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Spring Cleaning Your Mind and Body

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On Feb. 2, 2012, our dear friend Punxsutawney Phil declared that we would have six more weeks of winter. Well, time's up! So ready your feather duster and eye up the balled-up bathing suit in the back of your closet, because spring is coming! While traditionally my OCD (Obsessive Cleaning Disorder) would strangle me with old rags and choke me with dust bunnies for suggesting that we part from the traditional spring cleaning activities -- I'm doing just that.

So forget the baseboards (for now, you have to clean them eventually), and face the mirror, yourself and that balled-up bathing suit because it's time to do a good old-fashioned spring cleaning of your mind and body.

Mind

You clean your home from top to bottom, and spring cleaning your mind and body follow suit. Without the right frame of mind, you're doing no better than trying to wash your windows with Crisco. A good place to start is with a simple three-minute meditation, as recommended by Oprah.com. If you think meditating is just for the ultra-zen, tie-dye wearing group, think again. UCLA has done a study that suggests that meditation strengthens the brain, and has discovered anatomical differences in the brains of those who meditate and those who do not.

If you're not ready to sit cross-legged on the floor and feel your energy, there are options. If there's one thing we were all taught at some point, besides how to hold a fork, it's how to set goals. Setting up a tiered goal system, like the one recommended by Mind Tools, encourages you to set larger and smaller goals to help ensure success. Don't stress over what's most important, that would be counterproductive. But choosing something as seemingly insignificant as trying a new menu item could open doors to trying other new things. And if you're into double dipping (We all do it sometimes), let go of some extra stress this spring by getting organized using Good Housekeeping magazine's 52 home organizing tips.

Insides

Cleaning out your insides can be tricky -- not to mention messy. However, it can be done and it can be done without colonics. One of the easiest ways to start shaping up your insides is to take vitamins. Learned to hold a fork, but not how to swallow pills? Don't worry -- they make adult gummy vitamins now. The first thing you need to know about taking vitamins is that they are not regulated in the same way as medicines are by the FDA. I repeat, for those who lack the attention span to reread, vitamins are regulated as dietary supplements, under the category of "foods," not "drugs," by the FDA. That said, our friends at the FDA do offer some helpful tips to fortify your knowledge about vitamins. A good place to start a new vitamin regimen is with a good multiple vitamin. There are many choices in this category, including men's vitamins and women's vitamins. Just be sure to thoroughly research the company and the ingredients, as not all capsules are created equally.

The next thing you'll want to do is evaluate your diet. For those of you who just started sweating at the sight of the D-word, I mean the first definition, "food and drink regularly provided or consumed." To conduct a thorough evaluation, consider using Livestrong's evaluation tips. Once you know exactly what you're eating, it's easier to decide what to keep, and what to ditch. Rather than jump on the next fad diet bandwagon that has you eating cookies for breakfast and going to the doctor to be injected with who knows what (I mean seriously, think about that), confront the problem and make the necessary adjustments. For ways to get started and reasons to take it seriously, check out this MedNet article.

Outsides

So here's the part a lot of us fear. The moment we have to look in the mirror, take inventory and make decisions. But it doesn't have to be all bad. Take a moment, meditate even, and let go any negativity you may have about your appearance and the process of looking in the mirror. One of the easiest ways to give your outsides a spring cleaning is to update your wardrobe. Updating your look on a budget is completely doable, and if you stick to WiseBread's tips on how to do it, people will be asking your secret in no time. You can also shop stores that carry designer clothes from less like T.J. Maxx or online deal sites like HauteLook.

Now onto the part you may have been hoping I'd skip: workout regimens. Working out isn't just about being strong, skinny, in shape, good-looking or any combination thereof, it's about improving your health and helping your body function properly. For those of you who are too busy or too stressed, the Mayo Clinic is ready to nip your exercise excuses in the bud (or butt), with tips on how to stick with it. Once you're good and motivated, head to the gym and take advantage of the membership you're likely already paying for. Or if you'd rather, head to your living room with tips from companies like Fitness Magazine, or do the unthinkable and turn your television to one of the exercise programs in your On Demand menu.

With your personal spring cleaning done from the top to bottom, it's time to move from the inside out. Step out of your comfort zone, and your house if you didn't in any of the steps above, to see what you can find to target all areas at once. You can do things like attend an event that is of interest to you or pick up a new skill from a workshop hosted at hardware or craft store. Or take on all three spring cleaning areas at once and arrange a park, beach or river day with family and friends. Whatever you decide to do, take the time to reset and refresh yourself. And when you're finished, give the baseboards a good wipe too.

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