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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

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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.   

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