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Toss Things Out for a Healthier Life

Throw Things Out for a Healthier Life
Donate, sell or toss the clutter and streamline your life.

A few months ago I moved out of a place I had been living in for almost 15 years. I decided I was going to streamline my life, so I resolved to get rid of anything I hadn't used at least once in the previous three years. I had an enormous yard sale, dropped off baskets at the local salvation army and sold things on Ebay and Craigslist.

At first it was scary. Wouldn't I one day regret getting rid of that mismatched set of shotglasses, the collection of paperback books I had already read or those two extra sets of socket wrenches? It turns out the answer is no.

Once all that stuff was gone, instead of feeling regret I felt relief. Getting rid of those things gave me a sense of freedom and made my new home far less cluttered. It got me thinking about all the things we hang onto that can actually make our lives worse.

Stop storing those "fat" clothes in case you put the weight back on. I have a long list of friends that lost weight, who are keeping their bigger clothes "in case they need them again." Don't do it. Knowing they're there is like hanging onto a permission slip to indulge. If you want a reminder of your past self, take a picture while holding up the big clothing but then give the item to goodwill.

Get rid of running shoes after 300 to 500 miles. Over time they break down and provide less cushioning. That translates into greater impact stress on your muscles, bones and tendons. If you're not a runner, replace them when you notice the tread is starting to fade.

Special Tip for Weightlifters: You should replace your shoes based on the firmness of the heel counter. (That's the rigid piece surrounding the outside of the heel). You can also check based on the flexibility of the large part of the sole (nearest the ball of the foot). The sole should flex but not bend in half or twist from side to side.

Go through your refrigerator and freezer. Throw away anything that's expired or with freezer burn and make room for some healthy food. As a general rule, leftovers should be eaten, tossed or frozen within three days. On my website WeCookFit.com I've got hundreds of healthy recipes you can cook multiple servings of and freeze for easy re-heating later.

Trash any spices that are expired or after three years, whichever comes first. As spices age, they lose their ability to flavor food. Fresh spices make foods come alive so they don't have to be drowning in fat, salt or sugar to taste good. Since many spices don't have a clear expiration date, slap on a small sticker with the date you bought them.

While you're going through your cupboards, get rid of clear, rigid plastic containers that are stamped with a 7 or "pc." The "pc" means they're made with polycarbonate and those containers are more likely to have BPA in them.

BPA stands for Bisphenol A and it's an organic compound used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications. In 2008, BPA was linked to dozens of health-related problems including heart disease, obesity, behavioral problems in children and even cancer. Heating plastic containers with BPA in the microwave or cleaning them in a dishwasher can cause leeching of the chemical that you want to avoid.

In the bathroom get rid of that toothbrush every two to three months. As they age, the bristles wear down and they're less effective at cleaning. To prevent the spread of germs, you also want to store you toothbrush somewhere it can easily air dry, without coming into contact with other family members toothbrushes. 

Instead of waiting for things to build up, give yourself a reminder to sort, donate and toss things on a regular basis. You'll feel better and live healthier.

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3/1/2015