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Winter

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Enjoy the Benefits of Yogurt

It's creamy smooth, packed with flavor -- and just may be the wonder food you've been craving. Research suggests that that humble carton of yogurt may:

·         Help prevent osteoporosis

·         Reduce your risk of high blood pressure

·         Aid gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and constipation

Ready to take home a few cartons of yummy yogurt? When buying think low-fat, make sure the yogurt contains active cultures and vitamin D, and keep tabs on sugar content.

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2. Help Holiday Heartburn

Getting hit with heartburn over the holidays? Help is at hand! Try these hints and you can stop the burn before it starts:

Nibble: Enjoy your favorite foods -- but in moderation. No need to heap on the goodies (or go back for seconds and thirds!). Packing your stomach with food makes heartburn much more likely.

Know Your Triggers: Certain foods feed heartburn's flame. Typical triggers include foods full of sugar and fat -- think pumpkin pie slathered with whipped cream. Instead reach for complex carbs like veggies and whole-wheat breads -- or at least share that dessert!

Get Up:Stretching out for a nap post-meal is a great way to guarantee you'll get reflux. Instead, keep your head higher than your stomach -- or keep right on walking, away from the dinner table and out the door. Light exercise is a great way to prevent heartburn.

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3. Kiss Holiday Cold Sores Good-bye

Holidays: That busy time for toasting the coming year, savoring seasonal sweets, staying up late -- and cold sores?

If you find you're more prone to cold sores (also called fever blisters) during the hectic holiday season, you may be your own worst enemy. That's because lack of sleep, too much alcohol or sugar, stress, and close physical contact (think auntie's smooches) can all contribute to outbreaks.

So, to help keep your kisser cold-sore-free this year -- or to keep from passing your cold sores to others -- try these tips:

·         Don't overdo the holiday goodies -- maintain a healthy diet.

·         Get plenty of rest.

·         Wash your hands.

·         Don't share food or drink containers.

·         Discard used tissues.

·         Don't kiss on or near anyone's cold sore -- and don't let them near yours!

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De-Stress With Meditation

The bad weather, the seasonal pace, work: If this time of year has your stress meter spiking, it may be time to close your eyes, breathe ... and get a little repetitive.

Repetition is at the heart of meditation's soothing power. The act of banishing thoughts, focusing on your breathing, and repeating a single word or phrase, fires up your body's natural relaxation response.

And meditation can do more than soothe away stress. Research shows it may help lower blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce PMS symptoms, even aid in fertility and the delivery of a new mom's milk.

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5. Start a Winter Tradition: Family Workouts

Grandparents are in town, a flurry of kids is underfoot, and you're wondering where you'll find time for a quick winter workout. Here's a thought: Why not get everyone involved with these simple workouts?

Walking: It's suitable for young or old, with a pace that's sedate or speedy. Try these ideas to get the gang on their feet:

·         Do laps at the mall. If you shop, cart your own packages and then unload them in the car after every store.

·         Disguise the walk as something else. Toss a ball as you stroll, fling a Frisbee, or take the dog to the park.

·         Instead of driving, walk over to your favorite local restaurant.

·         Take part in a holiday fund-raiser, like the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run/Walk

Make the Living Room Your Gym

When everyone's on the couch chatting, or watching TV -- why not sneak in a little calorie burn, too?

·         Do crunches: Sit on the edge of the couch, hands gripping the edge at your side, then bend knees, lifting them toward your chest.

·         Leg lifts: Use the same position as above, but lift your legs straight up, instead of bending them.

·         Trim those triceps by doing dips off the couch edge.

·         Build your biceps: Grab a bottle of water or a can of soda and do curls.

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6. Eat Locally

Organic may be today's healthy-eating watchword, but don't forget this phrase too: eat locally.

6. Eat Locally continued...

Some nutritionists think eating locally may be even more important than eating organically. That's because a vital factor in a food's nutrient profile is how long it took to get from farm to table: A head of locally grown lettuce, for example, may be more nutrient-dense than one shipped coast to coast.

Does this mean you should forgo pesticide-free foods when they're available? No, but it's a great idea to make room on your plate for locally-grown goods too, even if they haven't been grown the organic way. Better yet: Eat locally and organic, when you can.

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7. Try These 3 Simple Diet & Exercise Tips

Go Slow: You don't need to do a diet slash-and-burn. If you cut just 200 calories a day you'll see slow (and easy) weight loss. Skip a pat of butter here, a cookie there and you're on your way!

Start Small: Banning junk food from the cupboards or boosting fiber may be your goal, but think baby steps. Switch from potato chips to low-fat popcorn, for example, or toss a carrot into your brown bag lunch.

Just Show Up: Don't feel like working out today? Don those exercise clothes anyway. Still not in the mood? Fine. But chances are good that once you're dressed, you're also motivated and ready to go!

 Weight

Winter can be a bleak time of year for dieters, and not just because of the holidays. The cold weather can interrupt your workout routine, make you more likely to reach for comfort foods, and can even send you on a mood roller coaster that can lead to overeating.

The good news about fighting the pounds of winter is that cold and dark do not appear to be responsible for overeating, for most of us.

A small percentage of people in winter may develop seasonal affective disorder, which is clinical depression brought on by winter's short days; many of these people may have trouble overeating," But that is due to the depression itself, and people with this disorder are just as likely to undereat as to overeat, which is true of all people who suffer clinical depression.

For the rest of us, winter weight gain is largely the result of reduced exercise and increased eating. Research studies show that the 'hibernation theory' of winter overeating does not hold up for the vast majority of us who do not have seasonal affective disorder."

So this year, be prepared for the season with our five-point plan to beat winter weight gain.

1. Exercise, exercise, exercise

Setting a regular fitness schedule is the key to keeping weight off in winter, Come five o'clock, when it's pitch black and cold out, you're a lot more likely to go to your warm home and watch TV if you don't have a regular fitness schedule that includes a variety of types of exercises.

2. Never go to a party hungry

Fruits and vegetables are where we need to get our carbohydrates, and not from alcohol and brownies. Use high-fiber fruits and vegetables to fill up before a party. Eat a bunch of baby carrots, a big salad, or an apple, for example, to curb your desire for empty party-food calories.

When we eat outside the home, studies suggest that we may take in 40% more calories than we would otherwise. So much of our eating is not related to hunger. The more variety of foods available at a meal, the more likely you are to eat more food.

3. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is loaded with calories. And since many holiday celebrations involve drinking, it's easy to take in a lot of calories without being aware that you are. Drink a glass of water or a diet soda before and after each alcoholic beverage to help pace yourself and to dilute calories.

4. Practice calorie damage control

If you do overeat, don't 'fall off the wagon. Make up for it by cutting your calories for a few days and adding extra exercise and get exercise in anywhere you can take a brisk walk on your lunch break and after dinner. At work, use stairs rather than the elevator.