Losing a bunch of weight tends to get you asked two questions:

1) How’d you do it?

2) Why did you do it?

My answer to the first one is usually “Eat lots of fruit and yogurt, don’t go to restaurants, and completely eliminate Italian, Mexican, Indian, and Chinese food from your diet.”

Which is a simplified version of “destroy everything that makes life worth living”, I admit.

The second question is, I think, what people really want to know the answer to.  Most of us, at one time or another, want to lose some weight, but that’s not much motivation in and of itself.  You need that mental hook that gives you the rationale to behave in what is, literally, self-destructive behavior.  You need a “Why” to make it work.

My typical answer to that is: “I went to Japan for the first time”, which is actually a pretty good lie.  It’s a nation of stairs – escalators and elevators are rare, tiny, hot and crowded things.  Pulling yourself up and down that many stairs gives you a really good reason to want to have less of yourself around, and you’re surrounded by skinny people so you don’t have the excuse you have in America, which is “Well, I’m overweight, but look at HIM, at least I’m not THAT bad.”

The truth is that the process started a little earlier.  I was working on a small development / testing team, and the QA lead liked going for walks in the afternoon.  So, every day, he would invite the team for a walk, and since eventually I realized that taking an afternoon walk was better than working, I started accepting the invitations.

And those afternoon walks, honestly, are the things that made it so I survived that first trip to the Land-Of-Stairs and came back with the epiphany that made it possible to stick with it.

So: “Why did you do it?”

Answer: “Well, it was better than working.”

I don’t think this is going to make it into any self-help books any time soon.

At any rate, the whole point behind this long and painful story is to lead in to another painful story:

One of the guys who used to come on these team “meetings” is leaving town.

He’s the guy that tended to be the guy that would turn the walks from flat-ground strolls into up-hill hikes.  He was also the guy in the best shape of all of us, which I think should have been a clue.

We had a send-off for him last night.

He’s packed his entire life into 15 Rubbermaid containers in a 4′ x 8′ trailer and he’s moving to Florida to go to school.

He’d planned to take a lot more with him – he had arrangements made for a big truck, the whole works, but then he found out that school started a month before he thought it would and he had to move NOW to get there in time and if he wanted the big truck NOW it would cost something like $5000.

When you’re faced with that, apparently it’s a strong motivator to decide what things you have are really important to you.

That made me realize that the same questions apply to un-cluttering your life as apply to losing weight.  “How” and “Why?”

I don’t think I’ll ever have a “Why?” that can be answered with “I need to fit my entire life into THIS trailer”, but if I can find a good enough Why, I might actually get organized one of these days.  🙂

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