Spring clean your refrigerator for a healthier you

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LiveWell

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I use every opportunity I can to exercise, and if you are anything like me, you're in the midst of "Spring Cleaning Fever."

I started by freshening up my bedroom. I exchanged my heavy winter comforter for a nice, bright, light-weight version.

While I have this spring fever, I figure I should move from the bedroom to the yard to pull a few weeds or power-wash the deck. Get this: Depending on how much you weigh, and the type of work you do, you can burn 240 to 448 calories per hour doing yard work. Look at your gardening tools as exercise equipment.

But in the midst of a spring cleaning blitz, the most important thing to tackle is the beloved refrigerator. The fridge is the most used household appliance, and cleaning it thoroughly will ultimately prepare you for some serious spring training. (And the bonus is you can burn about 180 calories cleaning the fridge.)

So first, remove everything from the fridge. Everything. If anything is expired, throw it out. Then, thoroughly clean all of the shelves and drawers with hot, soapy water. Spilled food and drinks can harbor bacteria and germs, which can make you sick.

After the refrigerator is clean, it is time to reorganize. Something as simple as changing the location of food items can have a huge impact on your eating habits.

Want to eat more of the good stuff? Here's how to organize your fridge, and make that happen:

Top shelf: Although most of us love to put our fruits and veggies down in the crispers, that good food is often forgotten at the bottom of the fridge. So move the good stuff up to the top. Your top shelf is the shelf that says, "I can freely eat these foods." That top shelf should be brimming with fruits, veggies and water.

Second shelf: Store a plethora of protein and healthy snacks here. This shelf is at eye level, and you want to keep food here that will grab your attention. This is the "snack and go" shelf. Stock it with low-fat yogurt, cheese, hummus, eggs, cottage cheese, nuts and nut butters.

Third shelf: This is the meal prep and thirst-control area, the place to store the components of the day's dinner — marinated lean meat, cooked brown rice, quinoa.

The door: Consider the door a place for "Flavor Enhancers." This is where you house the items that will add a little zing to your healthy meal. The door is the place for salsa, mustard, fruit preserves, low-fat salad dressings and fresh herbs.

The freezer: The freezer is the place for food that lasts. Some of the best deals come in bulk, so stock up! Avoid buying processed food, which has high sodium content. It is a good idea always to have frozen veggies and fruit on hand to toss into stir-fries and smoothies.

The key to spring cleaning is to structure your environment in a way that enables you to be the best you. A fresh home environment and a clean and organized fridge give us a sense of accomplishment and a new drive to better ourselves.