Crash diet or lifestyle change.

Have you ever got to a point where you think I really must go on a diet, my weight is getting out of control. So you follow the latest trendy crash diet for a month and the pounds are falling off. By week five you are pretty happy with your appearance and figure you don’t need to be so hard on yourself. The odd treat starts sneaking its way back in but what harm does that do, right? A few more months down the track you have returned to all your old habits and have regained the pounds that you lost and are back to square one.

After repeating this cycle a couple of times it becomes apparent that this method of weight loss does not work in the long run. What is required to maintain a healthy weight is a lifestyle change not a crash diet. The difference is that you change the way you eat on a permanent basis. Cut back on unhealthily foods, create a meal plan that is enjoyable yet healthy that leaves a little wriggle room for a treat occasionally that makes you feel like you aren’t depriving yourself.

My husband has done this and gradually lost about 15kg (about 33 lbs) and has kept it off for eight months without feeling like he is depriving himself. He sure feels and looks great.

What has this got to do with decluttering you might ask. Well that’s simple. People often perform this same futile cycle on their homes as well. They get to a point where they are frustrated with all the clutter build up, put their homes on a crash diet by having a mass declutter then return to their old ways of shopping and bringing stuff in until they are back to square one. Then repeat the process again and again.

What is required to maintain a more minimalist household and enjoy the freedom from clutter buildup is to change your lifestyle. Firstly change your shopping habits by being more selective about what you bring into your home. Then slowly but surely release the clutter that is already there. Like I said in Tuesday’s post, pay attention to what you are decluttering so you learn the lessons you need to learn in order to resist the temptation to full back into old habits. When you do need to make a purchase you will enjoy it all the more because you know that it will be something that you will get value for money from because you have chosen wisely.

Now you have broken the declutter, reclutter cycle and you can enjoy your new lifestyle.

One last thing. About the only thing I know of where crash diets actually work on is your bank account. Waste all the money in your bank account buying stuff you don’t need then try putting weight back on in a hurry there and you will soon see how difficult that is. This won’t be a problem for you now because with your new conscious consumer lifestyle you should have more dollars in the bank than you ever did.

Today’s Declutter Item

I had never considered these caps for decluttering before because they were in a box in the bottom of the linen closet and I didn’t know they were inside. I knew the box had hats in it but I thought they were all my husbands. So they are not only an impulsive declutter but they were an easy declutter because I knew instantly that I didn’t want them.

My old softball uniform caps

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Watching the pieces of jewellery sell that I repair for the thrift store. It is gratifying that little repairs that costs me next to nothing not only brings money into the thrift store but rescues the items from the bin in the first place.


“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Colleen, this is a good post. I have thought of this a few times as I have been decluttering. I wish losing weight was as easy as I find decluttering to be. It has been a very hectic and exhausting 3 weeks here and I have had little time to comment on your very good posts. I just wanted you to know that I have read them all though and thought they were all very good. I really do enjoy your blog.

    • Hi Deb J,
      commenting isn’t mandatory, I enjoy all the contact with my readers but I don’t expect them to check in every day.
      As for losing weight, I think, like decluttering you just have to want it bad enough. The perceived pay off for losing it has to outweigh in your mind the thoughts of deprivation from the indulgences you wil be missing.

  2. Colleen, this is a little off the subject, but my mother is a fantastic declutterer.

    She recently went through her entire house in anticipation of a large move and was getting rid of things. She found her old college cheerleading jacket and couldn’t decide what to do with it. Nobody was going to want it (if I didn’t, which I didn’t) and she didn’t want to keep it but was reluctant to get rid of it.

    I suggested we take a picture of it and she could keep the digital picture. She thought that was a great idea, we took the picture, and she was rid of one jacket that was 50 years old and falling apart.

    She goes through a major decluttering every few years because they like to move. But she keeps her house clutter free and it’s a very peaceful place to be. And I am grateful that she will not be leaving me a bunch of stuff to deal with when she dies. I have enough of my own stuff that means a lot to me that I am reluctant to part with that will mean nothing to my children!

