After reading the title of today’s post you are probably eagerly awaiting an explanation. I am going to attempt to keep it brief because I have a somewhat related topic I would like your opinion on before I sign off today.
What Redundancy or Destruction relates to is this:-
The less we own ~ be that reducing what we already have or minimising what comes in ~ the more likely it is that we will wear things out (Destruction) rather than them becoming useless to us (Redundant).
This is especially so for items of clothing, both for adults and for children. Recently Lena commented that she has so few clothes these days that things are wearing out faster. That could sound like the clothes aren’t well made but what Lena clearly meant was that the clothes are being worn far more often because there are so few in circulation, that they are naturally wearing out sooner.
The beauty of this method is that you get to replace items with something new and exciting, guilt free, because they simply need replacing. This satisfies the need to buy something new and pretty occasionally, keeping your wardrobe fresh and up to date, so to speak. One of the other advantages is that should you gain or lose a little weight over time your wardrobe will be replaced by natural progression over that period without you ending up with two sets of clothes. Ones that fit and ones that don’t.
The situation is slightly different for children, because they require a bit more in their rotation since they tend to be somewhat messier. However it makes possibly even more sense to apply this logic to their wardrobes being as outgrowing their clothes is inevitable, not simply due to poor food choices.
This sameÂ inevitabilityÂ applies to all sorts of items that we can stand to have a few less of in rotation. Items that might perish rather than wear out or run out such as, pens, food, toiletries… This doesn’t only make economical sense it is also the environmentally friendly approach.
* * * * * * *
The somewhat related topic I mentioned earlier:-
I have had a post sitting idle as a draft which I have been advised not to publish. It is not finished but the theme is sensitive. However this same theme just keeps popping up all over the place for me lately and I am seriously considering taking the chance that I won’t offend too many people and just let the post out there. The topic in question is the connection between clutter and being overweight.
Having never been overweight myself, writing such a post could be construed two ways. One ~ “What do you (meaning me) know about being overweight if you never have been”. Two ~ “You (meaning me) ought to have something helpful to say on this topic because you must be doing something right as you have never been overweight.”
I have been offered a blog post from one of our readers on this subject. I am currently reading Peter Walsh’s book ~ Does this clutter make my but look fat. Also I have very recently stumbled upon two other blogs that have suggested this is an area of our lives that could do with habit changing.
So I put it too you here and now to let me know if you think this is a subject that you would like me to at least touch on once. Or do you think I should just leave this alone and allow my readers to deal with their household clutter first. I have noticed that many people who get their clutter under control also begin to form better habits in this area also.
Please give me your honest opinion as to whether you think this is something I should write about. I am happy either way so please don’t just say what you think I want to hear.Â
Today’s Mini Mission
Go through your childrenâ€™s clothing and assess what is worn out, no longer fits, is not useful to hand down to another of your children or be kept for another child should you be planning of having another one soon. Declutter what you will not need.
Eco Tip for the Day
Don’t be a princess. Clothes can be worn twice, towels don’t need to be laundered everyday, misshapen fruit tastes the same as the pretty stuff, as does the food in dented tins and crinkled boxes. You might be surprised how much power, water and perfectly good food is wasted by being so picky.
For a full list of my eco tips so far click here
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when Iâ€™m slow
Deb J says
I like the fact that having less means that I use things and wear them out. Why buy them if you are just going to let them sit is my question to myself? I am finding that having less money and having less stuff means that what I do buy is really something I am going to wear/use. I’m much more ruthless in my buying. I want something that is going to last a while, give me good value, and will definitely be used. With clothes especially, this means I don’t buy on impulse or because I need to fulfill a craving with just anything.
I’m okay with the clutter & weight post. This may sound crazy but when I lost my most weight a few years ago was when I spent the most money of scrapbook stuff. I have wondered if for a while there I traded one addiction for another in a way. Scrapbook stuff was my only shopping vice. I’ve been mulling on that for a while.
I really like this eco tip. I had a cousin who used a new towel for every shower, a new glass for every drink of water or soda, and would change clothes several times a day. His laundry was out of control most of the time.
Colleen Madsen says
Your situation ~ swapping food for shopping ~ doesn’t sound strange at all. This is why I think there is a connection. It is that feel good fix that people are looking for that causes both issue and many others.
I am glad you liked the eco tip. I thought perhaps some people may be offended by that also. Feeling like one needs to change clothes several times a day, wash towels everyday and get around with hand sanitizer is just another example of overdoing things. Often yet another habit learned in their growing years. Or in some case a complete turn around from being raised the opposite way where nothing was ever clean.
I’m feeling great today! Had a major decluttering event this weekend – our son moved out and took ALL his belongings with him! I have an empty bedroom! I passed along the advice I have learned here to him. We also told him he could always come home if necessary but next time he will get a storage unit for all his “stuff”!
Colleen Madsen says
Congratulations Elizabeth. I love my kids but I will be glad to see the back of their clutter. More than anything else though I would love to see them independent and happy. It is a parents job to guide them to this point. Until they are ready for that I will happily house them clutter and all.
And welcome to 365 Less Things.
Let me clarify…..he was out on his own previously and came back with all his possessions, furniture to fill an apt. along with everything else a normal 25 year old owns. I’d take him back anytime…..but not the whole apartment next time! Now that he’s gone I can set up my exercise equipment again – and lose more weight like I had done when he moved out the first time.
I think you should write a post about weight gain. We are all prone to it with all the overeating and overabundancce we face. Eating is a about habits, good and bad. As I have decluttered my kitchen I feel less inclined to cook too much, to fry and I have noticed it has helped me keep my weight in check. So, unless you are going to post we all should look like starved supermodels 😀 😀 😀 (sorry, the joke came out…), I think weight is something you should talk about as it is related to clutter.
Colleen Madsen says
Thanks AndrÃ©ia, funny you should mention frying less because your kitchen is so nice now that it is decluttered. I have this annoyingly unintentional habit of cooking lamb chop or something that tends to make a big on Mondays, just when I have cleaned the house. It is so silly, I just get the floor at its cleanest and then mess it all up again. I probably ought to replace that splatter guard that wore out but I think I would prefer just to mop the floor again.
