Second Quarter Goal Results

Before I look at the Second Quarter goal results, I wanted to compare May and June a bit.  I was happy with the comparison.  My calorie burn was a little bit higher in June, but my eating was less.  The result was that my daily calorie deficit (per Fitbit — I know it isn’t exactly accurate but the comparison of the two months is important) was 494 which was 192 calories a day more than May.  I showed only a 1.6 pound loss compared to 2.2, but I didn’t weigh in at the end of June since I had weighed in earlier and got to 148 which is within 2 pounds of my goal weight.  I don’t weigh in again until my first weigh in during June.

On the goals!

Lose 7.4 pounds to get to my goal weight of 146 – This did not happen.  I did get to 148 which means I’m free lifetime at Weight Watchers.  I’m not actually unhappy about this.  It does take longer to lose weight as you get closer to goal.  Setting a weight loss goal by a date certain is usually something I avoid as it is not something I can directly control.  I can control what my body does and what I eat, but I can’t control exactly when the loss shows up on the scale.  I am confident I will get to that goal weight soon.

Exercise at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity – I did great on this.  I way exceeded this. I averaged over 350 minutes a week of exercise.  That does include my strength training minutes which I started in mid-May.  I haven’t broken the two out separately, but I’m sure my aerobic activity per week was well over 200 minutes a week.

2 days a week of strength training – In mid-May, I started working with a trainer at the YMCA 2 days a week.  Since then I’ve done at least 2 days a week and most weeks have done 3 days (doing one day on my own).

Eat 5 fruits/vegetables a day and improve my overall way of eating – I did well on the overall eating….but I didn’t get to the 5 fruits/vegetables a day.  During April and May, I was almost at an average of 4.  But, I was more at 2 1/2 during June.  I think the main reasons for this were (1) I overall ate a little less in June, and (2) I focused on increasing protein during June.  The increasing protein was good, but I didn’t take the time to still have as much fruits and veggies (which calorie wise I could have afforded to do).  I notice that on days that I make a salad, I have no problem getting veggies in, but tend to not do as well on days that I don’t have a salad.  And, I got a little out of the habit of eating berries during the past couple of weeks.

Continue better time/activity management – I wanted to work on the decluttering project and better allocate my time.  I made progress on this.  I got the closet and kitchen organized and made progress on the decluttering.  I am doing more to manage my time better and be more balanced in my overall life.

Sleep 7 hours a day – Right now, I’m reasonably happy with this and probably won’t have it as a goal for next month.  I have had a few nights I had a lot of trouble sleeping, but overall this is better than it has been in a while.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my goals for the third quarter.

NWI and Busy Week (+ More Decluttering)

I did not weigh in Saturday due to the Texas Ironman Triathlon which starts very close to where I weigh in plus, during the morning, the bike ride was passing near my subdivision.  So, when this comes around every year, we stay at home until afternoon, and then don’t go near where the Triathlon finishes.

My week was overall…pretty good.  My big risk when I know in advance I’m not going to weigh in is that I’ll lose focus on eating later in the week.  With a Saturday weigh in, I’m usually super careful on what I eat the last 3 days of the week, but if I’m not weighing in I am sometimes not as careful.  I don’t mean eating beyond my points available, just eating more of the available points later in the week.

I did reasonably well overall, but the activity kind of fell part later in the week.  Sunday was Mother’s Day so I ate more than usual, but I had planned for that.  I went to my first personal training session on Monday.  I exercised Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday like usual.  Then, on Wednesday, I was supposed to have my first real full training session.  I arrived on time at the Y for the session to find the gates locked!  There was one of the workers there and he told me that the Y was closed to prepare for flooding.  We had had some heavy rain the days before that and more was expected (although there wasn’t any at the time).  This Y actually has horses and is in a low area, near a creek.  So they were anticipating there might be flooding (and they looked to have moved out the horses).  The building itself is up high, but the outside stuff isn’t.  Anyway, I went back home and I was a little tired from the exercising I had done earlier in the week so I decided to take the day off (I was already planning to make it a low cardio day, just basically doing the strength training).