    Good post. It really is a lifestyle change and those are hard.

    • I don’t think you were off subject at all Chelle. I imagine your mother’s major declutters are quite small and effortless considering she keeps the home decluttered all of the time. I hope to get to a point where major decluttering is a thing of the past altogether. I hope once all the excess stuff is out of here I can maintain to my desired standard constantly so that nothing builds up.

  3. OMG, what a post, if i could nominate a post of the month THIS WOULD BE IT!!! Sorry for shouting!!

    My eating habits were like my spending habits (which resulted in too much stuff) I would go through cycles of dieting, and not spending any money on crap. I would get fed up, binge eat and binge spend, which always resulted in buying stuff. these habits were always side by side. Once i had decided to stay clutter free i decided to take control of my eating habits too. These have been the two most life changing habits i have ever made. It created balance in my life, an equilibrium, a nice place to be. My life was wonderful before, a fantastic Husband, four great kids, nice home, and i am blessed. Those things that i wasn’t happy with held me back but they were mine and mine alone to deal with.

    My weight is coming down slowly, i am eating for health, i have joined a gym, my house is my idea of perfection. And stop press; I finally have the confidence to pursue a career i have always wanted to pursue, but felt i never could.

    Again what a fantastic post Colleen, it actually has made me quite emotional, in a good way!!


    • Good work Sharron – I must read your posts so often, that I recently asked a friend if she was Sharron with two r’s!! I’m so pleased to hear all your progress!

    • Good for you Sharron, you are living proof that change is posible. I think the same principles apply to most situations of change, you have to be ready and you have to make a complete lifestyle change rather than think you can change this and that for a short while and the situation will be different.
      I am sure we would all love to hear about the career change as well. We love a feel good story here at 365lessthings.

  4. You are so right.
    This lifestyle shows in all your posts. That’s one of the reason I love reading your blog so much. It goes way beyond decluttering. I see so many of my neighbors decluttering their house, putting everything in the trash. Unfortunately throwing something away does NOT make it disappear.

  5. Oh yes, really good post Colleen. Most of my decluttering is done for the time being, but I was missing the ‘rush’ I’d get when I saw how many things were leaving the house. This post has made me realise that very little is COMING into the house these days though, so I guess I should focus on that instead.

    Last week the family and I went to Tassie for 5 days and I didn’t buy anything I consider clutter: just some amazing chocolate-raspberry chocolates, a little soy candle, hand made soap and ONE hand-carved wooden Christmas-tree decoration made of Tasmanian wood. The kids spent their pocket money on lollies 🙂

    • Hi Loretta,
      I often wonder what it will be like trying to continue blogging about decluttering when I am fully decluttered. Writing about it when I am no long having hands on experience could be a little more difficult.

      Well done in Tassie! No luck selling the house yet?

      • Oh, sorry, meant to tell you: we sold it 8 days ago! Right on our deadline 🙂 It’s conditional (14 days) on a building and pest report, which have been done, so hopefully by NEXT Wednesday we can crack open the champagne!

        I’m sure I have still more stuff to declutter, but I think it’s mainly seasonal now. I’ve done the kids’ clothes for this spring/summer, but I’m sure I’ll have to get rid of lots of their stuff before next winter, as almost all their clothes are 2-3 years old, and surely they’ll be having growth spurts soon?! Plus, I always ask them to declutter several books from their bookshelves before Christmas to make room for their new Christmas books (guess that really isn’t decluttering, is it?)

        • Congratulations Loretta, keep me informed of the big move. Maybe I can visit you again in a new location.

          If your kids are like mine I would hold your breath on those growth spurts. I never bought clothes for my kids ahead of when they would need them because they were so not average that I could never tell what size they would be. Like yours they got more than one season out of a lot of their clothes. It certainly had its advantages. Saved me a fortune, I never could imagine why people bragged so much about how fast their kids were growing (especially to me under the circumstances) it just sounded expensive to me.

