Friday, May 20, 2011

Can Decluttering Help you Lose Weight?

I came accross an interesting series of articles over at  In them, Peter Walsh explains how clearing clutter can help you lose weight

Of course, he isn't speaking literally.  Throwing out 10 pounds of stuff won't subtract the same amount from your butt (unfortunately).  Walsh notes that the reasons we accumulate clutter - such as emotional distress or trauma - are also often the reasons behind weight issues.  By tackling the issues that cause clutter, not just the clutter itself, we are facing our weight-loss issues.

This article highlights an interesting concept I have been thinking a lot about since I started this challenge... Clearing clutter requires more than just throwing things away.  If you don't deal with the issues that underlie your addiction to clutter, 6 months after your purge you will be right back where you started. 

It makes me wonder... where does my addiction to "things" come from, and how can I get over it?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5 Steps to Cleaning out your Closet

The Fasion Lovers Comprehensive 5 Step Guide to Getting the Most out of Your Closet
You know why Parisian women always look so good?
Small closets.
No room for crappy clothes.
I love clothes. I love, love, love them.  So naturally, I have a hard time pairing down my much loved clothing supply. 
I understand your pain.  I understand the difficulty of throwing things away. So we're going to do this together. 
Here are 5 easy (but not painless) steps for clearing out, decluttering, and getting the most from your closet.

Before you Begin:

Prepare your Space.  Make your bed so you can lay clothes flat on it.  Clean a space for you to put discarded clothes.  You'll be pulling a lot of clothes out, so it is imperative that you have a clean space to work in.  The tidier the battlefield the better.

Prepare Mentally. As with all decluttering, be merciless.  There is no room for sentimentality.  Be completely objective!  You are a machine. Robots have no sentimental attachment to clothes.  They feel no guilt about donating the awful sweater their robot-Aunt gave them 2 years ago.  Just like pulling off a band aid, the quicker you do it, the less painful it will be.

Prepare your Bins/Bags.
  • Consign/Give to Friends -  This bag should include all your nicest clothes. Tags still on? Great for consignment (or ebay).  Have something you love but can't bear to give up?  Pass it on to a friend.  That way, its still close to you, just not in your closet.  AND you can borrow it whenever you get a craving!  Giving much-loved clothes to a friend is a hundred times easier than giving them up altogether. Baby steps, right?
  • Donate - These are all the things that are in good enough shape for Goodwill, but not good enough shape to consign or give to friends.
  • Clothes for Tailoring/Fixing - Have a shirt that needs to be taken in or pants that need to be hemmed? Now's the time to do it.
  • Throw Away - Everything else.  
5 Steps to Cleaning out your Closet: For ultimate ease of cleaning, follow in order.

1. Clothes you just don't like. To get the ball moving, start with things you know you want to get rid of.  Don't skip over the sentimental things: ugly birthday presents, ex's old clothes, novelty tees, etc.  Divide (into bags) and conquer (the clutter). 

2. Clothes that do not fit you. Can any of them be tailored to fit?  If so, put in the appropriate bag. Get rid of all the rest.  I don't care if they are jeans you bought on sale and will look great when you lose/gain 5 lbs.  Get rid of them. Divide all those baggy sweaters, tight pants, and uncomfortable shoes between the appropriate bags, and move right along.  (Remember - be honest with yourself.  If you have to, try things on and give the article a good critical review in the mirror).   

3. Clothes that do not look great on you. Does that colour look awful on you? Skirt in a cute shape, but definitely not for your body? Get rid of it.  Keep only the things that make you look, and feel, great.