As for your comment about wafer thin super models. I sure won’t be suggesting that as the alternative. Not only do I fail to see the point in continually advertising to such a demographic, I also don’t see the point in some of the outrageous fashions getting down the catwalk. Most of these fashions are simply amazing works of art, neither comfortable nor likely to ever be worn by more than a handful of people.
I absolutely do NOT think clutter and weight are in any way the same category. Society likes to associate fatness with excessiveness, perpetuating the image that fat people are fat just because they stuff their faces all the time and never work out. It’s incredibly fat phobic.
Some people are naturally thin and others are naturally bigger. Also, the “you must be doing something right” comment perpetuates the idea that thin is always good and fat is always bad. Bodies of all kinds are good. Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they are healthy or better or have self-control, and just because someone is “overweight” doesn’t mean that they are unhealthy or less worthy of respect or lack self-control.
It’s not the place of a person who is not of size to try to make these negative connections to problems such as clutter. Making a connection between fatness and clutter would be incredibly offensive, innaccurate, demeaning and unhelpful. Really though, if you too had lived a life in which you were constantly degraded for various things (your ethnicity, your size, etc.), trust me when I say you certainly wouldn’t want to read a post in which one of these marginalized groups you were a part of were used as a tool in the decluttering process. I suggest just recognizing that you are privileged and seek an alternative method in helping your readers with the decluttering process.
creative me says
Many people know that they are too big for their own health, nothing to do with how society stigmatizes size or excess, or even how big we are naturally. I’ve read “Does this clutter make my butt look fat” and Walsh brings ups some good points of connection. When life is chaotic we reach for convenience foods (bad choices) when our kitchen is disorganized we want to go out more (too much food per serving) when we are unhappy with our surroundings we don’t honour other areas of our life like good food or taking time for ourselves to get out for a walk or do other active activities. Too often we avoid the house all together or “hide” in front of the TV or computer screen. Insulating with extra “stuff” or extra food (or both) is not unusual practice when life gets rough.
I know from personal experience, when my house is a mess, I eat crap and it comes out on my hips and skin. When my home is something I am proud of, I take better care of myself. Nothing to do with what the scale says.
Then the article should be more geared toward health habits and not body size. Bad eating habits aren’t exlcusive to big people.
Rachel W. says
That is true. Poor eating (and exercise) habits are not exclusive to big people. I am friends with a woman who was naturally thin in high school. She tended to eat so much junk – candy, chips, sodas, fatty/fried foods. Her weight had nothing to do with her eating habits. I was and still am naturally thin (I have to work to gain weight). My eating habits are not amazingly healthy but I have never been one for candy, chips, chocolate, fast food. And, lucky me, as I’ve gotten older my body craves smaller portions than it did when I was a teen (my metabolism was crazy fast when I was a teen – I ate so much).
I appreciate your comment, Rachel. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to understand these things, but you do have a good understanding of eating habits in relation to size.
I am a bigger person and work out almost daily and enjoy healthful meals I prepare myself. People are often surprised on how athletic I am just because I have pudge.
Like you pretty much said, our bodies are all just different.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Rachel W, have you considered that you and your friend may have been much more active in those years. As a child I also ate whatever I wanted, I still do to a point. But the portions have always been controlled and my activity level has mostly been high. I played sport into my 30s, do lots of things including keeping a tidy house, a bicycle was my main mode of transfer until I was about 21, when my kids were little I participated in there playful activities. I had jobs that didn’t require sitting at a desk all day. I still walk places rather than always take the car. All these activities don’t seem like much but they all burn calories.
One of the problems growing up with certain habits is that they become our default setting of behaviour. Then when we are no longer as active we have to work to adjust that setting and the related behaviour or weight will pile on.
Maybe I am simplifying this too much but it seems logical to me. I am most certainly open to other opinions though.
Deb J says
Colleen, your “One of the problems growing up with certain habits is that they become our default setting of behavior” comment is very on target. So many times we go into our adult life with habits from growing up that aren’t as good for us as we are no longer the people we once were. I didn’t say this in my post last week but in many ways we need to have a “fresh eyes” look at all areas of our lives every so often. I was thinking about how when I was working I had a much bigger wardrobe of clothes. I had at least 7 outfits of clothes for work, 5-6 for church and 5-6 for casual. While that still isn’t much in some eyes, it is a lot more than I need now. Yet, it took me several years after I went on disability and was no longer working to realize I needed to declutter and stop buying.
Colleen Madsen says
Good point Quinn
Susie Kline says
I agree with Quinn, associating weight and clutter is a somewhat simplistic explanation of a very complex subject. Contrary to what the $60+ billion diet industry tells us, being overweight cannot be explained away by excess eating. There are many factors that are in play in any individual body.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Susie and welcome to 365 Less Things. The question might be though ~ Which comes first the chicken or the egg? Do peoples bodies alter their natural healthy metabolism by being raised with bad eating habits or are they born that way. And if so can that be reversed. Having these things assessed as an adult doesn’t give the full picture. I don’t know the answers. Although I am slim, as I get older I have to work harder at maintaining a healthy weight therefore I am not completely oblivious to the struggles that larger people face. The question does have to be asked ~ Are some people just wanting an excuse to avoid taking responsibility? These are all legitimate question. I am not sure I need the answers in order to ask them but I am sure I could be a target of ridicule if I don’t have the answers. I am also sure that if I investigated I would find the there would a lot of opposing study results out there.
Thank you for your opinion though Susie. I really do appreciate it. Perhaps my question today has raised enough response that the article won’t require writing anyway.
