Thursday, February 28, 2013

Healthy living is about more than what you eat!

Before: It's easy to toss stuff aside to deal with later, right?
As I've walked this road and grown in this journey, I've taken a lot of deep, introspective looks into my life. Part of that has been dealing with my home. As some of you who have read my blog in the past know that I have issues with clutter. To put it bluntly, I live at the step just before you get on TV with a camera crew and a bunch of junk trucks at the house while you scream at people for touching your stuff.

So I'm trying to battle these tendencies, and beat back the clutter. Because taking care of my body in the *inside* isn't enough. I have to take care of it on the outside, too. My home is a reflection of my inner being, and I'm no longer depressed, carrying too much dead weight, and unmotivated to clean.

But I have years worth of clutter to work through. And I'm doing it alone; my girls are too small to be of much  help (though they enthusiastically try, they end up making more work.) My husband is too sick and wrapped up in his own issues to be of much use, either. I could scream and nag and yell, or I can just do it and hope he joins in.

So I've made it a goal each day to tackle one trouble spot in the house. There's a lot, so this'll take a while. ;) But I am making progress. Last week, I spent 3 1/2 hours doing dishes. We now have a clean kitchen!

Then, I tackled a shelf that was cluttered from a previous cleanup attempt elsewhere. It's now neat and tidy.

I organized the headboard of my bed, which was a rickety stack of half-read paperbacks, into a neat and organized shelf uncluttered with random junk.

I also attacked a box of clothes that had sat untouched for months... Everything in it went into a drawer or a donation bag.

Today I got a wild hair... I was feeling really motivated, so I folded all the laundry my husband washed and didn't fold. Then, I cleaned up the pile in the hallway by his desk that was creeping along the floor and becoming a hazard. Finally, I called my husband and asked if he minded me cleaning up his desk.

He gave me the green light, and I did.

So, a full bag of donation clothes, three trashbags, and a lot of 409 later, the  hall spot is clean so the girls can hang up their book bags and coats without leaning over junk, and he actually HAS a desk, instead of a teetering pile of papers. I didn't mind helping him with that, since it contained a lot of my stuff from before I got the dining room cleared out and set up a work station.

This is also my way of trying to help his recovery. You see, the clutter in our home is constant stress and cognitive dissonance. It triggers unhealthy reactions in both of us. Anger, binging, even drinking (in his case.) I can't tell you how often I've thrown a temper tantrum over the clutter and then reached for something in the fridge to compensate.

You see, the same principles that have applied to my growth in healthy living can be applied in all aspects of my life. Baby steps! I can't clean this whole house at once... it's too much for one person, I can't afford a personal organizer, and it's not bad enough to end up on TV. ;) So, I take it in bite-sized chunks, the way I did when I started trying to lose weight.

We get SO wrapped up in all or nothing. We look at the sum-total of what we have to do, and we get discouraged. I've been there! You see, I've lost entire rooms to this clutter problem. I've stood there, looked around the house, and couldn't fathom how I'd ever do it. I've stared at my fat in the mirror naked and turned away, discouraged because I can't make it disappear, right now.

But you know something? I can focus on the next pound. I can pick up those socks over there. I can make it a habit to take something to the trash every time I get up from my desk. I can clear a 3 x 3 space in my home.

I've found that like clutter, clean spreads. If you make a nice, neat space, you're more likely to pick up the pile of papers beside it. This is the principle behind clean-living guru Flylady's program, too. You start with a shiny sink, and magically, the dishes tend to get done because you want to keep that sink shiny. Then you wipe the counter, because who wants a dirty counter next to a shiny sink? And well, you might as well wipe the stove too.

And the floors need mopping.

Which takes you to the dining room. Better empty that trash.

Healthy living is the same. What's the point of eating whole wheat spagetti if you're going to load it down with two pounds of cheese? (Guilty!) So you eat a little less cheese. You put a little less sugar in your coffee. You eat another vegetable or two instead of second helpings of fried chicken.

After: Days of cleanup and countless trash bags later.
And suddenly, you're 25 pounds lighter, your pants are loose enough you need to use a belt hole you've never used before, you can walk through your house without tripping, and you're going to bed with a smile on your face.

Am I done yet? Not by a long shot. I have a lot of growth ahead of me. A lot of weight loss. A lot of cleaning.

But I know I CAN do it, because I AM doing it.

Oh, and my husband? He's helping too. ;) He's started picking up things he finds here and there... and he's been helping with the dishes. And making salads for dinner.

We can do this. Together.


  1. Sounds like you are making great progress!

  2. Good work! Issues with clutter, as you put it, run through my family as well, and it is no small thing to conquer.