I recently interviewed the fabulous Meredith Vieceli. Meredith is the founder and integrative nutritionist and health coach of Well-Rooted 30. I found Meredith through social media when I needed some help and accountability with my own health, and we’ve been working together since 2015. There’s just something about her approach and overall message with health and nutrition that really clicked with me. Working with Meredith has helped me tremendously, especially with my mental and emotional connection to my own nutrition and health.
There are many similarities between Meredith’s approach to health and wellness, and my approach to decluttering and home organization. When I had the Aha! moment that our clutter is in fact connected to our own health, I knew I had to bring Meredith in as a health and nutrition coach to the Clutter Boss Academy community. She helps us take action with our own health and nutrition, as we simultaneously take action in decluttering our homes.
It’s all clutter. And it’s all connected.
Since 2009, Meredith has worked with thousands of women as an integrative nutritionist and health coach. While there are thousands of health coaches out there working with women to help them with their workouts or their meal plans, I gravitate toward Meredith’s unique coaching style because her approach is to really drill down to understanding why we need to take care of ourselves.
It’s not about trying yet another diet. It’s not about restrictions, punishing, and failing. It’s about understanding our very real, yet often underlooked, job of taking care of ourselves so we can take care of the people around us.
It’s no secret that women wear many hats, especially this past year when work and school also moved into our homes. We expend tons of energy taking care of everything around us — our homes, our jobs, our families, our friends, our spouses — and unfortunately we lose ourselves in the process.
The way Meredith works with women is very similar to how I work with my clutter groups. As coaches, we both take the seemingly overwhelming (getting healthy, losing weight, reducing inflammation, decluttering your entire home, etc. ) and we break it up into very small, manageable steps. We start with one thing, do that for a little while, and then add on another thing, and so on. We’re slowly but consistently moving forward. Coaching in a group setting produces incredible results; because a group of women working toward a common goal is a very powerful collective.
Of course, I highly recommend listening to the full interview here. Let’s dive into the highlights of Meredith’s helpful and practical tips for taking action in your health and wellness journey.
The direct connection between clutter and health.
JM: When you began working with the Clutter Boss Academy (CBA) group, did you have any “Aha!” moments in regards to the connection between clutter and health?
MV: In CBA, I found that I had to change my approach to really simplify things. Not because it was too hard or because they couldn’t understand the information — but if I threw too many things at them at once, when they’re living in a world that is already very chaotic and overwhelmed with stuff, then like anyone would they just shut down.
A confused mind just says “NO!” to new information.
So I tailored my message to be very “one-thing-at-a-time,” and very actionable.
I definitely saw the connection of clutter in the kitchen as a blockage to nutrition and health. For example, it’s much more difficult to work on eating healthier or to prepare a nutritious meal when you can’t find pots and pans or cooking utensils. Or, the vegetables in the produce drawer are slimy and old, forgotten about because there was so much stuff on top of it. In CBA, there is definitely a process of cleaning out and decluttering in the kitchen first, to get to a place where I can see what you have to work with for cooking a healthy meal.
Another thing I’ve noticed in the CBA group, and with my own clients, is that they tend to eat out way more often when their kitchen is cluttered. It’s almost like a survival mechanism — if you don’t know what you have in your kitchen, or you feel so disorganized that you can’t get a grocery list together to make two or three dinners for that week, then running out to McDonald’s or Panera or ordering takeout is just so much easier.
One of the best ways to improve our health is to simply start cooking more. Anything that you’re cooking at home is going to be better for you than eating out. And it saves you money! Figuring out how to clear some space in your kitchen will keep you out of the drive-thru.
MV: I hear this a lot when I start with new clients. As a coach, I have to cut through a lot of “I would like to do it, but…”
In the beginning, there are always conditions.
When you’re really struggling with clutter, you’re actually struggling with procrastination. You’re waiting for these perfect conditions in order to take action.
Working on your health and fitness is kind of the same thing. I’m always encouraging people to just start. Start small, but start.
Things I hear a lot are:
“I am waiting for my new planner to get here so I can schedule my workouts.”
“I am waiting for my fitness equipment to get here so I can do bicep curls with my new bands.”