Quinn, I think that you are overreacting, really! As I said in my comment above, it is about changing habits, and not about a specific size or weight. I know people who are bigger than me, but eat healthier and practise exercises and look better than I do. However, on a scale I am thinner, and it doesn’t make me healthier. How much we weight is a choice, yes. Eating crap makes you bigger than you already are, it is a proven theory I sadly discovered when I applied it to myself. If you eat healthy foods and do some exercise you are going to be thinner than you were and you are going to feel better (discovered this as I applied to myself also). It is not about a set of rules and specific weight a person has to reach, but having good habits that reflect on the person, on the household and on the family. I have been fat and I know really fat people. And I know very skinny people. Nobody is trying to make negative connections, but talking about something may show connections about a behaviour that is bad and needs to be adjusted, just as creative me said above. When I am sad I like fried chicken . Deep fried. I canÂ´t do it and I know I should not do it. It is not about weight, it is about dying of a heart disease, of having heart trouble or a thrombosis, having to amputate a leg, as my grandmother had to do. So, I donÂ´t judge myself or others. I try to help myself. Hearing and discussing how I can lose a few pounds, eat healthier and save some money not buying all that industrialized fast food and talking all about the good habits that can be incorporated in my lifestyle, will not make me as tall an skinny as Gisele BÃ¼ndchen, but it will certainly make me feel better. And I am going to eat my ice cream no matter what. It is not about scale, it is about feeling good.
Your experience =/= everyone’s experience. I spoke about size because the OP did not talk about health habits but about size.
I have been in this blog for about 3 years. I know she always try to approach subjects in a tactful way, so we think about it. I know my experiences are different from everyone`s experience. If she wrote a post about size, I would be out of here, because I am not a perfect size (then again: what is “perfect” size?). And what is ideal weight? I live in a country with many different body types and the media constatntky is cramming down our throaths what we should think is “perfect” and I felt very far from that “perfect”. So, talking health habits and change in style that lead to a healthy weight loss is a yes for me. Size? NO, never.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Quinn, I understand your feelings on this which is exactly why I raised the question. I also understand that overweight people are often ridiculed or ostracised because of their size. I am in what the experts say is a healthy weight range. I also have fair skin, red hair and small breasts. I have been the butt of many a joke because of these features. Features that I have absolutely no control over what so ever. I could die my hair yes and get breast implants but I am not about to. So I am not immune to the cruelness of people whose opinions aren’t worth considering.
I can’t imagine why you thought I would be writing a post on fat being ugly. Naturally the post was intended to be about excess weight being unhealthy. And after a certain point it most definitely is. There is most definitely a connection between the feel good hormones released for some people through a shopping hit as there are through a food indulgence. Both these habits can be hard to break. Yes some people do have an underlying medical condition or even genetics, to a point, that cause them to carry extra weight but for the most part this is not the case.
I am sorry that my suggestion to write such a post has offended you and I will most certainly take your sensitivities into account when making my decision. In the meantime I hope that you will read the comments from other readers who have come to the conclusion that there is a connection and are making great strides in improving both their health and the tranquility of their living spaces.
Quin – first of all, thank you for being an advocate of larger people. My mum is obese and I know how often thoughtless comments are made, assumptions are handed out or down right nasty behavior. She has a combination of problems that caused her problem but food/eating habits isn’t one of them.
I also have a friend who is very tall and thin. Lucky her, we all say, but she tells me that she gets the exact same treatment. Many people assume she has an eating disorder and announce that in ear shot, or tell her she’s a “skinny b****” thinking that she’ll be ok with it because skinny is a fortunate thing. She doesn’t think so, she struggles to find clothing long enough and has a whole host of reasons that I’d never considered.
I have followed Colleens post for some time now, and have yet to read something offensive or nasty or finger pointing. I would be the first person to speak up if I felt it was unfair or nasty. I have read other information on the topic and it isn’t a blanket explanation of weight gain but on the other hand it is another idea worth considering. I promise you that I will speak up if anyone says something unfair or insensitive.
I certainly don’t think thin people deserve any sort of judgment either. It’s also important to note that thin people do benefit from institutionalized privilege.
To me, a more meaningful connection for the OP’s possible post would be tying heathly eating choices to clutter. If your kitchen is filled to the brim with clutter, you are more likely to reach for less-healthy convenience foods that aren’t that great for health. My kitchen is now decluttered and I think it helps keep my meals healthful because it doesn’t take me long to find what I need.
Colleen Madsen says
This is a very good point Quinn. Many of my other readers have said that this has made a big difference to their food choices.
Hi Quinn, I haven’t read all the responses to your comment yet (but a few) and I want to put my thoughts here, while fresh.
There really are people who are overweight and very healthy, you could call them “naturally overweight” and I don’t think there is a reason for them to change their weight or their eating habits for that reason. As far as I know this is true of about 1/3 of the people who are overweight. Just the same, a certain amount of people of normal weight – and especially of very slim people – would do better to change their eating habits.
I found that if e.g. my boyfriend and I are stressed out or generally not in a mood to care well for ourselves and our health, we both start eating unhealthy, but I stay the same weight as usual, while he even looses weight. This is simply due to both of us starting to eat less out of sheer laziness to go out to get food – even if it was just around the corner to get some fast food. I eat still more than him and though I eat only fast food the reduced amount of food in general levels the calory input at a normal level – but still a diet consisting only of french fries with ketchup and chocolate cookies for a whole week wouldn’t be what I call healthy. My boyfriend eats even less and maybe there would go one or even two days without him eating at all, so of course he looses weight. I know more people than just him who “forget” eating even for two days. I couldn’t do that, but obviously there are people who live on a burger every second day and thus get really slim, but I don’t think, they’d get more healthy.
I think that clutter and unhealthy eating (and for some people this means weight gain, for others weight loss) can go hand in hand due to the stress clutter causes.
I could think of a different case, too, in which clutter and overweight might go hand in hand – and this might be people who tend to stock up out of habit and just-in-case or just-because-it’s-pretty and who eat in the same way. If you eat without being hungry, if you eat more than you need to feel full, just out of habit, just because it is 4 p.m. and that means tea and cake, or just because it tastes good and you think you could do “with just a little more”, I think these patterns are very similar to those that are working when aquiring clutter.
Of course this doesn’t cover the case of all people overweight, but I think, that some eating patterns (like eating too much every single day) inevitabilly lead to being overweight one day. And breaking with these old patterns might also bring a change in weight.
