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Easy, healthy resolutions for 2014

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 11:50 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:49 p.m. CDT

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

The new year motivates you to make healthy changes. You may feel ambitious now, but to help your resolutions stick past February, start with small changes that you can incorporate into your everyday life.

You want to: Lose weight

Try this: Set your alarm

You've heard too much or too little sleep might lead to extra pounds; now, new research out of Brigham Young University suggests sleep consistency may also influence body weight. Scientists tracked 300 women for a week and found those who woke up at the same time each morning had lower body fat than those with inconsistent sleep patterns. The study was small and needs more research, but experts do know that maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule seven days a week is necessary to help you sleep more soundly and wake up alert. Another tip: Have protein for breakfast. A study presented at a scientific meeting for the Obesity Society showed that women who ate a breakfast based on sausage and eggs curbed hunger throughout the morning. More lean protein choices: a slice of Canadian bacon or cheese, a container of low-fat yogurt, or peanut butter on whole-grain toast.

You want to: Get fit

Try this: Short bursts of intense activity

Known more formally as high-intensity interval training (or HIIT), this exercise technique alternates brief speed and recovery intervals, can get results in not a lot of time, and is predicted to be the top fitness trend of 2014, according to a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine survey. Practice this high-intensity training method periodically, maybe one to two times a week max for up to six weeks at a time. And keep in mind it may not be safe for everyone; talk to your doctor before incorporating it into your exercise plan.

You want to: Eat healthier

Try this: Cut artificial trans fats

They're found in many fried and baked foods made with partially hydrogenated oils, and they can raise bad cholesterol levels, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, and are associated with an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Under current regulations, however, companies can claim their product has 0 grams of trans fat if it contains less than 0.5 grams per serving. So in the meantime, in addition to checking the nutrition label for trans fat, read the ingredients list: if it contains partially hydrogenated oil, there may be small amounts of trans fat present.

You want to: Reduce stress

Try this: Hug a loved one

That simple act can ease fear and anxiety, lower blood pressure and even boost memory, according research from the Medical University of Vienna. Experts believe the "love hormone" oxytocin gets a boost when you embrace family or friends.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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