I want to tell you what I did in December to lead up to what I’m going to talk about today. I did not make an intentional goal to do this but it’s what happened. I went on a little bit of a bender, and not the kind that you might think. I did not go on a drinking bender or spending bender. I probably spent more than I wanted to on the holidays.
I went on a little bit of a decluttering bender. I’m sure probably started with some rage cleaning, which is what I do when I just get mad. That’s how I deal with my own feelings or frustrations is just to clean something. Throw things away. Throw other people’s things away. That’s what really makes me happiest.
As the month progresses, there’s Hanukkah and there’s Christmas and there’s decorations, that tree, the ornaments, like all this stuff, more stuff. Then things are coming into the house. I have presents and wrapping and trying to hide things. I’m going into the attic. Now I’m looking around the attic. I’m like, I’m going to tackle a lot of decluttering.
I did start with some easy stuff, let me be very clear. I noticed that I was putting off my own things. It’s a lot easier to go into my kid’s closet, the drawers, go into the attic, go into the kitchen, that junk drawer. It’s a lot easier to go and toss other people’s things. That’s what I noticed.
It took me a little while to figure out why I was so pumped up about my decluttering. I found a lot of parallels to decluttering and weight loss that I had personally not considered at all. I don’t consider myself a decluttering expert and organizer. I’ve read that Marie Kondo book. Sometimes I find myself looking at a piece of clothing or shoes and asking myself if it brings me joy. It’s interesting.
One of the coaches who works with me in Self Made, Kayla, one of her specialties is in organizing and decluttering. She’s also a master weight loss coach. It’s so interesting that this is the first time that I have really experienced a lot of the tie-ins between decluttering and weight loss, and it’s been great. I was really amped up about it.
Weight loss lessons that I learned from decluttering.
Even if you don’t not want to declutter, necessarily, maybe it’s just tackling a few things. I also want to be clear, I still have many other things to do. My house is not decluttered. It’s still going. It’s an ongoing process, which is a lot like weight loss.
We don’t lose weight that one time. We don’t reach that certain number on the scale. We don’t reach that clothing size. We don’t exercise for six months, and then okay, I’ve exercised enough. I have stored up enough exercise that I never have to do this again.
The really big overarching takeaway for me was this, decluttering is a process.You open that junk drawer, and it’s very easy to remove the low hanging fruit like, oh, there’s a gum wrapper in here or there’s a broken pen. /my kids have all of those fidgets and mochis and weird little things. The things they would have gotten at birthday parties. I hate buying those things for those little goodie bags, but a lot of that stuff in drugstores and that stuff’s easy to get rid of. I have no emotions about them. I don’t ever think they’ll be useful. It’s easy, but then I shut the drawer and I move on to something else or move on to the next drawer or next project or forget about decluttering but I go back to that drawer.
Now I’m going to the next level. I’m going to look a little bit harder. I’m going to be a little bit more discerning. That’s what I think is such a great parallel with weight loss is that you start where you start.
Wherever you are, you start. As it goes on, you might be in a place where you’re going to;
- dig a little deeper,
- go a little harder,
- level up,
- skill up,
- change something,
- figure out something.
And you will get a little bit further along in the process. You will learn new things, you will have a less cluttered junk drawer, you’ll have less junk in your trunk. That’s also what I figured out.
I looked this up and there’s a statistic that says 77% of overweight people also have a clutter issue or something like that. I mean, how would they ever know? But there is a high correlation between weight and clutter. Literally too much junk in the trunk. We are collecting. We’re consuming. When I say we, I include myself in that too.
I’m going to get into some of the things I discovered. I hope that you get one thing that is useful. Just one thing. Doesn’t have to be all of the tips and all of the tricks and all of the techniques and strategies and do exactly what I say. Maybe there’s just one thing here that hits home for you. Then when you go back into your office, your house, your kitchen, you might tackle something. You might take a look around and get that awareness. Get that 30,000 foot view of your own environment. I also want to say, I love throwing things out.
I have two 10 year olds. Kids don’t throw things out. They don’t. Things that are in the attic, all of a sudden, they want to play with. You know, the Paw Patrol set that they had six years ago. It’s a parent’s job to parent. I don’t expect my kids to know how to go through their closet, and make a pile of clothes that don’t fit anymore. I have to do that with them, and that’s fine. That gives me a sense of what needs to be replaced. Or we’re not going to keep buying clothes that you don’t wear, it’s a parent’s job.