Therefore, I think the topic is interesting for certain people. And just as I don’t feel adressed by stuff on car clutter (because I don’t own a car), but still think this might be an interesting topic for some other readers, I might as well not feel adressed by an article about clutter and weight issues (no matter whether I’m naturally slim or chubby or overweight for different reasons than given in that article).
I love your post. It feels really good to use a piece of clothing enough to wear it out. You feel like you got your money’s worth out of it. I like the idea that having less and rotating more often makes it so you don’t have to keep several different sizes of clothes in your closet.
As for the weight article, people can choose to be offended if they want or just ignore it if it doesn’t apply to them. I do believe that a lot of the habits of overeating and hoarding are similar. It is a sensitive topic and I am sure you will do the right thing. I would think that a hoarder would feel bad reading some of your posts if they wanted to or they could be motivated and change their habits and get rid of stuff. You are talking about making people aware of methods and habits NOT criticizing people whether they are fat or skinny.
“people can choose to be offended if they want.” Like to derail, much?
Colleen Madsen says
Thanks Spendwisemom, my blog posts are always meant to be helpful and not offensive. I would hope that people do point it out if them find them so. I would hope that people come here with and open mind and that I do not unintentionally close it for them.
I like the idea of wearing your clothing out. It not only allows us to buy something new and up to date, but it also lets us know that we are truly getting our money’s worth out of our purchases. When we whittle down our clothing to the things that we really wear, and get rid of the items that have been around for years but are not being used, it gives us a chance to use what we have and then to replace it, with something new. It is better to reward ourselves because we are wearing our clothes out, than to reward ourselves out of of boredom, which can lead to overabundance.
I say go ahead and post the weight and clutter post. For some, myself included, it may be what is needed to be heard. I think that they are related. Clutter, for many people, is a comfort that fills up time or it fills up voids in other areas of our lives, and is an excuse for not doing what we know that we need to do. When clutter is eliminated there is no longer the excuse of not having enough time to focus on areas of our lives that need attention. For some that area may be health, or it could be relationships or a number of other issues. I believe that many times, clutter can be an outward expression of deeper problems. Certainly, that is not always true, because sometimes people get to the point that their priorities shift and getting rid of clutter allows them to start living the life that they want for themselves and their families. Overall, ridding our homes of clutter, frees up our time, and allows us to do other more productive things.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Jen, naturally I agree on both points. I think I may just declutter a few pair of capris that may take years to wear out being as I have far too many pairs. I was going to let natural progression take care of them but it is taking too long.
Although neither weight loss or decluttering ones life is a guarantee of happiness I have certainly seen more cases that have resulted in contentment at least than not. Opening oneself up to possibilities also seems to be a common outcome.
Jo H. says
I would be interested in hearing what you have to say about the connection, Colleen, because I have found in the past that you are perceptive and just as importantly you are diplomatic and kind in what you write. My weight gain and my clutter increased at the same time, partly due to stress (two small children at home, a new large house to care for, family difficulties), and partly due to the realization that no one but me was “in charge” of what I did. This led to bad snacking habits and a slow deterioration in my housekeeping. Once the weight was on and the clutter was rampant, each one worked against solving the other – the weight made me too tired to face the mess, and the clutter made it harder to carve out time or space for me to exercise or even things like keeping track of which healthy food items were outdated. Finding your blog gave me the tools I needed to get started on decluttering, because you did not suggest a huge clearing out but a small daily task – “a thing a day” – along with ways to keep the influx to a minimum and to deal with difficult-to-let-go items. I am not saying that my weight gain – or lack of weight loss – is tied ONLY to clutter, particularly at this time in my life where there are added demands on my time and energy (family health problems, elderly parents, financial difficulties) but there is certainly SOME connection for me, and I welcome any ideas you or your commenters want to put forward.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Jo H, I really appreciate your vote of confidence. And thank you for sharing your experience on this subject.
Wendy B says
For me, clutter means feeling overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed equals stress and stress can lead to overeating. It does in my case. I don’t know what you plan to post, but the topic will certainly provoke comment. This is a supportive community and we support one another to reach our personal goals, whatever they may be. I’d welcome the discussion.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank You Wendy B, I am glad you are open minded on this subject. I think perhaps that my readers have given enough insight into their own experiences today that I may not need to write a post after all. Or perhaps I am just a chicken. 😆
Wendy B says
Cluck, cluck, cluck…..
At the doctor’s office this afternoon I read that stress can cause the body to conserve calories, leading to insulin imbalance and weight gain. Hey, I wasn’t just making that up when I wrote it this morning! Maybe now that I have declared war on the “Black Hole” in the basement and gotten rid of the junk, I will be able to get back to yoga, decrease the stress level and defeat the few extra pounds that have held me hostage.
Wendy B – I have heard that too. My husband has noted that we are eating much better now that we can actually find the kitchen! Slight exaggeration but it is so much easier working in an organised home. I used to get so stressed out just walking into the house.
Same as you I have never been overweight in my life. Anyway I see same connection from experience with other people.
And let me even extend the connection: Clutter fits to many bad habits.
Decluttered home leads to decluttered head.
Decluttered head will help you get your life under control. In terms of many different aspects.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Chrissie, I think you may have got that all neatly wrapped up in one little nut shell. Food like shopping is just one more place to hide from reality.
Hi Colleen, one of the things I as a newcomer to your blog have noticed and welcomed is the support and encouragement, not just from you but from other readers. I personally am realising how much our relationship with stuff is an emotional one and can be tied in with other things like self esteem.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Mags, I am glad that you have added your open mindedness to our community. Peoples’ experiences can be very different to one another. By listening to everyones opinions and stories we all stand to getting a well rounded view of any topic.
Wendy F says
I eagerly anticipate this post about weight and clutter. I find it hard not to eat everything placed in front of me! I think it will be ‘food for thought’ anyway 😉
Your desire not to offend is obvious Colleen, but this might be a vital piece of information for me. Like so much that is posted on here, it is a matter of timing. How many of us say ;’ this post applies to me today!’ With all good journeys, it is what challenges us that helps make us change.
If I don’t like the post, maybe I will just have to ‘suck it up ‘ !
Colleen Madsen says
Nice pun Wendy F. What your your middle name Liam. 😆 I am sure he would appreciate that.