“I can’t start cooking healthy meals until I have my new air fryer or Instapot.”
All you’re doing here is waiting for stuff that you don’t actually need!
If you have a glass, and you have a source of drinking water, then we can start making changes to your health. Always!
How food can either harm or help your mind.
JM: One thing I’ve learned working with you is that when I put bad food into my body, my brain thinks bad thoughts. I get sucked into this negative feedback loop, so there’s a mental and emotional connection to what we eat as well.
MV: Absolutely. Everything that we eat, drink, and consume — not just food-wise, but what we consume with our eyes on social media or TV — all has an effect on our body at a cellular level. Our consumption can change our thoughts, our motivation, and how we feel.
If we’re eating a high-sugar, high-salt, high-inflammatory diet — which is what eating out mostly consists of — then we feel unwell.
I’m an eternal optimist. I don’t care where you are in your health or decluttering journey — if you can’t see your kitchen countertops and if you eat fast food every day, YOU STILL CAN improve! YOU CAN start today! Your body and your mind can start feeling better, literally by tomorrow, if you start making some changes today. Our bodies are that resilient. They respond very quickly to the things we put into our bodies to start the healing process, lower inflammation, and help calm anxiety and depression.
The food we eat can make us depressed, and that is a huge piece of the mental health puzzle. Likewise, the food we eat can make us feel well, more energized, and more optimistic.
No matter how you’re feeling when you’re reading this, just know that there is SOMETHING you can start doing today to make yourself feel better tomorrow. Do not wait for perfect conditions to begin.
Every single person is capable of change. No one is hopeless!
JM: As a coach, I believe that everybody is capable of getting to where they want to be. You just need the right tools, information, and skills to help get you there. But nobody is hopeless. No matter how bad your clutter or your health is, every single person is capable of making changes.
MV: You are absolutely right. Having the right information is key. Providing step-by-step information is something we’ve taken for granted. A lot of what we’ve been taught about nutrition is either wrong or incomplete. Same with decluttering, we were never taught how to declutter. You can’t blame yourself for what you’ve never been taught. All you can do right now is have an open mind and being willing to start fresh, today. Whether you’re 46 years old, or 58 years old, YOU can start today.
The whole diet industry has built billion-dollar diets based on calories in/calories out. It has made us look at food as purely a number without understanding the effect food has on our entire body. This has done a huge disservice to people, but particularly to women. Girls start dieting in their tweens now. It doesn’t help us that these diet programs are very popular and endorsed by high-profile celebrities. The diet industry has acted very irresponsibly and is partly to blame for why we’re in this health crisis right now.
The diet industry tells us that diet foods (low-fat, sugar-free, sugar alcohols, food that offer lots of chemicals but zero nutrition) are good for us, while all fats are vilified. Most people don’t know there are different kinds of fats, and some are good for us.
Making progress with your health is about being open to relearning, rethinking, and having a solid understanding of what real nutrition actually is, what good health actually looks like, and recognizing that most of what we’ve been taught in the past is simply incorrect.
We’re all learning as we go. Just stay open to new information.
Keep it simple.
MV: With anything related to health and fitness, keep it simple. When my clients are grocery shopping I get lots of questions about “healthy” food products. I ask them to take a photo of the front and the back of the product. Usually, the front of the box is where all the healthy buzz words are: Antioxidants! Probiotics! Gluten-free! But what I want to know is, what’s on the back of the box? Check the ingredients list. When products use multiple sweeteners, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives… that’s when we must ask ourselves, is this product truly healthy for us to consume?
And these are products found in the “health food” aisle! Reading and then researching all of these labels is very time consuming and confusing. So remember this: if you have to ask whether or not something is healthy, you can assume it’s not. If a product has a list of 15 ingredients, and only two or three of them are recognizable to you, then it’s not good for you. Just pass on it.
Instead, take your cart around the perimeter of the store. Keeping it simple means keeping it fresh. Load up your cart with a rainbow of produce (frozen is fine, too!) and high-quality proteins and good fats.
