#300 Spring Clean Your Body

Tell a friend

"I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on."

Roseanne Barr

10 Best Spring Cleaning Workouts

By Cecilia H. Lee

HouseTulips and daffodils are blooming. Butterflies and birds are flying under sunny skies. It's springtime! What better way to chase away the winter blues than to get your blood pumping by doing a bit of spring cleaning. A recent British study showed that the Brits burn over 50,000 calories a year (which adds up to almost 15 pounds of fat) just by cleaning their homes.

Here is a list of the top 10 highest calorie-burning chores (listed from the lowest to the highest, with the average number of calories burned per year). The good news is that the more you clean, the more calories you'll burn through. And the more body weight you're carrying, the more calories you'll burn. Not only will you get your workout, you'll have a clean house to enjoy afterward. So, get out that vacuum and get cleaning!

  • 10.
    • DustingDust and polish (burn 2,288 calories per year). This can be one of the easiest chores to overlook, but since you're doing a deep cleaning, why not get totally into it? You don't even need fancy furniture sprays—just a combination of olive oil and white vinegar. It's like salad dressing for your furniture, only better (combine 1 cup of the oil and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in a bottle; shake well). Use a soft cloth to work it in and buff out your furniture. You'll not only expend elbow grease (getting a bit of upper-body exercise in), but you'll have naturally shiny furniture. Light dusting burns about 170 calories per hour (assuming a body weight of 150 pounds); with more heavy scrubbing and cleaning, you burn 204 calories per hour.

  • 9.
    • Change the bedding (burn 2,728 calories per year). Although there may be some debate about how often you should change the sheets on your bed, most people think that once every week or two is a good standard. To get in a little more exercise, be sure to make your bed every morning. This way, you'll have a nice bed to slip into every night and you'll also burn 136 calories per hour. Of course, none of us will take an hour to make the bed (Martha Stewart, notwithstanding), but even at 15 minutes, you've burned enough calories to make up for half a glass of wine.

  • 8.
    • Cleaning the BathroomClean the bathroom (burn 2,891 calories per year). Sure, scrubbing toilets is no one's idea of a good time, but it doesn't have to be such a chore. Put on some fast music and get moving. If you make it a little race or game for yourself, you can get the whole bathroom clean in just 20 minutes. If you use large up-and-down movements (like when cleaning a shower door), you'll even get your stretches in. Just by cleaning the bathroom, you can burn at least 231 calories per hour.

  • 7.
    • Sweep the floor (burn 2,896 calories per year). For outdoor areas and garage floors, nothing beats an old-fashioned broom and dustpan. This activity burns 272 calories per hour. So, it makes sense to sweep up the driveway and even get out to the sidewalk. Although sweeping ranked 7th in calories burned, you can increase the level of your workout by getting to all the nooks and crannies of your property that you usually avoid. Even better, stretch up and knock down those cobwebs that have been accumulating in the corners of your garage.

  • 6.
    • Working Around the HouseTidy up (burn 4,541 calories per year). This is a general household chore that you can add to your routine every day. Don't worry about being efficient because the more back and forth you walk, the more steps you get in. If you have stairs in your home, even better. Be sure to keep your abs tightened when you do your chores, since it'll give your ab muscles a bit of a workout and improve your posture. Also, be sure to put away heavy things (try carrying those storage boxes down to the basement) to get in some weight training exercise. Even a light tidying up lets you burn over 170 calories per hour. Step it up and you can get it to over 240 calories burned per hour.

  • 5.
    • Scrub the floor (burn 5,117 calories per year). Get on your hands and knees and scrub those tile or linoleum floors. Again, use big, broad circular movements and reach under the bed and other hard-to-reach places. You'll burn about 258 calories per hour, enough to make up for a serving of chicken nuggets.

  • 4.
    • Washing DishesWash and dry the dishes (burn 6,781 calories per year). Give that dishwasher a rest and do your dishes by hand. You'll burn 156 calories per hour, just for standing and washing the dishes; but if you dry them by hand and put them away, you'll get even more bang for your buck. To get in a good stretch when putting away the dishes, twist and stretch to reach the higher shelves. If you want to save your hands from getting too dry, wear gloves.

  • 3.
    • Iron your clothes (burn 6,794 calories per year). Get out all those clothes you've been hiding in the back of the closet and get ironing. To make it more fun, do it in front of the TV or with the radio playing. Just because it's housework, it doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. Besides, dancing a bit while you're ironing will give you a little more of a workout. Ironing, sans dancing, will burn about 156 calories per hour.

  • 2.
    • VacuumingVacuum the floor (burn 6,800 calories per year). According to a recent survey, people found vacuuming to be one of the more enjoyable tasks to do around the house. To make it even less of a chore, put some of your favorite tunes into your portable CD or MP3 player and get going. Vacuuming burns about 238 calories per hour, but you can get more out of it by vacuuming the couches and pillows. Also, to make it more of a workout, put the pressure on your legs (don't strain your arms and shoulders, which can in turn strain your back). Instead of standing in one place and pushing the vacuum back and forth, walk with the vacuum from one end of the room to the other, like you'd do with a lawnmower. You'll get in more exercise and ensure yourself of not missing a spot. And now is a great time to find out how to best use all those attachments you've been wondering about and get in some lunges (keep your toes pointed straight ahead and bend your knees, but not more than 90 degrees).

