Decluttering My Life

This month did not go as expected.  My idea was to start training for a November bodybuilding competition and get my kids ready to transition back to public school from homeschooling so I could work full-time instead of part-time as a personal trainer.

Woody Allen once famously said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”  Well God had quite the funny moment with me.

I went to the doctor to get a weird mole between my toes looked at and she told me that it needed to be biopsied and I’d need stitches, and by the way, no treadmill, running, squats or lunges for a month.  Ask me how many athletes get ready for a bikini competition avoiding squats, lunges and cardio?  None.  None would be the answer.


On the plus side though, I don’t have cancer.  That can’t be celebrated enough considering both my parents died of cancer and I had Mohs surgery on my face a few years ago.   I’m beyond grateful to not have that illness.

With my gym time effectively cut by 2/3 this month, that left me to do other projects, like get my kids ready for school.  Only that didn’t quite work out either.  My daughter got into a charter school; my son didn’t.  And because God has an enormous capacity for jokes, the charter school my daughter is attending is only half days.  This means I’m full-time homeschooling my son, part-time schooling my daughter, plus working mornings as a personal trainer and helping out with the family real estate business.

When the going gets tough, the tough decided to read, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  She’s a de-cluttering guru from Japan and her technique is really intense.  Because when you’re suddenly stuck at home for a ton of extra hours, why not purge your set of belongings?

Instead of organizing a little each day or room-by-room, she says to make it a big event and clean by category, that must be done in a very specific order:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Miscellaneous items (kitchen/bathroom)
  5. Nostalgia
  6. Photos

You have to gather up all the items in said category in every room in the house and dump it on the floor.  Then you have to pick up each item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”  If it does you keep it; if not you sell/donate/get rid of it.

Closet before

I had no idea I owned so much stuff.  Like, I literally thought I didn’t have many clothes, but between all the Christmas and birthday gifts, weight fluctuations over the years and generally not paying attention to things, I had amassed an overwhelming pile of stuff I never wore.

The key to letting go of things is to ask yourself, “Does this reflect who I am now?”  I had to realize that my high-end business suits, while lovely, would look very odd in my current profession as a personal trainer.

The next thing about the process is a little out there, but it worked.  When you get rid of something, stroke it and say, “Thank you.”  I felt beyond goofy doing this the first few times but I figured the lady sold 6 million books, she must know what she’s talking about.  Strangely, it made it easier for me to part with sentimental things.

My closet after

I made my entire family do this with all their clothes, because why should I be the only one to sparkle, right?  It was beyond insane.

Books before

We then moved on to books…

Books after


Toys. Just so many toys

Yes, I know I skipped a step but the toys were totally out of control.  I can’t even begin to tell you how liberating it was to throw away old McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and puzzles with missing puzzle pieces.  Full disclosure here:  We’re still working on the toy purge.  It was really hard for them to let go of things; also, my son kept getting side tracked playing with the toys rather than deciding if they sparked joy and I wasn’t going to let the toys sit on the floor indefinitely, so we’re going to do round two this weekend.

Playing instead of cleaning

I’m currently in the papers phase, because we have so much paper.  Just so, so much paper.  Between the real estate business, personal training business, book sales, homeschool papers, paperwork from my deceased parents and my husband’s deceased uncle, it is truly overwhelming.  For this category I’m going to have to skip the step of throwing everything on the floor lest I bury myself alive.

I don’t know if this de-cluttering project is life-changing or magical, but it is forcing me to process my past.  I never realized how emotionally charged some items were to me – like every time I saw one sweater that my mom wore it made me sad because she wore it during chemo, or how a particular shirt made me angry because it reminded me of a fight I had while wearing it.  Why was I keeping these things that made me feel bad?

Another thing I wasn’t expecting was when I found a bag of my bikini metals and on my closet floor.  I had spent literally hundreds of hours preparing for those competitions and my medals were in a bag on the closet floor?  The trophies that meant the most to me (the first international trophy I won last summer in Costa Rica, and the first sword I won at the Texas Shredder) were on my nightstand, because they reminded me of the hard work I had done.  The fact that the other medals weren’t out made me think that maybe just doing competitions for a prize doesn’t mean as much to me as it once did and I’m okay with not doing a second competition this year.

With some of my awards

Skipping the competition in November will allow me to focus fully on homeschooling and my growing client base, and I’m going to do bodybuilding just for the sheer fun of watching my body change and get stronger.  No trophy required.

Hopefully God will agree with those plans.

Lisa 😉

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Local to Austin/Round Rock/Pflugerville?  Email me –  I offer personal training sessions at a private gym:  $65 session.  That includes a customized suggested meal plan.  Spaces limited!

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My before-after

Lisa Traugott is a personal trainer, Mom’s Choice Award writer, original cast member of FOX/John Cena’s “American Grit” and has a monthly fitness column on  She won Ms. Costa Rica Sports Model 2017 and her transformation story was featured in Muscle & Fitness Hers, Good Day Austin, Great Day Houston and Texas Monthly.  She blogs at and is passionate about her clients. (c) 2012-2018 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.


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