How to Easily Lighten a Heavy Purse

Feel like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders? Why lightening your load will improve your health.
By Dana Sullivan

Excess Baggage
It can be hard to get out of the house in the morning, so it's tempting to essentially take its contents with you, tossing everything you think you may need later into your purse. But toting makeup, reading material, gym shoes, and hefty electronic devices has led to more women complaining of neck and shoulder pain, according to doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors from coast to coast. "Many patients don't realize that their heavy handbags are contributing to their problems," says Heidi Prather, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. Learn how to travel lighter and discover new ways to save your spine. Follow these easy steps to drop some pounds.

WYunhee KimYunhee Kimatch Your Weight
Your bag, ideally, should weigh no more than 10 percent of your body weight or 10 pounds, whichever is less. A quick way to gauge if you're carrying too much? Hold your bag in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other. "The bag shouldn't weigh much more than the jug," says Prather. (One gallon weighs 8.3 pounds.) To shed some weight, you'll need to make some tough decisions. Do you really need your cell phone, spare shoes, full makeup kit, and novel all the time? "On some days, leave at least one of those at home or perhaps tucked in the glove compartment or an office drawer," says Prather.

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Hallie BurtonHallie Burton
Minimize Your Makeup
"If you're hauling around your entire vanity, it's time to pare down. Your on-the-go kit should contain just the key items you need for touch-ups," says makeup artist and author Bobbi Brown, who's known for her minimalist approach. For most women, that means carrying a small pouch with concealer, pressed powder, blush, and a single lipstick or gloss. "If you have to rifle through your bag to find your makeup, you're probably carrying too much of it," says Brown.

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James MerrellJames MerrellDeclutter Daily
"At the end of every day, take one minute to remove unnecessaries from your handbag," says organization expert Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer ($11, If you wait until the end of the week, it will take more time. And before you know it, you will have amassed a dozen receipts, a handful of pens, a few dollars' worth of loose change, and a half-full water bottle or two. "That can add up to a pound of stuff you don't need," says Smallin.

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