Instead I worked some on decluttering and trying to find which possessions spark joy.  I’ve been working on this periodically and, by Wednesday, was mostly working on the things in my home office.  I had originally planned to exercise on Thursday, but I ended up taking everything out of the kitchen cabinets and drawers  This was a massive job to take out almost everything (some things were too high up and a few things I didn’t have room to take out) and put them out on tables and counters and the island.  As I did it, I threw away stuff that was in bad shape and I laid out similar things together.  This was tiring, but didn’t burn all that many calories, alas.  After getting finished I was exhausted and the kitchen was totally torn apart, so we decided to go out to eat at Panera.  I hadn’t really planned for it so I ended up eating a couple of hundred calories more than usual.  I still had plenty of weekly points left (and the activity points I had earned) so it was fine, but I probably wouldn’t have done it if I had been planning to weigh in on Saturday.

Then, Friday was exhausting as well.  We are going to a family wedding out of town next weekend.  I had bought my dress, but my daughter needed hers.  So we went to the mall and walked around finding her dress, then various things to go with it.  I actually earned an activity point from all the walking around I did and my calorie burn was respectable even though I did no formal exercise.

My Fitbit says my calorie deficit for the week would have supported a .8 pound loss.  I wouldn’t actually have gotten that since I ate out Thursday evening, but I was happy with the overall calorie deficit shown.  I was glad I didn’t get derailed by not weighing in Saturday.

On Saturday, once it was afternoon and we could leave the subdivision easily, we went out to lunch at Chipotle.  I had a salad with chicken, brown rice and beans.  I skipped the cheese and didn’t get any chips (I was tempted)!  Afterwards, we went to the Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shop next door to it.  We’ve been meaning to check it out forever and today was the day to do it.  I had a lowfat cookies and cream frozen yogurt with about 1 ounce of mix ins.  I ended up getting more than I thought I was getting (I thought it was about 4 ounces before I weighed it and it was really about 7 ounces of frozen yogurt).  From a calorie standpoint, it was OK, but with the lunch it was more carbs at once than I usually want to have.

The combination raised my blood sugar to 157 an hour after having the frozen yogurt.  I’ve measured after Chipotle before and it doesn’t usually cause me any major problem, so I think it was the combination of the two.  I think I could have a smaller serving of the frozen yogurt sometime not close to other foods with carbs or I could Chipotle …but not both together.

When we got home, we finished going through the kitchen stuff and organized what was left in our cabinets.  That was a lot of fun.  Before, our cabinets and drawers were just jam packed full of stuff.  We had everything stacked and it was so hard sometimes to unearth the pan at the bottom of the stack.  Now, it is totally different.  First, I put the most used items in the drawer that is right next to the cooktop:


And, nothing is stacked!  When we were done, we had some cabinets with little in them:

Upper cabinet

My husband wondered why I didn’t stack the bowls, but I pointed out that I really didn’t need to, given the unused space.

We even ended up with a few cabinets that have absolutely nothing in them:

Lower Cabinet

I am sure they won’t stay empty for all that long.  With eating less processed foods, I am now cooking more, which means buying more cooking things.  I actually bought a lot of new kitchen items from Amazon after we finished going through stuff.  These haven’t arrived yet and I have some other things in mind that I haven’t bought yet.  But, I am going to be careful to only buy things that I have a present use for.

After not formally exercising for 3 days I really wanted to get back to it today.  With going out this afternoon and then working on the kitchen I didn’t get started until 10:00 PM.  I did almost 40 minutes on the treadmill.   I wanted to do another 20, but Charles was eager to go to bed (the treadmill is in the bedroom), so I stopped.  I was going to just do computer stuff until midnight, but around 11:30 I realized I was close to getting to 1800 calories burned for the day.  I couldn’t use the exercise equipment in the bedroom, so I pulled out my laptop and found a Leslie Sansone video on You Tube and did that for 20 minutes.  I had done a few of those early last year when I wanted to do something at night when I couldn’t use the treadmill.  I had stopped it after my leg injury, and had forgotten that they are kind of fun and quick to do to burn a few extra calories.  I ended up finishing the day with 1812 calories burned, 1257 calories eaten, and 55 minutes of exercise.  I was very happy with how my day ended up.

