You might not think that clutter in your cupboards relates to clutter on your waistline, but research reveals a rather startling correlation.
A 2008 study found that people who said they struggled with clutter were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.
So what is the link? Why would struggling with weight relate to struggling with stuff?
In my work with hundreds of personal clients and students over the years, I’ve found that clutter and weight are close cousins. And not the fun kind of cousins that you used to play hide-and-seek with in your grandma’s basement. These are those cousins you wish you weren’t related to, the ones that show up at the family reunion and you sincerely wonder if the mailman delivered the invitation to the wrong house. (Note to all my cousins: NONE of you are this kind of cousin! I love all of you. I just can’t resist a good analogy!)
In any case, I was recently a guest on Nicole Simonin’s Shape It Up Over 40 Podcast, where we talked about exactly this. How does decluttering help you lose weight?
Nicole is a health and fitness expert who specializes in helping women lose weight for the last time. (Yes to that!) What I love most about her content is that she doesn’t just focus on what to eat or not eat, how to exercise, or what your weight training routine should be. Nicole takes time to really focus on the MINDSET that women, especially bring to weight loss. She knows that the struggle to lose weight is fought between our ears, and her podcast speaks to exactly these challenges.
Check out our conversation below or read on to get some of the nuggets we discussed in the show.
3 Ways Decluttering Helps You Lose Weight
#1 Decluttering is Exercise
If you’ve ever tried to haul a box of old stuff out of your basement you know this is true, but it bears repeating — decluttering is amazing exercise! When I used to work with clients in their homes, I quickly found that I needed to up my fitness game in order to be physically strong enough to do the hard work of decluttering. A good decluttering session is basically a series of squats, bicep curls, and core strength moves, all rolled into one. So hey, if you needed an excuse to skip the gym and take care of those cluttered shelves in the garage, excuse granted!
#2 Decluttering Reduces Stress
Ah, stress! That tricky little hormone that causes us to do all sorts of things we know aren’t good for us–forgo sleep, snap at our spouses, and yes… reach for just one more cookie in the pantry. Ya know, to even it up. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks like this?)
A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that people who feel overwhelmed by their stuff are more likely to engage in avoidance strategies, like eating junk food and watching TV. I know that when I need to deal with something that feels overwhelming (reaching out to a potentially big client, navigating the tech backend of my business, having a difficult conversation with Josh), I suddenly really, really need a snack. And we’ve all done this. Whether it’s the overwhelm we feel by the clutter in the kitchen or all those papers we don’t know what to do with, our natural response is to avoid the pain and indulge in something that feels good–like calories and YouTube.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in positive net outcomes for our health. So if we declutter our homes, we remove a significant source of stress from our lives. This creates more peace of mind, which allows us to make healthier choices.
#3 Decluttering Helps You Recognize “Enough”
This is a big one. Like many of us, I was raised to clean my plate. My Italian family reinforced the idea that “more food” was “better.” But when it comes to food–or stuff–is this really true? Yes, it’s wonderful to have good food and to surround ourselves with things that are useful and beautiful to us. But is there a point at which this becomes “too much”, where the goodness of the food or the stuff is negated by the fact that there is simply too much of it? This is the point where we feel bloating and pain from overeating or shame and anxiety from overbuying.
It’s all consumption, whether it’s going in our stomachs or our closets. And the key question we need to ask ourselves before filling our shopping cart or our plate is this… How much is enough?
Decluttering your closets will help you start to answer this question in your physical surroundings. And that thought pattern will easily travel to your plate.
I hope these 3 tips have helped you start to think about the link between clutter and weight loss. I’d love to know how YOU practice simplicity in your home and in your health!
To less stuff and more you,
PS Ready to get started on your simplicity journey? Grab my FREE simplicity starter guide and let’s go!