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Clear Your Clutter


By Mary_RD on May 26, 2009 12:00 PM in Dieting & You
Edited By +Rachel Berman

By Diane Petrella, MSW, CPCC

Do you know the best kept secret to improve your weight loss success?
Throw something away!

Yes – that’s right. Reducing the clutter from your life helps you to reduce the weight from your body. It may seem like an unrelated and insignificant step but releasing unnecessary stuff emotionally frees you to release unnecessary weight.

As a life coach and psychotherapist, I have observed that clients who live in cluttered and disorganized homes often struggle with weight issues as well. The heaviness of their homes mirrors the heaviness of their bodies and the heaviness of their spirit. Their stuff is like a protective security blanket in the same way that excess weight provides protection.

Years ago I discovered the magic of space clearing expert, Karen Kingston. Her bestselling book, “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui”, transformed my life and I routinely recommend it to my clients. Karen’s spiritual approach teaches us about our relationship with our stuff and how the trapped energy of our clutter prevents us from living a more fulfilling life.

Peter Walsh is an organizational expert and regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His book, “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” explains how the clutter in your home has a direct relationship to the clutter on your body. Too much stuff and too much weight evoke the same feelings of being overwhelmed and out of control. He offers a practical approach to organizing the stuff in your life to help you take command of your eating habits and weight loss goals.

Reading his book reminded me of several clients whose homes were so cluttered that they couldn’t comfortably eat at their kitchen or dining room tables. The lack of space and disorganization made mealtime chaotic. They resisted inviting guests for dinner. The condition of their homes, like the condition of their bodies, was another source of shame and isolation.

The objects around you either uplift your energy or drain you of power. As you become mindful of the objects you keep in your home, you become mindful of the food you put in your body.

My challenge to you:

  • Go through your clothes and remove items that you don’t like, you don’t wear or that don’t fit.
  • Donate these so others can enjoy them.
  • Only keep clothes that you feel fabulous wearing and that reflect your current weight.

Saving smaller or larger sized clothes “just in case” keeps you living in the past or in the future preventing you from living mindfully today. Wearing clothes you absolutely love offers appreciation and acceptance to your body as it is. This acceptance, of loving yourself no matter what, paradoxically helps you to reach your weight loss goals.

If clearing out your entire closet feels overwhelming, take small steps. Find one item that no longer works and put it in your car. Drop it off at the nearest clothing recycling bin and begin to experience the miracle of decluttering.

The results will amaze you.

Your thoughts....

How does clutter hinder your weight loss success?



Comments


I think decluttering helps weight loss because housework = movement = exercise = weight loss.



Addendum: 

Our newsletter subscribers have read, and our blog readers should know, that this guest post is provided by Diane Petrella MSW, a psychotherapist and life coach.  As a therapist, Diane guides her clients in looking at the past to release unhealthy behavior patterns and emotional states. As a life coach, she teaches her clients how to easily reach their goals.  We hope Diane's blog is helpful to you.  



How appropriate that this article pop up here today.  I just did this over the long weekend.  I went through shorts and such and the items in my closet a donated about 4 trash bags full of clothes that don't do me any justice.

I feel better about clearing some room and look forward to purchasing a new (and smaller) wardrobe once I've hit my goal weight.  I like the idea of only keeping your current size "in stock" that way if you do go off track you'll be more inclined to step up your efforts knowing that your choices are to either suffocate in your clothes or trim down and look amazing! 



Oh my goodness! This article totally hit home with me! I am emailing a link to everyone I know that could benefit from this article because I find it to be very very true...the same emotional baggage that makes me hang on to stuff is also making me hang on to my weight--I discovered this on my own but this article reinforced my "findings"! Perfect timing as I slowly and methodically declutter my life and also declutter my weight issues!

First step, get rid of the clothes I am hanging on to that I wore 43 pounds ago...I have no plans of getting back into them!

Thanks for the book recommendation--I am definitely ready to read more about this!



Trying to sell a house, just hosted a HUGE garage sale for charity & while helping others clean out, I have not had the itme to focus on my own clutter.

Gained 20 lbs. since starting to organize the charity event last year (too much fast food!) and am now starting on my road to clearing clutter & pounds...