If I don’t write the post at least you and I can sit and discuss it as Suspension Cafe with a full milk latte and a piece of pie. All in moderation of course. Although I have noticed that it is only I who has the pie.
I am sitting at Suspensions drinking my chai tea reading every comment, some for the second time! Loving it! Love the comments! Every single one! Glad to see everyone is free to express themselves. Cheers
Oops posted too soon! I was trying to say that yes looking at weight might be sensitive but Im sure readers would welcome the discussion knowing it isnt coming from a place of judgement but if support. The last few days where Ive achieved so much have been liberating but have also made me stop and think about the emotional side of it looking at bad habits laziness etc and once those things creep into one area of life its all too easy for it to affect other parts and become an overwhelming downward spiral.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Mags, it sounds like you are very good at being honest with yourself. I also have learned a thing or two about myself over the last three years of my decluttering mission. Admission is half the cure. I love that I can analyse my clutter and learn things about myself through it, good or bad. I don’t beat myself up about it I just use the information to adapt new habits. The more I practise those new habits the more natural they become and soon they become the norm.
I have been wearing out my clothes and it’s great. I prefer to reuse a few choice pieces than to have too many options. It makes things much simpler.
The tie between being overweight and clutter is terrible. I don’t recommend it.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi D and welcome to 365 Less Things. Good choice with you clothing situation. I fancy that I don’t have a lot of clothes but I am not a minimalist by any means. Some of the clothes I have will not be replaced when they eventually wear out while others need replacing when they do. I do find however that some pieces get worn much more frequently than others.
I am curious about your objection to the overweight and clutter article. Why do you think this way?
I think you should post the clutter/weight article. I would like to hear what you have to say on the topic, as I have issues in both of those areas. I very much enjoy your blog. Thanks for all of the time and thought that you put into it!
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Valerie, I am glad you find what we do here helpful and supportive.
Rachel W. says
I am so lucky to have a daughter who clears out her own clothes. She has fewer clothes than I do, actually. And she’s 14. Haha. I told her the other night “This teenager thing – you’re doing it wrong” because she’s not moody, rebellious, or materialistic. (She knew I was joking, for the record. I think she is doing a great job being a teen. Better than I managed, for sure.)
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Rachel W. Give yourself some of the credit, you must be doing a great job of being her mum. Tell her, well done from me also.
Rachel W. says
I shall tell her. I try to be a good mum (that always looks and sounds so much cooler than “mom”…).
First off, I think you should write whatever you want on your blog. It’s your blog.
Second, having been overweight most of my life, I know there’s a connection to having too much clutter and overweight. The feelings, emotions, and what causes me to deal with life in a certain way, lead to that connection for me. Not everyone who is overweight has “clutter issues.” And vice versa, not everyone who needs or wants to declutter is overweight.
The need to hang on to stuff, just like the need to drink too much, gamble too much, control other people, or aspire to be perfect, all comes from a similar place, I believe. A place of lack. A hole. A place of “I’m not so good, and this makes me feel better.” I also believe that most people haven’t investigated themselves enough to know that this hole exists. Or that they have the ability to act differently and still be themselves.
That’s all I will say about that. I’m no therapist or spiritual teacher.
And neither is Peter Walsh. I saw him on TV regularly and read descriptions of some of his makeovers in Oprah magazine. In his public persona, he is presented with a particularly shortsighted and insensitive view. Tough, brusk, and no-nonsense are popular modes of communication in the media these days. So his style is popular. Opinions of Peter Walsh’s public persona aside, I’ll probably go look at his book in the bookstore. :-]
I actually appreciate no-nonsense communication, but I prefer it with a sprinkling of compassion. I believe we as humans don’t need more insensitivity, no matter how right we may think we are. Life is too short and the world is too small.
But like I say, this is your blog. I enjoy reading it. It helps me tremendously. I absorb what I can, and the rest, I let go.
Colleen Madsen says
Well said Janet W. Also am not a therapist or spiritual teacher. I am just a lady who wanted to share my experience and help others in the process. Little to I realise how many lives I would end up touching.
I must do some reading on the public persona of Peter Walsh as I had no idea he might not be viewed always in a good light. I am sure his intentions are always good. He always seemed compassionate but firm in his dealing on Clean Sweep.
I am glad you are finding my blog helpful and I appreciate the contribution of readers like yourself that give the blog its well rounded feel.
Well, you’ve helped me already and I’ve only been on here a week! Sharing stories or experiences is a good thing, I think. People then know they are not the only one struggling with an issue. Sharing also can make me think about an issue in a light that maybe I had not considered. I value different perspectives.
Peter Walsh: Loved him on Clean Sweep and I’ve read a few of his books and found them to be helpful.
Thanks for all your good work, Colleen.
I am writing from the history of being obese and a “shopper”my entire adult life (and from a family of obese people) until 2008 when I tackled my compulsive eating problem. I am now maintaining the appropriate weight for my body. I know all personally the heartache experienced by obese people. As I lost weight I seemed to shop more and more (and more clutter) and am from a family of confessed “shopoholics.”. I did see eventually that I was striving for comfort and anti-anxiety by shopping; as I previously have done with eating. I found this 365 Days during my recognition that I needed to deal with this. I did a bit of research about compulsive eating and shopping and I found out that there IS a connection in our brains related to the release of dopamine, the pleassure hormone. I am not a scientist and am not explaining this well, but there are connections with compulisve behaviors for some of us; whether it is food consumption, smoking, shopping, chemical use, etc. another example is the people who have gastric bypass surgery often develop problems with alcoholism or other addicitive behaviors during and following their weight loss. So I would hope the discussion would not be about lack of willpower, laziness, blaming/defending or moralzing. I think it is a very good discussion to have. This site has been extremely useful for me and undoubtedly this discussion would be useful to others. I follow the “take what you can, leave the rest behind” so do not become easliy offended.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Connie, yours is an interesting story and perhaps you would be better at writing such a story. What you say here about what you have discovered about the connection is exactly what I thought. No surprises there. I will most certainly take into account your advice of “So I would hope the discussion would not be about lack of willpower, laziness, blaming/defending or moralizing. Thank you.
