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Decluttering You Life Declutters Your Mind


I am no stranger to “spring cleaning”, regardless the time of the year. End of August and beginning of September are the best times for “back to school” organizing. For many moms whose children are still living at home it is a welcome move from unorganized chaos of the summer to a schedule-based school year. For those empty nesters whose children just left home it is time to stop crying and begin enjoying the freedom- and space. Trust me.
Regardless of what your situation is decluttering may be just the thing you need to get a fresh start. By doing so you undoubtedly will gain a new perspective on your surroundings and future actions. It is hard to approach new beginnings when weighted down by baggage and clatter, be it physical or emotional.
When you are facing changes in life, are scared and vulnerable sorting things out may need to start in your closet.
Do you hold on to emotional baggage? How about stuff in your closet? Do you keep a few thing with tags still attached because you just can’t let go of them? Are you also afraid to let go of friendships that don’t make you feel good any more? Did you accept hand-me-downs you didn’t really like (and never wore!) because they were free and you could not refuse the temptation? How about other temptations in your life, do you give in easily? Can you say no to requests that will sure put you over the top? Are you afraid to express your true feelings to your family members because you don’t want to hurt them? Do you still have that skirt you got on clearance three years ago? Even though it was a little too tight it was cute so you got it hoping to lose weight soon. Does it fit you now or have you gained a few? Do you still hope to lose weight? That’s good, but a thing you don’t realize is that a skirt is a silent reproach of your conscience: you can’t do it, looser!
Can you recall everything you own? How about in just one category? Do you remember every pair of jeans you own? Every blouse and dress? Can you access them easily? If the answer to every question is yes than congratulations, you are a minimalist and you may stop reading now. If, on the other hand, just reading about clatter in your closet makes you anxious it is high time for you to do something about it.
This month I will walk you through a few simple steps. Please don’t get carried away and try to clean and organize everything at once- you may burn out and quit altogether. That is not what you want, right? Let’s start with clothes. Decide what you will do with the things you will let go of. Give away? Donate? Sell? There may be people who appreciate vintage and want what you no longer need. You, on the other hand, will learn what you truly need.
You may be blessed to afford beautiful expensive designer clothes. Even if you spent a lot of money on such things do you still love them? If not, one by one separate them from the things that still bring you joy. You may choose to donate them. In this case you may want to locate designer boutiques that may give you better tax credit for you items than regular donation places. Another option is selling them. But only consider selling if you definitely WILL do it! Don’t create a pile of things you will eventually sell if it will never happen, it only creates more baggage and clatter that will weigh you down emotionally. image

After you made a decision about what you are going to do with discarded things have some fun! Pull out every skirt or pair of pants you own. If you have dig for it, that’s ok, just try not to get distracted and start organizing your photos or other non-clothes items, that’s a no-no at this step. This is a week to deal with clothes only. Pull every item out, take it in you hands and ask yourself if this thing still excites you. What are the reasons you may want to keep it? If you think “It may fit me eventually if loose weight”, ” I can wear it to work in the garden”, ” You can barely see the stain, I’ll wear it around the house”, ” It’s sort of cute”or “I wore it in 1982” that is not it. Does it make you happy? Do you want to wear it tomorrow? This week? To a next party? You have to love it to keep it, otherwise it should go into a “letting go of” pile.

May be someone would love it more than you do. Count your blessings that you were able to afford clothes that gave you please to wear them. Then free yourself from them with gratitude. After you are done with all skirts and pants by using this approach you will move to a next category: sweaters, dresses, scrubs, dress shirts. At the end you will most likely cut your belongings in half. Bag the items you don’t want to keep. Nearly organize the things you chose to keep so they are easily reachable. As for the things you bagged, try get them out of your living space within a week, the sooner the better.

Good luck and happy cleaning!


Are you in a weight-loss information overload?


Recently I went to a bookstore. Not surprisingly there was a big section of books and videos devoted to weight- loss. People keep writing about it, various titles show up each year, but are we getting any healthier? How many of you bought a few books on healthy lifestyle just to promptly put them on a shelf and… never actually read most of them to the end? I tried to find statistics on what percentage of people actually read past the first chapter of self-help books they purchase. I was not able to find it today, but I am sure it is very low.

Regardless of how much information is out there it is hard to find time to learn something in depth. I often read a dozen non-fiction books simultaneously and switch between them. It usually depends on what I work on and what extra information I need for myself and my clients. I read magazine and internet articles, listen to audio tapes, peruse library books as well as take classes on subjects of interest. Healthy lifestyle, fitness and relationship with food have long been on my radar and I did study it, but how about everyone else? Do you have time to study it in depth? Do you need to?
I begun to think: may be short articles and posts are actually more useful for most of us? Following short workout videos on YouTube may be a much better tool for many than buying a workout program just to put it on a shelf or use it only once or twice. After all it takes effort to take a DVD out of the box and put it in the DVR, you know… Actually there is a psychological factor:  It is easier to buy a book or a DVD and pretend that the action is already taken!
There are numerous programs available, backed up by studies and testimonies with great results. I can choose one and stick to it or peruse numerous advice and come up with my own, that fits my needs and schedule. One rule- I have to be committed and disciplined. I need to eat less calories and burn more than I consume. Bottom line- I need to be committed to my health. After all being able to fit in a smaller pair of jeans is only a visual, the real reason is to be healthy and have more energy, to be ready for what God has in store for me. I must eat better and move more. Drink plenty of water. Have a good attitude. Rejoice, pray and be grateful.

