Published on April 19, 2016
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In his excellent article, Declutter Your Desk to Declutter Your Mind, Brett Berhoff wrote about the clutter-mind connection. In my line of work, I can say without question that physical clutter and chaos is directly linked to excessive weight.
Clutter and excessive weight make a perfect match for each other because they both represent an imbalance. Over the years, and as I work with clients over weeks or months at a time and get to know them very well, those living in cluttered homes or offices are struggling not only with the volume of stuff but also with their weight. Please understand: I’m not suggesting that all cluttered people are overweight. It’s not that simple. But my experience tells me that this connection is no coincidence. In some cases, one problem may encourage the other to develop.
Clutter leads to chaos. Chaos breeds sloppiness, and that sloppiness too often extends to one’s food habits and other areas of life. For those who struggle with weight, clutter and chaos is a sure recipe for weight gain because clutter, chaos and disorganization often represents loss of control. Feeling out of control is bad for one’s eating habits (or any bad habits we’re trying to change for the better).
I have some clients who, for example, often (and more than once) ask for copies of previously given paperwork:
They consistently arrive late for appointments: They will literally rush in, breathless, harried and stressed because they are late . . . and then more stressed because they know their late arrival means they won’t have enough time with me before my next client arrives. There are others who regularly, after leaving their appointments, come running back to the office because:
I’ve also gathered up left-behind (and oftentimes unclaimed!) belts, earrings and watches, brushes and combs, sweaters and jackets . . . and these are never the clients that are consistently focused on their goal, doing well and regularly losing weight.
I also think other factors fuel the growth of clutter and body fat at the same time. If a person is out of shape, they might become too easily fatigued to tackle a big de-cluttering project. If someone feels like they never have the time or energy to make substantial improvements to their home or at their place of work, the best they can seem to do is shift around piles of clutter. They then lie awake at night stressed, and of course start the next day already tired . . . and eating emotionally all day: Food is a distraction from the organizational tasks they’re avoiding.
Disorganization in the kitchen can be especially problematic for overweight people. Cluttered kitchens can cause stress, which makes many more likely to grab a fattening snack. If they are feeling crummy about the state of their kitchen, how can a cookie or two make them feel any worse?
Think of cleaning your kitchen (home and office) as a cleanse. In his book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, professional organizer, Peter Walsh, writes about the clutter and fat connection: To begin to un-clutter, begin in the kitchen:
I often ask clients to think of cleaning their kitchen (and/or home and office) as a “cleanse.” Not only have I given that assignment, but I’ve asked clients to take it as seriously as the weight loss program. I’ve heard time and again from them that when they cleaned up their environments, being disciplined with their eating habits was easier.
Dishevelment, disorganization, clutter and chaos aren’t simply a space problem. Those things, as does weight gain and obesity, have more to do with what’s going on between your ears!