Even though it’s the middle of winter, I like to think of this early portion of the year as a great time for spring-cleaning. Thus, once my holiday decorations were tucked away earlier this month, I turned my sights on the rest of my home – including my overstuffed home office, which had become a catchall for anything that didn’t have a proper ‘home’ within my home.

As I wiped away dust and opened up boxes and bags with all sorts of stuff in them (much of which I’d placed onto their respective areas of the office floor over 2 years ago when moving into my current home), I realized I’d let too much clutter build up over the years. Here I was, finally going through the odds n’ ends that I’d said I would go through right after the move. But hey, no time like the present, right?

A lot of what I came across could now be classified as ‘junk’ that could be given away, donated or given a permanent home in the circular file (the trash bin). But there were some things that did warrant keeping and finding a home for. Thus, my attention turned to my crowded bookshelves, most of which were stuffed full.

Upon closer examination, I saw that my shelves were filled with many books that not only had never been read, but also really had no place in my collection. Many of these were “quick gimmick” diet books and “self help” mumbo jumbo. Now, don’t get me wrong – there are many diet and self-help books that are written by legitimate sources. But I’m talking about a (mostly) collection of over-the-top, quick fix-style books that would lead most to failure long before success. (Why? Because there are no shortcuts and you can’t trick your body – or your brain – for long.)

But even though I knew better, and even though I’d sensibly taken off my excess weight over a decade ago (and kept it off since), my fat head and fat brain kept buying these ‘quick fix’ books that I’d been addicted to during my heavy years (nay – heavy decades).

Although I knew these books were written mostly to make a buck and take advantage of the dieter (or person with heartache or would-be goal reacher), I kept buying them. And even though I wouldn’t read them (or at least wouldn’t get past the first couple of pages), I held onto these useless books for years, in hopes, perhaps, that their mere presence on my shelves would somehow magically make all of my goals (including weight loss) come true.

Needless to say, these books didn’t work for anything more than collecting dust and taking up much needed space. But even though I knew this on one level, I was afraid to get rid of them on another – even today, over a decade after I’d taken off over 250 pounds.

But that was then. And this was now. I decided I was going to be brave and send a big message to myself, my brain, my belly – and the universe – by getting rid of all these quick fix books that not only didn’t work, but that are often the cause for us dieters receiving very mixed messages about meeting goals and losing weight.

I’m not going to lie to you. As I pulled these books off the shelves (fighting the dust clouds I was creating) and put them in boxes I would later bring to my local donation center, I felt very frightened – again as if I would break some kind of spell and, perhaps, even gain back all 250 pounds that I’d lost.

Once the shelves were clear – and even after I’d replaced the books with necessary objects and even some legitimate books from other areas of the office – I was still haunted by the two boxes of books that I’d cleared away. They knew their time was nigh and they tried to tempt me with the outlandish promises made on their covers. What was I going to do if I needed a 3-day diet? To lose weight eating just cabbage or drinking lemonade? Or to win hearts by being ruthless? Or get fit by only exercising 10 minutes a week?

It was with much bravery and a caffeine buzz that I finally delivered these boxes to my local donation center. Sure, I wanted to add a warning to every cover. But at the same time, I didn’t want to contribute to a landfill. The point is, I cleared them away from my space and, more importantly, my head.

To my surprise, when I returned home, I felt freer and more confident than ever. I hadn’t lost my weight (or kept it off) with any of these books that offered success with little to no work involved. Nor had I won any hearts or met any goals with ‘3 simple steps’ (or whatever). I’d used common sense, balance and my own self worth to meet all of my goals. No quick fixes – or books meant to rip us off through false promises – necessary.

I must admit that I was intrigued that I would have to wrestle with such a decision even today. But keeping my past in mind (along with what did and did not contribute to my weight gain as well as overcoming it) keeps me sane today. It’s weird, but I feel like I’m breathing a little easier in my home office now – having let all of those ‘false crutches’ fall to the wayside (or weigh-side, as the case may be). Along with reminding me of my own inner strength, clearing out these ultimately useless books reminds me that even maintaining my healthy weight cannot be done through gimmicks or quick fixes. And that’s a really wonderful thing to be reminded of during spring cleaning – no matter which time of year you’re doing it in.