4. Clothes you haven't worn in a year. This is where I start to have some fun, and where the majority of your time can go.  Begin by asking yourself, "Why haven't I worn this?" Your answers will probably be:
  • It's ugly/It doesn't fit. This should have been dealt with in Step 1.  Get rid of it.
  • I have duplicates. You'll get more out of your clothes (and your closet) if you only have 1 or 2 of a specific item. Like me, are you the proud owner of 15 graphic tees? 5 white tank tops?  3 workout zip-ups? 12 pairs of bootcut jeans? Choose the high quality ones you really love, and then divide the chosen ones in half. 
  • I have nothing to wear it with. For example, you have a skirt you love, but never wear. Is it because you need a specific kind of shirt to go with it? You need a top that's fitted but all you have is flowey?  First, go through your existing clothes and look for something to wear the piece with.  Put that skirt on, and try on every top you have. Chances are, you'll find an outfit you didn't even know you had. If that doesn't work, start a clothes shopping list (you do it with groceries, why not clothes too?) so you can shop with specific pieces in mind. Stumped on what to wear it with? Simply type, "high waisted skirt" (or whatever it is you don't wear) into google images and get inspired.
  • It just doesn't "go." Do you have an overwhelming colour pallet in your closet? Most of my clothes are in fairly subdued colours, but occasionally I will go a bit nuts and buy something bright pink that doesn't go with any of my other clothes, and then I'll never wear it! Shocking. The same goes for pieces that just don't fit your style.  Are you a bit preppy, but have the odd bohemian bag or hipster hat?  These "just-don't-go" pieces, while probably very cute, are usually better off bid adieu. 
Go through each piece of haven't-worn-in-a-year clothing this way.  Keep only the things you truly have the intention of wearing again.

5. Clothes you love, but are tired.  This is my least favourite part.  We all have our favourite sweaters, jeans, or shoes.  We love them so much, we wear them all the time.  And its because of our love that they are piling, they are stretched, they have holes in them.  And its time to let them go.  Remember: getting rid of old clothes makes room for new ones!

  • Don't forget to do jewelry, belts, scarves, shoes, socks, underwear, and bras! 
  • This is VERY important: Do NOT go through the bags again! You've heard of shoppers remorse? Declutterer's remorse is much, much worse.  Once its in the bag, say farewell.

Need some extra help?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How I Conquered my Bathroom Clutter

Bring it on, bathroom clutter.

I followed the tips I laid out in my Bathroom Clutter post and the strategies in my Goal Achieving Action Plan I created at beginning of this challenge. 

Read on to see how I fared!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Declutter Your Bathroom

To kick off my Declutter Challenge, I decided to start in the bathroom. 

As promised, my tips on how to declutter your bathroom.  Including my own, personal, never-been-shared-before tip you don't want to miss: Step #3:  "The Pharmacy"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Challenge: The Spartan Sprint

This is how you celebrate when you're almost finished a race... like that scene from Rocky!

On Saturday I ran in a race called The Spartan Sprint with my boyfriend, brother, and his girlfriend.
The Spartan Sprint is a 5 km obstacle course designed by US Marines.  Absolutely grueling, but also incredibly fun!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Declutter Challenge: The Declutter Series

Spring has sprung, and we all know what time it is...

This marks the beginning of my declutter series. Posts include tips and tricks on:
Be sure to subscribe to my RSS Feed so you don't miss out on some great tips!

My Decluttering Goal Achieving Action Plan:

1. Write down your positive goal in concrete terms.

Pare down enough items to fill just two truck loads when I move next week.
Note: not including furniture, because I honestly don't have that much furniture. 

2. List your reasons for setting this goal.

Moving: I'm moving in the next few weeks and I have so much stuff. I do not want to have to move it.
Moving: Further, I'm moving to New York in the fall, and I need to fit my things in my boyfriend's tiny Manhattan apartment.
Personal Improvement: Minimalist is beautiful, and something I've never been very good at.
Exploration of Consumer Culture: While I was in Cambodia I was perfectly happy living out of my suitcase for 3 months. Do I need all this "stuff" to be happy? No. So why do I have such a hard time throwing it out?

Be sure to read the rest of my Action Plan!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vegan Challenge: Final Thoughts

Sorry little buddies.

