I think Oprah can read my mind. Just last week I discussed the similarities between compulsive hoarding and compulsive eating, inspired by an episode of Dr. Phil.  Today’s episode of Oprah had my favourite clutter expert Peter Walsh discussing the relationship between excess clutter and excess weight. OK, so maybe she can’t read my mind (after all, Oprah does own Dr. Phil – or at least his show, anyway) but it’s pretty interesting that I’m not the only one who can see a link between the two.

Right at the beginning of the show, they put up a quote that practically had me jumping out of my seat: “Eating more and buying more is an attempt to fill the need for something more.” Yes! This is what I’ve been saying all along. In fact, Walsh has written an entire book on the topic, “Does this clutter make my butt look fat?” Check out his book here.

A couple of things stood out to me during the show. First, this woman kept her treadmill (what she called her “high-tech bag holder”) folded up in the kitchen. Can you imagine staring at that thing every time you go into the kitchen for a snack? Talk about guilt-inducing. Walsh couldn’t have put it better when he told her “your treadmill is making you fat.” Because for anyone who’s ever been stuck in the overeating/guilt cycle, just looking at something that makes you feel guilty can lead you to eat. As funny as his statement was, it couldn’t have been more true.

As the family cleared out the their stuff, they kept making comments along the lines of “I’m actually feeling lighter.” It is so important to take your environment, which includes both your physical surroundings and the emotional climate of your life, into account when you examine the context of your weight. If your life is cluttered with stuff, with issues, dramas, stress, problems, unhealthy relationships, etc., then the way you take care of your body is going to reflect that. In fact, Walsh pointed out that a lot of the stuff she had in her house was very similar to the things she ate: cheap, easy and not what she really needs. And what’s more, that stuff represented who she believed she was or who she wanted to be: a baker, a loving mother, the kind of person who actually uses wooden skewers to make beef satay. But instead of being those things, she was just collecting the idea of being them. Ask yourself: how is your environment affecting your lifestyle choices, or representing who you want to be?

I applaud this family for having the courage not just to appear on TV, but to take the steps necessary to finally move past this excessive lifestyle. The woman’s pain was palpable, and her desire to be better and do better was so moving. She finally realized that all of this was about more than just the stuff and the weight, but to some deeper issues that she hadn’t fully worked through. In fact, Bob Greene, Oprah’s personal trainer, put it best when he said that if you don’t focus on the issues underneath, you’ll never lose the weight. Couldn’t have put it better myself.