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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #19: How Life Coaching Can Change Everything from Weight Loss to Home Organization

Show Notes

July 27, 2022

In this week's episode, we're going to talk about home organization and how life coaching can impact every aspect of your life. Learning how to understand your thoughts and decide what thoughts serve you will help you conquer anything in your life, whether you want to conquer your weight or home organization or anything else.


Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 19. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me today. I am excited about today's episode. I actually went a little bit off track as I was outlining the episode for today. I was planning to talk to you about teaching your children healthy habits around food, and I had this quick bit I wanted to share with you about cleaning and purging and organizing that I was working on recently. And then I got thinking and I got outlining and the whole home organization bit quickly evolved into a whole episode. And so that's actually what we're going to talk about today and we'll definitely talk about our children and their healthy habits for next week's episode. But I was just so excited thinking about sharing this home organization process with you. And so I'm gonna do that today and bear with me if you're wondering what does this have to do with weight loss? I promise you it does all of the same concepts apply? So let me tell you, I am at the end of pregnancy. I am 33 weeks pregnant. It's terrible. This is my third child. And so with my first, and even a little bit with my second, I'd be like, I am, you know, 32 weeks and four days pregnant or whatever. And now I'm like, am I 32, 33? I think , I think I'm 33, but I'm in the end of pregnancy and I am in hardcore nesting mode. I have been cleaning and organizing like a totally crazy person and I'm not sure if my husband loves it or hates it, but our home looks great, so probably loves it. I'm just a little bit of a tornado getting through each room and I'm generally a pretty organized person. But as life happens, it's so easy for that chaos to start to slip in, especially with two young kids. My husband and I both work. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. And a little under a year ago, we moved cross country from Chicago to Virginia. And prior to that move, I had done some serious evaluation of the things I needed in my life and I perched everything that I didn't. And then when we got to our new town home, we were pretty intentional about how things were set up. But despite that, towards the end of unpacking, we sort of ran out of time and threw everything that remained into our office closet. So been living here for the last 11 months and we have like a total mess of an office closet, the kind of mess where you just keep the door closed and pretend it's not there. And when you do have to open the door to get something out, you sort sort of cringe and like grab that item as quickly as you can so that you don't have to acknowledge the mess. And last week I decided I'm just gonna do it. I'm gonna organize that closet and rip off the stupid bandaid. And let me tell you all as these things do, it got so much worse. Before it got better, I'm talking, our entire office was filled with stuff. I emptied out the entire closet and I opened every single box and every single container. And I held in my hand every single item from that closet and decided whether it should stay or whether it should go. And this was our catchall closet. So there was like, there still are a lot of random things in it, but everything from office supplies to like old memorabilia to like pictures and like artwork from our children. My old flute is in that closet. I mean everything like everything is in that closet and cords like so many cords to what, not always clear, but literally multiple boxes of quartz, y'all multiple boxes and all of our tools, which fine, like we need tools, but then like bags upon bags of extra screws and nails and drywall anchors and like so many little pieces of so many random things. And so I held each and every single item from that closet and asked myself, do we need this? And of course I had to pull in my husband for a couple of the things. But let me ask you dear listener, if a cord has been sitting in a box for 11 months at this house and like probably a few years before that, do you need it If you have saved extra hardware and then you're not even sure which piece of furniture it goes to, do you need it? The answer is no. Nope. You don't need it because if you did need it, you would've needed it a long time ago. And if you realize in the future that you do need it, you'll just go out and buy it. Because every time I've needed a random screw or a drywall anchor or something like that, I didn't even dig through that box of spares anyway. I would just go to the hardware store and buy one and it would cost me like 25 cents. And I would walk into my neighborhood store, hardware store and I'd hold up the thing that I needed and the lovely elderly gentleman would walk me directly to the exact item. And it was a lovely experience. And so why do I have a box of spare parts? Well, I will tell you now, I don't. All of that stuff has been donated, recycled, or thrown away, and everything that we actually need and use is leftover. And I bought clear, medium-sized plastic bins and I labeled them and I organized them on the shelves in the closet and the closet is organized. It's so beautiful. And I keep opening the door just to look at it and feel proud because I have all of the things that I actually need and all of the things that I want, but nothing more. And that's such a good feeling. I have cleared out all of that brain drama I was having every time I open that stupid office door. And now I feel sort of silly, like why did I spend the last 11 months with my hands over my eyes? And I'm sharing this with you all because the skills that I've learned from life coaching have gotten me here. I shared with you at the very beginning of this podcast, or not this episode, but my general podcast, that I started my journey into life coaching to work through professional goals and then how to balance my personal and professional goals with each other. And through that life coaching work, I quickly realized how helpful these tools could be for my weight loss patients. I also realized these tools were applicable to literally every aspect