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    Housecall: Are you ready to lose weight?

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Weight loss: Are you ready?
Are you motivated to lose weight? Is your goal realistic? Knowing that you need to make changes in your life and actually doing it are two different things. Your weight-loss success depends largely on your readiness to take on the challenge. Answer these questions to see if you're ready to start a weight-loss plan. Learn what steps to take if you aren't quite there.

Seasonal affective disorder
If the shorter days are leaving you moody and less energized, it could be seasonal affective disorder — a type of depression related to changes in seasons. For most people with seasonal affective disorder, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Treatment can include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. Learn more about the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and whether treatment might be right for you.

Should you get the shingles vaccine?
Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles, causing a painful skin rash along nerve paths. If you're older than 50, your chance of developing shingles increases, but the shingles vaccine can lower your risk. Learn more from Dr. James Steckelberg, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.

Does taking the stairs count as exercise?
Climbing stairs is an example of a practical, everyday physical activity that provides health benefits. Taking the stairs can be one way to include physical activity in your daily routine. Some other ideas could include parking farther away from your destination, taking short walk breaks during the day, or doing yardwork or housework. Learn more from Dr. Edward Laskowski, a Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center.

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Brussels sprouts with shallots and lemon
Vegetable lasagna roll-ups
Baked chicken and wild rice with onion and tarragon

Fit more fiber into your diet
Fiber is probably best known for its ability to help with constipation. But fiber also can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. How can you fit more fiber into your diet? Choose cereals with whole wheat, bran or fiber in the name. Switch to whole-grain breads and pastas. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley and bulgur wheat. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a few weeks. Also, drink plenty of water, since fiber works best when it absorbs water.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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