The Power of Non-Exercise Physical Activity

I know I talk here quite a bit about my exercise activities and how important it is for me to exercise regularly.  And, that is true.  It is true from a health standpoint and I tend to lose more weight when I’m exercising regularly. But, today, I want to talk about burning more calories through activity other than exercise and why it is so important to weight loss.

During my weight loss journey, I’ve noticed I don’t burn as many calories as many of the calculators that estimate TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) predict I would burn. For example, this calculator estimates my TDEE (without exercise) at 1484.  In reality, Fitbit shows me my TDEE on days that I don’t exercise can be under 1400 calories.  In fact, I had one day in April that was 1309 for calorie burn!

So, what is the answer?  I think it is due to my low levels of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) and NEPA (non-exercise physical activity). NEAT are the calories you burn other than sleeping, eating and sports-like exercise. Some people use the term NEPA instead. (Others seem to use NEPA for purposeful non-exercise physical activity and use NEAT to include things like fidgeting).

Anyway, what I’ve been aware of is that my NEAT/NEPA is low.  I live in a one story house.  I work from home at a desk.  My preferred activities are sedentary.  For example, some things I like to do: Read, write this blog, surf the Web, play World of Warcraft.  In terms of household jobs, I don’t do dusting or vacuuming due to my allergies.  I do tasks more like bill paying and handling the finances (more sitting).  I’m not a big cook and used to eat a lot of frozen meals.  I do much less of that now, but I cook things that are fast to cook.  I’m not a big TV watcher, but I can easily sit at my computer for the whole day. I don’t even fidget very much.  So, my NEAT/NEPA is very low.

Contrast me with someone else, who is my same age, height and weight.  She works in an office.  She has to walk quite a distance from the parking garage to her office.  Once she is there, she has a job where she moves around a lot during the day.  She goes to the nearby mall for lunch and often window shops a little before walking to the food court.  When she gets home, she enjoys cooking meals that take a lot longer than mine.  She does all the house cleaning. During the little free time she has, she likes to garden. Even without purposeful exercise, she burns a whole lot more calories than do.  If she and I both eat the same amount of calories, she will naturally lose more weight than I do, simply because her NEAT/NEPA is higher than mine.

I had a recent experience that allowed me to compare me to me.

Fitbit 4-30-2015

The above is my activity on April 30.  I burned 1966 calories which is great for me.  I used the treadmill for 55 minutes and Fitbit said I had 60 active minutes (basically those are moderate or higher intensity minutes of at least 10 minutes duration) for the day. My total activity calories were 933.  You might think that my higher calorie burn was because of the exercise.

It did make a difference.  Fitbit says that during that exercise I burned 294 calories.  Deducting what I would have burned if I had just sat during that time, I earned about an extra 244 calories from the exercise.  My BMR (basal metabolic rate) according to Mifflin St. Jeor that day was about 1237, so I burned about 1481 calories from a combination of BMR and exercise.  The other 487 calories was from NEAT/NEPA.

Contrast that with April 16th:

Fitbit 4-16-2015

On that day, I burned 1721 calories and my activity calories were 593.  I actually walked on the treadmill for 63 minutes and had 72 active minutes.  In fact, Fitbit says I burned 345 calories walking on the treadmill, of which 288 were more than what I would have earned just sitting.  For that day, I weighed a little more, so my BMR per Mifflin St. Jeor was 1241 and the exercise added 288 to give me a total of 1529 calories burned from BMR plus exercise.  My NEAT/NEPA calories to get to a total of 1721 calories burned for the day would have been 192 calories.

In short, my non-exercise activity on April 30 was 487 calories, while it was only 192 on April 16!  This is why I burned 245 calories more on April 30, even though I burned more exercise calories on April 16.  If I burned an extra 245 calories a day everyday, I would lose about an extra 2 pounds a month! So what was different about those two days?

This.  That was the day that I did this:


I went through all of my clothes and discarded a bunch of them and then arranged my closet and drawers.  If you looked at my heart rate graph for 4/30, you can see several spikes where it was elevated from noon until 4 pm.  That was working on my clothes.  The spikes in the evening were exercise.  If you look on my 4/16 graph, there aren’t many spikes during the day.  The only sustained raised heart rate was during exercise in the evening.

So.  What I learned from this was that I burned 295 more NEAT/NEPA calories on 4/30 than I did on 4/16 and it was all attributable to my decluttering activity that day.  I loved the fact I burned more than 1900 calories that day.  But, doing that is usually a struggle for me and usually requires a lot of exercise, plus going somewhere during the day where I do a lot of walking (grocery shopping, going to the mall, and so on).  The thing is that I don’t usually need to go shopping most days.  I go grocery shopping once or twice a week.  In many weeks, that is the only shopping I need to do or what I need to do doesn’t take much walking, such as going to the pharmacy or going out to eat.  In fact, I buy a lot of things online and it takes no time to pick up the package from Amazon at the front door.

I don’t do a lot of outdoors non-exercise activity (I have a lot of allergies).  And, as mentioned, my home activities tend to be sedentary.  I think about my dad when he was alive.  He rarely sat down.  He was always working in the yard or finding something to do that involved movement.  Me?  Not so much.

What has become clear to me is that this is why I usually lose less than half a pound a week, even when exercising.  When I don’t exercise (like last fall), I can go into a plateau and lose little or nothing.  When I do exercise, if I do the 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise that I see recommended, I do a little better, but still don’t do that well. Looking at one recent week about a month ago where I exercised for 151 minutes, my calorie burn per day per Fitbit was: 1444, 1544, 1353, 1619, 1605, 1309, and 1562.  The 4 days above 1500 were the days I exercised.  Still my average per day was 1491, even with the exercise.  I’m not going to be losing a whole lot with that kind of calorie burn.

To really consistently lose more than half a pound week, I need to increase exercise and increase NEAT/NEPA.  April 16 is a good example showing that I can burn over 1700 calories in a day if I increase my exercise to about an hour.  If I did that 7 days a week (which I don’t since I usually exercise 5 or 6 days), I could lose half a pound a week.  To get much above that, though, I have to exercise even more and/or I have to increase NEAT/NEPA. Last week, I actually did exercise an average of 69 minutes a day (although I did it over 5 days, taking 2 days off). So, I am exercising more than 150 minutes a week.

Still, it seems to me that the real payoff will come with my increasing my activity other than exercise.  I already do try to get up every hour and at least move around the house.  The days I consistently do that I do better on calorie burn.  But, what really will help is doing more sustained activities during the day that will burn more calories.

I haven’t yet figured out how to do that.  I can’t just go shopping every day.  I don’t need more stuff and the budget wouldn’t like it either.  And, I can’t really do things that get my allergies going.  Still, I need to figure out something.  Right now, I am using the KonMari method to declutter and organize the house.  Currently, I’m working on papers which is fairly sedentary.  The next few things should be more active.  After that, I’m not sure.  I may start cooking a lot more. So, I would get more from that.  Also, doing more to keep the house looking nice.  While I can’t vacuum or dust, I can pick up.

The point is that this is just an example of how our individual lifestyles – apart from exercise – have a powerful effect on how many calories we burn and how much we ultimately lose.

Clothes Gone and Organized!

Following up on my previous post about the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I tackled my clothes today.  Kondo suggests gathering all the clothes from anywhere in the house.  Then handle each item to see if it sparks joy.  If it doesn’t, then it goes.  In my case, I needed to actually try on most of the clothes to find out which ones were too big.

The result was a closet where the top row is almost empty.  It is strange to realize that the closet I thought was too small is now almost too big.

Full Closet

I ended up with a bottom row of often worn clothes.  The top has some seasonal clothes in the back and one lone T shirt that is just a tiny bit too small for me.  Well, I also ended up with 2 full trash bags.

I discarded clothes for 3 basic reasons.  A lot of clothes were just too big for me.  I’ve lost 55 pounds over the past couple of years.  I’ve thrown out a lot of stuff over that time, but there were some things that still remained.  I wear a lot of T-shirts and I’ve always liked them loose.  The other day my hairdresser noticed my weight loss from a month ago when she really wasn’t noticing it before.  She noticed it because I wore a T-shirt that actually fit rather than one that was voluminous.

So, I got rid of almost everything that was too big for me.  The one exception was a few T-shirts that were in good shape (no holes, not worn looking) that were comfortable to be sleep shirts.  They will only be worn for sleeping. Other clothes were just worn out (most of those were also too big).

And, some clothes sparked no joy. They fit, but I just just didn’t feel the joy.  The flannel shirt that I bought where the pocket isn’t deep enough for my phone and it fits, but just doesn’t feel right.  The T-shirt where the embroidery on the front is too heavy and seems to weigh down the shirt.

The only clothes that were really hard to discard were the Ao Dais that I had custom made for me in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Purple Ao Dai

An Ao Dai is a traditional Vietnamese outfit.  There are pants and then a long, form fitting top over the pants.  I always loved my Ao Dais because I could wear them to dressy occasions and didn’t have to wear a dress.  This one I loved because it is purple with  beautiful flowers painted on it.

I also loved this black one because it has a dragon on it.  I mean, a dragon!  Who wouldn’t love it?

Black Ao Dai

Not only did I love these, but they also have a sentimental pull on me.  In 2000, we and our then 5 year old son, spent a few weeks in Vietnam where we adopted 2 siblings.  While we were in Hanoi, I had the Ao Dais made for me.  So, it was hard to get rid of them.  But…. I weighed almost 175 pounds when these were made.  They swim on me now.  I took the pictures above, and away they went.

Kondo recommends that clothes in drawers be stored vertically not horizontally.  I was a little uncertain about this.  Having now folded them as she suggests, I am now sold on this idea.  Here is a drawer that now holds underwear, sleep shirts, shorts, swimsuits, and a winter hat:

Drawer Clothing

Before, I basically had underwear in the drawer and nothing else.

And, I had a drawer that had only my socks in it.  The socks always ended up separated, so I was constantly having to forage through the drawer to try to find the other half of the pair of socks that I wanted to wear.  The drawer was full.  I did discard a few pairs of socks (no joy there!), but I kept most of them.  This is the result:

Sock Drawer

The 4 socks laying by themselves in the back are those that I couldn’t find the other half of.  If I don’t find them by the time I get the rest of the house done, they will go.  What amazes is how much less room it takes to store socks this way.  I have a lot of empty room in a drawer that was full earlier today.

One thing this exercise did show me is how much I need to buy clothes.  As I’ve been losing weight I’ve resisted buying much because I didn’t want to have to replace clothes as I lost more weight.  And, there were some things I discarded that I bought when I weighed 25 pounds more than I weigh now.  I needed them then (having lost 30 pounds), but they are too big for me now.  Still, they were there when I needed them and now I don’t need them any more.

Still I recognize that my wardrobe has some real holes in it.


The only clothes I now own other than the above and the ones in the drawers are one T-shirt that is a tiny bit small, seasonal clothes (winter sweatshirts and jackets mostly) and my wedding dress.  I actually tried on the wedding dress since I weigh only a few pounds more now than I weighed when I got married.  I didn’t expect it to fit since my waist is bigger now than it was back then when I was this weight (higher body fat percentage, alas) and I had to wear control undergarments to get into the dress back then.  The good news was that it is closer to it fitting me than I thought it would be.

Anyway, as you can see, I don’t have a lot of clothes.  I have 3 tank tops.  Two are black and OK, while one is multi-colored.  I don’t actually get much joy from the multi-color one and should have discarded it according to the precepts of the book.  On the other hand, I bought it fairly recently to tide me over until I get to a smaller size.  I was desperate to find something at the time and this was OK.  In another 5 pounds or so, it will be too big so I kept it just to get through that time.

