Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments (4)

Unclutter to Lose Weight?

A colleague of mine asked me what I thought about the recent New York Times article correlating household clutter with weight gain. It’s an interesting connection, so I thought I’d blog about it.

I think that clutter is probably a reflection of person’s emotional state, personality type, and upbringing. Some people seem to be more orderly by nature, others don’t focus on neatness as much. Some of us were trained to make our bed every morning, a few had a parent or nanny to do that. And still others have been “whipped into shape” by their spouse. Overall I think most of us prefer some degree of order over chaos, and given the choice would like to keep a fairly orderly home.

Now, what’s interesting to me is the emotional component in all this. We each have a certain level of baseline neatness, and we stray from that when we feel anxious, depressed, or exhausted. Think about what your house looks like now – is it at your natural baseline of orderliness? If not, are you more anxious, depressed, or tired than usual? I bet there’s a connection.

Many people gain weight when they’re anxious, depressed, or sleep deprived. So in a way, household messiness can be a marker for emotional distress. And it’s the emotional distress that fuels the weight problems. When a person is ready to lose weight, they’re probably motivated because they’ve managed to rise above their emotional concerns to achieve their goal.

So my point is this: take a look at your home to get a sense for how you’re doing emotionally. Are you anxious or depressed about something? Are you having relationship problems? Are you having difficulty sleeping?

Revolution Health has expert-led groups available to help you understand your emotions and how they influence your behavior. I think you will really benefit from getting into a discussion group and sharing your stories with others like you.

Here are some examples of groups that you can join right now (click to join):

Relationship Help – Mira Kirshenbaum, Counselor

Sleep Better – Steve Poceta, MD, Neurologist

Take Charge of Your Life – Ned Hallowell, MD, Psychiatrist

Lose Weight – Val Jones, MD, Rehabilitation Medicine

A Fit Family- Stacy Stryer, MD, Pediatrician

De-stress – Brad Jacobs, MD, Internal Medicine

Quit Smoking – Joe Scherger, MD, Family Medicine

Walk Your Way Thin – Jim Hill, PhD, Psychology

Maintain Your Weight - Chris Newport, Personal Trainer

Eat Right- Sandra Foschi, Nutritionist and Physical Therapist

Why not join a group? They may really help you to look and feel your very best this New Year. Not too many websites will offer this for free as Revolution Health does.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

You may also like these posts

Read comments »

4 Responses to “Unclutter to Lose Weight?”

  1. kgbailey719 says:

    Impressive! I live in woodley park, which has a huuuge escalator as well (wheaton actually has the longest, or so says wikipedia).  My roommate calls it the “woodley challenge” and we try to walk up it every day after work.  It’s usually moving though, so that’s a little boost…

  2. WyshAdara says:

    So funny to stumble on this right now. As I posted in the Lose 20 community, I am progressing well in my weight loss goals and de-stressing goals…clearly they are related. It just so happens that I am also working on a personal de-clutter goal of my own that is a direct reflection of the weight I’m losing. I think this would be a spectacular mini-goal addition, don’t you think?

  3. ValJonesMD says:

    Great idea, WyshAdara – maybe you should propose it to the group?

  4. RH Host Melissa says:

    I just read the blog from Dr. Val on reducing stress, 12 stress busters,  and it linked to this blog.  Very interesting thoughts and a great motivator to keep things neat and tidy.   

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »