Your home is a reflection of you in more ways than you probably ever imagined. Have you ever thought about how your home – and how you maintain it – could affect your lifestyle, your body, and your attitude towards life? Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight is a new publication by Peter Walsh that tackles all that and more.
Peter Walsh is the friendly organizational expert and host of Oprah Winfrey’s Extreme Clutter program that we have all grown to love. He talks across the US and internationally about the importance of decluttering and organization as key to living a simpler, happier, and less-stressed life. His latest publication, Lose the Clutter Lose the Weight, offers us an interesting insight into how our cluttered lives can wreak havoc on our lifestyles and even on our weight.
How is your soon to be released book different from your past publications on this subject?
In helping people declutter their homes and personal spaces, I came to see that it was not just about ‘the stuff.’ Once people started focusing on the lives they wanted for themselves, and what they should have around them to help create that life, they started to transform not just their homes, but all areas of their lives – their workplaces, their careers, their relationships, and their attitude to their bodies. So many wrote to me about the impact this had on their physical well-being that the idea for the book automatically presented itself. While my previous book was very much about the stories of people who started decluttering their homes and ended up decluttering their lives, my new book Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight looks at the overwhelming amount of scientific research that supports my experience; we simply cannot make our best choices, our healthiest choices, in a cluttered, messy, disorganized home. My new book also provides a six-week step-by-step plan that encompasses not only decluttering, but also meal planning, exercises, and mindfulness programs to assist in achieving health and wellness goals. The program was conducted with a test panel of subjects with amazing results.
Why do you think diets simply do not work when trying to lose weight?
All the research shows that diets are simply not effective. The vast majority of people who go on diets either fail to lose weight, or do lose weight and then gain it (and often much more) back quickly. The reason is simple. Diets are not about food! Diets are about changing our habits to ensure that what we do supports the life we want. Things about the term ‘going ON a diet’… the implication is that if you go ON a diet, then you will have to come OFF the diet. The language we use tells us a lot. It’s only through basic lifestyle changes – what we eat, how we move, the choices we make, the extent to which we are ‘in’ our lives (our mindfulness) – that we can hope to make meaningful, lasting, long term change. Anything else is just a fad.
How does a cluttered home reflect a cluttered life and excess weight?
Your home is a reflection of your life. It’s impossible to make your best choices for your most authentic life in a cluttered, messy, disorganized space – it just doesn’t happen! When we talk about clutter we talk about how it makes us feel ‘suffocated’ or ‘unable to breath’ in a space. Clutter robs us of life – physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally, and usually financially. Decluttering opens your space, allows you to focus, and feel motivated. By surrounding yourself only with those things that are beautiful and useful, you are able to truly create a space that reflects your best life.
How does clutter emotionally affect us?
When we talk about clutter, we say that it makes us feel ‘suffocated’ or ‘buried.’ I think that’s because we know somewhere inside of us that that’s exactly what clutter does; it robs us of the ability to breathe in our own homes. When a home is overrun with clutter, it robs us emotionally, making us feel stressed out. It robs us financially; the stuff costs a lot of money to acquire. It robs us socially; we are too embarrassed to have people over to our homes. It robs us of peace and calm; we can’t relax in our own homes. These are just some of the pitfalls of clutter once it takes over our spaces. It is impossible to live a rich, full, stress free, and focused life in a home filled with clutter.
Why do many suddenly lose the weight naturally once the clutter is cleared?
My starting point in helping people deal with clutter is to ask them to describe the vision they have for the life they want. I usually push a little further and ask them to describe what their home, their job, the relationships, and their body looks like in this life they imagine for themselves. Once someone has the answers to these questions firmly in their mind, we start working on the clutter. What stays and what goes is determined by their response to “Does this item move you closer or farther away from the life you want?” This way of thinking creates a deep sense of mindfulness, and for me, it's all about being mindful. This is a simple concept, but one that has huge implications in our lives. Being mindful of the life you want will change the life you live; mindful of how you speak, what you eat, what you buy and what you consume, how you spend your time, and what you value. "Will this action help me create the life I want?" - that's the mindfulness I'm talking about. Mindfulness and organization - they go hand in hand and this kind of mindfulness, when practiced, automatically reduces the urge to consume needlessly.