of my life. And in the context of home organization, this had been a goal of mine for years, I had always envied people who were organized who had these clean spaces. I didn't think anyone really lived like that, but they do. And I wanted to be like that too. At least five, probably more years ago, I had purchased the Marie Kondo books and read through them and I made some attempts at organizing, but I never fully engaged with the process and then it never really stuck. And the reason why is because I had too much stuff. When you are overwhelmed with stuff, it's hard to keep it organized. It quickly devolves into clutter when you're trying to put too much stuff into a space. But the reason I had too much stuff wasn't because it was all stuff that I needed or wanted. It was because I didn't know how to purge it. And purging always felt really awful. I'd have thoughts like, what if I need that and I would feel scarcity or I spent money on that or they bought it for me and I would feel guilt. And these thoughts held me back from being able to move forward with actually purging and then truly organizing my life. And it was through life coaching that it finally dawned on me. I was not able to organize because I had the wrong thoughts. The thoughts I was having did not serve me at all. I wasn't approaching home organization from a place of love and abundance. I was approaching it from a place of fear and guilt. And I realized all of the sudden those thoughts like, what if I need? It seemed so silly. It was like a light switch flipped. I was like, what am I doing here? Why do I have so much stuff I'm holding onto these things? Like just in case or just because, and my stuff was totally overwhelming to me when it comes to a thought like what if I need it? The answer was always some super hypothetical scenario. I went through a major purge in declutter starting about a year and a half ago before we made our move across country. And I donated recycled or threw away literally dozens of bags of gar, like garbage bags worth of stuff, dozens, no exaggeration, honestly, like 30 maybe more bag like garbage bags worth of stuff. And then all of that stuff looking back now a year and a half later, do you know how many things I got rid of that I shouldn't have? Things that I like, oops. Like what if I need it? Should have kept these two y'all. I got rid of two things. I got rid of a lightning charger for my brand new iPhone and sort of silly, it was still in the box and I threw away that box without opening it. But do you know what I did? I spent $10 and I bought a new lightning charger. I also got rid of the wall mounting equipment for our baby monitor because at our old house we didn't need it. But then when we moved, I realized that we did need it. And do you know what the solution to that problem was? I spent $8 buying new mounting equipment, that's it, 30 garbage bags worth of stuff purged. And of all of that stuff, a year and a half later, only two things that I've realized I've needed. And the solution was super easy. It was spending $18 and just a couple of minutes of my time online reordering those items. And I will say I learned that I should open every single little box like my iPhone box, even if I think it's I opened most boxes. I just didn't open that one. So in the future I will open every single one, but 30 garbage bags worth of stuff. I got rid of two things that I should have kept. That's it. The thought. What if I need? It wasn't serving me at all. You don't need extra hardware. You can go buy it from that lovely old man at Ace Hardware who will be so happy to sell you three screws for 75 cents. You don't need boxes of cords that belong to electronics that you might not even own anymore. Here was a big one for me. You don't need instruction manuals that you have saved for everything. Did you know that you can find instruction manuals for everything online? Literally everything type in the brand and the model num model number of any random item in your house. And I promise you the instruction manual is online so you don't need it. You can put all of those away, like all the ones you've got like boxes or drawers full of instruction manuals. They're wasting huge amounts of space in your house. So recycle them like right now. And you don't need two dozen or three dozen or four dozen or however many you have. You do not need as many coffee cups as you have. I know you got that one on vacation or your child made do that one. And it's actually kind of ugly, but they made it so you kept it. And that one has such a funny phrase on it. And this one you've had since college. Pull them out. Pull out every single coffee mug in your cabinet and count them and ask yourself, how many of these do you use regularly? How many of them do you even like? What's the most number of coffee cups that you could need? Let's say you have guests in town. How many adults would stay at your house and drink coffee and need a cup from which to do so? That's how many coffee cups do you need? Or how many coffee cups actually fit comfortably in your cabinet without awkwardly stacking and overflowing with that risk that you're gonna be attacked by a waterfall of porcelain the next time you open your cupboard door? Answer all of these questions because you likely don't need more than a dozen, literally like 12 coffee cups. So if you have two or three or four dozen mugs, ask yourself why. What purpose are they serving you? And I'm not saying to get rid of your favorite mug. If you decide to keep 13 mugs and you have space for that, that's great, but you need to choose a number of mugs that actually make sense and save the ones you really love and that's it. You don't need 50 random pens from random stores or companies. You don't need little bags of plastic utensils or those extra sauces from your takeout last week or last month or last year. You don't need the heart-shaped pan that you bought for Valentine's Day eight years ago and used literally once. You don't need eight spatulas. There are a lot of things you don't need. Or even if you do need them, maybe you need just a couple. You don't need as many as you have of whatever item. Think about that definition of need, think about it and answer it and see if that changes your perspective. Going through what I needed and didn't need has actually been fairly easy for me. The thought, what if I need it though? That was not the only thought that was holding me back from being able to purge and clean in the way I wanted to. One of the big thoughts that came up