Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but I did it – lost seven pounds in just two days, and it was very easy once I got started.
I will share with you exactly how I did it and how you can too.
It Started So Innocently
My problem began in 2000. While rejoicing that my newly renovated kitchen was finally done, I decided it was a great time to learn how to cook! Yes, I know this sounds backwards and crazy, but I was not alone; during our initial consultation, our kitchen designer asked us if we cooked! Apparently many homeowners simply love having a showcase kitchen that is rarely used for more than reheating leftovers. However, I soon developed a love of cooking and baking.
I found myself worshiping Martha, Ina, Bobby, Rachael, and Anthony. I would spend hours online, checking out food related forums, blogs, and websites. I would clip recipes from newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and old cookbooks I purchased at garage sales. I would save emails that contained recipes from friends and online acquaintances.
Yes, I had become a recipe hoarder.
The Wrong Solution
Being the organized type, I carefully placed these clippings and hard copies of the emails into a three-ring binder, broken out by specific areas: salads, appetizers, entrees, desserts, vegetables, etc. Each section contained plastic sheets which carefully held my prized clippings, with backer paper in place to keep them from sliding around.
My beautiful recipe binder moved with me from condo to apartment to house and even to a few vacation rentals before settling into its current spot in our new condo earlier this year. Although I considered my culinary sidekick a buddy for life, I found myself tripping over him often as I attempted to slide one of my cutting boards out of the narrow cabinet that shared his space.
Hitting Rock Bottom
One day, out of frustration and curiosity, I placed the three-ring binder on my bathroom scale, and was shocked to find that the cache of recipes I had squirreled away over 17 years weighed in at 7 pounds!
It was time for me to drop these 7 pounds, and I did so quickly by harnessing technology and applying a minimalist mindset.
The results were swift and reinforced three key lessons:
1. Periodically Re-evaluate Your Possessions
When I decided I had tired of maneuvering around this 7 pound obstacle, I was amazed to find that I had only made at most 5% of the recipes! All of the others were collected under the guise of “I’ll make this someday.”
In 2008, I made a major life style change, shedding over 30 pounds by working with a personal trainer and dietician. Having adopted a new set of eating habits, I rarely baked and no longer craved many of the recipes I found in the binder. The recipes that I so dearly collected were no longer relevant; life changes and so do our needs and wants.
Reevaluate your possessions and be realistic in determining what you actually use, and be open to eliminating what you don’t.
2. Harness Technology to Reduce Clutter
With today’s technology, it is a breeze to scan paper documents and instantly digitize them. As I reviewed my recipe binder, I carefully evaluated the contents and scanned only those recipes that I knew had either become my favorites, were next on my list to try, or had some sentimental attachment. Yes, I was attached to the handwritten recipes, circa 1985, for chicken piccata, pasta salad, and spinach puffs given to me by former coworkers written on their own memo pads (“From the desk of…“). I used to smile each time I viewed these scraps of paper; now, the same emotion is invoked when I view the digital version. I’ve lost nothing.
The digital versions are actually more accessible, making me more likely to cook something found on one of these pages or share with a friend or colleague with just the push of a button.
When faced with paper clutter, retain only the essential, and digitize the rest!
3. Abandon the “Just In Case” Mindset
As I reviewed the recipes in my binder and was faced with the purge / keep (digitize) decision, I began asking myself “Is this really the best pumpkin cheesecake recipe?” or “Has anyone tested this crock pot chicken fajita method?” I realized that many of the recipes were clipped with the mindset of “just in case” I wanted to try them out. When I stepped back and thought this through I realized that I could easily search the internet for any recipe I wanted and read a wealth of feedback in a matter of seconds, rendering my clippings worthless.
Consider alternatives to Just in Case — as I found, someday may never come.