Even though summer is virtually upon us, that doesn't mean it's too late to take part in some spring cleaning. Recently, when facing my own list of spring cleaning to-dos, I decided that along with sorting through potentially overstuffed drawers, closets and garages, I was going to sort through some of the items in my home that were creating clutter in my mind. Thus, once I'd sifted through some old sock drawers, I turned my sights on 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 more than two 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 already 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 collection of (mostly) 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 more than 250-plus 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 three-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 what time of year you're doing it in.
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 commentary. So do tell.
For some tips on clearing away clutter, click here.
For more by Gregg McBride, click here.
For more on fitness and exercise, click here.