  6. Decluttering is definitely a lifestyle change, not a diet! I am learning that I am FAR more productive when I declutter 2 things a day, every day than when I declutter 30 things in a weekend and go the week not doing anything. It seems like more goes out but because it’s not part of my daily process, more comes in, too.

    Hey, so, um. Can I use your comments to ask anyone for advice/pictures on toy storage? *bats eyelashes* We have the toys down to a reasonable amount but he needs new, basic storage that will work for him (he’s almost 4).

    • Hi Lynn,
      I am not surprised that you find it to be this way. It is best to stay in practice at least until you have completely changed your old habits.

      And as for your toy organising question, feel free to ask whatever you like. I have posted a link on the fave five tomorrow for you with a photo link to my favourite children toy storage option.

  7. Hey Linn,
    I don’t have kids but from being a kid I can remember: The only thing we’d ever pick up was the basket of legos. Everything that needed more than tossing in was no fun putting away. Attention span pretty much crashed down to zero when it was time to put things away (though before it was no problem to be occupied for hours ;-)) So: Crates, baskets, maybe an old suitcase, a bench with storage, under bed roll out containers, hooks on the wall for costumes or clothes that get worn again … As a kid I liked open storage more than I do today because I liked being surrounded by all the good things that were mine and it was easy to access. However, a friend had his sons toy in a closet and only took out one thing a day. If the kid wanted something else he could go and “trade” it in. That idea also appeals to me though it is the total opposite. I guess it depends on the kid (and the room) if all out and open or mostly packed away (or something in between) is the right option.

    • You know what is so funny? Legos are the one thing my son HATES to pick up and the one thing I refuse to help him with. (Granted, I am 29 weeks pregnant and a little tired of bending over right now.)

      I have a friend that does similar with just taking one thing out and it works for them, but I know I wouldn’t have liked that as a kid (or even as an adult). I liked to make my different categories of toys interact and so does he. Little People farm set invites the superheroes over for lunch, for instance. 😉

      Thank you for the ideas! You reminded me about putting hooks on the wall for his capes (Superman AND Batman, oh my). I’ll have to get my dear husband to do that for me today. 😀

      • Lynn, have you ever seen those lego sieves that have three layers and you put all the lego in the top and each layer has smaller holes so the different size pieces separate into the different layers. Perhaps that would be useful and a little fun to encourage him to pick up.

  8. Hi there!

    I’m kind of stuck in my decluttering process at the moment… :-/
    Somehow, I’m ready for a big change, as there is still way too much around here, but I can’t decide for anything to go…

    All I decluttered today were some recipes I never use and some comics. However, it feels as if nothing was leaving the house – it’s feeling bad. I don’t feel so well around here, but can’t think about anything to declutter.

    I just got rid of some shelves in the entryway, as it felt much too cluttered there, but even now I can’t really enjoy the new space – it’s still looking cluttered. 🙁

    • This has been suggested here before but have you tried taking pictures of the areas you *feel* are cluttered? I find that when I know an area is cluttered, a picture helps to highlight the items that are out of place or excessive.

      Alternatively, you go to an area that feels cluttered and then just pick up everything, one item at a time. Don’t ask yourself if it’s in the right area or if it’s got a home. Those are the wrong questions. Ask yourself if it’s useful (and used), something you LOVE, something you’d want to move, etc. If none of your questions (perhaps 5 per item?) get a “yes” then it’s probably worth getting rid of it. If it does, then ask yourself if it’s in the right place and stuff.

      I’m not sure if you’ve tried any of this or if it’ll even help but I find that it helps me. I actually need to use that second process on my decorative bookshelf because it looks really cluttered but I can’t see anything that I really want to get rid of!

      • Thank you for your kind reply!

        I actually haven’t taken photos yet. Might be worth a try.