Great article, thanks for the motivation!



What do you do when it's your partner who creates the clutter in your house?  My husband has a ton of stuff, piled all over so that there is basically a trail to walk through.  It does not bother him at all, but has bothered and embarassed me all these years.  He cannot understand why it bothers me.



Wow!! I never would have thought to compare the two things! I am currently extremely over weight, and my house is also clutter capitol! I have been losing pounds lately (down 25lbs so far), and also took the time to somewhat declutter my bedroom. A good start, but there is so much left to do! I am the ultimate pack rat! After reading this article I am much more motivated to declutter my house and ultimately my weight and life!! Thanks for the information! Cool



Several years ago I bought and read a book, Clutter's Last Stand, which not only talked about decluttering the home but also decluttering our lives. Toxic friends and others who we allow to clutter our lives by spending time with them that ultimately makes us unhappy or worse should be examined. These are often the same people who sabotage our healthy food habits or enable us to go back to unhealthy life styles.

Everyone should have a personal place, a place to search one's soul and think happy thoughts. Get rid of the clutter in just one spot to start and make that your sacred place. You will find it is then easier to get rid of the rest of the clutter too.



It is true that one should not keep all sizes of clothing because it may give you "permission" to gain or lose weight but when on a limited clothing budget, this my recommendation.

I only keep the sizes I am due to fit in to while I lose weight.  This way, I do not have to go out and buy new clothes because I can shop in my closet!  I got  rid of the clothes larger than what I am wearing now as well as those clothes in the sizes, I am not planning on wearing. 

For example, when I lost 60 pounds on WW,  I started as a size 18 and I went down to a sizes 0-4! Over the course of time, even though I gained a lot of my weight back due to illness, I got rid of anything between size 14 and 18 as well as all anything  0 and 6 and only kept those that were between size 8 and 12.  I am now a size 12 and my goal is to reach size 8. 

When I get out of size 12, I will get rid of them and start wearing my size 10's.  I will then get rid of those size 12's.  When I get to size 8, I will then get rid of the size 10's.

By getting rid of those extra clothes, I will save some money on the essentials like jeans, tshirts, sweaters and bras for when the weight comes off and then I will then be able to spend money on special pieces .



This doesn't only apply to clothing clutter in your closet, it applies to everything around you. Work/school papers, bills, excess furniture that takes up space, unorganized kitchens with cluttered counter tops and endless waisted food in cabinets/fridge. All of this physical clutter also clutters your mind, stresses you out, and leads you to failure - not only with weightloss, but general success in life such as your career. Ever since I've moved out of my moms, which is a disasterous mess, my mind has cleared so much. VERY good article!

My Advice: Although it is hard for some, kick your sentimental side out the door!!!



I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!!!! lol  ...  The "serendipity" of it all floors me: I have started to seriously diet but more importantly to seriously work out about a month ago... and this week end being Memorial Day I had a little more time and TACKLED the closets (ALL of them) in my house where 44 years of clothing resided with every size ever known to man (I had clothes from when  1 was 15 and clothes from when I was pregnant!) ... I ended up with seven 50 gallon trash bags for charity (2 of the 7 bags with tags on each item in there!!!)  and I felt SOOOO much better! Very happy with myself, I opened my email and FOUND THIS ARTICLE in the newsletter!!! ROFL! Well, check THAT box!

DO IT, it  feels incredible (and sad, and nostalgic and a lot of other things, but BOY does this put you in the NOW!) ...



Original Post by: sed1949

Several years ago I bought and read a book, Clutter's Last Stand, which not only talked about decluttering the home but also decluttering our lives. Toxic friends and others who we allow to clutter our lives by spending time with them that ultimately makes us unhappy or worse should be examined. These are often the same people who sabotage our healthy food habits or enable us to go back to unhealthy life styles.

Everyone should have a personal place, a place to search one's soul and think happy thoughts. Get rid of the clutter in just one spot to start and make that your sacred place. You will find it is then easier to get rid of the rest of the clutter too.


That´s a great book on clutter. Dan Aslett is one of my organization heroes.



THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO DECLUTTER & GET ON WITH MY NEW WEIGHT/LIFE......KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.Laughing



This would be a really interesting topic for a thesis or something along those lines -- I wonder if anyone has determined whether the relationship between clutter and excess weight is truly causative or more correlative?  I can see where either might be the case.

Regardless -- it's yet another good reason to straighten out my house :D

I think they're really on to something about hanging on to clothes in sizes you can't wear -- for a long time, I kept a couple of outfits from 'back in the day' (before I gained weight).  I always figured it would be handy to have them someday when (okay, 'if') I lost the weight again.

I offloaded them when I moved to my current home -- and shortly after that, I started really losing weight.  For once, my mind was in the game, instead of on some vague future 'if' or 'when.'

Now I'm just itching to get my hands on some pants that fit, so I can recycle my Fat Pants :D



Original Post by: sed1949

Several years ago I bought and read a book, Clutter's Last Stand, which not only talked about decluttering the home but also decluttering our lives. Toxic friends and others who we allow to clutter our lives by spending time with them that ultimately makes us unhappy or worse should be examined. These are often the same people who sabotage our healthy food habits or enable us to go back to unhealthy life styles.

Everyone should have a personal place, a place to search one's soul and think happy thoughts. Get rid of the clutter in just one spot to start and make that your sacred place. You will find it is then easier to get rid of the rest of the clutter too.


This is not a toxic relationship.  My husband is a wonderful man in so many ways.  We don't have a lot of space, and he does have a lot of stuff - more than ever now that his Dad just died, and we are getting a ton of stuff from his house, also. 

Yes, this issue bothers me, but it certainly isn't something I would allow to come between us.

 



Regarding the topic "Living Lightly" and how clutter can negatively affect one's weight and other issues, I couldn't agree more.   I have always been a super neat freak, organized to the nth degree, able to locate any item in my home within a minute.  I've taken alot of kidding from my less organized friends over the years because it of; however, in the final analysis, it is an empowering feeling to come home to an organized, clean, fresh home; a place to regroup and renew, to know where each important paper is filed and to not cringe when company unexpectedly rings the doorbell. Less IS more, as the saying goes, and when you've mastered the clutter issues in your life, your success can encourage you to address weight issues...or any other life issue you may have in which you need some impetus to change.  I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone to live as stress-free as possible, and ridding yourself of clutter goes a long way toward that wonderful goal.  Reducing the clutter in life is a 'control mechanism' in the best sense of the word upon which you then can successfully utilize control in a positive manner in other areas of your life.   Great, great blog item!  

    



perfect timing for this article because i just went through my closet today and cleaned it out :)

good article *two thumbs up*



feeling fabulous differs. women are finicky and can love an item one minute and hate it the next. i go through the, "throw the entire wardrobe out" to "hmmm, i like this again, why didn't i like it yesterday".

plus, i keep things that i intend to alter. it's all a good idea, but i like keeping something that i know is too small but i intend to fit into. it motivates me to do so and has worked-bigger clothes i can see getting rid of! you don't want to go back to that. i guess it depends on who you are.

plus, i don't spend a lot on clothes, i can't afford it, so i try to keep what i have to work with it. i also donate some stuff or throw out stuff that's had its full lifespan.

and i guess if you don't have the energy to clean, or be active around the house, either means you have a very busy life, which can be a very positive thing, or maybe you are unhealthy.

i've gotten better at this since i have decided to live a healthier lifestyle. i think it runs hand in hand with everything you need in balance. it's all or none for me. i have to keep everything going positive, cleaning, eating, showers, etc...so i get that perspective. but sometimes i find myself tired too and i don't want to do housework...i also have allergies which don't allow for dusting too often.

oh, and clean space does promote room to work out. so that's a plus. so i guess i do agree with this but with a more open direction of it's combination with everything in life, not just weight loss.



Well I know what I will be starting tonight........just the push I needed!  Thanks!



I want to de-clutter my entire house and plan on doing just that this summer, room by room. We're going to clean, paint, redecorate, throw out and recycle... However, I can't get rid of all my "thin" clothes. Over the last few years I lost a lot of weight, got rid of all my "fat" clothes and bought all new "thinner" clothes. Just over the last several months I have gained weight. I have very little to wear now and I refuse to buy more new "fat" clothes because I am currently on my way back down to that smaller size.