If you’re working hard to remove the clutter from your house, then the same approach can be applied to your nutrition. For example: start with what you drink every day. It can be overwhelming to make a choice of what to drink, with all of the options available to us: juices, seltzer, sodas, teas, kombuchas, and everything else that’s available. So if it’s overwhelming, then just drink water! Water will do the trick, every time. Keep it simple.
Reduce decision fatigue.
JM: I’ve read that people make an average of 60,000 decisions per day. And that the decision-making process actually burns glucose. We’re depleting our bodies’ resources just by making these decisions. So if we’re struggling with what kind of “health drink” should I drink right now, no wonder that depletes some energy needed for decision-making in decluttering!
MV: Yes, exactly. It’s called decision fatigue. This usually happens around 4pm-5pm, and what do we usually reach for to eat around that time? Something to replace the sugar that we’ve burned in our brain! So that’s when you might want a glass of wine to calm down, or some dark chocolate to get through the afternoon.
When you find yourself foraging through the kitchen around the same time everyday, there’s a reason for it. It’s important to dig down to the root cause. Review what you’ve eaten at each meal that day — did you get enough protein? Fiber? Did you skip lunch, or eat just a tiny “diet” salad with fat-free dressing? Well then no wonder you’re digging for food a couple of hours later, and for sugar specifically!
Sugar is the quickest form of energy for our bodies to absorb. When we are deficient in nutrients and deficient in energy, then sugar is what looks really appealing to us. That’s why we want something quick and sweet.
The pattern I see with women is snacking in the afternoon, or at nighttime after the kids have gone to bed. Recognizing your own patterns, and then working backward from there is important. Most likely, you didn’t eat enough at one or all of your meals. This can cause your metabolism to slow down, and it can affect your thyroid. Missing meals, and not eating enough nutrient-dense food causes your body to slow down. And as your body slows down, it burns through muscle. Being overfed and undernourished is a very unhappy place to be.
I’m so impressed with the women in the CBA group. These women come from all different walks of life, from all different places of struggle. They show up on my coaching calls week after week and they are making fantastic changes. I see them creating new morning routines, walking everyday, reducing their sugar, cooking more, and trying new vegetables.
This is possible for everyone, especially for women who are in the right place and who are working alongside each other toward a similar goal. They have each other’s back. Once you have the right information, it’s really not magic, it’s consistency.
Fail forward. Re-rail.
MV: The thing that I see holding people back is the fear of failure. They’ve tried to eat healthy before. They’ve tried dieting before and “failed” too many times in the past. To that person who feels that she’s tried everything before: Don’t allow your fear of failure to keep you from starting to make changes for your health.
We ALL fail. No one is doing this 100% perfectly every day! Nobody.
That’s why it’s important to fail forward, together. We string a few good days together, then have a little slip. That gives us a moment of self-awareness to figure out what happened. Then, you pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and go forward — with the group, with the people surrounding you who are also failing forward!
Then slowly, you will string together more and more healthy and happy days. You’ll notice that when you do healthy things, you feel happier. When you start moving more and eating nourishing food, you get endorphins — those happy brain chemicals.
Don’t let the fear of failure stop you in your tracks. Know that no one is doing this perfectly, but we are all trying, together.
I have a term for this, it’s called rerail. One of my clients came up with it and it stuck. We all derail from time to time. But then, we rerail!
JM: I find that some people even have a fear of success. They’re afraid these changes will mean it’ll change them as a person. We have got to stop letting our lives be dictated by fear!
MV: Absolutely. Any decision that is made from fear is going to be a poor decision. The fear of failure and the fear of success are both based on external factors. It’s a fear of what other people will think when you start something new.
People who don’t celebrate your success and who secretly cheer for your failures — they are not YOUR people.
If you’re listening to the interview, there’s no doubt you will feel the authentic love we have for the people in our respective groups. And yes, we cheer a lot — but we also know when you might need a little push to keep going. Everything we do is driven by love and knowing that we can all do better. That’s because we understand what it’s like for our lives to transition, change, and open up in the most amazing ways — simply because you start to believe in yourself.
Remember this: It’s not your fault if you have clutter. It’s not your fault if you haven’t been taught the right health and nutrition advice. But if you’re here with us, and you’re willing to make some changes and you’re willing to grow — that is a beautiful thing.