As many of you know last year I finally decided to get serious about getting healthy and starting my weight loss journey. I’d put on weight over the past several years and despite all my efforts I struggled to lose it. Then last January I wrote a post that you can read HERE talking about doing hard things. I was in the middle of a ‘no chips” challenge and was realizing just how many similarities there are in the struggle to lose weight and get organized. Here’s an excerpt of that post:
“Organizing comes easy to me because I’ve been doing it for so long and have experienced the rewards being organized produces. However with losing weight not so much. I know that I can’t tell you to just get rid of stuff the same way a nutritional expert can’t tell me to just stop eating junk. I already know what I need to do, the same way I’m sure you do. It’s just so dang hard. I’m addicted to food the same way someone else may be addicted to stuff. Correcting the abundance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time. Period.”
And boy did it take time for me to lose the weight. In fact it took me all the way to April to just get serious about starting my weight loss journey because the idea of starting is hard and it’s scary. But I finally did start and by the end of 2014 I had lost 25 pounds. Going into 2015 I was a mushy mess because it was the first New Year‘s in a long long while where I didn’t have to think about my weight. After all my hard work, after all the mornings getting up to exercise when I just didn’t feel like it, after recording everything I ate day after day for 9 months, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and being in so much pain, I was finally able to say I did it!
Update April 2015: Many of you asked to see a before and after picture so here you go. I have now lost a total of 30 lbs.
I’ve learned so much in the process and having gone through something so difficult I now have a better understanding of what some of you are going through on your organizational journeys. I so get that it’s not easy but I do know it’s possible. Let me share some more of the similarities I have found between getting organized and losing weight. I hope this helps some of you overcome the hurdles you have encountered when it comes to organizing (or weight loss) so that 2015 can be your year to say goodbye to clutter and chaos forever.
1. Mindset and Attitude
Whether it’s with weight loss or organizing, you have to decide you are ready to do it. You have to be ready to go all in. I realized that I was in a holding pattern of wanting to lose weight but not wanting to put in the work that was required of me to get the results. I had to be honest with myself that if this was truly something I wanted to accomplish, I couldn’t just keep talking about it. I really had to want it or I had to stop complaining about it. Complaining gets us nowhere. Action takes us places.
2. Plan and Routine
As with anything you want to accomplish in life you need to have a plan. The idea of weight loss, as I’m sure organizing is to many of you, is absolutely overwhelming to me. It paralyzes me from moving forward. One of the smartest things I did on my weight loss journey was not to get to ahead of myself. I took it DAY by DAY. I set daily manageable goals that didn’t overwhelm me. I would tell myself, just do it for today. it’s one day, you’ve got this. And then the next day I would tell myself the same thing all over again. It’s one day, you’ve got this. I’m going to not eat potato chips today because it’s just for one day. For someone else it could be just dealing with one stack of papers on the counter because it’s just for today.
Don’t worry about what tomorrow brings because you’ll just get overwhelmed. Today is the day that matters.
For me exercising two or three times a week just wasn’t going to cut it because if I went two days without exercising then it was pretty easy to make excuses not to get up and exercise on that third day. I needed to do it every single day to stay on track. That meant waking up and getting on my treadmill every single morning for 30 minutes, no excuses. Granted some days I walked faster than others, depending on how my chronic sciatica condition was doing, but I just kept telling myself (sometimes over and over again) that doing something was better than doing nothing at all.
For you that might mean regular daily purging or sticking to strict daily habits that keep your household running smoothly. Decide what it is you want to accomplish and create a do-able daily plan to make it happen. Set yourself up for success!
I think it’s only natural to want to take the easy road to do something, to cut corners and save time in our already busy lives. There has got to be a quick way to nod our heads and have things magically happen. It’s how we are programmed and why inventions like the microwave are such a huge success. However when it comes to things like weight loss and organizing, sometimes we just need to suck it up, roll up our sleeves and get it done. Sure there might be a fad diet or supplement I can take to rid me of these unwanted pounds or perhaps there is an organizing trick that will allow you to discover hidden storage so you don’t have to part with pounds of your stuff. But often those things are temporary and don’t get to the root of the problem. When we don’t teach ourselves the disciplines required to achieve something for the long haul, we often find ourselves in no time at all right back where we started. Without discipline, eventually the pounds will come back whether that’s in weight or stuff.
With my weight loss I needed some boundaries in place to keep me in check especially in the beginning while the disciplines were still being developed. I didn’t want to leave it to “chance” and instead knew that boundaries would help ensure my success. For example, that meant having a set number of calories per day that I could eat and tracking what I ate. This was so eye opening for me because it turns out that portion size was a big issue for me. By putting this boundary in place I didn’t have to deprive myself, I could eat whatever I wanted as long as it fell within the parameters.
Boundaries are equally important to implement when it comes to organizing. Baskets and bins for instance help implement boundaries and establish limits by giving you a visual cue to stop collecting stuff. When the basket is full, you know you need to purge something before putting something else in. Having a set number of hangers in your closet makes it super easy to track how many items of clothes you have and forces you to use the one in, one out rule.