I am considering putting the "thin" clothes up in boxes, getting them out of the closet for now. I just can't sell them or give them away (well, some maybe) because some are like new and I like them so much. It's certainly something to think about though. .. hmmmm.... getting rid of the "thin" clothes now means getting to buy new ones again in the future :) we'll see... :)



Thanks!  I went home over the lunch hour today and threw away a trash bag full of stuff! 

My girlfriends and I get together periodically and have a swap day where we give away clothing/hair products/kitchen stuff, etc to each other.  Everything extra goes into a group garage sale or to charity.  What a great way to get nice, new things and get rid of stuff you don't use but can't bear to throw away!



I'm going to get rid of my fat clothes, and keep the thin clothes that I know I will fit in again. I really love those items that are classic basic necessities that never go out of style. It's easy to say toss the thin clothes when you have a lot of spare cash to toss around. That is not practical for a lot of people.

I plan on losing 15 more pounds and maintaining it permanently. I tossed my too thin clothes a long time ago because I never want to be pencil thin again either. 130 is a reasonable weight for me and I think I can stay there. If there are no fat clothes to pull out of my closet I'm less likely to get fat again because of the deterrent of having to replace my wardrobe.



instead of throwing an item into your car walk or bike it to the trift store



Alber89, now that's a good idea!



I was not directing the toxic relationship phrase to anyone on this site. I apologize if anyone took it that way.



WOW I was just doing this in my bedroom, the kids room, and our spare roon and I just sat down to take a break and was checking my e-mail and this is what i found.  How crazy is that.  My husband and I have been talking for weeks now for us or should I say me to go through my infant and my 2 year old daughters closet and get rid of most of the clothes since they don't ever wear 99% of them and it is taking up space for the new one to come in.  It is true that I don't invite people over because of the way our house looks with 4 kids I can't keep one room clean becuase they go behind me and destroy it in a matter of hours.  I think I would benefit from cleaning out my closet I have clothes in there that I keep for the "Just in case" and that just in case size has never came to me for the past 10-15 years and I am sure by now if I wore those out of the house they would all be out of date.  We seam to always go through our clothes when we move but I always keep my skinny clothes and I haven't reached that size so its just taking up space in my closet..

 

 



This article definately does not describe me. I am affectionately known to friends and family as a "declutter fanatic". LOL

I make it almost a ritual to go through my closets at least once every two months and donate one bag of clothing to the Diabetes Association. I usually find out that I don't miss the clothing so I probably didn't need it in the first place. As well, I have nothing in my cupboards that would be in excess. We just moved from a house to a two bedroom apartment I didn't really have that many 'boxes' of items to move as I am usually so organized. Sometimes to a fault, I think:(

Maybe it would help if I were a little messier! LOL.



i think that this is great adviceWinkTongue outInnocentLaughing



i think the correlation between these two things is WILLPOWER

but i also have to disagree with this post. i can immediately think of counterexamples of overweight friends who are very neat



OMG this is so true. I can't have clutter in my house when I'm trying to lose weight. Every time I do have clutter I'm disorganized which means I become lazy and then lazy turns into lazy with my eating habits and then lazy with my eating habits turns into depression and sleeping more. That's why I clean, so my life can be in order.

Clean house makes me feel a sense of responsibility and a clear mind. So, yes if there's clutter in your life it may affect your weight. It can affect your mental and spiritual state.



Comment Removed

Cleaning out your closet is good for the soul, both figuratively and literally. But it CAN be hard to part with some items you just can't let go of. What if you'll need it 'someday'? Well, here's a great tip you could try to help you decide if you'll ever need it. Box or bag up all out-of-season clothes, leaving only clothes you might wear in the current season. Then, turn all the hangers around backward, coming in from behind the clothes rod to hang them. After you wear an item and are ready to return it to the closet, hang it up with the hanger facing the traditional way. As you reach for something to wear, try choosing the backward-hanging clothes. If they are still  backward hanging at the end of the season when you go to get the bagged up clothes, get rid of them! You didn't wear them all this season, and someone else could probably use them. The fact that you never chose them means they don't 'suit' you. (Excuse the pun.....Wink)



I need to do this because I seem to hold on to all clothes whether I like them alot.

