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Your Health
By Susan Stevens | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/31/2007 12:14 AM

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Catch a few winks

If you stay up later than usual tonight to welcome the new year, try to catch up on your sleep soon. Scientists have shown a lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your body in multiple ways; it weakens your ability to fight disease and disrupts learning, memory and normal eating patterns.

According to the National Institutes of Health, lack of sleep also triggers strong emotions that stem from a primitive region of the brain. Without sleep, you're less able to keep impulsive behaviors in check.

Attitude is everything

Every January, fitness centers are flooded with enthusiastic new members. If you're among those newbies, keep in mind these points from exercise physiologist James Peterson, a member of the American College of Sports Medicine.

• Be patient in looking for results. It takes more than a few workouts to overcome the harm done by years of sedentary habits.

• Design an exercise regimen that fits your personal goals and needs. One size does not fit all.

• Work on your weaknesses. Don't spend all your time focusing on components of physical fitness that you've already mastered.

• Pay attention to pain. It's your body's signal you are exposing yourself to injury.

• It's going to be hard. But you will reap the rewards down the road.

Quitting really pays off

We hope Illinois' new smoking ban will encourage some on-the-fence smokers to finally kick the habit. That means lots of lonely ashtrays.

You can turn them in for cash at the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. The group will pay 25 cents for each ashtray it collects up to 2,000 ashtrays. Columbia College students will sculpt the ashtrays into an art object to commemorate the state's new smoking ban.

Turn in your ashtrays at the association's office, 1440 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, during normal business hours until Jan. 4.

-- Susan Stevens