You might have other people in your house, a spouse, a roommate, a parent, a sibling, somebody else that you share a space with. They might have different ideas on what to keep and what to throw out. Then you’ll have to wait till they go to work.
I think it’s a perfect time of year, it’s the beginning of a new year. I think most of us have this idea that we want to make things easier, more simple and more streamlined. Chop away the excess and get right down to it. I think that’s what a big part of decluttering is. If you want to make your weight loss simple, if you want to make your weight loss easy, if you want to make it a clearer path then we don’t need more stuff in our way.
1) Your environment matters a lot.
In some cases we could say your environment is just the circumstance. There’s some things we might not be able to control around our environment. If there’s a snowstorm and you’re snowed in, that’s part of your environment. You may not be able to control that.
Looking at the things that you can control,
- the foods that you bring in,
- the amount of things that you store in a pantry,
- the things you keep out on your countertop,
that all is going to factor into your weight loss.
I know for myself, I was literally going through the drawers, cabinet, the freezer, and just being ruthless. There’s always that feeling of I shouldn’t throw that away for whatever reason, but your environment matters. What you surround yourself with, what you see on a daily basis can trigger us.
If I walk into my house and I keep wine on the counter or I keep a bowl of candy or I keep the cookie jar, that’s part of our environment. That is going to give us a visual cue or visual reminder to eat the cookies, to have the candy, to open that bottle of wine. I’m not telling you to throw away everything and never bring anything into your house. I want to put the ball in your court, you probably have a lot of say over what comes into the house and where it goes. It is very calming, freeing, and relaxing, to not have these distractions. To not even have your airfryer out on the counter. To have things put away. Environment Matters.
When I think about helping women lose weight, when I think about troubleshooting, what is in the way of their weight loss. Many times, we’re just putting ourselves in an environment that’s surrounded by cookies, candies and ice cream. I’m doing my work in the kitchen, at the kitchen counter on my laptop. It’s six, seven o’clock at night, it’s getting dark. I’m in the kitchen, that’s a problem. That’s me not controlling my environment. If I’m still gonna be on my laptop, maybe I should take it somewhere else. Get out of there, close the laptop and walk away. Environment is going to be a big factor.
Whoever you are, you live in an apartment, you live in a house, you have a roommate, control what you can control. If you cannot dictate what’s on the counter or in the refrigerator or in the pantry, then take yourself out of that environment. Go do your work in a bedroom or at a coffee shop or go somewhere else. Put yourself in another environment.
2) It is very easy to over consume.
It is very easy to over buy, to purchase more food than we need, more books than we can ever read, more clothes than we will ever wear. Just more stuff. More, more, more. We are marketed to constantly, to buy and have all the things.
That’s a big realization I had in decluttering, that you can just literally collect things that you will never use. Especially if you have an attic, a storage unit, a basement, a lot of closets, or a lot of drawers that you pack things away in and then you don’t look at it again. It is easy. In many cases, it’s kind of like the American way. It’s more as more as more.
3) It is easy to judge ourselves.
One of the things I think that happens in this decluttering process is that it is pretty easy to judge ourselves. I know that I definitely was like, oh, yuck. Like I don’t even want to add up in my head how much money is in my attic. If I just close my eyes and imagine the boxes and the piles of toys and clothes and whatever else is up there we’re just stacks of money, I’d be like, Oh my God.
It’s easy to feel bad about it. You feel bad, you feel guilty, you feel ashamed. You know, why did I buy this? Or what is it doing here? I can’t possibly throw it out or somebody gave it to me or it has value. It’s worth this. I did notice a lot of thoughts and feelings I had, especially when I noticed that I was putting off my stuff till last.
I was very willing to throw away other people’s things, to gather up other people’s things, but not my own because it’s a lot of feelings. Then it’s easy for the feelings to stop us in our tracks. It’s normal to have feelings. Feelings are going to come and they’re going to go, you’re allowed to feel bad or guilty or ashamed or overwhelmed in this process.
I think it’s a great exercise in getting to know yourself and being able to declutter. I also want to point out that decluttering doesn’t mean just put everything in a trash bag and don’t look at it or think about it or come back to it. You don’t have to do it all in one fell swoop like as if you’re going into someone else’s house and none of it’s yours and you were just literally emptying out a house.