While tools aren’t absolutely necessary, they do make the journey more fun and interesting. Some of the tools I used to help me lose weight include the following:
My sister started using a Fitbit Flex Activity Tracker last January and lost 75 pounds in 2014. Her success in the first three months is what inspired me to get one of my own. I started using it and tracking my steps on April 1/14. I was hooked right from the start. Talk about motivating!
I loved, loved, loved tracking my steps every day. The tracker synced to the Fitbit app on my iPhone and I could check it throughout the day. I made it a daily goal to reach 10,000 steps a day. This made getting up and getting on the treadmill every morning easier too because I knew if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t reach my step quota for the day. We also went out for a family walk every evening. You can also compete against friends that use a Fitbit too which is fun. Another neat feature is being able to track your sleep patterns as well. Very eye opening indeed.
There are many food trackers out there but the app I use and love is My Fitness Pal (free). I would enter every bite of food I ate throughout the day and the app would track not only calories but detailed nutrition as well. It has a huge database of foods to choose from so it was easy to find a match for what I was eating. You can also scan a food product bar code to enter it that way as well. The best part is that it syncs with the Fitbit app so the on your Fitbit home screen you can see at a glance not only how many calories you have burned through your steps but also how many calories you’ve eaten. The two apps talk to each other giving you a pretty informative picture on how you are doing on your daily goal. So awesome!
The other very helpful tool for me was my treadmill and iPad. I’m not one to go to a gym and work out in front of others so I liked being able to get on my treadmill first thing in the morning and get it done. To further motivate me to get on the treadmill I would only allow myself to watch vlogs (I like vloggers who post daily, so many great ones, I’m obsessed!) on my iPad when I was on the treadmill. This was amazingly motivating for me. We each have to find what works for us as it will be different for everyone.
Like with weight loss, there are hundreds of tools out there to help us with organizing as well. From blogs (hi!), apps, planners, calendars, baskets, bins, labels, courses, coaches, magazines, etc there are so many resources available to us. I try to share a variety of organizing resources here on the blog because each person and the stage of life they’re in will have different needs. Just keep in mind that tools are designed to be helpers or motivators but in order to see results you have to work the tools. It’s also why I never recommend buying organizing containers until after you’ve don’t the work to purge out excess. You’ve got to learn to exercise that decision making muscle :)
6. Celebrate Accomplishments
I’m a big believer in not only celebrating the big accomplishments but the little ones too. The problem is though, in the past, I’ve always celebrated with potato chips ha! This time around I used makeup. For every two pounds or so lost I would buy myself a new lipstick or nail polish. I love having something to look forward to :) You can do something similar with organizing accomplishments. It’s probably not best to add new stuff to an already cluttered home but for every line item crossed off your organizing to-do-list how about treating yourself to a new organizing tool, a bubble bath or even a special coffee drink. What every floats your boat, take a moment and appreciate what you’ve done. Be proud of yourself!!
7. Weight Loss Maintenance
Now I’m in maintenance mode. Some of you might be there as well with your newly organized home. It’s important to recognize that your efforts weren’t a one time and done type of change. I wanted to be a healthy person who ate right and exercised regularly and wasn’t addicted to carbs and sugar so I could live a good long time. I made it but that doesn’t mean I never have to think about what I’m eating or can stop exercising all together. Thankfully in the process of losing weight I learned some valuable habits and disciplines that will help me to continue this health journey. And quite honestly it does get easier as you go along.
Organizing is the same way, it is a PROCESS not a destination. There is no such thing as getting organized and being done. It’s about daily choices and organized systems that make living chaos and clutter free a thing of the past.
I write this last in the list but it is no way last in my life. I would be remiss if I didn’t include it as it was such a huge part of my weight loss journey. When facing something so challenging I’m so thankful I decided not to do it on my own this time. Daily I pressed into God and asked Him to help me with my cravings and pain. I didn’t rely on my own strength but on His. Day by day, sometimes moment by moment on the hardest days. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
So whatever journey you’re embarking on this year, I hope you find reading these tips about what worked for me on my journey to be helpful to you on yours. Don’t give up! There was a period of months last year where I plateaued and didn’t lose a single pound. It was so discouraging but I pushed on. I continued to exercise but I switched up what I was eating (I now eat Paleo and will continue to do so for my RA) and that eventually worked to shed the final pounds. It feels amazing!
If an implemented organizing system isn’t working for you, don’t automatically assume there is something wrong with you. Tweak the system, make different choices, try a different approach maybe but please don’t ever give up. For some the journey to “get organized” may be quick and yet for others it may take awhile and there may be setbacks and bumps in the road. There may even be tears and anger. It’s okay. Stick with the plan, be disciplined, add some boundaries, perhaps even utilize some tools of the trade and you will get there. The work and time is so worth it!
I believe in you, stay strong!
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