By Cindy Bogard
In 2008, I heard about the book Does This Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh. The title is enough to make you take a second look, and as I recall, he made the circuit of all the daytime talk shows. Without knowing more, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard and forgot about it until this weekend.
Like a lot of people, I have struggled with my weight. I was always small but after the birth of my second child, I hit almost 180 pounds and stayed there. Maybe four years ago, I decided that nonsense had to change. I joined Weight Watchers and set what I considered to be reasonable goal – 138, the same as I weighed when I got pregnant with my first child. I got down to 143, decided that was good enough, and that’s where I stayed until last year when I crept up just a few pounds. I could still wear my same clothes. It was fine.
In December of last year, my eldest daughter Clara was quite unexpectedly diagnosed with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. Overnight, our entire family eliminated most carbs and nearly all sweets. The few pounds I’d gained disappeared.
Recently, and also unexpectedly, I lost another eight pounds and slid past my long-lost goal of 138. I didn’t trust the loss; I hadn’t done anything to actively make it happen, and I had no reason to think that it would stay gone.
Over the weekend, I was hiking with a friend and I was saying that I could pull some of my pants off without unbuttoning them, but that I was storing these clothes for when the weight came back. She thought that “no effort weight loss” was the best kind – more guaranteed than “plenty of effort weight loss” because it had happened without my conscious effort. Then she said, “I think this weight loss has to do with decuttering: less stuff, less weight.” I laughed and said that was silly then remembered Peter Walsh’s book. I wondered if there was really anything to it. Turns out, there was.
I still haven’t read the book, but I have read the reviews. (I know, “I’m not a doctor; I just play one on TV.”) In a nutshell, Walsh wasn’t talking about losing weight by decluttering randomly around the house. He was talking about decluttering the kitchen cabinets, pantry, refrigerator and freezer – clearing out what is not important to you to make way for what is.
I have an extremely functional kitchen without many extra supplies, so that part is handled and leaves the food. As soon as we got home from the hospital in December, I got rid of nearly all my cookbooks and a lot of food. I gave it to friends; I donated it to the food pantry; I fed it to the dogs. (Shhh, don’t tell their vet). We went along like this for half a year, but as I grew more knowledgeable about diabetes, more clear about how tight I wanted Clara’s sugar control to be, and what it would take to get that control, I realized there was another big cleansing to do. I got rid of 27 foods from my pantry. I reorganized what was left so that the healthy no-carbs snacks were front and center. There is virtually no processed food – most everything is raw ingredients. The same can be said for the freezer. In addition, I went on a campaign to increase our vegetable consumption. I live in a town that prides itself on having fabulous grocery stores. When I looked at all the offerings, I realized that the four or five veggies we ate regularly were a pitiful selection, to say it kindly. We started having a “new veggie of the week” and I spent a fair amount of time looking for actual recipes for the vegetables, rather than just offering a choice of raw or steamed.
It wasn’t until I fully embraced a new way of eating and eliminated everything that didn’t fit with that model that I lost weight.
Of course, no one wants an illness to be the catalyst for a big pantry reorganization and diet change, but you can use these same principals in your own situation. You know what’s not good for you: get rid of it and don’t buy more. You know you need to cook at home, so rearrange your cabinets so that the supplies are easy to reach and close at hand. If you do have a special treat that’s not healthy, have one piece – heck even have half the pan – then throw it away. I know, it goes against my nature, too, or at least it used to. Now I think, “We’re not going to have anything in this house that Clara can’t eat.” It’s decluttering: keeping what is good and culling what is not. When you consider your food like everything else that comes into and leaves your house, I promise, your clutter won’t make your butt look fat.
ITEM 298 OF 365 LESS THINGS
More of those dreaded shopping bags that last forever. I have learned my lesson and will not accept any more free offers of these bags.
5 Things I am grateful for today
- Just making it through one more day.
- Having our daughter close.
- For any little sign that our boy is in there just waiting until he is ready to come back to us.
- Modern medicine – there is no way we would have made it to day four without it.
- The other young man who came it to the ICU on the same day as Liam is making good progress against the odds.