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My Fight Against Heavy Purses In An Effort To Avoid Back Problems (PHOTOS)

I've recently found myself massaging my right shoulder, and feeling it ache when I lay awake at night. I discovered the culprit: my overloaded, overstuffed, overused purse.
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I've recently found myself massaging my right shoulder intermittently throughout the day, and feeling it ache when I lay awake at night. I'm not that active, so why am I having muscle pains that leave me moaning and groaning? I do sit at a desk all day, but I pride myself on maintaining proper posture. I do wear heels, but only in the office, so what is sending me to the chiropractor once a week in an effort to avoid back and shoulder pain? I discovered the culprit: my overloaded, overstuffed, overused purse.

I've always carried big bags (show me a woman who doesn't carry a large purse, and I'll show you a woman with a car and an assistant). Since I've started working at The Huffington Post, I will often tote my laptop around with me (ahh, the joys of the mobile office). What used to be one medium-sized bag has now become one humongous bag with all manner of iAccessories, my lunch (gotta save some money, so I am brownbagging!) and an extra pair of shoes.

My chiropractor laughed at me when he saw my tote. No wonder I'm in pain. He explained that I needed to do two things to avoid back pain: lighten my load, and build up the muscles in my shoulders that are currently being overused. Since the thought of picking up weights is less-than-enticing, I've gone on a mission to downsize. Inspired by a post by Stylelist Senior Editor Brie Dyas, where where she actually weighed our heavy handbags, I've decided to continue her mission, but with a challenge: to edit out all the unnecessary crap that is weighing us down. My hope is that "The Purse Project" will inspire women to dump the clutter.

I had to be strategic about editing down what's in my purse. Heavy as it may be, I actually do need all the aforementioned items. What I do not need, however, is to carry it all around like some sort of nomad (sans camel, at that!). Herewith, the five things I've learned in an effort to go about my day with only a clutch.

1. Leave the laptop at work. I have a computer at home, and everything is remotely accessible.

2. Store your shoes at work. I know, it can be hard to part with our beautiful footwear, but trust me, it's worth it. I now have quite the collection under my desk (and in my filing cabinet), and on any given day, I can switch it up in the middle of the day if I feel like it.

3. No iPad, no cry. This may sound like heresy to you Apple devotees (I count myself amongst you). But I can do everything on my iPhone that I can do on my iPad (including editing and reading books), so why add an extra pound to my purse.

4. 16 lipsticks are not necessary for everyday life. I dumped out my bag and discovered that I had five products for my lips alone. I edited down to the one that I wear most, and stored the rest at home.

5. Lose the chunky sunglasses case. Stick your sunnies on your face (where they belong), on top of your head, or tuck them into your shirt.

I have made some concessions, though (lest you think I am walking around these days with nothing but a coin purse). I am determined to bring my own lunch, both for financial and health reasons, so I have to carry a small second bag with my tupperware in it. It's not stylish, but I don't really care.

Check out our gallery below of photos of my purse before and after downsizing. Keep clicking to see my fellow editors' bags (one of us carries a purse that weighs over eight lbs!). Do you have any tips on how to lighten your load? Send us your before and after photos, we want to see!

The Purse Project