Stuff Your Face or Face Your Stuff: The Organized Approach to Lose Weight by Decluttering Your Lifeby Dorothy Breininger
While organizing the lives of her many clients as an organizing expert and a frequent guest on A&E's Hoarders show, Dorothy Breininger learned to face her own clutter, and lost seventy-five pounds in the process. In this one-of-a-kind book, she tackles downsizing from the much-needed perspective of what lies underneath our cluttermetaphorically,/i>
While organizing the lives of her many clients as an organizing expert and a frequent guest on A&E's Hoarders show, Dorothy Breininger learned to face her own clutter, and lost seventy-five pounds in the process. In this one-of-a-kind book, she tackles downsizing from the much-needed perspective of what lies underneath our cluttermetaphorically, physically, and emotionally. With some of the most extreme and memorable true stories from the Hoarders show, Breininger reveals what our clutter is trying to tell us and how it relates to our struggles to lose weight and keep it off.
Whether you're a packrat, a neat freak, or trying to tame the hoarder within, Breininger reveals why, to be successful on the scale, you must first master the clutter within you and around you. With the same no-holds barred candor that resonates with TV viewers, she offers advice to help anyone face their stuff, with an organized, step-by-step approach to either toss it, tame it, or tailor it to fit their lives. Filled with personal stories from clients, her own success story, and tips from fitness coaches and organizing experts, this practical book gives everyone the tools to declutter their way to their dream size.
- Health Communications, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt
STUFFING IT: A Recipe for Disaster
It was during my third season filming Hoarders®. I was asked to fly to a bustling Midwestern town to work with a woman who hoards toys (for kids who've long grown up), clothes (that no longer fit), and more than a dozen goats, several dogs, a bunch of chickens and roosters, a few cats, and a couple of birds. The woman, Maybelline, lives on a lovely manicured street and owns a large parcel of land, which, because of an old zoning law, allows for farm animals. Nearby suburban neighbors don't approve of Maybelline's hoard and don't like the look of her property. They complain of a dilapidated home with holes, overgrown brush, mishmash fencing, and farm animals roaming. Neighbors grumble at being interrupted by roosters announcing the day before the manufactured alarm clocks do. The neighbors roll their eyes when they have to swerve their cars around another loud and boisterous breakaway goat, and they resent the hoard of unstartable cars, immoveable boats, campers with broken windows, and wheel-less motorcycles that cover the front and back yards. Maybelline loves her goats even though they have chewed through the exterior siding and insulation of the house, through the interior walls, and into her back bedroom.
When I arrived on location with the show's therapist, Dr. Zasio, I met Maybelline and three of her goats in that bedroom; as I approached her, I gave Maybelline my usual hug and I could sense her warmth and willingness. I was reminded of the days when my dad, the town banker, was a guardian for some folks in my hometown of Richland Center, Wisconsin. He would take me with him on Saturday mornings and I had the chance to meet many of his clientssome of whom exhibited hoarding behavior. Holding my hand, my dad taught me as a seven-year-old to be very polite, keep any hurtful remarks to myself, and be interested in what they were saying. Today, every time I visit a client with hoarding problems, I feel my dad is with me. I asked Maybelline about her hoarding, focusing on some important questions: Are you a perfectionist? Does the 'stuff' remind you of happier times? Have you experienced anxiety or depression in your lifetime?
This time, although I was talking with Maybelline, I began having an internal dialogue with my 200-pound self: 'Dorothy, are you a perfectionist?' 'Heck, yeah! I was a gymnast for years, striving for a perfect 10no mistakes!' 'Dorothy, is there any anxiety or depression you don't want to talk about?' 'I don't want to admit it, but yes. My sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and I need to help her with her mortgage. My mentally challenged cousin has just come to live with us; I've moved in with my mom, sister, and cousin to help with the bills and the caregiving. I am working around the clock. I am depressed and anxious, and I am eating nonstop to cope.'
While my exterior self remained kind, loving, and professional, for the first time in my life, I was experiencing a shift in my own authentic, true self. As I was asking questions of Maybelline, I found myself answering them right along with her. In the midst of my internal verbal volley, I heard Maybelline again, talking about her need to copehow she hoarded things because it brought her comfort. Was I hearing her story about hoarding or my story about overeating? As she explained that the toys and the clothes reminded her of happier times, I floated back to my own thoughts: Yes, I'm attached to ice cream because it reminds me of my father. When he was alive we would go for ice cream in the evenings, and it was such a happy time for me. My cousin and I used to buy penny candy and play for hours at a time. I yearned for those carefree days.
Stop! I don't believe this! I thought. I excused myself from Maybelline's presence and ran out in tears to the television production tent out front. I rarely cry on the set, but during my conversation with Maybelline, I realized that I was a hoarder, too. While I wasn't hoarding things, I was hoarding foodsugar, flour, and excess quantities of junk food on my body! In that moment, I saw that I was no different from Maybelline. She was buying, collecting, and hoarding stuff to fill a void, lessen anxiety, and reconnect with happier times in lifeand so was I. I had developed this habit over the years to soothe myself, and it was identical to the behavior of my hoarding clients.
Maybelline and I sat down and designed new goals and dreams for her. She agreed to fix her camper and replace hoarding with traveling and adventure. We mended the goat-chewed holes in her house, and we substituted trash, soiled clothes, and old food and electronics lying about the house with artwork depicting mountains and eagles. We brought in soft blankets and rugs in outdoorsy colors and placed pine-scented candles throughout her home, reinforcing her dream of camping in the remote forests of North America. We also encouraged Maybelline to apologize to her neighbors, show them how we were dismantling the auto-parts division in her front yard, and let them know she intended to build proper fencing for the animals.