It's 1 week after my 3-week diet ended, and now is a good time to reflect.  I never went into this challenge expecting I was going to go vegan for life.  At most, I was hoping to learn some vegan subsitututes I would be likely to incorporate into my everyday life. 

Vegan Habits I'll Continue
Milk alternatives: Soy milk in my Americano; Almond milk in my cereal (here for my almond milk post)
Corn tortillas instead of flour
Homemade Vegan Granola (here for the recipe)
Eating nuts for snacks

Vegan Habits I Won't Continue
Vegan cheese.  Bleh.
Not eating bread.  I need it!
Soy milk/almond milk in my tea.  I need the good stuff.

What I Learned

I used to think strict vegans/vegetarians were slightly self-richeous, smug, and kind of irritating.  But after eating vegan for just 3 weeks, I have a whole new respect for people who put the time, effort, and willpower into a non-mainstream diet for the sake of their beliefs.  I am extremely passionate about the things I believe in, and those willing to deprive themselves for the sake of their convictions deserve the utmost admiration.
Go Vegans!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tips on Starting a Vegan Diet

Coming to the end of my diet, I decided to post a few tips and tricks on going vegan. 

If you're going vegan for good or just for a short cleanse, these are some tips you'll definitely want to read.

Getting Started:

  • Set a date – This allows you to mentally prepare for your new diet, as well as clear out your fridge without having to throw anything away.
  • Purge your kitchen of non-vegan items – Eliminate the temptation to snack on ‘forbidden foods’ during those moments of weakness.
  • Do your nutrition research – Make sure you understand what your body needs and how to get it on a vegan diet.
  • Check with a health professional – As with starting any new diet, make sure that there are no special nutritional concerns you need to be aware of.
Shopping & Cooking:
  • Make a meal plan – Collect recipes from cookbooks, the internet, and friends, and make a meal plan for your first week. The more thoroughly you plan your meals, the less you’ll be struggling to find something to eat. Don’t forget about snacks!
  • Buy quality ingredients – Fresh, organic produce, good quality beans and legumes, and rich spices. Good ingredients make a huge difference in your recipes.
  • Buy a few pre-prepared vegan items – Have some quick-fix snack on hand such as granola bars, breakfast patties, and other things you can prepare quickly or eat on the go. Just remember not to rely on these pre-prepared foods too heavily.
  • Buy in bulk – not only is buying bulk cheaper, but it allows you to buy a small amount so you don’t waste money on something you don’t like if you’re trying something new.
  • Don’t expect vegan items to taste like their non-vegan counterparts! I learned this with my quiche. You may want your vegan mac and cheese to taste like Kraft, but chances are, it won’t.
Eating out:
  • Find local vegan/vegetarian restaurants – Eating vegan at a regular restaurant can be kind of boring (salad, anyone?) and a serious test of your resolve. Vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere and offer delicious meals even a carnivore will love.
  • Choose cuisines that naturally have vegan options – Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Nepali, and Mexican (minus the cheese) are all cuisines that are largely vegan-friendly.
  • Visit your local restaurants' websites – This allows you to see their menu (if it is posted online) and determine in advance what you can eat. It may also be helpful to email the restaurant to get an ingredient list, which may be more reliable than asking your server.
More Tips:
  • Transition time – Going vegan is a huge change, and its not always a breeze to do overnight. You must change not only your eating habits, but shopping and cooking habits as well. If you need it, try a transition period in which you test out vegan recipes a night or two a week. This can also help to avoid “vegan burnout,” something I began to experience around 2 ½ weeks of my vegan diet.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself – There’s no doubt about it – it’s hard to go vegan. If you slip up and have a french fry fried in animal fat, don’t beat yourself up.

A few of the things on the list are from a great post over at on Strategies for New Vegans and a few of them are my own. I hope they help!

This is an AWESOME vegan cookbook - I highly recommend checking it out!