since we are not built like men. More muscle leads to more definition and more weight loss since muscle actually boosts your metabolism.

So I’m happy my jeans are too tight because it means that I am getting stronger. I love the feeling of going into a workout and being able to use a heavier weight than I did the week before. I love being able to see more definition in my muscles and feel more confident because of my strength. I have been a slave to the number on my clothes for far too long and it’s time to celebrate the work that I’ve done to improve myself instead of finding reasons to condemn it.

Oh, and I’m going to buy bigger jeans.

Thanks as always to the lovely Amanda for letting me think out loud.


  • Have you ever found yourself in this situation?
  • Do you like to strength train?
  • What steps do you take to not be hard on yourself for something?

38 comments on “Why I’m Happy My Jeans Are Too Tight

  1. I’m reading this before I head to work – I love this post! So, when do I get to hire you as my personal trainer? 🙂

    Keep being that beautiful you, baby girl! xoxo

  2. Damn straight! I know we’ve talked about this before, but I think we are both of us in a place where now this type of growth (literal and figurative) is so gratifying–like when someone who is dieting finds their clothes looser, we are looking forward to the opposite. Does that mean we want to be badonking all over the place? nah, but are we looking forward to what a bigger booty might enable us to accomplish? DAMN STRAIGHT
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Fight Your Fight — Thinking Out LoudMy Profile

    1. I want to badonk all over the place! Actually that may be what is making my pants too tight. NBD.

  3. Yessss! Great post! Being strong is a beautiful thing! I haven’t been strength training with weights lately, but I do a lot of yoga and lately barre, which really help with strength and toning. Sometimes I get a little paranoid that I have too much definition in my shoulders (naturally don’t carry much if any fat there, so my muscle definition really pops out) but you know what, I’m strong and that’s awesome, damnit! 🙂
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…BlogFest BuddiesMy Profile

    1. My shoulders are naturally huge so if I keep working them I look like I can seriously take you in a fight haha. I am learning to appreciate that though and not wish I had “more feminine” ones. Yay for strength!

  4. I can totally relate to this! When I first started lifting weights years ago, I noticed how everything was fitting tighter and couldn’t figure out why. Of course my boyfriend told me exactly what you said, but I was patient enough. But a couple years ago I dove head first in and just let the process be, and now I’m happier than ever and getting stronger all the time!
    Chelsea @ Raw N’ Toned recently posted…Benefits of GrapefruitMy Profile

    1. Yay Chelsea! That’s awesome! I don’t do it perfectly, but I like being able to appreciate the strength that I have gained 🙂

  5. AMEN! I went through the same thing, but it’s so true to see it as your body changing into something strong and amazing and not beating yourself up for jeans that were once your “perfect size” I don’t go near scales. I go by measurements and I’ve told clients this countless times. Get the hell off that scale if you want to be successful! Sure, it’s okay to check in from time to time, but it’s never an accurate indication of your health or body mass!
    Erin recently posted…Blogger RejectionMy Profile

    1. Oh i definitely don’t go on the scale. I learned that lesson a long time ago because I am naturally muscular and always weigh more than I look. I would tell people my weight and they would be like no, that’s not possible, you weight less. Then I would think the number was bad and beat myself up. Now I just don’t even look!

  6. LOVE! And I can totally relate. My jeans start fitting me funny every winter, and it’s [mostly] because of snowboarding and how much muscle it causes me to put on in my legs. It’s not always easy dealing with those feelings of having jeans that are too tight, but when I -really- stop to think about it, I’m a lot happier and healthier than I was when those jeans fit. Ya know? I guess it’s about looking at the big picture and being able to put things into perspective.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #127 .My Profile

    1. Yay snowboarding! I wish I could get back to some skiing; I haven’t done it in a long time. I definitely share your feelings and have to keep reminding myself that it’s not about a number!

    1. That number is dangerous. Since I have always had a lot of muscle, I’ve always weighed more than I look like I do. I would use people’s reactions as a way to make myself feel bad about it, but I realized that it doesn’t even matter!