I am on the side of posting about the weight/clutter connection. I, myself , am considered thin, but have had two generations of semi-hoarders before me (my grandmother and my mother) and a son who is a minimalist. My clutter problems , I think, were learned from seeing how my family kept everything due to living through and being born during the Depression back in the 1930’s. My son has seen these women in his family (me included in this) spend too much time with clutter and has chosen his own path. I am so proud of him, learning this lesson so early in life and I am seeing the wisdom of his choices. Now, on the other side of my family, I do see more of a connection between weight and clutter but also with going without. Money was tight for them growing up. When life is overwhelming and feeling out of control, where are the places we have control? Our homes and our eating. I think the subject is complex and there are more than just the one area of why people have clutter. I hope you do post the article…..
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Kim and welcome to 365 Less Things. I am hearing some interesting stories this morning and yours is one of them. Children are curious things aren’t they. Some see their parents make poor choices and follow in their footsteps while others see the error of their ways and take the opposite path. I am always amazed out how even within the same family each child can be quite different in this way.
I will certainly consider you opinion on whether I write the post or not.
I love using up and wearing things out: “got my money’s worth!”
Your clutter/weight article suggestion stirred up a hornet’s nest! Thought it might. I am quite decluttered (up to 801 items or bags of items gone now) but still struggle with my weight, any insights will be welcome.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Janetta, well done with your decluttering effort. It is nice to get your updates. Thank you for your opinion on the clutter/weight article. I will continue to consider the idea.
I have often wondered if weight and cluttering are connected. I would like a blog post about this issue. I am overweight and have started to declutter (love your blog by the way!) and have been starting to wonder if there is a connection, and that I need to declutter my food choices as well. Not everyone can be a masterchef or a Martha Stewart, and I think I am placing too much of an expectation on myself on what to provide my family food wise. I think I need to return to simple natural ingredient meals with occasional treats and learn portion control. I am learning that food clutter leads to overeating and excess baggage on the body, and ties in with the mentalilty of more is better.
It’s your blog and you’ve already created quite a conversation on the topic–I definitely think you should write the article!
I personally feel there is a connection to “holding on” as it correlates to our weight. When we can’t let go, we can’t lose weight. Weight is a struggle for EVERYONE. I don’t see this subject as an attack on obese people and there are those facing medical exceptions. But overall, I think touching on the subject of how emotional clutter = physcial clutter could help so many who are struggling to let go and lose weight. In my opinion: grudges and pain go right to your hips.
Best of luck to you.
Megan S says
Having read all the comments, including your own Colleen, it would seem that the subject can be discussed by all in a sensitive and helpful way with no sense of recrimination. The very way you invited the comments revealed that you were not intending to offend but rather offer another perspective on the relationship between excesses of all kinds and there is definitely a connection.
We are constantly sold the idea that having a lot of everything is desirable and will make us happy and when it doesn’t the solution is to go get more – clothes, food etc. Breaking the consumption habit whether clothing or food or whatever requires an understanding that whatever is making someone unhappy is not going to be fixed by that consumption habit.
This wonderful forum for personal stories has already helped so many because you have raised the various topics Colleen. Your thoughts on this subject should be aired.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you Megan S. I am thinking that I don’t need to do much more than lasso all these stories together in order to get my thoughts across as they have been echoed by so many of those commenting here. It seems the majority of readers would like to discuss this topic and are open to any helpful suggestions.
I will chime in over the clutter/weight article. I would love to read it. I am overweight. I have struggled and struggled with it for years. I also struggle with clutter. I think there is a connection, only because I notice as I am doing better in my weight management, I am also usually doing better in my clutter management. I love my body, I just wish it was 60 lbs lighter :-). I am also a psychology person and the relationships between how we manage many facets of our lives fascinates me. And in that vein, one is not responsible for offense. People choose to be offended or not to be offended…..it is a choice, even though some would like to think they are not responsible for their feelings. If I overhear two different people say something negative about me, one a total stranger and the other my best friend, I will probably not take offense at the stranger because we have no relationship and I can chalk up their comment to misunderstanding, etc… But my best friend, on the other hand, now exhibits something different than I thought our relationship was. I am hurt because we are not really functioning, as friends, at the place I thought we were. The offense is more a reflection of what I thought about the relationship/person/situation/what it says about me/how I view the situation, etc…
So I say, bring on the article, I’m game!
Maybe start it with a caveat ….don’t read this article if this topic is offensive to you…..??
Colleen Madsen says
Good idea Carin.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Carin, interesting comment. You and I could sit down and talk forever over behavioural habits I bet. I am not a psychologist but I think perhaps it is a profession I should have considered. Understanding how people think, knowing how to guide thought in a healthier direction and actually practicing it on other people don’t always gel together to make a person suitable for that career. I am inclined to just have an opinion and allow people to do what they like with that. As I get older and consider this subject more, psychology that is, I feel that I am becoming far more open minded and becoming a better person for it.
Hey, Colleen, it’s not too late to study to be a psychologist/counsellor!! I’m friends with a wonderful woman who has just turned 60 and she started studying Psychology at 46.
Finding all the comments on this post fascinating. You know my size (and how much I like good food!), and my immediate family were all like me, but my mother was a shocking hoarder anyway.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Loretta, going back to study at this point in life would only hinder my freedom to travel. We can’t have that now can we. 😉
Hi Colleen! I have been reading for a long time but just commented once, I think, a few years ago. I would love to read your thoughts on the possible connection between clutter and being overweight. I noticed a few bloggers who became minimalists and lost weight in the process. I can use all the help and inspiration in both areas that I can get. I agree with the suggestion above to post a caveat for those who might be hurt or offended. I also understand that responding just to the comments on this post would be stressful enough that you may not want to make yourself even more vulnerable to criticism. But since you asked, my vote is definitely “Yes! Please do publish it.”