When I really think about weight loss, and weight loss lessons about decluttering, I get it. We do have a lot of feelings about food, eating, somebody offered it to me, someone made it for me, I should eat this, I don’t want them to feel bad if I say no. I think this is all decluttering. It is a really safe way to get to know yourself. Chances are, you’re probably doing it by yourself anyway. You could get a decluttering coach that actually will come to your house or somebody, maybe it’s a sibling or a friend, will come with you and do it. But by and large, you can take as long as you want to do this. There is no time limit because it’s never going to be 100% done anyway. I think it’s a very soul cleansing exercise on all levels.
4) People pleasing.
Speaking of people pleasing, thoughts, feelings, judging yourself, and all of the yuck that comes with decluttering, I did kind of have this revelation. If you were brought up in the clean plate club, you’re probably somebody who hates to waste things and feels that you have to clean your plate, you can’t throw anything away, it will be wasting food, wasting time, wasting money, wasting things. We get a lot of feelings tied up when it comes to decluttering because we don’t want to waste something that costs money.
Here’s the thing, there’s a cost to keeping things that no longer serve you. There’s a cost to having tons of boxes, files, and who knows what else. If you have a storage unit, there’s an actual physical cost, like an actual bill that you’re paying every single month for that storage unit. You’re also taking up time, energy and space to manage more stuff. If you have to move, renovate, or have somebody move in or move out, there’s just more stuff. We’re probably going to get more presents or buy new clothes this year. We’re going to keep adding things.
A good way to get past this, I don’t want to throw anything away or waste anything that costs money, is when you bring something new into your house, a sweater, a pair of shoes, a coat, find one thing that you’re willing to trade out for it. You can take your old coat to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Do it in small increments. You’re not wasting something if you’re able to donate it. If it’s still in good shape. If someone else is able to use it. You’re actually helping someone, rather than keeping something that you’re not using, that you don’t like, or that you would never buy again.
Something I use when I’m looking at clothes, even if they fit me, they’re stylish, in fashion, I could wear it, but I asked myself, would I wear this again? Would I buy this? Would I spend money on this again? If the answer is no. Why am I holding on to it? Right? It’s because I feel like I spent money on it. But you know what? I could go and bless someone with that. There’s somebody out there who does need the coat, the sweater, the shirt.
It is a process of getting over, just the clean plate club. Many of the women I work with who want to lose weight, have a really hard time not cleaning the plates. They don’t want to leave a bite behind, they have to eat it all. There’s ways to work around that. You can get a smaller plate.
You could do it that way. The same thing is to allow yourself only a certain amount of purchases every month. You could strategize on ways to help you buy less, accumulate less, keep less.
5) The need for variety.
Something I noticed with decluttering, and I say this a lot with weight loss because a lot of women will say to me, I need a lot of variety. I can’t lose weight because I get bored easily. I need to have a lot of different kinds of foods. Working out gets really boring. Well you know, everything gets very boring. I need a lot of variety
I realized we really don’t need or use as much stuff as we think we would. We have more variety at our fingertips. How many different pairs of shoes do you have? How many different sweaters? How many different coats and dresses? How much stuff do you have? How many different pairs of earrings do you have? You can only wear so much at any given time.
I have noticed a trend. You probably have your favorite pair of sneakers. You found those Nike Airs, and then you loved them, until you bought another pair. Then when they changed the color you bought those. You’ll always wear the L’Oreal black eyeliner. You’ve tried other ones but that’s your tried and true. As much as we think we need, desire, and have to have so much variety, so much stuff, so many different things to keep us entertained, it’s really not true. We usually end up wearing the same colors, the same kind of clothes, the same eyeliner, we eat the same breakfast four times out of seven every week.
Decluttering definitely helps you confront some of the bullshit our brain offers us about why weight loss is hard, not easy, complicated, or why we’re not losing weight is that we need so much variety. You can, within your own likes, make a little bit of variety. If you have a pair of sneakers that you like, but you got it in four different colors, there’s your variety. You know the sneakers fit, that they’re comfortable, that you could walk or run in them. Perfect. Why go out and buy other brands or other makes and models of things? They might hurt your feet, maybe they’re not very practical, maybe you’ll never work out in those. It’s the same thing with eating food.
Our brain offers this idea to us that we need so much variety. But if you write down everything that you eat, you’ll probably notice it’s a lot of the same stuff. Maybe in a week or two instead of a turkey sandwich, maybe you’ll have an egg salad sandwich. The light balsamic salad dressing, maybe I’ll switch it up to oil and vinegar. We make little tweaks along the way, but by and large, what we eat at meals is generally the same.
