Monday, August 11, 2008

Chronic Disorganization, Weight Loss and Fitness Gaining

I've started a new exercise habit lately (playing tennis against a backboard--I always win), and it's been giving me time to think about new blog topics. They just seem to come to me while I'm chasing balls and fetching them out of the weeds on the other side of the fence! Must be the extra blood flow to the brain, I guess.

Anyway, today's special thought that arrived was about how trying to lose weight and trying to get organized are very similar endeavors.

I know I'm not the first person to think of this. (Peter Walsh, from TLC's "Clean Sweep" wrote a book called Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat), but I think I have a different angle.

Living with clutter (or being a messie) and living with extra weight...

I should know, I have both these issues. I consider myself a "recovering messie." That's how I got into this business in the first place. I organized myself first, then realized I could help others. But I say "recovering" because it's a daily struggle still. Yes, I've made leaps and bounds in the past several years, but things start to creep up here and there....the laundry piles up, my child's artwork doesn't get dealt with, the cat thinks the dust bunnies are wonderful to play with--you know the stuff.

And while I haven't dealt with a weight issue my whole life, I do come from a family of hearty northern European stock who can get through harsh winters on bread and gruel. (This has not actually been tested in many a decade, but we all have a nice layer of fat that would most likely help us survive a plane crash in the Andes without resorting to consuming fellow passengers.) As a woman in her late forties, I am experiencing weight gain simply by existing, apparently. Either some really harsh winters are on the horizon or....

The connection between the two issues (and I know you've been patiently waiting) is make a difference or any kind of change, I have had to change my way of thinking, stop habits that did not serve me well, and add in new habits that do.

When I realized I no longer wanted to be a "messie," I had to re-examine my relationship to my stuff and how I thought about it. I started in my clothes closet. One tape that kept playing (probably even from Peter Walsh) was "Why are you holding on to things that no longer fit, will not be in style even if they do fit in the future and are taking up valuable space now? If it's wonderful memories you have--those are in your heart, they don't need to be hanging in your closet." My thinking changed, and I suddenly saw my stuff in a new light. (I say suddenly, but really it was a process over a year that I sorted and purged. I worked my way up to letting go of things I wasn't ready to let go of the first time I purged.)

Then came letting go of old habits that didn't serve me well: buying things without trying them on; tossing clothes onto a chair; keeping things without thinking about why.

And new habits that did serve me well: trying on clothes to make sure they fit well; hanging up all my clothes if still clean (which could only be accomplished after I had purged my closet and made room); presorting my laundry in the bedroom as they came off; reducing my overall "shopping" for stuff.

With the weight--well, I'm still a work in progress on that issue. This past month though, a few things have shifted mentally. Facing the fact that I am no longer 19, and that I seem to gain weight if I don't exercise each and every day, I have got to be more vigilant about the subject of my health as a matter of course, not just to diet to "lose 1o pounds."

I've also come to realize, that while my eating could always be "better" that it's not food that is my issue, it's exercise. (Or lack thereof.) I'm a vegan (am I the only overweight vegan on the planet?) for goodness sake and my diet is pretty darn good compared to the rest of the country. However, I do have a special fondness for Ruffles potato chips dipped in my Tofutti sour cream and onion dip.

So, my thinking had to change first. I have kept to a "clean eating" diet, not something that is a fad, but just a way of eating for life. For me, this is eating vegan (which means no meat or dairy), reducing the oils I cook with, drinking lots of water, and really really minimizing the sweets and fats I consume each day. I still have them, but keep them to once or twice in small amounts. (We're talking chocolate here.)

Then stop the habits that don't serve me: eating too much chocolate, snacking a bit much between meals...

Adding habits that do serve me: getting up early to go play tennis; having the right food in the house so each meal is easy and healthy; eating less at restaurants--planning to take half home or just order soup. I'm usually out with family or friends, so it's the company, the not the food that is primary.

So, actually, being organized has helped me with this latest endeavor. The more organized I am about shopping and meal planning, the better and easier it is for me to "eat clean." And I even plan for being a little unorganized by having easy but healthy frozen meals (thank you Amy's) ready for me and my family when creating a meal just seems too daunting.)

So it's a constant for me--both the staying free of chronic disorganization and keeping the extra weight at bay. I know I'm genetically predisposed to being both overweight and messy, but it's up to me now, not my genes, to keep my head above water. A change in habits, and a change it maintenance routines for both are keeping my house livable and helping me get my body fit to enter my fifties (still a couple years away.)

Now, excuse me I have some balls to chase....

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