As I found with Maybelline and my own transformation, letting go of our 'stuff' is often an emotional task as well as a physical one. But we can get there if we face it head-on.
Just as I excavate people from their homes and help them learn new habits, you can excavate the clutter around you and within you and learn new, healthier habits, too. But first you need to understand that some of your issues about food may be more about emotional cravings than physical ones.
The Disappearing Husband
Five, 5:30, 6:00 pm. He's not showing up. I've got family visiting from out of town and my husband has left us all waiting. We promised to meet at the house and head out to a Moroccan restaurant for dinner. He's usually on time. What's the matter with him? How could he let me down? How inconsiderate! He's embarrassing me! The least he could do is call!
Six-thirty, 7:00, 7:30 PM. Maybe something is wrong. I'll cancel the dinner reservations and we'll order in. But really, should I be worried? I dialed his cell phone for the seventeenth time in just a couple of hours' time.
Eight, 8:30, 9:00 PM. What do you say to family members who are looking at you funny when your husband doesn't come home when he's supposed to? My embarrassment had hit its height, but concern and worry started overtaking it. More calls to his cell phone. A call to his boss. Nothing.
Nine-thirty, 10:00, 10:30 PM. I turned to my sister Chris and niece, Morgen, and asked if they thought I should call the police or hospitals to see if something serious had happened to Bob. Despite our ups and downs, he always calleddidn't he? Well, no. He didn't always call, but I ignored those times; they weren't as extreme as this. He had never done this to me when guests were involved. I called the hospitals and highway safety; no reports to their knowledge. I needed to inquire with the police directly.
Eleven, 11:30 pm, 12:00 midnight. I nervously got dressed and made my way to the police department to file a missing person's report. Not having done such a thing in my life, I didn't realize that it was too soon to do so. You mean seven hours of 'no contact' didn't automatically make you a missing person? I was not able to file a report, so being my anxious self, I asked the officer on duty a slew of questions: Could he check the system for possible car accidents? Did he have a way to access hospital reports? Could he pull up my husband's car license plate number and track him? Tired of me and my questions, the officer had one question for me.
'Do you think your husband might be having a relationship with another woman?' he asked.
Well, put me in a boxing ring with gloves and a mouth guard and watch me fall to the floor in a total knockout! What? I'm shaking my head like a wet dog with water flying off my face as it goes from side to side! Huh?
'Well, no,' I answered, embarrassed and ashamed. The officer could see he had made his point, and he offered a conciliatory 'Why don't you just head home and try to get some sleep? I'm sure you'll hear from him. Hang in there.'
I drove home in a fog, walked into the house where family members were still gathered in support of my missing-husband dilemma, and the phone rang. It was 1:30 AM. It was Bob. The first words were, 'Dor, I only have a one-minute call. You need to find the best divorce attorney you can and divorce me, and could you call my brother and let him know I'm in jail for six felony counts? I need his help.' I barely got another sentence in before asking the location of the jail where Bob was being held, then the phone went dead. I've only seen those scenarios in the movies, but now I understood that when you only get a minute to make a collect call, they aren't kidding. In that minute, the life I knew collapsed around me, and in the days afterward, my mind started searching for clues about my sixteen-year relationship with Bob. I knew I needed to face up to all the stuff I had ignored, pretended about, and lied aboutto myself and others. I was in an unhealthy marriage and I needed to come clean. It would be years before I could admit my part not just in my marriage to Bob but about my entire life.
©2013 Dorothy K. Breininger. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stuff Your Face or Face Your Stuff. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Meet the Author
Dorothy K. Breininger is a member and lecturer for the National Association of Professional Organizers and Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She can be seen on the Hoarders series on A&E, as well as the Today show, the Dr. Phil show, and The View. She coauthored five organizing books, produced the award-winning Documentary "Saving Our Parents," and is a sought-after national speaker. Please visit her at www.DorothyThe Organizer.com for more information.
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I AM FACING MY STUFF AND I HAVE STOPPED STUFFING MY FACE I had the most amazing AH HA moment after reading Dorothy’s book. I have always struggled with weight my whole life. You name the diet – I’ve tried it. Although I have had success with each diet as soon as I go off the diet I put on the weight I lost and then some. After reading her book I finally have come to terms with why I have not been able to succeed. Since reading her book I have made major changes with the physical clutter in my life and the body clutter on my body. For all those fellow YO YO dieters out there GET THIS BOOK. Unlike other books written by skinny people with personal trainers but never deal with the real reason why we are grabbing those bag of potato chips to begin with it was refreshing to read how Dorothy has struggled and how she realized she was not facing the stuff in her life which caused her to stuff her face. Dorothy’s transformation after losing 75 pounds is amazing. You will love her stories woven within the book about her adventures on Hoarders.
Dorothy is a genius when it comes to the larger impact of organizing your life. She is committed to the work she does and it is reflected in her writing. You feel like she truly has your best interests in mind! Thanks Dorothy for another great book to add to my very organized and non-cluttered shelf!
Dorothy truly hits the hammer right on the head! This no-holds bar book tells you how to turn your life around when you Face Your Stuff. Just like her clients, she recognized her addictive-type tendencies. But instead of hoarding stuff to a dangerous point, Dorothy binged on food to keep anger and guilt in-check. Yes, you can overcome many obstacles....whether it's food, junk or animals...this is a must-read to bring you a life you deserve.