When we’re shopping, buying, storing, and keeping all of these things, we don’t need them, we don’t use them. That is also a way for us to understand before I buy it, before I say I have to have it. Those impulse purchases, the online shopping, keeping things that aren’t our style anymore, keeping things that aren’t us anymore, that aren’t part of our identity, it is okay to let it go. Even if it comes back in style, if it’s not your style, you don’t need it.
By and large you can have the same type of outfits. You can dress it up with a different jacket or a different t-shirt color. Most of us as humans stick to the same thing once we find our comfort level. I say Simon Cowell wears a V neck t shirt every single time he’s on TV and this man is worth a bazillion dollars. He could buy and wear anything he wants, all the variety. But he is tried and true. Same with you Richard Branson, jeans and a button down T shirt. I could point to Mark Zuckerberg. I could point to females probably who have the same type of plug and play. They don’t as much, they can have variety and there is variety. They stick to the things that work. They simplify it and they keep it super easy.
6) Less is more.
Less is more, more is not more. More just creates more clutter, more bills, more overwhelm, more guilt. We’re just collecting things. I really felt in the decluttering process that it is so much freer and so much lighter. Bringing things into the house when I was doing all of the Christmas and Hanukkah shopping and I just felt heavier. I felt very disorganized. I felt out of my routine. There is something to be said about less is more.
You could be saving space, saving money, and saving yourself from having to declutter more and more down the road.
7) Your family doesn’t have to be on board.
Just like they don’t have to be on board with your weight loss. Nobody else but you have to be on board. Nobody’s going to do it for you anyway. It doesn’t matter what they think. I’m not saying you should go and throw out everybody’s stuff because that’s probably going to be a problem. I know the urge to do it, especially if you live with people who are pack rats or hoarders and they don’t want to have their fifth grade report card but they’re a 55 year old man or woman. Nobody cares what books you read in fifth grade, but somehow they do. If they find out that you throw it away, that might be a problem.
Think about just taking care of your stuff, your clothes, your files, your books, the hair products, that makeup, the skincare, all the stuff. One of the things I did notice, especially in my weight loss journey, when I wasn’t feeling particularly good about myself I would buy more makeup, more haircare, more skincare, more shoes, more pocket books. I buy more things to make me feel better. Except they didn’t make me feel better. I had other issues. My issue wasn’t a lack of pocketbooks or sneakers. It was also that I didn’t want to buy new clothes. I had clothes that didn’t fit me. I didn’t feel confident getting dressed or in my own body. I didn’t like how I looked or how I felt.
It is normal for us to look for these external things that we could bring in to get that little hit of dopamine or joy. I got a new lipstick, new nails, new nail color, new earrings, all these things to dress myself up. Yet I don’t tackle myself or what is really going on inside of me.
I could wear the newest makeup, have a new curling iron, have all of the different soaps and shampoos, but at the end of the day, that is really not helping me lose weight or figure out why I’m not losing weight. It’s just cluttering up the problem I don’t want to face.
8) Clutter increases stress.
Speaking of things like dopamine and hormones, clutter increases stress. You might also find that subsequently it increases your cortisol levels. The more stress we have, the more overwhelmed and fenced in we feel. I can’t even think straight. I can’t even breathe. I look around and I’m like, what is all this stuff?
I can keep bringing more stuff in and yet I don’t feel any better. It’s actually doing the reverse. It’s making me feel overwhelmed. Not even that dopamine hit that I loved. I got happy when I bought the Coach bag or the new wallet or the new belt, all that stuff. Then just sits there in the closet and stares at you.
Decluttering can help you feel like you can finally breathe. That you have space and room, not just physically in your environment, but actually to think and to figure out some things about yourself. The decluttering experience I find is magical in that way.
9) Decluttering can help you feel more in control.
Even though lots of things can be going on, in your life, in the world, outside of your house with other people. But at that moment, you can feel more in control. Sometimes what we do is we end up overeating or mindless eating habitually. We just eat to feel in control or to feel a little bit of joy or to avoid feeling frustrated or tired or resentful.
I found decluttering even just
- One drawer,
- One rack of clothes.
- One box or one,
- One little tiny corner,
- One little part of closet
- The house,
Was that same feeling, except it didn’t cost me any calories.