Thanks for the ideas...a must do on my weekend list!!!



How strange that I never made this connection before.  A year ago I moved into a smaller apartment.  Part of the process of moving was getting rid of a lot of stuff.  I actually was inspired by the TV show, Clean House, where they talk people with cluttered homes into selling their things in a yard sale and they use the money to refurbish a few rooms. 

I took a good look around me and realized that most of my furniture had been given to me and I didn't really like it.  The few pieces I did like were things I bought myself.  I cleared out a collection of dishes and antiques, and sold some, along with a few pieces of furniture, a TV and a refrigerator.  With that money I bought a new TempurPedic mattress and new digital TV.  I took a tip from the designer on the show and painted my wood furniture all one color - a nice shade of almond. I only kept the essentials.

When I moved I had very little, but I had what I needed, and my small apartment was uncluttered.  It was a liberating experience to have a space arranged with things that were all of my own choosing.  I was finally in control.

At the same time, my struggle to lose weight became easier.  I do think you're right - the two are connected, though I didnt' see it before.



Oh wow, this is so relevant.

In the past two weeks I haven't had the time to clean my room and i have probably gained a pound or two. Nothing to worry about, but still interesting to realize that the gaining began at around the same time I let the clutter grow.



This book I gifted to my parents years ago.  They still talk about it all the time.  Thanks for the reminder.  I will start clearing this weekend:)



This is such a great article. I'm ready for this. I wanna purge my home and stop hanging on. I have a pair of jeans from 10 years ago, thinking I will get back into them. The fact is I will get back into them, but will I want to: NO! I'm probably gonna buy some totally awesome, new clothes and not look at the darn things. I'm done.

This is something that I'm truly motivated to do.



I do spring cleaning every summer because I work at school but the last two summers i haven't been in the mood to do it.  I am tired of playing house so i've been letting things go so that i can spend more time with my family and friends and i am at the highest weight i have ever been.  I guess I need to start cleaning closets, toys, cabinets, ect...

I just don't want to spend the time doing it.

I've been doing this for 29 years and i am tired of playing house.

Any suggestions on how I can get in mood to get back in the swing of things

Maybe i should read the book   I guess.



I've been going throughg a lot of clutter lately, and it's not really mine. My mom is a huge pack rat, and I used to be. I don't have a pile of fat clothes, but I do have a pile of skinny clothes... le sigh, I don't think that I can get rid of those yet.



Excellent article! Smile I have been living clutter-free for quite some time.  The difference that clutter-free living makes in all aspects of life is profound.  Cool



I also have 4 children and a garage and houseful of "stuff" that goes along with having a very active family.  After a full day of work, then evening activities with kids and meals, I barely have time (or energy) to do the basics, much less "de-clutter".  I'd like to hear from more people with kids and how they handle it.  My house is rarely "company ready".   



After reading this article, I was inspired to go home and fill a bag with old clothes for charity. My house (and life) need major de-cluttering, and my plan is to do a little at a time...just the way I'm slowly losing weight and changing my eating habits...so I might be able to maintain the order I achieve.

Actually when I was a single mother of 3 school age kids (they're grown now), I had less room and less tolerance for extra stuff. I've never needed a place to be spotless...just enough clean to walk across the room without encountering spider webs! It helped, too, to have someone come in every couple of weeks and do floors and bathrooms--we all enjoyed the cleanliness and order and worked together to keep the place livable.

I experienced wrenching agony of trying to go through my parents' house with my siblings, with precious things bundled together with the worst kind of dirt & trash. It was a learning experience that I have promised myself I won't put my kids through. I need to focus my energies to take care of myself, clean up my act inside and out. Everyone benefits, but I get the most good out of learning to do good things for myself.



Up until about 3 years ago I was really organised and a size 6 (U.K) and then due to a few unfortunate events in my life I became unorganised and put weight on, I’m now a size 14-16. It is only after reading the article that I have now realised that there must be some sort of connection to the clutter in my home and my weight gain. I have now decided that while I’m off uni for the next four months that I am going to clear my home of all the junk, stacks of old bills, empty boxes, cloths that don’t fit or have never been warn and decorate, so with a bit of luck by the time I go back to uni, not only will I be more organised but will have dropped a dress size or two.Smile



I wonder if some of us surround ourselves with clutter to buffer us from the world just like we may use food to buffer us from emotions etc.



