Monday, April 25, 2011

Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? (Part II) the review!

I shared my enthusiasm for the book, Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? in my Part I review. And now that I've finished the book, I get to tell you my initial excitement was not exaggerated. I should also say I was going in to my reading a bit biased since I'm definitely a fan of author Peter Walsh's approach.

I first starting watching Peter Walsh on the show Clean Sweep. His no-nonsense approach was captivating. I have often found myself knee-deep in sentimental clutter. I remember taking note as organizer Walsh walked homeowners through their keepsakes. I distinctly remember as he held up an antique clock found buried deep beneath clutter. The owner of the clock insisted that it was one of her most prized possessions. But Peter challenged her on the point. "If it's so important to you, then why is it so dusty and hidden beneath all of this clutter? Look at this? There is a rat's nest in the back of this clock." He held up the dirty, dusty clock and sure enough, there was evidence a little rat had made the clock its home. "If this clock is so important to you, then you need to honor it and treat it with the respect you say it deserves." After the team had cleaned up the house, the now clean and functioning clock had a place of honor on the mantel. I still remember this moment years later and so when I first got a copy of Peter Walsh's book, It's All Too Much, I knew there would be some gems of wisdom to be found.

I decided to read It's All Too Much first since Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat references it, and the organizing strategies it employs. Then, last Spring I had the opportunity to attend Oprah's Live your Best Life weekend, featuring... Peter Walsh!

Look it's me and Peter!

I brought my copy of the book and had it signed!

Thanks Peter! You rock too!

Even with my bias, as a Peter Walsh fan, I still started the book with fresh eyes. In particular, I was curious what the connection between clutter and weight could be. I got the connection on a surface level, but didn't quite anticipate just how deep it goes.

The book is NOT a diet book. There are no recipes or exercise plans to follow. Instead, the focus is on what is getting in the way of the life you want to live. The same way that a packed and overflowing closet makes it nearly impossible to find the clothes you fit in to; a messy kitchen counter makes food preparation a chore instead of a natural part of your day. Seriously, his quote "No one makes good choices in a messy kitchen" totally changed the way I think about kitchen clutter. No wonder I wasn't cooking meals. My pantry was a mess, my fridge was a mess, and the counter was packed full with.... all sorts of things that didn't belong there.

I appreciate the connections Peter Walsh makes in this book. From looking at the meals you eat out rather than prepare at home, the excuses you make, the clutter that surrounds you, the kitchen you come home to and the vision you have for the life you want; the book is a comprehensive look at the way that clutter does indeed... make your butt fat.

It's full of fresh perspectives and questions to ask yourself as you create the vision for the life you want. As Peter says, you can't start with the clutter if you actually want to make a difference; you have to create the vision for the life you want first. By focusing on the vision you want for your rooms, your home, and your body, you will be able to look at the choices you make to see if they line up with that vision.

Even looking at the notion of "your ideal weight." Where did this number come from? Instead of holding this potentially arbitrary number over your head and seeing your current weight as a failure; create the vision for what your life will be like in a healthy and fit body. "How do you imagine your life would be different at this ideal weight you're seeking?"

So often I think about what my life will be like when I have lost the weight I am trying to lose. I will have stylish clothes that I fit and feel fabulous in. I will be comfortable and confident in social situations. I will be able to run and move and be strong. Yes, these things will be easier and more possible when I weigh less-- but what about NOW. I don't have to put those things off now. I cleaned my pantry so I can find the food I purchase and have choices on hand. I streamlined my overflowing closet with Autumn so that the clothes I see each day fit me right now at the size I am today. I spend time with friends who love me at every size and though I still get nervous out at the bar, I am working on feeling more comfortable. And I am running! And I am getting stronger every day.

Throughout the book, Peter infuses stories and letters from people going through the journey of decluttering and losing weight.
Dear Peter:
I've noticed that when clutter creeps in, it creates a low level of stress. It's almost like the hum of street noise: above my sensory threshold, but below my conscious awareness. I'll attend to all of life's loud noises, like work deadlines and car troubles, but not notice the constant background hiss of all the extra stuff. And since I definitely misuse food- that is, I eat not just for sustenance or nourishment, but as a way to unwind, tuneout, get a pleasant little buzz at the end of the day- I find myself eating more just to help block that hiss. Once I start overeating, it kicks off a cycle of guilt that only adds even more stress.
If I actually listened to that hiss, by the way, it would be saying, "You are not quite in control."
But when I can break that cycle and clear my space, the noise goes away. I feel powerful and effective and in control of my life. I no longer want to self-medicate, I want to celebrate! The allure of food never quite vanishes, but I view myself as stronger than the compulsion. Plus, I want my physical self to match my improved psyche and surrounding, not weighed down by extra pounds or heavy meals.
I didn't write that letter, but I could have.

So much of this book resonated with me and my "Getting Hot" journey. I found myself underlining and circling ideas in the book. It was most definitely an active tool, and will remain active in my getting fit toolkit.
I have a long way to go in my personal organizing and my weight loss, but I truly appreciate having Peter Walsh on my team!

What about you? Have you read any of Peter's books? Do you agree that clutter and weight are connected? What's in your toolkit right now?


  1. Great review. That is a powerful letter too. "Block out the hiss" really painted a picture for me. Love the pic with you and Mr. Walsh, how cool!

  2. This book sounds fabulous, something that I may need to read. But then it might end up hidden among the stacks of books on my nightstand, next to the tv, overflowing the bookshelves and cluttering every flat surface in my house. Seriously, there are some great truths in just the little bit that you shared. BTW, you look adorable in those pictures.

  3. Thanks Autumn! Yes, I totally got chills when I read the letter because it so resonated with me. Love the pic! I think we have the same expression which totally cracks me up!

  4. Debbie, Yes it's a really great read. And I felt like it's a book I'll continue to reference. My "to read" pile sounds kind of like yours does. I have books everywhere!!
    And thanks for the compliment! I was SO excited to be at this event and I think it shows by the huge grin on my face in the pictures =)