  • 1.
    • Do the laundry (burn 9,464 calories per year). Now that you've changed the bedsheets and piled up all the dirty towels, you can get the laundry going. Although doing the laundry only burns about 150 calories per hour, because it takes a while to go through several loads (especially if you have kids or major cleaning to do), the calories burned do add up.

If you have outside space, you can burn even more calories by gardening (246 calories per hour), raking (264 calories per hour), or mowing the lawn (a whopping 363 calories per hour).

RelaxingNow that you've cleaned the whole house, kick back with a tall glass of water and enjoy your handiwork. And remember that the same British study mentioned earlier showed that housework gave more of a workout than spending an hour at the gym. So, the next time you don't feel motivated to haul yourself down to the gym, put on your favorite music, and pick up your vacuum instead. Remember, doing your housework faster and more intensely not only makes for a better workout; you'll be done with your chores sooner. Happy cleaning!

Related Articles
"6 Ways to Keep Clean While You Get Lean"
"16 Pantry Essentials"
"8 Tips for Storing Fresh Foods"

Cecilia LeeIf you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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6 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Kitchen

By Joe Wilkes

KitchenIt's springtime, which means that for a lot of us it's time to do a deep clean of our homes—throwing out the old, organizing the new, storing the winter clothes, and getting ready for warmer weather and a fresh start. For others, it's the beginning of another season of denial about how squalid our living conditions have become. Even more than New Year's, spring is a good time to make some new resolutions and to create an environment that will make us want to keep them. Here are some ideas for getting your kitchen into shape.

  1. RefrigeratorOut with the old. I like to think of my refrigerator as a cabinet of hope. Most times, it's full of fruits and vegetables, purchased in a fit of confidence that I was going to steam and stir-fry my way to a slimmer me. Then, I end up going out with friends to restaurants, and my Sunday produce ends up looking pretty bad by week's end. Yet, unbelievably, I leave it in my refrigerator with the hope that it will return to a state of edibility. Similarly, expired dairy products and condiment bottles litter my shelves, products of my misguided optimism that they, too, will come back in fashion like my '80s wardrobe—if I only wait long enough. I am here to tell you, there has been no grocery miracle in my refrigerator these many years. And now it's time to give its expired residents a proper burial.

    First thing to do, get rid of everything that even looks old. Be merciless. If it's past the expiration date, throw it out. If it doesn't have an expiration date, throw it out. Another scourge in my fridge is the many plastic containers filled with leftovers. I don't remember exactly what meal they are left over from, but I can't recall anything that included frizzy mold as an ingredient. Much of the reason the containers languish in the back of the fridge is because I'm avoiding the horror of having to wash out the science experiment they've become. This year, I'm going to throw money at the problem, and throw out the leftovers in their containers without ever lifting the lid. Then I will treat myself to shiny, new plastic containers as a reward for my new hygienic lifestyle. Additionally, if my plastic cutting boards are beyond bleaching, it's a good annual tradition to replace them.

  2. Ice CreamOut with the bad. While I'm gripped in the mania of throwing away all the food that has literally turned to garbage, I'm also going to throw away the food that is metaphorically garbage. All the unhealthy snack foods that lure me off my healthy eating plan are going to have to go. I'm evicting the half-full bags of tortilla and potato chips from my cupboards. Ben and Jerry are moving from the freezer to the dumpster. Any empty-calorie snacks that I can steal a spoonful or handful of and pretend that they don't count have to hit the road. Once I clear the cupboards and refrigerator, I can go to the store and load up on healthy staples, whose temptations I won't have to resist.

  3. FruitIn with the new. Now that the refrigerator is clean and the cupboards are bare, it's time to shop. Stock up the larder with delicious, healthy foods from the first two tiers of Michi's Ladder. And make sure to get lots of easy-to-prepare snacks that are within easy reach when hunger pangs hit. Great snacks include cottage cheese, nonfat yogurt, hummus, salsa, or raisins. Instant oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and egg whites are good to have on hand for breakfast. And foods like brown rice, dried beans, canned broths, water-packed tuna, and frozen fruits and vegetables are good staples to always keep in supply for mealtime. Of course, you should also try eating plenty of fresh produce, seafood, and lean meats. Just don't be like me and go crazy at the Sunday farmers' market, only to have to throw food away at the end of the week. Buy enough perishable items to last a couple of days and then make short trips to the supermarket or farmers' market during the week. Your food will taste better and fresher, and you won't have a CSI episode in the crisper drawer at the end of the week.