Hi Colleen, Thank you for your post today, it spoke to me loud and clear as I have just done a pretty good cull of my closet and today dropped off about 80 items of clothing to Goodwill. Some had once been well-worn and had just become part of the scenery, some were almost unworn (some unsuitable gifts), some were aspirational in that one day I might fit into them again and some were sentimental, having been bought for me by my mother or others no longer here. Despite all those emotions the strongest ones were relief at finally removing those items and joy at the tidy and spacious condition of the closet. This will also help with this month’s picking up the clothes challenge that you talked about, but I also feel very strongly motivated to keep my wardrobe to manageable numbers of clothes so that I can enjoy the natural progression decluttering.
I would be very interested to read your post about weight. You always deal with things in a practical, commonsense and non-judgemental way which I find helpful and inspiring. From my own personal experience over the years my eating and consequently my weight have been very much affected by emotions and I tend to feel similar emotions with regard to my clutter. However the sense of being in control and making noticeable progress and achievements around my house is now spilling over into my eating habits and I am confident that I am on track to get back to the weight I want to be, when I felt fitter and more energetic and generally better about myself.
I have definitely noticed a link between clutter and poor food choices in my own life. I have read a lot of decluttering websites in the past year, (LOVE this one!), and many talk abut decluttering/simplifying your diet as another natural area to explore in the decluttering process. It’s working we’ll for me 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
Thanks Vic and I am glad for you. Perhaps I should do a survey first about people experience.
Hi everyone – I’m going to “weigh” into the conversation, pardon the pun! I read this at home before leaving for week gleefully anticipating some great blogging, but alas our internet was down until now.
First of all, clothes. I have a very small wardrobe since doing Project 333 last year and I highly recommend the challenge. I am not a fashionista, however I do get bored of my clothes – and this is regardless of having 33 items or 100 items – and so by wearing my clothes to death over the season, I get (a) excellent value for dollar and (b) guilt free culling when they are worn out, tired or damaged. Please note that not everything wears out in one season, but as I buy cheaper but fun brands anything beyond one season is considered a bonus. This works well for me 99% of the time.
I have run into a wardrobe glitch recently, not because of the system but because of a change in circumstances. Nothing I couldn’t fix with the swipe of a credit card but I’m trying to find some alternative practical solutions first.
Weight. I can appreciate that some readers may not want to discuss, however, I can safely assume that Colleen will not be asking each of us to comment with details of height, weight, dress size, BMI or exercise regime.
There are lots of reason that someone might be underweight and lots of reasons why someone might need to shift some kilos. I don’t believe Colleen is saying that weight problems are all attributed to clutter problems. Some people – please note I said SOME – track their weight gain to the increase of clutter in their homes. It may or may not be directly connected but it MAY be a symptom of that person’s situation. But not everyones. Its worth having a look, leave no stone unturned etc.
I personally am very okay with hearing Colleen’s opinion – I can agree or disagree if I wish to do so respectfully.
PleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePlease! Do a post on clutter and how it can effect your weight! I feel that the two can have a very strong connection. As I go about cleaning my room and de-cluttering I also have the strong urge to “clean” other areas of my life. I feel like if you are having a life change eating is a huge part of it and I don’t see a way to write about life change with out mentioning weight. If you think about it FAT is clutter on your body- energy stored for another day- useless unless you get rid of it by using it up (weight loss/ exercise ). Your theory of only replace things when you need them is easily applicable to food. Only eat calories when your other ones run out and eventually your fat stores will be used up. Most of us no longer live the primal life where we might go days with out eating because of lack of food and then need our fat stores- our bodies don’t know that though and continues to store away.
I would like to hear your ideas about weight and it’s relationship to clutter!
Sidney, I loved your comment. I never thought of the obvious connection of “using it up” 😉 thats a cute analogy.
I loved your analogy too….fat is clutter on your body…..awesome!
Redundancy or Destruction…..This post was BRILLIANT!
Colleen Madsen says
Messages I received via cell phones etc that don’t go straight to the comments section.
Traci ~ I think you should stick with household clutter. It is true that when people start to organize this part of their lives, other areas fall into place for them. When you begin to see the amount of excess in the “things” in your life, it gives you a new outlook on other sources of excess including your diet.
Pam ~ I would be very interested in a post about clutter & overweight. I am both; I’m working on decluttering as I’ve recently retired & I am fighting my weight. My weight, especially, did not come nearly as easily as I thought it would, much to my surprise & disappointment.
Sybil ~ For my own self I know that the worse the clutter is the more stress I feel. The more stress I feel, the more I just want to sit because I am overwhelmed. The more I sit the worse the clutter gets and so does my stress. When my house if not cluttered or just slightly so, I have tons of energy and find myself much more active (burning calories along the away!). I’d like to see a few blogs on the subject.
PS Today I donated over 200 books to goodwill because of what I have been reading of yours. What a load lifted. Thanks so much.
Jessica ~ I would love a post about clutter and weight. I am experiencing this myself as I declutter. Not only am I using more energy to move things around or remove them which means some weight loss. I then feel a bit better about myself and am able to assess my wardrobe more realistically. It is very easy to throw things out when they are clearly too big. It’s also easier to asses the other items that you don’t love or are unflattering as the new slimmer you doesn’t deserve to wear unflattering items.
I still have a long way to go on my decluttering journey but I have noticed that feeling better about my weight means I seem to be bringing less into the house in the form of treats. By treats I mean things that I would buy for myself to cheer myself up or because I felt I deserved them for whatever reason.
Mostly those things just sat around and added to the clutter and added to the feelings of overwhelm that inspired a purchase in the first place.
Anonymous ~ There could be a correlation between hoarding and weight gain – though many hoarders have perfectly average physiques. That said, I’d be cautious about addressing weight problems if I’d never experienced. I’ve noticed people who have never experienced weight problems come off sounding judgmental. After all, how can you give a guide to success if you haven’t been through it?
