The Weight of Clutter

By Alice Inoue Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

Believe it or not, clearing clutter can help you lose pounds. Take a look at the connection between your mess and your waistline

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I have heard you speak many times over the years, and your personal story about losing weight after clearing your home of accumulated clutter really stands out. Can you share that story again, and tell me more about the connection between clutter and weight?

For those of you who don’t know the story, as hard as it might be to believe, as I’m 5-foot-4 and a size 2, there was a time long ago when I weighed over 30 pounds more than I do now. A size 11 was a very snug fit.

I gradually lost most of that weight, and then about a dozen years ago, when I went from being on television to being on unemployment, 10 extra pounds crept back on. That’s not much to most people, but to me it was a lot, as I was scared that I was headed back to being “fat.” I tried dieting and exercising more, but nothing seemed to help.

During the time I was unemployed, I became interested in learning more about spirituality and metaphysics and began pursuing personal growth, studying things having to do with “energy,” astrology and, as you know, feng shui. That search eventually led to a career as a life guide, and now Happiness U, advising and teaching on all aspects of life.

The need for congruency

In the early days when on a feng shui consultation, I would often tell others to clear their clutter, but it never dawned on me to clear my own clutter, until one day a comment from my other half woke me up. He saw a pile of clutter in the trunk of my car and jokingly said in a theatrical voice, “Oh, feng shui consultant, do as I say, not as I do!” Although I made a lame excuse, deep down I was embarrassed and realized that the way I lived needed to be congruent with what I asked others to do.

I immediately set aside a full week and worked relentlessly. Besides ending up with a home that was for the most part clutter-free and a business that really started to move, I unexpectedly lost those extra 10 pounds I had regained.

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Emotional clutter

In my case, the clutter I was “holding on” to in my home was linked to my emotions, which in turn were linked to the excess weight my body was “holding on” to. Losing those 10 pounds as a result of clearing my clutter was an “aha” event for me and the beginning of a path that led me to seeing that everything in our lives is interconnected, not only the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of ourselves, but the different parts of our lives as well — where we live, what we own, where we work, what we eat, how we socialize; everything is intimately linked. You can’t change one aspect of your life without affecting the others.

Decluttering has a ripple effect

When I decluttered my home, I also de-cluttered my mind and emotions, because I processed the memories and attachment to my things. I found new meaning in my life as I went through my things and felt more secure about my future. This clarity and focus helped me to declutter my relationship to food, naturally shedding my emotional eating habits (e.g., nightly “must haves” of ice cream, cookies and chocolate).

When you clear the junk in your environment, you also clear patterns of behavior that have been holding you back, and the ripple effect influences multiple aspects of your life.

A need for more

When we lose focus in our lives, we feel a void and consciously or unconsciously grasp for that which is just out of reach and then fill that void with “things” — clutter, food, appointments, TV or otherwise. As we focus on filling that void, in many cases with clutter, we neglect other areas of our lives, such as our eating habits and weight. You may find that those who have cluttered homes have cluttered refrigerators filled with items that serve no healthy purpose.

The mindset to have

Before you declutter, you have to commit to the endeavor with some idea of what you want to accomplish in life. If you do, you will find that as you start to declutter, you gain some insight into your emotions and habits and may even let go of anxiety and uncertainty about the future and more. In my case, among other things, I gained the clarity that eating healthier or dieting is about more than the food. It is about feeling better and showing up in the world in a different way.

For me, the way to approach success in any area of my life — the state of my home, health, finances or relationship — is to first define how I want to live and then take a look at my life from that perspective. Ask yourself, Does your life really reflect who you are? Is your house a reflection of your body, mind and spirit or is it misaligned with your vision? Are you respecting your home and your body? What do you really want? The clearer you are about your life, the more effective your clutter clearing will be and, if losing weight is one of your concerns, the more likely you are to declutter your refrigerator and eating habits.

Face the underlying issues

Whether you want to deal with your clutter or the excess weight you carry, or both, change your perspective. See everything that you do in life as intimately connected, one action impacting the other.

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly and warm educational establishment at Gentry Pacific Center on Nimitz Highway. At Happiness U, one can learn how to be happy, a subject you won’t find in a traditional school. Happiness U offers classes such as feng shui 101, clutter clearing plan 101, positive mindset 101, happiness 101 and more. Visit www.YourHappinessU.com