The "movie", Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstein, breaks organizing down into very simple terms. I listented to it about 50 times on my iPod, just to make it sink in. (It's also available in book form.) I've also read the Peter Walsh book, It's All Too Much, but didn't find it as easy to impliment as Julie Morgenstein's movie.

My bedroom closet and kitchen has remained clutter free for about 8 months after programming my brain w/this movie. I am also down 54 lbs, but I don't really think the two things are related all that much. However, it is comforting to be able to find things and keep an organized kitchen.



I read this article and it spurred me to clean out my closet.  I did notice the attachment I feel to my belongings.  I also noticed a resistance to throwing out clothing that I don't like because of fear.  I'm afraid that if I get rid of all the clothing I don't like, then I won't have any clothes left to wear, ha ha.  I'm afraid that I don't have the funds to buy clothing I do like to replace those I throw out.  FEAR!  What a huge obstacle fear can be to self-improvement. 

This also made me ponder the reason why I have so many clothes in my closet that I don't like.  I am going to reflect on this over the next week and consider how I have come to own clothing I don't like and how I have gotten into the habit of wearying clothing that feels uncomfortable on me.  OOhhh, lots to think about.  Sounds like another way in which I am not loving myself, appreciating myself and not giving to myself. 

Thanks for the article!



I agree entirely with the premise that less clutter helps us in many ways. 

I teach students English as a foreign language, and I make them keep a diary.  I have noticed that almost all students clean their room or house sometime during the time they should be studying.  I have also done the same thing when I was under stress of some kind of deadline.  As soon as the cleaning is over, it is easier to concentrate on the issues at hand. 

So,... I guess I'll throw some more clothes away.  And then there are the files I haven't touched for two years since moving into a new school, the stuff in the cabinets I don't know what to do with.... I really want to declutter!  Thanks for reminding me. 

(on my way to my room to select a few choice items as soon as I send this off)



i felt as if the author of that article was speaking directly to me. i will do some de cluttering this weekend in sha Allah. i have sooo much stuff in my house that i dont need.



Original Post by: lmreddin

What do you do when it's your partner who creates the clutter in your house?  My husband has a ton of stuff, piled all over so that there is basically a trail to walk through.  It does not bother him at all, but has bothered and embarassed me all these years.  He cannot understand why it bothers me.


Hi There! I wrote this article and would like to respond to your question. This is a common issue for others as well. Just continue to focus on decluttering your own items. Obviously we cannot change others but we can model for them. (And it's never ok to declutter others' items without their permission.) Perhaps over time he will begin to recognize the benefits of this as he observes your behavior. In the meantime, have you considered suggesting he read books on the subject so he can better understand your viewpoint? Would he be open to improved organization of his "stuff" so that you're exposed to it less?



Original Post by: ohanamama

I want to de-clutter my entire house and plan on doing just that this summer, room by room. We're going to clean, paint, redecorate, throw out and recycle... However, I can't get rid of all my "thin" clothes. Over the last few years I lost a lot of weight, got rid of all my "fat" clothes and bought all new "thinner" clothes. Just over the last several months I have gained weight. I have very little to wear now and I refuse to buy more new "fat" clothes because I am currently on my way back down to that smaller size.

I am considering putting the "thin" clothes up in boxes, getting them out of the closet for now. I just can't sell them or give them away (well, some maybe) because some are like new and I like them so much. It's certainly something to think about though. .. hmmmm.... getting rid of the "thin" clothes now means getting to buy new ones again in the future :) we'll see... :)


Organizing your "thin" clothes and putting them in boxes out of your closet is a good idea. I wrote this article and I understand it's not always financially practical to get rid of clothes if your clear intention is to wear those clothes again.

If the clothes you keep evoke a feelng of shame, regret, defeat or sadness, let them go. If some "thin" clothes instill a feeling of excitement, motivation and hopefulness, that's great - hold onto them and use them as inspirational tools.



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