I have numerous black T-shirts (all with something on the front that I like) and a few T-shirts of other colors.  I wear T-shirts about 95% of the time. The ones I’ve kept fit me and are not as loose as what I’ve been wearing. I have exactly one short sleeved denim blouse that isn’t a T shirt.  I was conflicted a bit about it.  I love the front of it.  It has a bunch of embroidered cats on it.  But, it is short sleeved.  When I wear a T-shirt I also put a jacket or a long sleeved shirt over it.  I can’t do that with the denim shirt.  So, I’ve kept it and will see if I end up wearing it, now that I’m thinner (I’ve had the shirt for about 15 years, but only now can I wear it again).

I have only 5 pairs of pants – 2 pairs of knit pants that I wear mostly around the house, blue jeans (almost too big), black jeans, and black “nice” trousers.  That’s it.  Pants don’t last me as long size-wise, so I buy as few as I can get away as I’ve been going down the scale.

Finally, I have a few jackets and a Chambray shirt (I just bought it at the Gap last week), that I wear over T-shirts.  A couple of the jackets I don’t actually love, but they are like the multicolored tank — bought not too long away to tide me over.  In a few pounds, most of those will end up being replaced. I bought most of those a few months ago when I actually needed to go into my office and needed to wear something appropriate for the office, instead of jeans and a T-shirt.  My old office clothes were way too big for me and needed to be replaced. I usually work from home so I don’t need many office-type clothes any more.  When I used to work full-time in the office, suits were most of what I wore.

No, I own no skirts or dresses (except for the wedding dress).  I will soon own a dress since I am going to a family wedding in late May and will be getting a dress for that.  The area where my clothes are really deficient now are nicer casual clothes.  I plan to really work on this when I get into the 140s.

But, mission accomplished.  Kondo says to do books next.  I actually did books before I got this book.  I will look through the books again (to find any that don’t give me joy or that I really don’t think I will ever read) and then it is on to papers.

Decluttering — Japanese Style

This blog is not only about weight loss and fitness.  It is also about making a better me, in any way that I can.  One area that has been nagging at my lately is my feeling stressed by having so much stuff and wanting to find a way to pare it down.  I had this thought that if I could make my surroundings less cluttered, it would make weight loss, fitness, healthy eating and everything else much easier.  The less time I have to spend on managing stuff, the more time I can spend on other things.

Also, I really hate house cleaning.  I am allergic to a lot of stuffs and can’t really vacuum and dust (my husband does that part), but I don’t even like spending time on the part that I can do.  It strikes me that if I have less stuff, the upkeep will be much easier.

And, while I was pondering how to do this, Gwen at The Sunny Coconut posted about a book:


I went and read the article about the book in Gwen’s post.  I pondered whether to buy the book, but didn’t decide.  But, Saturday was my birthday and I used an Amazon gift card to buy the Kindle version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

I had never heard of the book before reading Gwen’s post and, even when I bought it, I didn’t really realize it was a best seller in the US. Turns out it is at the top of the New York Times Advice/How to list.

The book is not all that long and I read it quickly.  I haven’t yet started on the project, but this definitely provides a framework for me.  The heart of Kondo’s method is to handle each item  and “[c]hoose those things that spark joy when you touch them.”

If not, then it goes.  Another interesting thing from the book was the idea of decluttering by category, not by room.  The rationale is that similar items may be in various rooms of the house, so it makes sense to collect them all and then decide what to keep.  Also, if you declutter by room, Kondo asserts that you tend to never get finished.  And, most importantly, Kondo explains:

One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff.  This excess is caused by our own ignorance of how much we actually own.  When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish.  To escape this negative spiral, tidy by category, not by place.