To be clear, I am not saying that if you have a weight problem, you’ll have a clutter problem or, inversely, that if you struggle with clutter, you’ll also have problems with weight – it’s definitely not that simple. However, what I am saying is that you can’t make your healthiest, best choices in a cluttered, messy, and disorganized home – it’s just not possible. Your home, and especially your kitchen, should be a place that nourishes you and your family. If it’s not, then how can you be making the most nutritious or healthy choices? By decluttering your home, and organizing your kitchen, your pantry, your shopping, your meal plans, and your routines to support the healthiest you, you are making clear choices for your best health.
It’s not magic! It’s all about organization. Does your home help you create the life, the meals, the body, and the health choices that you want? If so, great. If not, it’s time to step up and start creating the right environment for you and your family.
As an organizational expert, did you ever imagine de-cluttering would take such a turn in regards to transforming people’s lives on so many levels?
I am one of seven kids. Growing up we didn’t have a ton of stuff and what we had we learned early on we had to take care of. I think from this I’ve always had respect for looking after what I own and taking care of the things that are mine. Being organized, however, is a skill just like any other and can definitely be learned. It takes a little practice, but the dividends are definitely worth it!
I had worked a lot here in the US in the area of organizational change in businesses, and friends started asking for some help in getting their homes – and sometimes their lives – in order. I realized early on that the problems people had with clutter and disorganization were usually about their fear of letting things go, or lack of skills in scheduling things, or sometimes even some trauma they’d experienced in their lives. Once these underlying issues were dealt with, usually dealing with ‘the stuff’ became so much easier. My work in this area came to the attention of a television network here and they asked me to work on an organization show. A few years ago, I started working with the Oprah Winfrey Show as their decluttering and organization expert and from there hosted ‘Enough Already! with Peter Walsh’ and ‘Extreme Clutter’ on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. More recently, I’m the ‘get your life organized’ guy on The Rachael Ray Show in the United States and on The Living Room in Australia. My latest book Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight is a six-week program that can help anyone get their homes and their lives back on track.
Where does happiness fit in to all of this?
When you work to create a home that reflects the vision you have for the life you want, and surround yourself only with items that reflect that vision, then happiness naturally follows. The biggest mistake that people make is in believing that if they just buy the right items they can acquire the life they want. This philosophy is one that can never lead to happiness.
Can you offer some simple advice to maintain a newly clutter free home?
The single biggest problem with organization is that people think it’s all about ‘the stuff’ when, in fact, it’s almost never about ‘the stuff.’ If you focus on the stuff, you will never get organized – weird but true! The very first step in getting organized is to ask yourself “What is the life I want to be living?” And from this question there are others, “What does that life look like?” “What do I want from my home – what mood, what experience?” It’s only after you have answered these questions that you can start looking at your stuff and get organized by asking (of each item), “Does this thing move me closer or farther away from the life I want?” That’s the criteria for what stays and what goes. Other factors are that people simply buy too much. Recreational shopping is a killer!
How does decluttering the kitchen in particular help us to keep in shape?
Your kitchen is not just a place to prepare food; it’s so much more than that. The kitchen is the room that nourishes your family in every sense of the word. Kitchens gather clutter usually because that’s where most of us gather most often and also because it’s usually the hub of the house. However, clutter in a kitchen quickly derails any attempt to prepare healthy meals or create a nourishing environment, simply because it’s impossible to make your healthiest choices in a cluttered, messy, disorganized space. It just can’t be done! If a kitchen is cluttered, it is no longer a welcoming place that encourages people to gather and share – it becomes a room to be avoided and a space that no one want to spend time in.
Go to www.peterwalshdesign.com for lots for tips and ideas and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peterwalsh for regular updates on what’s happening with me and a ton of decluttering and organizing ideas.