Challenge of a Caterpillar Metamorphosis

A friend of mine shared a joke:
It’s good to be a caterpillar: all you do is eat, eat, EAT, EAT, than roll yourself up, sleep, sleep, sleep, than wake up as a beauty!
Don’t we wish it was a case for all of us?
I want to share methods I successfully used in the past. All lead to weight loss. I love to eat, so as many I often gained quite a few extra pounds in winter. I accumulated a few go-to strategies when I need to loose some weight and stay healthy for the future. Now I would like to put them on a list. I did that for my anxiety remedies and I am glad I did. Over time I have tendency to forget things I used in the past. When someone reminds me I am very grateful. Many of my friends who love food and are not blessed with super-fast metabolism have tried many of these methods. Please remind me if there is something I missed but you like. Here is what I remember I successfully tried in the past:
– Calorie counting. It was a good approach to realize how much I was actually eating. It helped to learn calorie contents of my favorite foods and I still remember some of them. I have a book with lists of food and calories and there are apps for it. Some restaurants provide calorie contents, but I try to avoid eating out when I diet- too much temptation. When I first tried to count calories I realized how Much I underestimated the amounts I ate! I need to consume no more than 1500 calories in order to loose weight and 2000 calories a day to maintain healthy weight. This method is very time consuming and a few people told me it causes them anxiety. We don’t want that! But for others it was a very good tool.
– Food and exercise log/ journal. I pulled it out to look at my old notes and see what I did and how it worked. Even if not journaling every day making entries now and then are beneficial. For a few days now I have been writing what I ate, keeping an exercise log as well. I am also back to weighing myself every morning. I thought I will not do it this time, but it was a habit for so long- I think I’ll keep it- I like numbers after all.
– Cleanse/fasting. This method worked, but I don’t want to do it again now- it is too harsh, I think. I may go on a liquid diet one day a week or at least for half a day- I’ll see. I like juicing and drinking water with lemon or apple cider vinegar. Or I mix powder of dried vegetables into a drink (green powder). I am back to rotating between a green drink, water with lemon or apple cider vinegar in the morning. Sometimes I sip it throughout a day. They are alkaline and because my stomach is very acidic I try to counteract that.
There is also different kind of fasting for spiritual purpose, but I will write about it some other time.
– Juicing. Various juices are beneficial but some can be harmful in large quantities. Actually any dieting can be harmful- I did consult my Naturopathic doctor in the past. I like to juice fresh organic fruit and vegetables but not every day. I remember my mother saying to be very careful with beet juice- I’ll need to look up why. There are numerous books on juicing and receipts on the internet to choose from.
– Smoothies and shakes. I like them only need not add too much fruit, protein powder or nuts- it all adds calories event though healthy overall. I’ll make them richer in the main tangency phase, but not yet.
– Green powder- a good substitute for juicing when I don’t have time.
– Adding more vegetables to my diet in all forms: raw and cooked is a great way to healthier eating. My favorite comfort food ingredient is potato, but I mix it with plenty of non- starchy veggies and some meat in a stew or soup with lots of spices-yum! I often share recipes on Facebook, as many of you know. Please share your healthy recipes.
– Psyllium husk. On occasion I add it to water for a filling drink with basically no calories. It also is a good way to eliminate toxins. To avoid constipation I use a tea spoon of powder in a glass of water no more than once a day. Some detoxifying kits are sold with laxatives in them but I am not a big fan, even though I used them in the past.
– Desserts. Apples, blueberries and oranges is what I switched to last week. Good-bye chocolate candy, I’ll miss you! But I still crave chocolate. Dark chocolate is better, but now I am not going to have even that. Today I mixed cocoa powder with some hot water with stevia ( I also used a little honey in the past). The mixture was quite bitter and some would not like it, but it was a good enough substitute for me.

Fundamental for success is self-discipline. It is also good to have accountability.
Joining Weight Watchers or another group is a great option because it gives support, accountability and the feel of the community. I have not tried it personally but heard good things about them. A few times I joined my friends in weight-loss competition and it was fun and got competitive.

Good luck on your quest for health and vitality. I am praying for my friends and readers.

