Getting Organized Helped Me Find Health and Lose 65+ Pounds

Posted By on October 5, 2010

Today’s guest blog is written by my professional organizing colleague Stephanie Calahan.

Back in 2008 I was miserable.  I suffered from migraine attacks as well as asthma attacks that would frequently land me in the hospital, not to mention numerous other health issues.  It seemed that no matter what I did, my weight continued to skyrocket up the scale.  I was doing exactly as the doctors instructed and nothing was working.  In fact, I had spent the last 7 years doing the same things and getting no where.

I Decided to Change

Wait…. Isn’t there a famous phrase that says something like “if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten?”  That was me when it came to my health.  I was able to help my clients through major change, but could not figure it out for myself.  I decided it was time for something new.  I decided to hold myself accountable to the change that I wanted to see.  I wanted to live not just merely exist!

Organizing the Metamorphosis

In order to make this change happen, I had to get my mind and my space organized.  It was time to de-clutter my health and mind!  Here is the short list of what I did.

Get Support from a Professional – The first thing that I did in my change process was to identify and hire a professional that was an expert in my area of need.  I learned that my system did not absorb nutrients correctly and that I was actually suffering from some malnourishment!  I asked him about books I should read and got advice on how I should eat and exercise.  I started reading like crazy after that.  The reading and physical and mental exercises empowered me to do more.

Reorganize Shopping List and Kitchen – I learned I had a number of food allergies (about 33) that caused my system to go into overdrive.  Foods that were good for most people were almost like poison to me.  I had to re-learn how to shop and cook.  We emptied every food-containing cabinet in the kitchen, read every label and reorganized.  Now, our kitchen has 2 main zones:  “food Mom can eat” and “food Mom can’t eat.”  This has been one of the keys to my success, because it has made it very easy for me to figure out what to eat in a pinch.  You know what it is like when you are in a hurry and just want to grab something.  I make sure to grab from my cabinets so that I’m eating the right things.

Created a Water Drinking Tracking Sheet – I was told that I had to take my body weight (at the time 228 pounds) and divide by 2 and that was how much spring water I should be consuming every day.  114 ounces is a LOT of water and I found by day one that I was losing track of my progress.  I created a simple tracking sheet that I printed out and marked every time I drank water.  At first, I was not very good at hitting my goal, but by tracking it, I could see my progress.  Today it is much easier and I no longer need the tracking sheet!  (See Did You Know That You Already Have One of Your Biggest Focus Tools? » for more on how water will increase your focus too.)

Got to Bed No Later than 10:30 pm – This one was very hard for me and I needed organizing strategies to help me out.  You see, by nature, I am a night owl.  When I was told I needed to be in bed earlier, I could not figure out how to do it.  Alarms were my weapon of choice.  I had one to remind me to start shutting down for the night and one to tell me that I should be in bed.  The alarms helped me make the change become part of who I am.  (See Improving Your Sleep Improves Your Waking Hours » or Concentration and Sleep an Important Combination » for more on why sleep is important to your productivity.)

Eat at Least 3 Meals a Day NOT on the Run – I was a habitual meal skipper (less calories right?  WRONG!) as I ran from one appointment to another.  I often found that I would lose energy by early afternoon too.  By making sure that I was getting the right quantities of food over the course of the day, my energy increased and my body started getting the nourishment it needed.  (See Are you Sabotaging Your Productivity? The Most Productive Lunch » for more ideas on productivity and eating.)

Create a Healthy Eating Plan: One of the best ways to stay on track with any plan is to write it down.  A weight loss plan is no different.  Use your daily to-do list or monthly planner to write down your menus for the day.  Check the items off of your list as you eat them and you will be able to easily monitor your progress.  Many meal plans quickly go the wrong direction when you get home and find that you don’t have what you need to make a healthy meal.  Then out comes the pizza!  By having everything written out, you can make sure that does not happen to you.  When you are out running errands, check your meal plan to make sure that you have all of the appropriate ingredients to make a healthy meal.

Eliminate ALL Extra Stress in Life – Sometimes shutting down is the best thing you can do for your body.  At the height of my illnesses, I was WAY overcommitted.  I had my business, being a parent, volunteering for 5 different organizations, networking groups, etc.  One of the best tips I received early in my change process was that I needed to re-evaluate where my time went.  I made time for everyone but me.  So, I sat down and really thought about the activities that I had been participating in.  Which ones lifted me up – filled me up?  Which activities left me drained and uninspired?  It was a very difficult exercise to do, but it is one that I now incorporate with all of my time and productivity clients.  Only participate in activities that fill you up!  Make sure that you make time for you.  (See How Do You De-Stress? My Tweeps & FB Friends Give Us Answers » for some great de-stressing ideas.)

Understand You Are Human: No one is perfect, so don’t try to be!  Making changes in your life takes time and routines.  It is really rare for someone to work towards weight loss and not “cheat” now and then.  The trick is to not “loose it” when you do.  Expecting to be perfect will only lead you to frustration and eventual failure.  Rather than giving up for a lapse in your weight loss plan, relax and start the next day on refreshed footing and back on track with healthy eating and exercising.

The Evolution & Success Guarantee

Any big evolution in your life, whether it is de-cluttering your space or changing the way you eat, requires support and self-discipline.  The more support I make sure to put into my life, the more I guarantee my success.