For some tips on clearing away clutter: Click Here

What are you sitting on, keeping in your home or hoarding on your shelves that might be holding you back, psychologically? Anything you need to get rid of? Any de-cluttering you need encouragement on? I’d love to know. After all, one man’s junk is another man’s blog post. So do tell.

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4 Responses to “Out with the old, in with the you”

  1. Teresa says:

    Okay, now you are just freeking me out. We live on oppositve coasts and still you landed completely in the middle of my current wavelength. I’ve hit a weight-loss plateau (not uncommon but still frustrating) and I looked around my living room and saw clutter everywhere. I thought, have I hit a motivation plateau as well? Why can’t I just pick up this stuff and put it away? I didn’t have the answer yesterday or last night…this morning, though, things are a bit clearer. I am working on “putting myself out there” this year – promoting myself and my cabaret act. So, at this point in time, I am waiting for dates at a club, working on my song list for my CD, choosing songs for a new show, preparing to direct a show in May… and I get so far and then stop – sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of frustration. My living room is a true visual of what is going on inside my head and heart. So, over the next couple of days I have the following plan of action: 1. Get to the gym and get a sweat going. 2. Clear the clutter. 3. Spend some time being okay with being scared. Rather than telling myself to “feel the fear and do it anyway” – I need to recognize the fear, listen and honor it. Then I can “do it” with an open heart and with renewed courage. So, thank you for sharing your experience with your books. I will keep you posted on my clutter clearing and my fear embracing! The grammar in that last sentence is absolutely horrible. My apologies to the nuns, they taught me so much better than that. Let’s just blame it on my being a bit emotionally and mentally constipated. Once that clears up, I’ll write a beautiful essay with exquisite phrases and perfect grammar and I’ll drop a couple of pounds as well.

  2. Gregg says:

    Your prose rate an A+ with me, Teresa — no matter what the nuns might say (LOL!). I am so glad this blog post resonated with you. And believe me, I and others are right there with you. There’s something about this time of year that warrants taking a look not only at the clutter in our homes, our offices, our cars or wherever, but also the clutter that’s in our brains. Fear be damned (sorry again to the nuns). This is the year we all take off. And we do so by CLEARING THE RUNWAY (ahhhh! nice analogy — even if I do say so myself). You really inspire me (and others, I’m sure), Teresa. Thanks so much for taking time to post. Please, please keep us all posted as you soar upward this year. We want to celebrate your success with you every step of the way! 🙂

  3. Teresa Fischer says:

    Here’s a brief update on my personal clutter-clearing. There are still too many piles of music and travel books in my living room but the sorting has begun and will continue this evening. I set and confirmed my date at Don’t Tell Mama for a performance/video shoot of SCENE OF THE CRIME in March. Made it to the gym on Monday and will go this evening and Friday after work as well. I can’t believe how much better I felt after interval jogging/walking for 50 minutes. Song list for the CD is still in process but getting closer to the final list. All in all, I’ve made a good start and feel less anchored to stuff. My idea brain has opened up and that feels so good. Thanks for giving me the kick in the tush that I needed. Thank you sir, may I have another?

  4. Gregg says:

    You get several gold stars on your “paper” (your comment) to display on your fridge, Teresa. (Please display it in an uncluttered fashion — LOL!) Seriously — you are amazing. We are all works in progress. And that goes for our spaces around us (and our ‘space’ in our heads). I find now that my home office is neat and tidy it takes DAILY work to keep it organized. I am trying my best to stay on top of anything coming in or going out. Same goes with my thoughts. Funny how interconnected it all is. Please keep me/us posted on your continued PROGRESS. We are all going to celebrate with you in March! (For readers who don’t know Teresa personally, she is a gifted singer/performer/actor!)

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