        I’m continually decluttering since about a year ago, so I think, I had everything in my hands at least once already. Nowadays I find only few things of a kind to declutter (e.g. I look through the towels and might decide that I can get rid of one). It’s so SLOW. If we’re taking the eating habit analogy, you might say, I’m at a point where I’m not much overweight any longer, however those last few pounds seem to stick FOREVER.

        Still, I think there is probably no other way than just getting rid of one thing at a time. I long for a ‘big purge’ though.
        Or maybe, I haven’t been brave enough yet?

        • Personally, I completely get it. I’ve been “decluttering” for over a year now and I keep going through these plateaus where I feel like absolutely nothing is getting done. My motivation lately is that I’m due in January and I don’t want to have all of this junk to deal with along with a newborn and 4 year old. Makes purging a bit easier, lol.

          I have to do the “touch everything” process more than once, if it helps. Different mindsets and places in life really affect what your answers are!

          Good luck! I love that we can all talk about it here on Colleen’s blog. Really motivates me some days. 🙂

    • Hi Sanna,
      don’t be discouraged even those recipes and comics are items now gone. Without knowing what your home is like it is hard for me to say what your stubbling block might be. You might have a small home crammed with a lot of essential things and that is just the way it will be for you. If that is not the case I would suggest you turn you focus back to each individual item. Go to this link for my decision making guide and use it to determine whether items should stay or go. If you are still having trouble maybe you are being more possessive than is necessary. This would be when I get someone else’s opinion. Bring in a friend or family member to help you be realistic about the items, someone who will know you well enough to have some idea as the what you use and what you don’t, what you wear etc. Perhaps you are just not being honest with yourself when you are appraising your belongings. Good luck and let me know how you get on.

  9. Yes, I’m happy to discuss this as well. 😀

    It’s nice to see that others are struggling sometimes as well. I’m already more motivated now and that I just received an email that I sold a book via internet also helps. 😉

    Thank you!

    I think, I’m going to do some proper cleaning now instead of driving myself mad about the decluttering. At least I decluttered something today, right?

    • Exactly! Just like Colleen was saying about the diet. 🙂

      Today my goal is laundry (I’m SO behind from not being home as much). I don’t even know if I’ll declutter more than an item or two but I refuse to feel guilty for it.

    • Hi again Sanna,
      I am glad that Lynn has been there for you to chat too while I have been sleeping it helps to have someone to run ideas by. It sounds like you have made a mighty effort already and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t turn your decluttering diet into decluttering anorexia though. Perhaps you have got so in the declutter zone that you feel you need to keep going and enough isn’t enough anymore. I am just guessing of course and if that isn’t the case please follow the first advice I gave you as it is much the same of Lynns. Approach one item at a time. Even my decluttering feels a little stagnant at times but a little reality check on certain items soon makes it apparent to me that it is time to let go. There are items that I have decluttered recently that have been on my radar ever since I started this mission that I am only now coming to terms with letting go of. And some items that I knew I wanted to let go of but have happily ignored in preference to items that were easier to deal with. I say again good luck and let us know how you get on.

      • Hi Colleen!

        Actually, I answered 6 hours earlier (before sleeping), but then both the internet connection and my text were suddenly gone, so I’ll keep it short(er) this time.

        Thank you very much! I feel really well taken care of in my weak moments here… 🙂
        I think you hit some nails with both your posts.
        I figure, I get stuck because things I can’t (or am not quite ready to) change at the moment catch all of my attention and block my ideas about what I CAN actually change.
        So yesterday for example, I was annoyed by the laundry rack in the flat. I don’t have space outside the apartment to dry laundry though and also no tumbler (or even a good place to put a tumbler), so I can’t really help it. At least I found it a new place a little less prominent yesterday, so I hope it’ll do.
        Besides, there are a few too many fabrics waiting for being taken care of – they are not ugly though and I actually intend to make some things out of it, so it’s not quite aspiration clutter yet (but I’m well aware it might turn into some in the future, if I don’t take care of it). The same with vases and china – I collected both and I got rid of some over the past year, but I’m not yet minimal in that area and probably will part with some more over the next year – yet today is not the day for it.
        All these things took up my mind so much that I felt, even though I decluttered a few things yesterday, I didn’t tackle the ‘real’ stuff.
        However, this is a mindset. I had problems like this in the very beginning of my decluttering journey, too, but then I managed to accept the ‘excess’ in my few weak areas and the imperfections of my apartment and just made the most of the rest.