I didn’t consume 500 calories of M&Ms. Instead I was making a bag of trash or making a bag of donations. It gave me time and space away from the kitchen and away from putting things in my mouth. It gave me time to think, even if I started some of these projects in my rage cleaning way. I felt very calm and relaxed afterwards. Even if I didn’t finish the project. Even if I left a bag and said okay, this bag is half full. I am going to leave it here because tomorrow I can fill up that trash bag.
10) It is a very gradual process.
You’re not going to declutter, organize, or clean your whole house all at once and then never do it again. I don’t care how big or how small it is. Just like we have to constantly make food, put away food, clean up food, and clean the kitchen. We constantly have to brush our teeth. We constantly have to brush our hair or go to bed. We’re doing a lot of things automated. It’s a very gradual process.
It is a lot like weight loss, where we open that junk drawer and we start with just a few of the easy things to throw away. Then we come back to it at another time, when we can make more decisions, faster decisions, or get through this quicker. When I’m not bogged down with emotions. We’re feeling guilty about throwing things away. I can level up my declutter game or l my weight loss game as I go along. I get better at this. I do it faster. I don’t have as much stuff. I am much smarter about what I bring into the house, how much food I buy, what kind of food I buy, the junk food. I take more control, knowing that this is my house, my environment, my kitchen, my closet, I do have control. If I buy something, because I think it’s going to make me feel better, I have to remember that it is only a short lived joy.
I love the analogy between the process of decluttering and the process of weight loss. We’re not going to always be decluttering every single day. Just like we’re not going to be dieting every single day, every single week, every single month for the rest of your life. If your goal is to lose weight, we’re not always going to be cutting calories or cutting certain things. We’re not always in the season of weight loss. We might be in the season of maintenance. Same thing with decluttering.
It’s not every single day for the rest of my life I am going to walk around with a white trash bag. Although maybe, I mean, it was really fun. It is gradual, and it gets easier. It is just like your weight loss process. We’re never completely done but we do have a lot of control over how fast or how slow we want to go and how and what we want to create.
11. Simplifying your weight loss is a lot about decluttering.
You don’t need;
- Tons of kitchen gadgets,
- Fancy containers,
- The newest food scale,
- New measuring cups,
- More recipes,
- New diet books,
- More tracking apps,
All of this stuff.
I know that you’re probably thinking about 2024. I have to get that Ninja Foodie ice cream maker, Vitamix blender, new coffee machine, new shaker cup, or new water bottle. I water bottles are something that is a clutter in my house. It’s definitely a fight around here about water bottles.
It’s very easy to collect a lot of this stuff. I need more stuff. In order for me to lose weight, I need to have the pressure cooker, the slow cooker, the instant pot and airfryer. I need all this stuff. The reality is you don’t. Some of it is nice to have. Sure, but how much stuff do you already have in your cabinets or in your closets that you don’t use on a regular basis?
My goal with Unf*ck Your Weight Loss, my free Facebook group, (if you’re not already there, please go there. It’s Food, Fitness, Fat loss for Women Over 40) and my program Self Made, it’s all about helping you simplify weight loss. Some of that comes down to troubleshooting it, figuring out what the triggers are. Where do we see some of these patterns coming up?
It’s so interesting that a lot of it is stuff that we stopped seeing, just like clutter. We’re so used to walking into our own kitchen or walking into our bathroom and opening that cabinet and seeing 600 bottles of stuff that has been in there for four years. It can be really helpful, especially in this new year, rather than add more things in, ask yourself what you can remove. What can I take away? What can I have less of?
You will find by removing, decluttering, throwing away, you will see much more clearly. That will actually add back into your life. It will add more space, more peace, more calm and probably more money when we’re not buying more things that we’re not using or that they don’t live up to the hype. The dopamine hit is gone and now I’m just surrounded with more stuff. That doesn’t really help me with my weight loss. You don’t need more stuff in order to lose weight.
I’m not known as the decluttering queen but I found it just really felt good. A great month to do it in December. I was getting a little bit overwhelmed bringing more things in. Tree is going up, the ornaments, the decorations, the kids are home, there’s presents, wrapping paper, and crap everywhere. It’s really nice to get rid of stuff.
I think it will be really helpful to be patient with yourself and this process. See what thoughts and feelings come up. You’re human. I think you’d have to be a robot to blindly throw everything away and not have thoughts and feelings about it.
ABOUT THE HOST
Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.
Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.
Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.
By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.
Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.
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