Are you a frazzled and frustrated working mom struggling with excess weight because you can’t seem to get your mind off of food? Don’t blame yourself and don’t call yourself weak or undisciplined. It may feel like the cookies in the kitchen cabinet are calling your name when those craves hit, but it’s not always your body’s physiological need for food that’s pushing your hungry buttons. It’s the stress in your life. You don’t need to obsess about cleaning up your eating, you may just need to clean up your clutter.

Have you wondered why you can’t seem to get your mind off of food?

Despite what you may think, the source of the problem isn’t a lack of will power on your part.

When you work out of your home, there are endless possibilities to get sidetracked. A lot of people feel uneasy around clutter and it shuts them down and inhibits their creativity.

My Clutter Story

When I was a kid there was a lot of chaos in my home. Toys were everywhere. Furniture needed dusting. Clothes were piled up in the hamper, The kitchen counter was filled with clutter. Papers and books were everywhere. All things that are the enemy of neatness were all too familiar to me.

Sadly my mom, for whatever reason didn’t carry the neatness gene and it didn’t get passed on to me. For years my house was often pretty disorganized. As I got older and spent more time with my Nana and step mother, I realized the value of a clean house. I also noticed that my tendency toward messiness really fed my need to feed.

Years later, as an act of self-care and respect, I learned to place an even higher value on being neat and getting organized. I’ve worked hard to clean up my messy spaces, but still have taken full advantage of storage areas and disregarded them.

Many of my clients have told me that in addition to struggling with excess weight, they also have years of clutter to sift through which makes them depressed. They start a job and before they know it, they’re feeling frustrated, wanting to raid the fridge to ‘take the edge off.’ Getting overwhelmed is a big reason why we eat when we’re not hungry. Here are some of my tips for making it all a bit easier:

Chunk it down Cleaning up and clearing out can be a big job, but it doesn’t have to be. You can tackle any tough job by breaking it down into bite-sized bits. I like to do what I call nearly effortless cleaning. I watch TV in a room where I want to clean or declutter and during each commercial break, I do a quick bit of cleaning or tidying up. If you do this while watching a movie or DVD, just put your show on pause about every 10 – 30 minutes.

When I was a child, there used to be a game on TV called, “Beat the Clock.” In the game, people would run around and do specific tasks before a buzzer went off. They had to beat the clock. I used to love it and I’ve used it as the inspiration to do many things in my life. Oftentimes when we don’t like to do tasks, we drag them out and it seems like they’ll never get done. My suggestion is to set a timer and decide how long you want to do something and do it. You’d be surprised how much can get done in 5 minutes, heck, even in one minute.

My Experience of Depression and Clutter

As I think more deeply about the connection between clutter and depression I realize that I’ve seen it play out in my own life. Now that I better understand the ramifications of how my mother’s mental illness has affected my life, I have an empathetic awareness of the struggles she faced. I got that lesson when I had my first taste of depression.

For me the years 2016 – 2018 were hell, filled with sadness and loss. For a long time I was silent and stayed under the radar. Feeling so lost emotionally, I couldn’t continue to serve my clients with any sense of integrity, so I decided to put my coaching business on pause. That’s when I learned that living with depression is like falling down a deep hole and not having the arms to climb out of it. But now I’m building myself back up, stronger than ever, and passionate about teaching other women struggling with depression how to make their comeback.

About a month ago I recorded my first Power Up with Andrea Video talking about non-diet weight loss tips, and explaining how my depression was the gift that made me realize my problem was not being an emotional eater, but a tendency toward depression.

In the video, I explained how seeing my mother’s mental illness and depression up close in 2018 was the motivation I needed to take my own health seriously. That struck the match and set me on fire and pushed me to realize that I was worthy of feeling better, getting healthier and becoming stronger. Over the past year I made some really big changes in attitude which led to a 20 pound weight loss. But then Covid hit.

And I started eating out of control again. I resisted the old urge to beat myself up and scale shame myself and instead resolved to be kind and to pay close attention to what I needed. I looked at the situation and my behavior with self-compassion. Since I’ve made a habit of doing that, my eating has gone back to effortlessly craving healthier foods and losing weight again.

My intuition has been nudging me in the direction of reclaiming spaces in my life, home and office. When my family and I originally moved from Manhattan to upstate New York, we packed up my office, our apartment and my grandmother’s apartment. I’ve been keeping so much stuff in storage over the years because I’ve been unwilling to let go of old memories. I still have boxes of files from the real estate business I ran for my father nearly 20 years ago. It’s been too hard to let go but now I feel more ready than ever to release what no longer serves me. By letting go of these things I can create more space for doing what I love and fulfilling my passion to serve and empower women.

Recently I decided to attack the cluttered room across the hall from my office. It was originally intended to be used as my library. But during the period of my depression it went badly neglected and became a catch all for every bit of clutter in the house.

Here are a couple of photos of the process of clearing out the space along with some fresh insight. Now I’m proud to say that the mission is almost complete. Nearly half of the room is done. And I decided to move some furniture around. Big changes underway. I’m still in the process of compromising with my husband who wants to keep the boxes of his collectibles in the room.

Here’s a bit of the process along with an Aha on clutter.

When I removed the boxes that were on top of my filing cabinet it revealed some of my old business cards, several framed pictures and other beloved items that hold bittersweet memories.

I think the thing that hurt the most was seeing the gift my husband, Angel gave me of the framed cover of my book was broken. That hurt.

It was also really hard seeing all the framed photos of my Nana which used to hang in my old office that reminded me of losing that beautiful home we once had.

Looking at these things, I can definitely see why it was preferable to me to cover them all up with boxes rather than face the sadness of the memories.

You’ve heard me say that there are really good reasons for why we overeat. Now I’m discovering that the same holds true for any of our cluttered spaces.

Opening yourself up to dealing with and facing the uncomfortable emotions that come from digging into your neglected and unloved spaces will bring you a lot of freedom.

But in the process you’re going to have to be willing to face some of the feelings that you’ve been trying to stuff down with overeating. At least that holds true for me. What do you think?

Handle Your Bug ’ems Before they get out of hand  Let your body guide you by looking for the cringe factor. Ask yourself, “What is it that I can do now that will make an immediate difference in how I feel?

Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts. What do you think? Do you find that clutter fuels your need to feed? Want to take baby steps to better health as you learn how to end food obsession and lose weight without dieting? Click the image below to join my new Facebook group.