I have actually worked on decluttering before.  Every time we have moved, I’ve seen that as an opportunity to declutter.  Almost 10 years ago, when we moved, we got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved.  We moved into a home that was larger and had ample storage space.  It was almost 4500 square feet and had two detached double garages plus a guest house.  When we moved, there was a lot going on and we stored about 30 boxes of stuff in the second garage.  During the first 3 years we were in the house we would occasionally need something from there and would go find the box and fish it out.

It wasn’t until we had been there about three years, that I decided to really go through them.  I found that there was very little out of them that I wanted to keep.  Still, we built up more stuff while living in that house.  Eventually, we decided to downsize as kids were getting older and starting college.  We didn’t need a house of that size any more.

We knew we would have to get rid of a lot of stuff since we would moving to a smaller place.  We aggressively went through and discarded stuff.  My husband said it seemed like I wanted to get rid of everything!  We also packed up some things and put them in storage while the house was on the market.  My idea was that I would carefully go over those things while moving into the new house and would only keep things I really wanted.

It didn’t actually end up working that way.  By the time we were moving into this house 3 years ago, I was exhausted and just wanted to get the boxes unpacked.  I did some culling out as we unpacked, but only things that were clearly obvious.  Then, a couple of years ago we went through books and DVDs and set aside those that were to go.  We actually bought on Kindle a lot of books we had in physical form and set aside the old books to go….somewhere.  Also, lots of movies are now available to be streamed so we didn’t need as many DVDs.  We set those aside as well.  We didn’t do anything with them, though, since we couldn’t decide what to do with them.  Should we try to sell them?  Donate them?  Trash them?

Finally a couple of weeks ago, my husband took them to Half Price Books.  We knew we would get hardly anything for them, but he was going to be near there so we decided that was the best plan.  Having done that, I was contemplating what to do next when I found The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I had tried to work on my office unsuccessfully.  When we bought this house, I had bought this really nice office furniture from Pottery Barn that had all kinds of storage places. Kondo asserts that it is a mistake to focus on storage solutions — the better idea is to focus on limiting what you keep:

Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.  But sooner or later, all the storage units are full, the room once again overflows with things, and some new and “easy” storage method becomes necessary, creating a negative spiral.  This is why tidying must start with discarding.

I have a fairly good handle on how I want to handle paper.  Basically, I scan in anything that I don’t really have to keep in paper form.  Then I throw the paper way.  For receipts and stuff I want to keep for a limited time I have folders for each month of the year.  I put receipts, for example, in the folder for the month I bought the item.  Each year when I get to a particular month, I go throw the month and throw out old stuff from the prior year I don’t need any more.  I also have a few folders of things that I need to keep in paper form.

Still, my office decluttering efforts didn’t go very far.  First, I have a huge pile of paper that needs to be scanned in.  Also, the drawers are full of the dreaded items that I keep picking up and thinking I may need them some day.  At that point, I put them back, saying I will decide later.

To be clear, I am far more willing to get rid of that kind of stuff than my husband is (he has never seen a cable that he didn’t want to keep).  I seem to do OK on the big stuff, but get stymied by the little things.  The result is that I have drawers crammed with stuff and I can’t ever find anything that I’m really looking for.

Kondo suggests starting the discarding with clothes, then books, then papers, then komono (miscellany, divided into several sub-categories), and finally sentimental items.  I plan to follow this and start with clothes.

Clothes are for me a big problem right now.  I’ve actually gotten rid of a lot of clothes as I’ve been losing 56 pounds.  But, I know I still have quite a few that need to go.  I still have a lot of clothes in the closet that just swim on me now and I know I need to really go through them.  Some of that is difficult as I love T-shirts and love many of those that are too large for me.

Anyway, I’ll report back as I go through this.  I loved the book.  I thought at the time I read it that it was a little weak on how to handle the items that we “need” or “might use” which are utilitarian and don’t really spark joy in anyone.  Thinking about it, though, using the concepts from the book, I think it makes sense to focus on whether the item serves a function for you and how well it does so.  Something that succeeds doesn’t exactly spark “joy,” but does spark a sense of contentment at having something that perfectly meets your needs.