for me was I spent money on that and that thought did not serve me at all because I would look at something I had bought, like a blouse that I wore once I realized it fits sort of awkwardly. So I shoved it in the back of my closet just for it to take up space for years to come. And every time I would see the blouse, I would feel guilty like, oh, I spent money on that and I never wear it. And because I spent money on it, I wouldn't allow myself to get rid of it. But every time I opened my closet and saw it, I just felt terrible about myself. It was a reminder that I should feel guilty for wasting my money. How irresponsible was I for spending money on something that I never even wore? And it stung especially hard because for many years money was tight for us. We were in medical school and then residency and it certainly wasn't poverty, but I didn't have extra money just lying around to casually waste on something that I was never going to use. But even now, we have a more comfortable lifestyle and I still don't want to waste money. It doesn't feel good spending money needlessly on things you don't want because no one likes that. And this is just like we talked about with throwing away food. The cupcakes, y'all right? You already made them. You can't go donate them. You can't unmake them and save the ingredients. If the cupcakes are already made, you have two choices. You can put them in your mouth and on your body, or you can put them on the trash can. That's it. Those are the two choices. The blouse was already bought. You can keep it and you can beat yourself up every time you look at it or you can get rid of it. And the good news here is that you can actually donate it or maybe even sell it. You don't have to put it in the trash can like the cupcakes. But again, there are two choices. You keep it just to remind yourself what a terrible, awful person you are who waste money or you get rid of it and you feel the freedom that comes with that instead of thinking, Ugh. But I spent money on that. I found myself thinking about the future was a really helpful way to reframe it. Thinking thoughts like I'm learning how to buy things I love, or I can forgive myself for mistakes I've made in the past. I can learn from mistakes I've made in the past and thoughts like these have not only changed my cleaning and my purging behaviors, but they, they've also changed my spending habits. When I'm in the store, I only buy something if I really love it and it fits me perfectly or can be easily tailored to fit me the way it should. Or if I know I have a specific gap in my wardrobe that needs to be filled because you can think about how much do I need? Do I need 15 pairs of jeans? Probably not. I have four, but you can have as many as you want. If you collect vintage jeans, cool. Having 15 pairs of jeans might make sense for you, but I don't. And so I have four. And so if you have a bunch of jeans that are too small or too big or not the right length, what are the thoughts that come up when you see those? How many do you need? How many do you truly love and bring you joy? Does it feel good to hang onto a pair of jeans that are too sizes too small? Even if you got to your goal weight and those jeans fit you again, are they the most amazing jeans ever? Or are they a decade out of style or two decades out of style? And even though they fit, you'd never wear them in public because it's 2022 and nobody's wearing flared jeans anymore. Heck, I'm a millennial and I'm not even ready to say goodbye to my skinny jeans. I'm still like, I will hold onto those for a while. For a while, and we're getting a bit in the weeds here, but stop and think about your thoughts. Are they serving you or are they holding you back? Can you imagine what it would feel like to live in a house that is totally clean and organized and decluttered? Because the fun thing about home organization is that you don't have to do it all at once. You can just pick one thing in your house and go for it. And so choose something small and doable like a bathroom or a desk drawer or something like that, and take every single item out and then pay attention to the thoughts that are coming up and how or if they serve you. And then spend 30 or 60 minutes decluttering and organizing that space and then just sit there and revel in it. Stare at your perfectly organized desk drawer that now has your three favorite pens and a notebook and a few office essentials, and pat yourself on the back and see what feelings come up. For me, when I look at a decluttered and organized space, it feels so freeing. My mind feels at ease. There's no drama. There's no putting my hands over my eyes to pretend the mess isn't there. It's just a quiet and calm mind. And imagine capturing these thoughts and feelings and putting them in a bottle so that when you're ready to tackle your next organization process, you can remind yourself of the thoughts that helped you get there and the thoughts you have continued to feel afterwards. Because believe it or not, all of these same principles will serve you in your weight loss journey. What are the thoughts and beliefs that you have? Which are the ones that serve you? Would you intentionally choose these thoughts for yourself? And if your thoughts don't serve you, other other thoughts that could serve you better? And imagine meeting a milestone in your weight loss journey. This could be following your food plan for the day, despite a temptation coming up. This could be logging your food and hunger signals for a week. This could be the first five or 10 or 20 pounds that you lose. And when you accomplish one of those milestones to stop and celebrate it and notice the positive thoughts that come up. And then imagine bottling those up, all those good thoughts that, all those good thoughts that serve you and bring those thoughts along with you because when you've conquered your mind, you can conquer your weight or your closet or any of your goals. Thank you all so much for joining me today. If you're interested in learning more about me or if you live in Illinois or Virginia and would like to be a patient in my telemedicine based weight loss practice, check out my website at That's S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com. If you've enjoyed this episode today, please subscribe and leave me a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Please share it with anyone else who might benefit. Thanks as always for joining me. I will see you next week. Bye-bye.
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