  4. LemonsWhen life gives you lemons . . . I know I've talked a lot about throwing all your produce away. But some of it can do a little cleaning work for you before it hits the compost bin. Lemons are very acidic, and their juice is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. You can use lemon juice to bleach countertop stains and shine up metal. And it makes your kitchen smell lemony fresh to boot! Instead of throwing those lemons in the trash, throw one or two in the garbage disposal and grind away. It will help get rid of food dried on to the blades and will also fill your kitchen with the smell of lemons. (If the lemons are really old and the rinds have turned hard and leathery, don't try this. The disposal blades might not be able to chop them, and they'll just rattle around in your disposal forever. Trust me, I know.) Another great tip a friend gave me is to cut a bunch of lemons in half and put them in a big microwave-safe bowl filled with water. Then microwave the bowl of lemons on high for a few minutes, until the water steams. Keep the microwave closed. The lemon-juice-infused steam will permeate all the stuff cooked onto the microwave walls from various exploding culinary attempts. The crud will wipe off easily and your microwave will smell great. Best of all, no toxic cleaners will accidentally find their way into your meals!

  5. VinegarVinegar—not just for salad. While you're cleaning and staying nontoxic, try using Michi's Ladder's top-tier favorite, vinegar, to spruce up your kitchen. Diluted with water, white vinegar can be used to clean windows, wash floors, and wipe countertops. It cuts grease and removes stains from cookware, and if you run a pot full of the vinegar and water solution through your coffeemaker, you'll be amazed at the kind of hard-water deposits it removes. It's also good for removing hard-water stains on your glassware. It even cuts soap scum and kills mildew, so you might give good, old-fashioned cheap white vinegar a try before investing in expensive cleaners that can introduce toxins into your kitchen.

  6. Baking soda—not just for baking. Here's a fun fact. Did you know that baking soda mixed with grease makes soap? It's true. It's a great, cheap, nontoxic way to wipe off your stovetop and the surrounding areas that have been spattered by a season's worth of stir-fries. An open box can absorb odors in the refrigerator, and a little sprinkled in your garbage can will do likewise. If you have a grease fire, you can put it out with baking soda. If you have pots with burned-on food, let them soak in baking soda and water overnight. Also, if you have plastic storage containers that are a bit stinky from their previous occupants, try soaking them overnight in baking soda and water. You can make a baking soda paste with water and polish your silver. It's a miracle product—nontoxic and cheap!

Related Articles
"5 Tips for Healthier Eating"
"8 Healthy Condiments"
"10 Supermarket Ethical Dilemmas"

Joe WilkesIf you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Spring Training IQ!

By DeLane McDuffie

During this time of year, while many of us are focusing on our vernal workouts and making sure we eat those healthy springtime foods, there are others in the world who prefer to get their workouts in unusual ways, in ways that involve food and even water. See if you can match the "workout" with the food, or beverage, associated with it.

  1. MulletsSpinning in Florida: fish. Not the spinning you're thinking about; I'm talking about spinning around in a 10-foot circle. That's what thousands of people do every April in Pensacola at the Interstate Mullet Toss. Each contestant hurls a 1.5-pound mullet—the fish, not the hairstyle—across the Florida-Alabama state line. Prizes include mullet trophies and gift certificates. One year, nearly 3,000 pounds of protein went airborne.

  2. Cardio in England: cheese. Perhaps the strangest mix of fat-burning cardio and calcium in existence, every last week in May, the good folks of Gloucestershire participate in Cheese Rolling. Onlookers get to watch participants chase an 8-pound cheese wheel down the infamously steep Cooper's Hill. As you can imagine, there are several bruises, abrasions, and ankle injuries. But if you decide to compete, don't worry. There's always an ambulance nearby.

  3. SPAM™ Drinking protein shakes in Texas: meat. You guessed it! Around April Fool's Day, Austin hosts the Pandemonious Potted Pork Festival, also known as SPAMARAMA™. There, they invent all kinds of eclectic SPAM™ dishes, such as SPAM ice cream, SPAM chocolate, and SPAM shakes. You can test your strength at tug-of-war over a SPAM jelly pit. Some of the events are a SPAM ball, a cook-off, SPAMALYMPICS™, and SPAM Cram. I've already purchased my plane ticket.

  4. Running . . . for your life . . . in Thailand: water. Spending April in Thailand could make you feel like a kid again. Everyone in the country partakes in a 3-day water fight called the Songkran Water Festival. When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE, old and young. Even the cops get doused. Anything that can hold water is used—hats, water guns, bowls, trash cans, barrels, etc. What a way to get your eight 8-ounce glasses of water!

  5. Rye BreadSprinting through a Finnish obstacle course: bread. Although this event actually takes place in July, contestants are training for it in the spring. Want to work out with your spouse in Finland? Try the Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi. Competitors run a 250-meter steeplechase-like obstacle course while toting their wives (or symbolic wives) over their backs or shoulders. Prizes include cell phones, about $200, rye bread, and the wife's weight in beer. I hope that it's at least low-carb beer.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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