Cluttered (Part I)

Good evening.  I wanted to share something that I stumbled upon that has been quite interesting for me.

Something I have sort of struggled with from Day 1 is that I have had a hard time identifying the root of my eating dis-function.  People throw around the term “emotional eater”, “stress eater”, etc. but, in general, I am an extremely even-keeled kind of person.  To the best of my knowledge, I don’t suffer from depression or anxiety…stress, maybe, but that comes with having 3 kids.  During my full fast period I encountered quite a few emotional events in my life (my father-in-law dying while my husband was out of town, my dad being hospitalized and having surgery, etc.) but, in all honesty, they really did not lead me to want to eat at all.  There was a total disconnect there.  The beauty of being on the full fast Optifast program was that by removing food triggers on a daily basis, I could really see where they did come from.  Early on (and I probably already knew some of this) I identified the clutter in my home as a major trigger.  I even blogged about it here several weeks into the program.

When I first entered Transition and got my new “Active Maintenance” binder from Dr. Ziltzer, there were several worksheets that he asked me to fill out.  Several of the exercises referenced a book called Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh.  The exercises really had nothing to do with that title – they were actually about meal planning – but I zeroed in on that title and, subsequently, ordered the book immediately from Amazon.

Peter Walsh is an organizer – not a doctor or psychologist.  Here is a excerpt from the book description:

Peter Walsh, the bestselling author of It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, believes that the secret to successfully losing weight is to forget about calorie counting and weekly weigh-ins. Instead you need to focus on how, why, and where you eat. When it comes to clearing clutter (the fat in our homes) it isn’t about the stuff itself, it’s about the life you want to live. The same is true for losing weight: It’s not about the pounds, it’s about living the life you deserve in the body you want.

IMG_3816Using his expert techniques honed from years as a clutter expert and organizational consultant on TLC’s Clean Sweep, Peter helps you address how the clutter in your kitchen, your pantry, and your home is directly related to the clutter on your body and negatively affects your ability to lead a full and healthy life. This book shows you how to clean up not just the spaces where you eat, but the routines around them: from planning meals and shopping to dinnertime rituals.

If you have seen Peter Walsh on TV, you know that he is pretty much no-nonsense.  He doesn’t sugar coat anything.  I really like that about his book.  He makes it very clear that the decision to be fat or not pretty much rests squarely on our own shoulders.  I like this thinking.  This IS work.  Lots of work.  But it isn’t impossible.

I’m only about 40% of the way through the book so far.  Every sentence speaks to me.  I am really relieved to see that a cluttered home, etc. can actually cause someone to gain weight.  I was starting to think I needed to find some deeper psychological reason – which I have been racking my brain to think of for quite some time now.  Maybe there is one.  I’m sure a bit of it has to do with the fact that I left my career to be a homemaker and yet I still can’t seem to get a handle on keeping our house organized.  Maybe I still need to see a therapist.  But, for now, I’m really going to work this angle.

So far, some of the things that stand out in the book are (there are so many, really, it is hard to just list a few):

  • Your home is a reflection on you.  As a nation we are struggling with an epidemic of obesity at the same time we are living in homes weighted down with clutter and filled with “stuff”.
  • Clutter and fat are not very different.  We all deal constantly with the urge to consume more.
  • Declutter your mind, declutter your home, declutter your relationship with food.
  • “Every aspect of life is interconnected – how we act, what we own, where we live, what we put into our bodies.  You can’t deal with the fat on your body if you are trapped in a home that is smothering under the fat of what you own.  To deal with your own weight, you need to open up the spaces around you so that your world is lighter.”

Before I launch into reading the next sections of the book, I will document what a disaster my home still is.  I’m looking forward to hopefully learning some tips to tame this clutter monster.  We have a large, almost 4,000 square foot, house with 5 of us (and a dog) living here.  Probably 80% of the house is very neat and orderly – but the problem areas are driving me insane.  And that insanity used to lead me to eat.  I have learned there is such a thing as “avoidance eating” and I think that is pretty close to what I was doing.  Instead of finish up a task, project, clean-up, organization, etc. I would take a break and eat something out of frustration.  I really really saw how often I would have done that during this full fast program.  Now that I am in Maintenance, I have developed the realization that that cannot continue and I haven’t let it continue.  But, I still need to clean up this house and, more importantly, simplify our organizational systems to create a home that I can be proud of and that is calming.

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I give you a tour of my “problem areas”:


This is an updated picture of my desk that I wrote about in the previous blog post.  The work surface still collects way too much stuff but the cabinets and drawers have remained organized.  Quite a few times I have noticed how this organization has saved me from some stressful situations because I could find what I needed in a hurry.  Still a long way to go, but there is hope.

Here is my laundry room.  A number of years ago we remodeled this area to create “lockers” for each of us – including the 3 kids.  This keeps most of our crap somewhat compartmentalized but all of us continue to shove more stuff than necessary into our spaces; therefore, it all starts spilling onto the floor.  We also have a nice counter top which was intended to be used to fold laundry but that pretty much hasn’t happened.  It is also covered with stuff that doesn’t have a home.  The last picture is a typical image just outside the laundry room – despite having lockers with shoe drawers, the kids take their shoes off right here every day and dump backpacks, sporting equipment, etc.  I’m pretty sure my son’s football helmet and smelly shoulder pads sit here 90% of the time.

IMG_3765  IMG_3763 IMG_3766  IMG_3762  IMG_3768 IMG_3769 IMG_3767


And, lastly, and definitely worst-ly – my office.  <insert scary music>  This room drives me insane and, in all honesty, makes me feel like a complete mess.  My office is the final dumping ground for everything that does not have a “home”.  So much “homeless” stuff and I have no idea what to do with it.  There are only so many “categories” you can create.  I hope and pray that this book helps me with this.  It is time to purge a lot of things in here.  I once was very crafty and much of it is related to that.  But the kinds of crafts I will do as the kids get older are going to be different.  I would bet that much of this stuff can be donated.

IMG_3777 IMG_3776 IMG_3773 IMG_3772 IMG_3770

I sure hope I have an “After” picture to display.  Not just of a cleaned up space but one that I can maintain – similar to my weight loss.  Stay tuned for Cluttered (Part II)….

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3 Responses to Cluttered (Part I)

  1. Tami says:

    I read the book and loved it! Maybe worth a re-read.Thanks for reminding me about it. He makes great points; my onl problem was actually implementing them. I also long for a clutter-free home and feel like if I just had some TIME I could focus and de-clutter! Maybe this summer.. right? 🙂


  2. Yikes, and you have THE most organized and clean house I have ever been in.


  3. Debra says:

    My, my. Boy can I relate. I live in < 1000 sq feet with hubby, 4 cats, 2 little dogs and stuff, that have lives of their own. Thanks for the inspiration. Looking foward to reading about your clutter success.


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