        I think, what I will do now, is:
        -find the laundry rack a new place in the hope, it will be better there(already done)
        -get rid of ONE piece of fabric and ONE vase, as obviously the ‘pile’ of both clutters my mind, even though I’m not really ready for tackling the whole lot yet
        -then go on with other things, ’cause if there was nothing else left in the flat, it would look pretty decluttered even with two medium size boxes of fabric and some sets of china, right?

        Thank you again, Lynn and Colleen!

        • Hi Sanna,
          your first comment came through to me at 1:19am. Either your comment took a long to to move through the ether or you are forgetting I live in Australia.

          It sounds like you have taken all the advice given you and worked out your problem very well. There is not much one can do about clutter if there is no better way around it like your airer. And I understand how you have fixated on your collections because they do take up space so you feel compelled to downsize it. It is a conflict of interests, you want to declutter but the collection go against everything you believe about decluttering. Always remember that it is not clutter if you love it and it sounds like you love your collections and that is fine. Leave them be and concentrate on something else. you might find that once you get rid of a little more clutter elsewhere you might find a way to spread your collections throughout your space so they don’t seem to overrun the space. Perhaps even only display a certain number at a time and rotate the display. There is a large chance that you will have future regrets if you declutter items before you are ready. So go easy on yourself and take some time to explore other areas of your home and if you find nothing then just let it be for a while.

          • Thank you again, Colleen.

            Btw. I referred to a answer I typed but wasn’t able to send due to internet connection problems. I went to bed instead of typing it all over again. (and successfully posted the comment the morning after)
            I’m sorry to have made you believe, I critizised your “delay” – even if we were in the same time zone, I’d never expect you to answer every comment in a second’s time.

            • Hi Sanna,
              I didn’t think for one minute that you were criticising my delay I just thought you might not have realised or forgottenI lived in Australia. Don’t think anything of it. Don’t you hate it when the internet fails you. Mine seems awfully slow this morning but then again at 6:30am I am not the quick myself.

              You have a great day.

  10. Hi Lynn,

    maybe the older I get, the better I was when it comes to putting the Lego away? 😉
    But take a look at this (sorry that it is only a German catalogue site, but still much easier than me trying to explain the idea, I suppose)

  11. That is so neat!

  12. As I was reading Sanna’s posts, it occurred to me that maybe she is assuming one must become a minimalist during decluttering.

    The point really ISN’T to clear out your house as much as possible; it’s to make it so that you have room to live, don’t feel claustrophobic because of clutter, and so that everything you own has a place to be put away.

    I don’t think people should really have to wrack their brains trying to find things to declutter. There does come a point, especially after you’ve done a huge purge, or if you’ve been decluttered for years, that it becomes a challenge to find something to declutter. It’s even more of a challenge if you’ve broken the habit of shopping/retail therapy.

    After awhile, you end up with mostly stuff that gets used regularly, and only the occasional item that you end up wanting to declutter.

    Maybe Sanna is at that point?

    I may be way off-base, but thought I’d throw this out there.

    • Hi Becky,
      Thank you for that good advice. I hope I made your point clear to her in the responses where I wrote ‘It sounds like you have made a mighty effort already and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t turn your decluttering diet into decluttering anorexia though. Perhaps you have got so in the declutter zone that you feel you need to keep going and enough isn’t enough anymore.” Also in my first response i suggested that maybe her home is just small and what is left is essential to her and it just feels cluttered and there is not much to be done about that.

      Decluttering isn’t a competition with the goal of ending up with the least amount of stuff.


  1. […] comment from Sharron confirms that I was on the right path with my Crash diet or lifestyle change post from […]