    1. Haha thanks Lindsay! I guess I should get appropriate fitting jeans but these yoga pants are just so comfy…

  7. Hey, this is a pretty cool perspective you’ve got here! Love it. My best running buddy is 5’2 and has always been about 104 lb but in the last few months since starting a strength program at the gym, she’s put on about 8lb of pure muscle. Her clothes fit exactly the same but she weighs 8lb more which is a big difference on such a small frame. Bodies are so cool. And then I notice that my post-baby shorts and pants are a bit tighter in the legs even though I weigh less now than I did before I had Callum. Back then I was logging 100 mile weeks and my legs were leaner (muscle weighs more). Now I weigh less, but my legs aren’t as lean. Interesting stuff!
    Suzy recently posted…Dear Brain, From AnxietyMy Profile

    1. I had the same problem since I am prone to more muscle. I would tell people how much I weighed and they wouldn’t believe me bc they thought I was less. Then I made myself feel bad bc “maybe I should weigh less.” It’s so silly.

  8. Love this!!! Although I probably would have 100% done the same thing and automatically jumped to the more critical conclusion instead of the healthy one! But it is so true that it is so easy to fall down that path instead of thinking of things as GAINS! Just like the number on the scale shouldn’t define us, neither should a certain pant size!
    Stephanie @ My Freckled Life recently posted…How my thoughts on pregnancy have changedMy Profile

  9. GREAT POST!! This has honestly not happened to me because I mostly stick to running and don’t lift heavy even though I know I should.

    But my badass friend who does Spartan races and is just generally a fitness beast, complains all the time about how hard it is to find jeans to fit her thighs. Her quads and glutes are just built from doing so many squats and other stuff. Not a bad thing at all because she looks amazing, but you might just have to do some searching to find a style and brand that works for your winter body!

    When I find myself being too hard on myself, I ask the above friend for perspective and she snaps me back into the right frame of mind. I don’t talk to myself in any way that I wouldn’t talk to a good friend.

    1. Sounds like you have a great friend! Can I borrow her?

      I do need to do some shopping to find a good brand. Now I just need the motivation to get out of these yoga pants…

  10. What an awesome post to read. Body shaming can be a slippery slope, and it’s just not good for anyone. My stomach has gotten softer over the past few months, but I think it’s more of the nutrition than anything (reason 1,2 and 3 for my more mindful dessert/starch eating last week). I’ve let go of shooting for the flattest of the flat stomach, though. Being happy with where I am and that I’m never going to have abs that show is something I’m getting more comfortable with! Especially because I’m not willing to give up all the foods I LOVE. Like dessert.
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Come on, take a road trip: Virginia Bloggers meet upMy Profile

  11. I’m giving you SO many rounds of applause and high fives right now. This is SUCH an important post to write. Being strong makes you so much more kind to yourself about body changes, doesn’t it? It’s a great feeling, one so great that it overshadows any kind of shallow thoughts about getting fat or nonsense like that. You are amazing!!
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…WIAW: not your average hump dayMy Profile

    1. Definitely! Hopefully one day I can just jump to the appreciation part and not have to wade through the part that makes me feel bad!

    1. Aw I doubt you looked like a bulky man! You’re definitely right that sometimes the answer was right in front of us all along 🙂

  12. A very late reply to this post, but I just bumped against your post on Google. Thank you for this post, I definitely needed it this moment. I have always loved doing exercise/moving around, but this past year I have been really building it up more as I wanted to be even stronger. And I just found some jeans that fit like a glove 2-ish years ago… but now are almost impossible to get on. My body image is not that good (working on it though), so I instantly felt fat, wanted to just cry. I instantly wondered if I should eat less (while I knew darn well that I didn’t eat a lot already). Your post was what I needed. Your post has made me see it differently. I am not fat, my muscles in my legs are just growing more and more. I am getting stronger. Better. Thank you.

    1. I also apologize – a very late reply to your comment haha. It definitely takes a shift in mindset, especially after what society has taught us as women. Remember that it’s not what you physically look like that makes you beautiful – it’s the person you are inside 🙂

  13. I was just upset today after I tried on 5 pairs of jeans that did not fit. It didn’t make sense to me as I strength train and incorporate cardio but also maintain a balanced diet. The bigger my legs are, the more stronger they are. This is definitely one of my biggest insecurities that have kept me from growing my legs for so long, but your post really reassured me that this is a reality for many people who are athletic so thank you!…

  14. My jeans are getting tight from squats and deadlifts. Should I immediately replace them or wait and see if I lose some of the little remaining fat I have?

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