Low Income Lady says
I am quite overweight but I don’t think it is related to clutter. I think I got cluttered cos I was lazy and just didn’t do anything about it. Now I tend towards getting rid of stuff. I really don’t think clutter and weight is linked for me. If I go on a diet, I don’t shop instead…
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Low Income Lady,
many seen to be assuming that this is the connection I was likely to make, that people with clutter are over weight. Why on earth would I suggest that when I am the author of a blog about clutter and I have never been overweight. The connection is more about that they are similar overabundance habits and both often connected with compensation for unhappiness. People often turn to comfort food to make themselves feel good. People shop to make themselves feel good. Quite often people homes suffer when they are feeling down, causing a down hill spiral. The fact that so many readers have said that once they starting improving their surroundings, they started feeling good about themselves and as a result started eating better and being generally more active and as a result started losing weight. Does that make sense.
I would love to read the clutter/overweight post. I have found that the same mentality which allows me to accumulate clutter, have a messy kitchen, buy things I don’t need, is the one that lets me neglect my fitness and eat too much junk food. As I let one thing slide it’s easier to let others slide! And as I am inclined to address one area, I naturally find myself addressing the others too. I’m sure it is no coincidence that I am currently on a “decluttering/buy less stuff” lifestyle change as well as having started WeightWatchers and begun the Couch to 5K running program 🙂 Every small success in one area inspires me to keep going with the other areas too.
Archie's girl says
When I finally got help and enlisted the services of a professional to get me through the massive job of dehoarding and decluttering my house, one of the first things she said to me was ” it’s surprising you’re not fat. Most people in your circumstances are really overweight”
I was a bit offended but maybe there is a link between what we feel we deserve for ourselves – a healthy body, a nice environment and what time we commit to our own needs.
I’ve been overweight and for me it certainly was about not loving myself. The state of my house was also about not loving myself enough to think I deserved a lovely place to live.
have you considered just posting a review of Peter Walsh’s book? I like his work but haven’t felt compelled to read this particular one (yet?). I am sure though that he makes some points that are worth thinking or maybe discussing about.
Colleen Madsen says
Thank you for the suggestion Ideealistin. I will take that idea into consideration.
I have watched a relative lose weight and as the weight has come off become empowered to tackle clutter. I think one of the guest blogs may have mentioned a similar situation. I think sharing ideas is a good thing. Its a blog not a regulated government department. Would imagine you’d be fairly sensitive in the way the post was written as your other posts have been.
As I’ve mentioned above, I would think a blog post on the topic of weight and clutter might be interesting, though not for me personally, as I don’t have problems with my weight and/or eating habits – at least there’s nothing I would want to change.
But I haven’t reacted on the topic of today’s post, although it is about one of the things I really love about decluttering. It is great how I’m able to use my things until they wear out. I’m even able to give my things a second or third “life” within my home – like the lovely trousers that I turned into a pillow case yesterday etc. I’m still at a point in decluttering, where I can “shop my home” in most cases if I am a little creative, but when I buy something new it really shines for me for the next weeks and I will use it often while it is still new and to my taste, because it fulfills a purpose in my home and isn’t just there only because it looked so nice (of course, it looks nice as well as being useful which is the great part about all this!). It really is about altering my home/possessions as things wear out rather than about adding new stuff. It also feels so much more natural and easy, because I have to think so much less about how to edit my wardrobe to be more in style or how to change my home decor to suit my taste. I just replace things that have worn out or renew them to my current taste and that somehow covers it all. And it is so much nicer to get a new coffee mug when you don’t have 20 old ones lugging in the cupboard and knowing that they all had been nice and new once, which makes you kind of feel guilty about not using them any more – or a new shirt when you don’t have 40 t-shirts from last year that have barely been worn. It’s not only that you get the lovely new things without having to think about what to do with the old things, but you also don’t have to feel guilty about buying new, so you can enjoy the buy much more completely.
Yep, I get you totally on not wanting to feel guilty when buying something new and how well this works if you only keep enough to have regular wear out. I’m not there yet, but that’s definitely the goal. Natural renewal by necessary replacements instead of feeling stuck or outdated: That’s a great reward for not shopping aimlessly and thoughtlessly.
Great post, Colleen! I am wearing out my clothes, slowly, and decluttering, slowly.
An earlier commenter mentioned the connections between overeating, shopaholic behavior and dopamine release, and there is strong scientific evidence to support this. I think we are who we are, in many contexts, and if we overdo in one category, we are very likely to overdo in others.
I am small in height 4’11” but slightly heavy, and find that the more out of control things spin, the more overeating, shopping and clutter accumulation I face.
I would vote for you to write that post!
Please publish the post on weight and clutter. I think it’s an important topic that can help masses of people who read your blog. Those who are offended may be overly sensitive due to whatever has happened in the past, but you can’t please everyone. You can only hope to help the majority of people out there and remind people to keep an open mind that what you have posted are your own thoughts and opinions and you are not forcing them upon anyone or judging anyone by stating them.
Colleen Madsen says
I have come to the conclusion that I would only be voicing an uneducated opinion on this subject. Much the same as I do about decluttering, where although I speak from experience, I have no formal training. Knowing how many people have been helped by those opinions makes me a little sad that we won’t be discussing this subject further. That of course does not mean that if you, my readers, wish to make your own connection in any subsequent post regarding the added benefits due to decluttering, please feel free to do so. Such a post will be published soon. I may also do a post on decluttering to improve your diet. Not that I am an expert in that field either but some of it is common sense.
I can assure you all that the post I had intended to write was not meant to judge or upset anyone in any way. It seems that just broaching the subject was enough to offend a very small minority of my readership in just that way. Although this appeared to be a very small number of people, their voices deserve to be heard. Especially in any case where the level of offence taken was so great that this voice could be heard above all others who were open to the idea.
If you feel you would benefit from more information on this subject there are plenty of more qualified and/or experienced people writing about it. Although I haven’t finish Peter Walsh’s book ~ Does this clutter make my butt look fat ~ I would gladly recommend it. Here is a review if you are interested ~ http://unclutterer.com/2008/02/01/book-review-does-this-clutter-make-my-butt-look-fat/. Also there are many simplicity bloggers who have life experiences to share through their blogs ~ Leo Babauta @ Zen Habits is one. I suggest you investigate also what health experts have to say on the subject so you know the risks associated.
All I want to say is that if for any reason you are not happy in your situation then perhaps small incremental changes to diet and exercise ~ much the same as we have been using to declutter out homes ~ can make a difference.