Friday, March 21, 2008

Can Decluttering Help Me Lose Weight?

You’ve tried the Grapefruit Diet, The Kelp-Cider Vinegar-B6-Lecithin Diet, the Low-Fat Diet, the Low-Carb Diet, and about a million other diets. The results have been pretty disappointing. But recent literature suggests weight-loss may be possible by shifting your focus from what you eat -- to your clutter.

In early February Peter Walsh released his new book,Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?. Peter Walsh is a highly respected professional organizer and motivational speaker who appears on TLC’s Clean Sweep and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? is Walsh’s third book on organizing. In it he continues the message from his second book, It’s All Too Much: the issue with clutter is not the stuff per se, the issue is it blocks us from the life we envision. That vision not only includes the home, but our bodies as well. Walsh believes that emotional decluttering, physical decluttering and body decluttering are tied together.

Body decluttering is the subject of another book that was first released in 2005. Marla Cilley and Leanne Ely propose in Body Clutter that emotional decluttering is the premise for good self-care. Through her persona, Flylady, Marla Cilley has helped thousands of people declutter their way to a more peaceful and welcoming home. Body Clutter encourages readers to examine their lives and declutter the unhealthy habits and emotions that contribute to poor self-care and over-eating.

For Walsh, Cilley and Ely emotions are inextricably linked to clutter. Experts in hoarding behavior David Tolin, Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee agree. Success in dealing with hoarding behaviors has a firm foundation in the success of therapy. Of course, most people are not dealing with hoarding behaviors. A few piles of papers or an over-stuffed closet may be the extent of most people’s clutter.

While emotional issues may not be the cause of the average person’s clutter, look at the language that is used to describe it: frustrating, irritating, embarrassing and overwhelming. Arguably the emotional tie that we have with our clutter can make it tougher to tackle. But when people deal with their clutter they feel good. The energy that is invested in decluttering can spill over into other areas of one’s life – including health issues.

The president of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD), Lynne Johnson, was interviewed by New York Times reporter Tara Parker-Pope for her January 1, 2008 article “A Clutter Too Deep For Mere Bins And Shelves.” Johnson acknowledged the link between decluttering and weight-loss and offered her observation that dealing with one’s clutter and dealing with one’s weight are often “…part of the same life-change decision.”

While decluttering your home may not cause you to lose weight, it is a commitment to bettering your life. I believe that when people are unburdened by clutter they find hope, and hope by its very nature is transforming. Hope can empower us to face our challenges with confidence – including the challenge of weight-loss.