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14 Simple Ways to Turn Your Health Around

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Every Week

Load Up on Healthy Groceries

"Having nothing healthy in the house is often our excuse for picking up something bad to eat on the way home from work," says Jacqueline Suk Danik, MD, a cardiologist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School.

Our best advice: Stock up on vegetables, fruit, and whole wheat pasta and bread, as well as fish, turkey, and other lean meats. Prepare good-for-you dishes beforehand or learn to make basics -- such as steamed fish -- that take little prep time after you walk in the door. For quick and easy recipes, check out Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything series or The Carefree Cook by Rick Rodgers. While shopping, you might also want to limit the processed foods in your cart, since, like restaurant take-out meals, they are apt to contain trans fats. In addition to their adverse effects on cholesterol levels, these fats were recently linked to increases in abdominal fat, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, says Lawrence Rudel, PhD, a professor of pathology and biochemistry at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Oversleep a Little on the Weekend

Ideally, you should follow the same schedule seven days a week. But if you're not getting enough shut-eye, doctors recommend that you sleep in a bit to make up for shortfalls. One tip-off that you're sleep-deprived: You can't wake up without the alarm, says Dr. Collop.

Our best advice: If you really need eight hours but get only seven Monday through Thursday, you've accumulated four hours of sleep debt; however, you need to make up only two. In other words, you only need to "pay back" about half, explains Dr. Collop. If you're getting your winks but still don't feel rested, your sleep may be disrupted. Try to keep dinners light, cut off alcohol after 7 p.m., and exile fidgety pets from your bedroom.

Next:  Every 5 Years

 

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