My first great decision was finding a professional that would listen completely to my challenges.  Because I knew that I was being heard completely, it was much easier for me to hear the message of change that was shared with me. (No matter how much I did not want to hear it at the time!)

I have also enlisted friends, my son and even people I know through Twitter and Facebook to encourage and support my change.  They provide resources and cheer leading when I get frustrated.  They have also helped me on my journey by helping me to read food labels as I go to the store, providing new gluten-free recipes or supporting me as I take on the next wave of health improvement.  All in all, I’m not alone and that is comforting and empowering!

I tell everyone about the changes I’m working on, because the more I tell others of the change I AM making, the more I am committing to myself.  The support also encourages the self-discipline. (See Self-Discipline and Productivity – How to build self-discipline » for more ideas on this topic.)  I encourage you to do the same with your changes.

The Results!

I am already feeling much better and others are noting a difference in my physical appearance.  I have more work to do to ultimately get to where I want to be with my health, but I’m thrilled with the results so far and am excited to keep going on my change program.  I have not had a migraine or asthma attack since March of 2008, my focus is much better and my other health issues are continuing to improve on a daily basis!

I’m also re-energized about my business!  You see, I help people with major changes in their life and business.  By going through a major life change of my own, I’m reminded of how difficult and sometimes scary change can be.  I’m excited about the new experiences I will have helping others find their independence too!

What Change Are You Working Through?

What change are you putting in place in your life?  What support can you use?  What resources are you searching for?  Let us know and we’ll help you find them.

Share your thoughts here!  Scroll down and use the comment section.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

To your success!


Stephanie LH Calahan is a nationally known speaker and productivity coach who works with intelligent, highly motivated, busy entrepreneurs, executives, producers and other professionals to teach them how to do more with their time, space and information.  She believes that life is meant to be lived and that fabulous vision combined with practical systems can make that happen very quickly. As the creator of a number of programs, she focuses on helping you identify solutions for the way you think and work.  Network with Steph or check out her blog, Productive And Organized.



13 Responses to “Getting Organized Helped Me Find Health and Lose 65+ Pounds”

  1. Alys – Thanks! It has been quite a journey. Take care.

  2. Alys Milner says:


    Congratulations to *your success*. Well done. You look amazing and clearly have benefited in a hundred different ways from the changes in your life. I plan to re-post your blog on Facebook!


  3. @Yve – I’m glad that you found inspiration in the story and hope that it helps others as well. I agree that the strategies I share here are great for weight loss as well as other major changes that you are trying to manage. Thank you also for the nice comments – “radient” – Love it!

    @Michelle – Glad that the message hit home. I have been telling people my story for a few months now, but the credit goes to Janice for asking me to write a guest post. I’m not sure I would have thought to write about this in my own blog! Proof the support of friends and colleagues is invaluable.

  4. Michelle Morton says:

    What a great post ~ I really enjoyed reading it and it was a message that I needed to hear and I give you alot of credit for making the changes and doing it!

    I really enjoyed hearing how you did it ~ very powerful.

    Wishing you the best!

  5. Yve says:

    Congrats Steph! What a great and encouraging testimony! You are an inspiration to so many, whether they are struggling with their weight or other issues in their lives. I will share your story in the hopes that it will inspire my friends, colleagues and clients. It sure has inspired me!

    BWT…you look radient!

  6. Hi @Sue – Thank you and you are welcome. One step at a time is a good thing for all kinds of change. As I was working through how I would manage this change, I listened to my coach and I also asked myself how I would consult my clients. Stepping back and using my own advise was eye opening too.

    @Jen – WOW WOW WOW!! Congratulations! That is fantastic. It is amazing how empowered you can be when you get the right information and start acting on it.

  7. What a great story! Thanks so much for sharing! I too have changed my health by decluttering and getting clear. That space allowed me to recognize the many food intolerances and allergies I have. I have let go of 120+ lbs and I feel great!

  8. Sue says:

    Congratulations, Stephanie, and thanks for being an inspiration for anyone who faces challenges of any sort – slow and steady wins the race! Here’s to your health.

  9. @Debi – Bravo for taking the first steps! I think one thing I should share is that I did have setbacks too. Sometimes you backslide when you are making changes in your life. Don’t let that stop you from moving forward!

    @Erika – Thank you my friend. The more I share this story the more I find I need to share this story. :-) I’m glad that you liked it and difficult change makes us stronger.

  10. Erika says:

    You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story. When you’re on the outside, it can be hard to see anything but “wow, she looks great and seems really happy.” To know the back story, the struggle you went through, makes it seem like it’s within reach for all of us who are or have been going through a difficult change. The continued hope and dedication you have to helping yourself AND others? It is just wonderful.


  11. Debi says:

    Way to go girl! I’m following in your footsteps on getting organized and moving towards better health. Thanks so much for being willing to share the steps it takes, the fears you had to overcome, and the challenges that must be overcome. It lets people like me know that we’re not alone either and that it WILL be done!!


  12. Ellen – You are welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment. I would agree that many coaches and consultants end up putting themselves last because they are always focused on their family, friends and clients. The reality is, however, I am a much stronger coach now that I have taken the time to focus on me. A recharged Stephanie is always better than a tired/drained Stephanie! I think that is the case for all of us, but sometimes we forget.
    To your success

  13. Ellen says:

    Thank you Stephanie for sharing your story and the baby steps you took to get there! How often we as professionals put ourselves last in taking care. My favorite step of course is hire an expert!