Weight-loss challenges


I belong to a group of people who likes variety. Sticking to just one weight-loss strategy, even a well-proven one, would not work for for me long- time. I like variety otherwise I get extremely bored. Some people prepare and portion their meals for a week in advance. I’m sure it’s a very good strategy and will produce great results. I may try to do that for one week but after a while I will need to switch to something else.
My friend Stephanie Boyer went on her annual master cleanse a few days ago. The way I remember it is basically drinking lemon water for a number of days in order to detoxify. I did cleanses before but this time I really wanted to take it easy on myself in a beginning…
Diet-wise one of my favorite ways to eat right is having home-made healthy soups. I don’t use any cream or butter/oil, but I do use broth for most of them. I don’t follow recipes most of the time as I like to be creative with my cooking. When my concoction is not particularly to my taste- c’mon, it’s often only boiled veggies!- I blend it and than soup goes down easier. Today I made beef bone broth, than chopped celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I added some spices that were on hand: thyme, ginger powder, basil, salt, pepper and a mix of dry seasoning. I used my handy-dandy immersion blender to whip it up in a purée. If you want to try it but don’t like the texture of a blended soup just leave your vegetables intact.
For next few days I think I will stick with just soups and maybe raw veggies blends.
I haven’t stepped on my scales for months – big mistake. When I finally did this morning and saw a number it scared me. I gained about ten pounds in two months! I’m going to lose weight not only for vanity but for health reasons as well.
I know how to develop a strategy and produce desired results. I’m going to apply it to this particular problem. I know my girlfriends will keep me accountable, as well as my life coach, Kathleen Brooks. Ladies, I need you! Yesterday I went to a party and cheated… It was very difficult to pass on an amazing cake (and usually I am quite picky with my desserts) and blintzes with caviar- c’mon I’m only human! It always have been easier to eat right when I ate my meals at home. Starting a new eating plan is always a challenge for me. I often slip into old eating habits easier in the beginning, before I develop new eating habits.
Anyone wants to join me? Share your strategies for this challenge?
If you would like to make a comment- comment button is on a very bottom of this post in a right-hand corner.

New Year Resolutions


We love to make New Year Resolutions, don’t we- new year, new hope, new beginnings, fresh start…

Every time I can barely squeeze into my jeans after the holidays my first resolution is, you’ve guessed it, to loose weight. I’ve been there before, numerous times. I can be disciplined until I get sick. I had a cold that would not completely go away for over a month. I could not work out much and my eating habits were slipping- when I am not feeling well I need comfort food. In the past stress at work and at home in December took its tall and I would roll into a new year much heavier than I was in, let’s say, September. I need to do something, and I need to start now.

I know what works and what does not. I remember the hardest thing for me always was to actually start the program and stick to it. I often tried to apply many drastic changes all at once: go on a strict diet or cleanses and excersise a lot. It did work and I did see results in 2-3 weeks, but the first couple weeks were brutal, with muscle pains and that horrible feeling of hunger after cutting out sugar and all refined carbohidraes from my diet and not eating much.  Drastically adding huge amounts of vegetables left me bloated. I also think when I was younger my system was less susceptible to such stress of major detox, but now that I am older I am not looking forward to pushing my body to the limits rapidly.
This time I am going to implement small changes in the beginning to ease into it- especially because I was sick. But by the end of the month I expect to get on with a health program.

I know I need to completely cut out sugar and all sweets and breads and pasta right now. I become addicted to them and I know I’ll feel much better if I clean my system from this stuff. I will allow myself a little honey as a sweetener with sprouted bread, but only after a few weeks.

Ultimately I would go back to working out half an hour daily. I like to peruse various videos on YouTube- there I can find anything and have a workout I feel like doing on a particular day. But if I jump into it full force I’ll be in pain, so for a couple of weeks I’ll take it easy. I have been walking daily and doing only a few exercises at a time for about a week now and I feel some changes. I feel my muscles, but they are not aching as they would if I had begun full- blast workouts. I am coming back, but slowly.

It is usually difficult to get back on truck after overindulging in sweet, greasy, yummy holiday foods. Often I can stay clear of that or eat a little at parties over the holidays, but because I was sick on and off for over a month I medicated myself with food…

When I was not able to comfortably fit into my largest jeans- yes, the ” muffin top” and all- it was a major wake-up call. And to think that in November I was doing so well that I was shopping for smaller clothes… Yesterday I was dressing for a party and realized that my choices were quite slim as only a couple outfits fit right. But I can’t just stop eating for a week and work out for an hour every day- not this time.

I am not doing it just for vanity but for my health as well. I don’t want to go with hopping on scale every morning this time, my goal will be to fit in my smallest jeans. This particular pair is waiting to be put on in March. Lets say March 30. It seems realistic. In order to do it I need to:
Walk every day for at least 20 minutes. Having a dog helps to make this part a reality, I only have to make sure I don’t delegate. I’ll put on my walking clothes as soon as I wake up and get out of bed- robe and fuzzy slippers are allowed in the morning no more! I will start doing YouTube videos tomorrow for 15 and then 20 min a day, a week later going for 30 min a day.

I am done eating sugar and white bread (refined carbs) as of right now. I will cut down on dairy products, especially cheese. I will not deprive myself of food but gradually eat more vegetables. I know I can not be hungry as it may raise anxiety and I don’t want that. So my plan is small steps but steady progress.
There are other changes I would like to implement this year, but I’ll talk about it some other time. One thing at a time is good enough.
I would love to hear from my friends about their New Year Resolutions and have partners on this journey. For many of us small steps are the best approach. Also, if your usual New Years Resolutions list of 25 items has a tendency to never materialize you may want to consider only 2-3 things to focus on. Good luck and God Bless.

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