Diets don't work. Why not? Because they focus on what foods we should and shouldn't eat but completely ignore everything else that makes us fat. Peter Walsh believes the secret to successfully losing weight is focusing on how, why and where you eat. When it comes to clearing clutter (the fat in our homes) it isn't about the stuff itself, it's about the life you want to live. The same is true for losing weight: It's not about the pounds, it's about living the life you deserve in the body you want.
It's Not About the Food
As I learned in cluttered houses across the country, when you've collected too much of anything, including fat, you can't get rid of it without facing the underlying issues. To lose weight, to achieve the body and look you desire, you have to consider the many aspects of where and how you live. You have to consider the life you want to live. You have to look at your body the way you look at your house and say, "Do I honor and respect this body? Does it reflect who I am?" If your goals aren't clear and your thinking isn't focused, you can't break the habits that stand in your way.
To deal with the fat that clings to your hips, you need to look beyond the number on the scale. If that's your focus, you will never lose weight. I know that this flies in the face of common thinking, but consider this: Every year, we spend nearly 40 billion dollars on diet books and programs. It's estimated that 45 million of us diet at some point every year and yet we keep gaining weight. If diets are the key to losing weight, why is that with the increasing number of diet books the pounds just keep stacking on? Why, if so many of us diet at least once every year, are two-thirds of us heavier than we should be? As far as I'm concerned, most of those diet books are full of empty promises and short-lived results. They encourage us to spend hours weighing, measuring, and scoring what we put in our mouths. They fill us with a sense of failure and guilt. And each diet book contributes one more piece of clutter to our homes, adding to our already increasing weight—both on our bookshelves and on our hips! More diet books, more weight—a paradox.
The connection between clutter and weight didn't occur to me overnight. About a year ago I published my book It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff. Soon after the book was released I began hearing from people who'd used it to get rid of the clutter in their homes and lives. In these letters I discovered an unexpected side effect. The link that I had suspected but only dimly glimpsed became obvious through the experiences of my readers. I was inundated with real examples of the impact clutter had on all areas of one's life—especially weight.
Dozens of my readers started talking to me in letters, at readings, and on the radio. They told me that when they focused on the lives they wanted to live, they were able to free themselves of years of stuff. When they focused on the lives they knew they deserved, they were able to free themselves from years of gorging themselves. And you can, too.
Clutter or weight? Weight or clutter? What is the solution? We have to take a step back and look at the total picture. It's a huge mistake to draw arbitrary lines and to put different parts of your life into separate little boxes. Your food. Your career. Your relationships. Your schedule. Your buying habits. Your diet. Consider for a moment that where you live, what you own, how you interact with others, what you eat, and how you spend your time are all intimately linked. You can't change one piece without affecting all the others.
Declutter your mind, declutter your home, declutter your relationship to food. Then watch the ripple effect this has on every aspect of the way you live. Clear out the junk, and in doing so clear out the patterns of thought and behavior that prevent you from living the life you want. If you try to clear the clutter by focusing on the stuff, you will fail to get organized. It's not about the stuff. If you try to lose weight by focusing on the food, you'll never change your body for good. It's not about the food. First define the life you want to live. Acknowledge the issues that clutter that vision. Clean up your priorities. Create a world where those priorities can thrive. Learn how to honor and respect yourself. When you do, the ability to take control of your body will follow.
Permission to Be Imperfect
Thin is not the answer to life's problems. And fat is not life's problem. The focus of my work is to help people be honest with themselves—that's where change starts. Are you stuck in the notion that being ten pounds overweight is wrong and life destroying? Because it's not. Not unless you make it so. And particularly not if you're a sixty-year-old grandparent with a nice, soft lap that's perfect for cuddling the grandkids. Why are some of us perfectionists about weight when we're not perfectionists about anything else in our lives? What is most important to you? It should be personal happiness, love, family, relationships. I'm not in amazing shape myself. I'm over fifty years old, and I'm comfortable. I love the people in my life. I wake up happy in the morning. Life is good. Happiness is the ideal and should be the focus of your priorities. It's the key to a balanced, healthy life
When I step into a cluttered home, all of the "stuff" recedes into the background. The person or people who live there become my focus—their dreams, their frustrations, their fears, and their hopes. I don't care what your scale says. I don't care what size you wear. I don't care about your BMI (body mass index). I don't care about anything you've put into your mouth before today. I care about the person I meet. How do you feel? Are you happy and at peace with yourself? Do you have energy and enthusiasm? Are you open to new people and experiences? Do you radiate self-confidence and optimism?
I care about the world where you live. Is it safe and comfortable? Do you look forward to walking through your own front door? Is your home a haven? Does it reflect the life you want to live?
I care about the way you treat your body. Do you respect it? Do you get pleasure from physical activity? Do you have a good sex life? Do you sleep well? Are you healthy? Do you enjoy convivial meals with good friends and/or family? Do you have every reason to expect that you'll live long and well?
I want you to live the best life that you can. And I want you to decide what that is. I'm not going to tell you to exercise for twenty minutes three times a week. I have no idea if that will make you happy. You need to look to yourself for answers. I'm here to help you do that.
If you're fat and happy, congratulations. You don't need this book. I encourage you to accept yourself as you are. Imperfection is not a problem—unhappiness is. Happiness is the goal here, and a long life in which to enjoy that happiness. If you are fine with your weight and satisfied with your life expectancy, great! You can put down this book, pick up your 750-calorie (not that I'm counting) Starbucks Venti Strawberries & Créme Frappuccino® Blended Crème with whipped cream and call it a day.
Look at your life. If you and your family don't mind the consequences of your weight or if you have a clean bill of health, maybe you should stop harping about those extra ten pounds and enjoy your life. I don't believe in weight loss for the sake of weight loss. I believe in living a life that makes you happy. However, if your butt looks fat and you don't like it, it's time to get rid of it.
A New Approach
This is not a diet or exercise book. It doesn't have recipes or exercise routines; there are thousands of those you can easily purchase and probably already have. Understand this very clearly—I am not a doctor or a dietitian or an exercise physiologist. There are enough experts already cluttering this space and I do not want to add to the frenzy. I am, however, someone who has worked with hundreds of people to get them to a simpler, richer life, one that is less cluttered and more focused. This book is the product of years of experience and a great dose of common sense. I know how to help people gain control of their lives and get out from under the "fat" of what they own. I have seen this hundreds and hundreds of times with clutter and I believe that what is true for our homes and our stuff is also true for our bodies and our weight. It is the remarkable parallel between the weight of clutter and the ever increasing body weight of Americans that has been the driving force behind this book. A cluttered home can have a hugely negative impact on your life. Being overweight or obese can also have devastating consequences for you, your family, and your life.
Unlike the latest fad diet, I'm not promising instant results. If you're looking for a liposuction kit sandwiched between the covers of a book for the suggested retail price of twenty-two dollars, then you've come to the wrong place. You want a quick fix? I'm not your guy. I want you to have long-term results that improve every aspect of your life and, trust me, that can't and won't happen overnight.
The aim of this book is simple: It will show you how to move closer to the life you should be living. It will help you redefine your relationship with your body just as It's All Too Much helps people redefine their relationships with their stuff. Your happiness is the goal. Fat, thin, cluttered, clean—I want you to find the life that makes you happy. The world today is a complicated place. For many it's filled with fear and uncertainty. Your weight is actually something you can control. If it's getting in the way of your happiness, let's take care of it once and for all.
You've probably been on a diet before and you probably failed. That's not surprising. Fat, like clutter, can be overwhelming. Excess is always hard to manage—by its very nature, it makes you feel out of control. I'm going to provide you with a clear and simple plan for dealing with the current wave of consumption that affects us all. Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? will help you examine how your emotions, your home, your kitchen, and your pantry are working for—or against—the life you want for yourself. It will ask you to explore the emotional relationship you have with food and eating. It will focus on your personal habits of buying, eating, and exercising so that you can make informed and empowered choices for yourself. If a healthy diet doesn't fit your lifestyle, well, we'll just have to change your lifestyle. I'm not here to tell you about food. Chances are you already know more than enough. Fat people know everything there is to know about food: calories, sugar content, nutritional value. You can have a very intimate relationship with food, but don't expect it to be fulfilling. Food, like clutter, promises everything but delivers nothing. This book is not focused on the food you eat, it's about the life you live and how both are deeply linked. Ultimately, it will help you redefine your relationship to what you own, what you eat, and how you live. In so doing, it will change how you live your life.
If you have struggled with the fat that hounds most of us, then here is a chance to look at it in a totally new way. If diet and exercise books have proven useless to you, if you yearn to make a change but don't quite know how, then it's time to make a change that works.
I'm not saying it will be easy or the results immediate, but I have helped people across the country deal with the excess of clutter that has robbed them of pleasure and enjoyment. Together, we can apply those same lessons to the stretch-elastic waistbands that haunt us every day! I promise that if you embrace Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? you will come away with strategies and techniques to make lasting changes in your life.
You hold the solution in your hands. The choice is yours.
Peter helps one family clean up their lives room by room and pound by pound.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, May 23, 2013
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